Daily | The NSA on (and behind) the Screen

Enemy of the State

The NSA’s file on Gene Hackman in ‘Enemy of the State’ (1998)

“Before the Guardian’s video interview with Edward Snowden, the most damaging movie to the National Security Agency’s image was Enemy of the State (1998),” begins R. Emmet Sweeney at Movie Morlocks. “Just another slam-bang Jerry Bruckheimer-Tony Scott blockbuster, it also depicted the NSA as a rogue operation that could tap the phones and bank records of American citizens at will. In the book Deep State, Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady report that, ‘Not a few NSA managers at the time saw the movie and privately thought, “If only!”‘” Sweeney then sketches the story behind Enemy of the State and, more intriguingly, the ways in which the NSA eventually caught up with—and of course, surpassed—the movie.

Meantime, following a profile of Laura Poitras, who shot and edited the Guardian video, Salon‘s Irin Carmon gets her on the phone: “Poitras is still in Hong Kong, where she is filming the story behind the story—including her co-author on the Guardian story and former Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald—for her forthcoming documentary on whistle-blowers and leaks. In a wide-ranging interview, she explained how she first made contact with Snowden, her reaction to the possible future investigation into his leaks, and why Snowden didn’t go to the New York Times.”

Reading. “Can I, after a street mugging that half killed me, still stand to watch on-screen beatings of the realistic sort?” A disturbing read, leading to unsettling questions, from Japan Times film critic Mark Schilling.

A new cut from the forthcoming album, The Big Dream.

Nicholas Rombes not only has a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books on Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, he’s got another in Filmmaker focusing on “one short sequence in V/H/S/2 where the experiments with camera narration are revealing not only in terms of the potential uses of narrative point of view but also in terms of how we process visual information.”

Also in Filmmaker, Allan Tong talks with Chen Kaige. The gist, as Tong puts it: “Chinese filmmaking is quickly adopting the Hollywood model where the market—not the state—censors filmmakers in what subjects to tackle.”

“Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa’s new film Jerry & Me contains three possible stances for reconstructing the history of Iran,” writes Ehsan Khoshbakht in the Notebook. “Saeed-Vafa merges her duties as a filmmaker who deals with Iran’s contemporary history, a cinephile who adores Jerry Lewis, and a film critic who self-consciously analyzes the work of Jerry Lewis. While one can argue that Jerry & Me belongs to the tradition of nostalgic film culture, it overcomes the limitations of such a frame through its account and analysis of the social and political contexts of both countries involved in filmmaker’s life: Iran and the US.”

For Film Comment, Max Nelson talks with Marco Bellocchio, “a searching, curious filmmaker, quick to confront the conflict between the Church and the radical Left and unwilling to align himself with either, drawing stylistically in equal measure from religious iconography and Hollywood melodramas.”

“Why is there such a resistance to considering the theoretical reflections by filmmakers as examples of ‘real’ film theory?” asks Adrian Martin in his latest column for De Filmkrant.

Ted Fendt has translated Serge Daney’s remembrance of Allan Dwan, written just days after the director died at the end of 1981. You might tuck it in to your copy of that dossier.

Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci talks with Karina Longworth about her new book, Al Pacino: Anatomy of an Actor: “The Godfather films were, to me, the obvious place to start because they’re the defining achievement of both his career and of their Hollywood era; Jack and Jill was the obvious place the end, because—however sadly—it’s emblematic of both the state of Pacino’s film career circa now, and of a certain kind of contemporary Hollywood thinking.”

The trailer for Sebastián Silva’s Magic Magic.

In other news. Russian authorities are harassing Side by Side, an LGBT film festival in St. Petersburg. Ben Child has details in the Guardian.

Criticwire‘s Matt Singer rounds up the first reviews of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.

More browsing? This is phenomenal. The Spectator has put 180 years’ worth of back issues online. Fair warning: the Archive is a major time-ravager.

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