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Chris Rock’s Top Five Gets in the Way of Its Own Laughs

The best few minutes of Top Five come late, when movie star Andre (Chris Rock) returns to his roots by taking the stage for a set at New York’s Comedy Cellar. Andre (and, by extension, Rock) is immediately back in his comfort zone, rattling off a couple of hilarious bits that only serve to remind us that most of the previous hour-and-a-half has been wasted. We would’ve been much better served watching a Chris Rock stand-up set.

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Citizenfour: Inside a Hong Kong Hotel as Edward Snowden Spills Government Secrets

Recently I’ve been working my way through all the John le Carré novels featuring spymaster George Smiley. The stories depict the bureaucratic maneuvering of officials in London as sharply as they do the undercover work of agents in the field. The result is what appears to be a complete picture of how a government intelligence service operates. It’s as equally frightening for its frequent ineptitude as for its operational ruthlessness. One takes comfort in the notion that it’s all just fiction.

Only it’s not, is it? The reams of classified documents taken by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and released to journalists have painted a portrait of an establishment that’s operated far beyond previously established legal boundaries in its fight against terrorism since September 11, 2001. American leaders have been exposed for having lied to the people, as well as to the people’s representatives in Congress.

Those who have carefully followed the reporting of Glenn Greenwald and others since Snowden came forward in June 2013 won’t be surprised by any of the revelations about the NSA’s operations discussed in Laura Poitras’ documentary, Citizenfour.

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Rosewater Proves The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart Is a Serious Filmmaker

No, Comedy Central’s Daily Show shouldn’t be anybody’s sole source of news, but frequent viewers know that Jon Stewart and his crack team of fake journalists often do a better job of pointing out the hypocrisy of leaders and a more cogent job of elucidating key points of a controversy than do most of the mainstream TV news channels.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that Stewart’s feature-film directorial debut is a clearly articulated tale of the political uprising that erupted in Iran following an almost certainly fraudulent election result in 2009. Rosewater is based on a memoir by Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was imprisoned in Tehran following his coverage for Newsweek magazine of the protests that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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