Posted: January 31, 2014 at 1:54 a.m.

The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate, directed by Bill Condon and R.J. Cutler (R, 122 minutes)

This character-driven and self-important docudrama is about how ego-driven WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the government and big corporations. With limited resources and an abundance of nerve they create a platform that allows whistle blowers to anonymously leak covert data, eventually breaking more hard news than the world’s most powerful media organizations combined. But, as we all know by now, there’s a price to pay. Word is that Assange denounced this allegedly fact-based drama. With Alicia Vikander, Laura Linney.

WikiLeaks and Assange have taken issue with the film. “People love the true WikiLeaks story: a small group of dedicated journalists and tech activists who take on corruption and state criminality against the odds,” Assange wrote in a statement, according to the website The Verge. “But this film isn’t about that. … Instead of the exciting true story, we get a film about a bland German IT worker who wasn’t even there and a fabricated fight over redactions with the old newspapers and the State Department saving the day. The result is a geriatric snoozefest that only the U.S. government could love.”

I Used to Be Darker (not rated, 90 minutes) A lyrical, subtle narrative populated with nonprofessional actors, this drama concerns a runaway from Northern Ireland named Taryn (Deragh Campbell) who seeks refuge with her Aunt Kim (Kim Taylor) and Uncle Bill (Ned Oldman), musicians in Baltimore. They’re not the best source of comfort, though, as they’re trying to tactfully handle the bitter end of their marriage for the sake of their daughter Abby (Hannah Gross), home from her first year in college. With Adele Exarchopoulos; directed by Matthew Porterfield.

Rush (R, 123 minutes) Directed by Ron Howard, high-powered (and aptly named) Rush concerns two superstar rivals of early 1970s-era Formula 1 racing: British driver James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Their daring and legendary clashes on the Formula 1 Grand Prix reflect the contrast between these very different opponents on and off the track. Hunt is a handsome, self-indulgent playboy and Lauda is precise and methodical, traits that reflect their personal lives as well as their driving styles. With Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, David Calder.

1 (not rated, 110 minutes) Narrated by Michael Fassbender, 1 is an exceptional documentary that explores the same subject as Rush. Using archival footage, it follows drivers during the late 1960s golden years of glamorous, dangerous, exciting and thrilling Formula 1 racing, many of whom worked to make the sport safer for those behind the wheel. With 12 champion drivers including Jackie Stewart, Jenson Button and Mario Andretti; directed by Paul Crowder.

A Perfect Man (not rated, 95 minutes) This compelling, awkward, funny and confusing examination of the importance of communication in relationships concerns the disintegration of the seemingly perfect marriage between philandering James (Liev Schreiber) and vulnerable Nina (Jeanne Tripplehorn). With Joelle Carter, Louise Fletcher; directed by Kees Van Oostrum.

The Long Day Closes (PG, 82 minutes) Terence Davies’ nonlinear drama from 1992 provides impressionistic glimpses into the life of 12-year-old Bud (Leigh McCormack), a lonely kid who escapes his daily grind of growing up in 1956 Liverpool by going to the local cinema. With Marjorie Yates, Ayse Owens.

Ass Backwards (R, 83 minutes) A road-trip comedy that shows its characters no mercy, Ass Backwards concerns Kate (June Diane Raphael) and Chloe (Casey Wilson), childhood best friends who met when they placed dead last in their hometown beauty pageant.Now grown up and living in New York, they cheerfully overlook their precarious circumstances and pretend to believe they are living the dream life - until an invitation to their hometown pageant arrives and their past comes back to haunt them. With Vincent D’Onofrio, Alicia Silverstone, Bob Odenkirk; directed by Chris Nelson. “Ass Backwards is a decent little comedy,” says critic Chris Morgan in Paste. “It’s a little slapdash, a little flimsy, and doesn’t seem to quite know what it wants to be at times, but it’s good to see Raphael and Wilson get the chance to finally carry something for once.”

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 01/31/2014