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16 September 2016 - Oliver Stone's Snowden

Publié par Marion Coste le 19/09/2016
Review: ‘Snowden,’ Oliver Stone’s Restrained Portrait of a Whistle-Blower
A. O. Scott (The New York Times, 15/09/2016)

Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” a quiet, crisply drawn portrait of the world’s most celebrated whistle-blower, belongs to a curious subgenre of movies about very recent historical events. Reversing the usual pattern, it could be described as a fictional “making of” feature about “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary on the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. That film seems to me more likely to last — it is deeper journalism and more haunting cinema — but Mr. Stone has made an honorable and absorbing contribution to the imaginative record of our confusing times. He tells a story torn from slightly faded headlines, filling in some details you may have forgotten, and discreetly embellishing the record in the service of drama and suspense.
In the context of this director’s career, “Snowden” is both a return to form and something of a departure. Mr. Stone circles back to the grand questions of power, war and secrecy that have propelled his most ambitious work, and finds a hero who fits a familiar Oliver Stone mold. Edward (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, leaning hard on a vocal imitation) is presented as a disillusioned idealist, a serious young man whose experiences lead him to doubt accepted truths and question the wisdom of authority. He has something in common with Jim Garrison in “J.F.K.” and Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July,” and also with Chris Taylor and Bud Fox, the characters played by Charlie Sheen in “Platoon” and “Wall Street.”

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Fictionalized Snowden

Oliver Stone's "Snowden" reviewed
Richard Brody (The New Yorker, 15/09/2016)
Oliver Stone’s fast-paced and large-scale but narrow-focus bio-pic of Edward Snowden covers the near-decade between 2004, when Snowden (played, or, rather, impersonated, by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dropped out of Army training because of a severe injury, and 2013, when he left the United States to divulge his knowledge of a vast network of illegal surveillance and then got stuck in Russia. His action, of course, is historic; the events that led to that action are, in Stone’s telling, occasionally fascinating; but Stone’s depiction of Edward Snowden is as flat, thin, and artificial as the Snowbot—the video screen on wheels through which Snowden makes virtual public appearances worldwide, which turns up near the end of the film.
By that point, the events of Snowden’s transformation from enthusiastic and politically conservative C.I.A. agent to liberalized, disaffected, horrified, and outraged contractor for the N.S.A. have been depicted in spotlighted detail, but the character of Snowden remains nearly as undefined as he was at the start. He comes off not as a person endowed with any psychological complexity but as a cardboard cutout of a hero, ready to be held up as a placard for a cause without any substance of his own beside the cause for which he stands.

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Presidential pardon

Edward Snowden makes 'moral' case for presidential pardon
Ewen MacAskill (The Guardian, 13/09/2016)
Edward Snowden has set out the case for Barack Obama granting him a pardon before the US president leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosure of the scale of surveillance by US and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off.
The US whistleblower’s comments, made in an interview with the Guardian, came as supporters, including his US lawyer, stepped up a campaign for a presidential pardon. Snowden is wanted in the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act and faces at least 30 years in jail.
Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited.
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Fresh perspective

In Washington, reviews of Ed Snowden, the man, remain mixed
Tara McKelvey (BBC News, 16/09/2016)
Oliver Stone's new film, Snowden, offers a fresh look at the US intelligence leaker. It could make some people change their minds about him.
Washington is a town of secrets.
The intelligence community, a constellation of agencies known only by their acronyms (CIA, NSA and others), is located in this area.
And Georgetown, an upmarket neighbourhood in the northwest section, is the place where its operatives go to have a beer and share hush-hush tidbits - or to say nothing, depending on their mood.
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"16 September 2016 - Oliver Stone's Snowden", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), septembre 2016. Consulté le 26/08/2019. URL: http://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/key-story/archives-revue-de-presse-2016/16-september-2016-oliver-stone-s-snowden