Citizenfour (2014)

Not just a brilliant documentary, but an excellent horror film too.

At multiple points during the film I’d marvel yet again that this wasn’t some spy or espionage film, this was as authentic as it gets, the real deal. Director Laura Poitras does great work compiling the events of Snowden’s revelations as clearly as they could be without diluting or imposing too much external bias over them. This isn’t an excessively cinematic documentary, the majority of the film is just Snowden talking in a hotel room. Poitras elegantly and deliberately adds just enough framing and information to contextualise those scenes.

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While Oliver Stone’s 2016 “Snowden” isn’t a bad film, “Citizenfour” is definitely the film to watch instead. I find it difficult to assess documentaries as I haven’t watched nearly as many as I have regular films, so I’m unsure how much bearing the more technical aspects behind a film should serve here. But as an informative work, it definitely excels, and it even gets some natural thrills and tension in there just by documenting so clearly the realities of what happened. I give it four and a half fire alarms, and a four-letter password.

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