John Lithgow

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A planet where apes evolved from men? Well, not exactly, if you follow the film versions of the Planet of the Apes series. Based somewhat on the fourth film in the series Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the story of how tinkering with genetic make-up of a species might just lead to humanity’s demise. Rise of the Planet of the Apes re-rebooted the more-than 40-year-old franchise and sets the stage for the much buzzed about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (we liked it a lot). It also gave an opportunity to show the nuance and artistry involved in performance capture, courtesy of Weta Digital and Andy Serkis For its initial Blu-ray and DVD release, director Rupert Wyatt sat down with his film and talked about the production in his stand-alone commentary. Along with some gushing over James Franco and an answer to the greatest meme of 2011 (“Why cookie rocket?”), Wyatt examines the technical side of the film as well as the performances for both human and non-human characters.

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Love Is Strange

Ahh, the wedding movie. It doesn’t matter how old, or how sexually preferenced the to-be-betrothed are — once we take in those familiar sights and sounds, the same feeling comes rushing back. The early morning jitters. The cordial, yet heart-softening classical music. The phrase “We are gathered here today…” There’s no use fighting the cliches, Love Is Strange. Once director Ira Sachs plants both feet in wedding territory, he must follow wedding movie tradition and introduce something horrible to disrupt this picturesque moment. Will it be hordes of big fat Greek family members? A rogue planet headed on a collision course with Earth? Before long, the trailer gives us the answer: Love Is Strange is in a gay recession.

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Tribeca Film Festival

The New York City skyline is one of the tired titans of American imagery. To put it more charitably, it’s awfully difficult to fill a movie with classic images of Gotham and finish with something original and interesting. In Ira Sachs‘s newest feature, Love Is Strange, one of his characters goes to the trouble of actually painting the view of Manhattan from a Brooklyn roof. This particular canvas becomes one of the most emotionally charged symbols of the film. In the hands of a less assured director, it would be entirely ponderous.

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Drinking Games

It’s a thin week when it comes to DVD releases, so we’re reaching into the vault (which is like reaching into the back of the refrigerator for that last glorious beer). Because we have The Watch coming at the end of the week, we’ll be taking a look at a very different alien invasion comedy: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Not everyone understands the awesomeness that comes in this adventure of the swashbuckling genius neurosurgeon, physicist and rock star that is Buckaroo Banzai. It was ahead of its time when it was released in 1984, and few people understood it back than. But who knows. With some alcohol in your system, you might just understand it a little bit more (or at least think you do).

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Culture Warrior

Warning: this editorial contains spoilers for Rise of the Planet of the Apes (and, for that matter, the original Planet of the Apes). Consider yourself warned, you maniacs! The original Planet of the Apes lends itself quite readily to allegory. 1968, the year of the film’s release, was the peak of one of the most tumultuous eras in American social history. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in April of that year, and Robert F. Kennedy’s death followed a mere two months later. Student resistance and campus demonstrations grew increasingly violent in their opposition to the Vietnam War, the Chicago DNC broke into an all-out war, and racial discord mounted. Of course, none of this had happened yet when Planet of the Apes went into production, but the intersections of intent and circumstance that permit the film to be read so heavily, so variously, and so often in allegorical terms enrich the original film and its sequels with resonance that outlives whatever else may date it. Beyond entertainment value, the Planet of the Apes series has lingered in the popular imagination not because of any strong connection to a specific associative meaning, but because of the many possible allegorical readings it is capable of containing. One of several reasons that Rise of the Planet of the Apes succeeds where previous reincarnations of the series did not is its reclaimed capacity for allegory.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads into a lab to liberate some apes, but they rise up, beat him down and fling their poo all over him. He washes up and heads home to his family, secretly longing for the swinging lifestyle of fellow FSR staffers like Neil Miller, Robert Fure and Rob Hunter. But since he doesn’t get a chance to pee in a fountain with any of them, he doesn’t get a chance to switch bodies with them, a la The Change-Up. This is probably a good thing because few people can take the awesomessness of his body.

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Arrow Video has quickly made a name for themselves as one of the top labels for genre cinema in general and Dario Argento’s films in particular. Their Blu-ray releases of Argento’s work have seen their fair share of ups and downs though with some being near reference quality and others showing real issues in the video and/or audio departments. Now Arrow has released a new Blu-ray from another well known director, their first from the man many critics (inexplicably) appointed the heir to Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense-filled throne. Will their first foray into Brian DePalma’s films fare better than some of Argento’s? The Movie: Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) is a well to do businessman living in New Orleans with his beautiful wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold) and daughter. A party winds down and the family settles in for the night, but Courtland soon discovers his wife and child missing and a ransom note demanding cash. He pays what’s asked of him, but a botched rescue attempt by police leads to the death of both his wife and daughter. Years later the still bereft widower finds himself in Italy on a business trip and wanders into the church where he had first met Elizabeth… and where he meets a young woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his dead wife.

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While everyone else on the web continues to lose their marbles over the new Harry Potter trailer, which I still haven’t seen, a far more surprising and interesting trailer has hit the web: a 60-second international ad for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What’s so damn cool about this trailer is that it mostly focuses on Caesar’s perspective. You’d think Fox would stick to James Franco‘s point of view, but thankfully they’ve put out something a little more ambitious.

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When I first read the title Rise of the Apes I was hoping that it was going to be a big budget prequel of one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 subjects of scrutiny 1987’s Time of the Apes. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a direct connection. Rise of the Apes is going to be one of those humans versus talking apes movies made famous by the legendary Planet of the Apes though. This one seems to be set on modern day Earth and it tells the story of a science experiment gone wrong. In this movie James Franco plays a geneticist that accidentally creates a race of super intelligent monkeys who revolt against their human overlords and try to take over our society. It just sounds like something James Franco would do. Freida Pinto is also set to star, and Andy Serkis will be playing some sort of monkey character. And toss in a little Brian Cox and John Lithgow for good measure. None of this is new news though. The big development when it comes to this monkey movie is that Fox is moving up its release date. Originally it was scheduled to come out on Thanksgiving, but now it will join the end of summer blockbuster hopefuls with an August 5th release. I imagine that we should take this as good news. Moving a film from the fall to the summer must mean that somebody at the studio has watched a cut of this thing […]

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I have to assume that our simian friends attack the eyes first, and Planet of the Rise of the Apes promises to do the same at some point in the near future. The remake/sequel/prequel seems to be rolling along unhindered and just got its villain in the form of veteran actor Brian Cox. According to The Wrap: Hollywood, the actor has signed on as a man who keeps a sanctuary but mistreats all the animal inhabitants – meaning that Cox can finally add “Evil Ape Sanctuary Owner” to his list of roles. We’ll do the honorable thing and avoid the monkey-slapping jokes (because there will be plenty of time for them later) and instead simply report that the actor’s talent will be paired up with Andy Serkis, James Franco, Freida Pinto, and John Lithgow. A formidable cast, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an unnecessary remake/prequel to a decade’s old franchise that already got the remake treatment earlier in the decade.

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John Lithgow Frieda Pinto

HeatVision is reporting that John Lithgow and Freida Pinto have signed on to star in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming Rise Of the Apes. The film is a prequel to Tim Burton’s misguided and deservedly maligned reboot with Mark Wahlberg from 2001. The only part of that movie that works is the practical makeup/suits for the ape design. Which is something they’re reportedly replacing with CGI for the prequel…

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Craig Brewer

According to Variety, Craig Brewer (of Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan acclaim) will be jumping on to direct and rewrite Paramount’s Footloose remake. Brewer will start casting immediately for a summer shooting start.

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dexter-311

We may be a film site here, but all good rejects love some TV, Dexter especially, as it is truly TV at its most cinematic. Those at Comic-Con got first looks at this, but I’m very grateful to Showtime for allowing us mere mortals, that live whole countries away, the chance to see the “Dexter” teaser.

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30rock-goodbyefriend

When Liz meets a pregnant teenager who’s thinking about giving up the baby once it’s born, she befriends the girl in an attempt to be first in line for adoption consideration.

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Curiously, Santa Claus: The Movie is one of those Christmas movies that, unless you were a child in the 80s, or had a child in the 80s, you completely missed out on.

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