Virunga

Brangelina in Mr and Mrs Smith

It’s not super huge news that Brad Pitt is in negotiations to star in Angelina Jolie‘s third directorial effort, Africa (the real story might be why he has to negotiate to star in his own wife’s movie). They’re both appearing together in her upcoming feature By the Sea, and it makes sense that they’d like to keep working together. But this is Brad and Angelina — Brangelina if anyone’s still calling them that — and a biopic now worth paying attention to. Not just because Jolie will again collaborate with director of photography Roger Deakins, who is currently Oscar-nominated for her second feature as director, Unbroken (but not shooting By the Sea), but because I can’t imagine Pitt playing the guy he’s playing — that’d be paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey. The focus of Africa will be on Leakey’s work for the Kenya Wildlife Service, through which he made many enemies while battling the elephant poaching trade. Consider this the pachyderm equivalent of Gorillas in the Mist, maybe, although Leakey was never killed by poachers like Dian Fossey was. However, and I’m sure this has to be part of Jolie’s movie, Leakey did have his legs crushed in an airplane crash that is thought to have been caused by his foes.

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Ciao-Maschio-2

Earlier this week, I wrote about one of the worst movies ever made, Congo. It’s actually just a single example of the many terrible movies involving apes and monkeys, which form a whole subcategory in the worst movies of all time canon. The group includes titles where actors wear gorilla suits as well as those where real chimps, orangutans or other primates are trained to play sports, drive cars, wear costumes of their own or provide comic relief in some other fashion. Thank goodness we have something like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and now its sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to make us forget about the crap that’s come before it. Yet there has also been a lot of great ape movies ahead of this rebooted Planet of the Apes series. Most of them are documentaries, but there are a number of fiction films and dramas based on true stories that ought to be recognized, to keep them in the spotlight while leaving stuff like Congo, Ed, Buddy, Link, Dunston Checks In and so many more in the shadows where they belong. Of course, as this week’s big movie is a sequel to a reboot, it’s recommended that you also look back at the originals. At least the first Planet of the Apes and second sequel Escape From the Planet of the Apes and definitely not Tim Burton’s 2001 remake. Also, obviously Rise (obviously, right, but I went to see Dawn with someone who didn’t even know […]

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Virunga Film

Virunga National Park is a place like no other on earth. Its history, its biodiversity and its overwhelming beauty distinguish it from everywhere else in the entire continent of Africa. Yet these constant, long-standing resources are being threatened. Virunga, a new documentary by London-based filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel, is a breakneck tour of recent developments in the park. This place is not only a physical treasure but the epicenter of an almost unbelievable 21st century geopolitical earthquake. To keep this enormous story within the realm of comprehension, Von Einsiedel isolates a few major characters. There’s Emmanuel de Merode, the Belgian warden of the park who has been appointed by the Congolese government. Beneath him is Rodrigue, a local lieutenant who believes just as strongly in the protection of Virunga. Such faith is important. Between poachers and the all-too-recently concluded civil war a total of 130 guards have been killed over the years. The danger persists, and Von Einsiedel follows Rodrigue on armed patrols through the forest and the grassland. If there is a literal front line in the fight to preserve the environment, it is here. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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published: 01.29.2015
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published: 01.28.2015
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published: 01.28.2015
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published: 01.28.2015
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