Shock the Monkey: Matt Reeves Brings Us the Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Caesar (Andy Serkis) doesn’t like what he sees.

French novelist Pierre Boulle’s alternative universe in which apes rule the planet has long fascinated Hollywood. It spawned five movies between 1968 and 1974, a TV series, plus a remake in the early 2000s. Those releases have been a mixed bag. The original Planet Of The Apes starring Charlton Heston is universally considered a classic, while everything that followed fell far short of the bar it had set. Even the reimagining by Tim Burton didn’t really live up to the lofty expectations. Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 reboot Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes with James Franco, Freida Pinto, and Andy Serkis finally managed to reestablish the standard of the first film – but is its sequel, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, up to par?

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Attacked by Monsters: The Return of the American Godzilla

Godzilla prepares to save mankind.
Godzilla prepares to save mankind.

Everybody loves Godzilla, the world-famous Japanese monster. At least most people seem to like it enough so that Hollywood has decided to bring it back to the silver screen after a 16-year hiatus once more. Not that it’s the least bit surprising, given the American film industry’s recent penchant for remakes, reboots, and sequels. The dinosaur-like beast has been around for six decades since its first appearance now. In a way, the new Godzilla by director Gareth Edwards is therefore also a kind of birthday present for one of Japan’s favorite export goods.

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Journey Into Space: Reawakening the Giant in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine, right) and his First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto, left) meet their archenemy Khan Noonian Singh (Benedict Cumberbatch, center).
Captain Kirk (Chris Pine, right) and his First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto, left) meet their archenemy Khan Noonian Singh (Benedict Cumberbatch, center).

In 2009, the Star Trek reboot by J.J. Abrams clearly divided the devout ‘trekkies.’ The picture shed a different light on several beloved characters from the original television and movie series – including a new version of Spock who actually showed some emotions and an older ego of the same Vulcan contributing to the creation of an alternate universe. Some loved the new angle; others despised it. The film became a smashing box-office success regardless, so there was never much of debate about the sequel. Star Trek: Into Darkness comes with major expectations, especially by those fans who found the first reboot movie too big a deviation from Gene Roddenberry’s creation.

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Sexual Healing: Charlotte Gainsbourg Enters the Dark Side in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. II

Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg, center) tries to revive her sex life.
Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg, center) tries to revive her sex life.

The second act of Nymphomaniac isn’t the first sequel shot by notorious Danish director Lars von Trier; that honor belongs to the horror movie Epidemic. Yet his latest two-part film carries the distinction that it comes with the first cinematic cliffhanger in his storied career – one that works almost like a coitus interruptus in the context of a promiscuous woman. Whereas the first part of Nymphomaniac narrates the story of a young female sex addict, the second half finally reveals how she ended up in the hermit’s house.

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Lust for Life: Charlotte Gainsbourg Becomes Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. I

Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg, left) tells the wise older hermit Seligman (Stellan Starsgård) all about her life as a nymphomaniac.
Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg, left) tells the wise older hermit Seligman (Stellan Starsgård) all about her life as a nymphomaniac.

Lars von Trier has never run away from controversy. The Danish enfant terrible has rather made a career out of embracing it – whether by being banned from the Cannes Film Festival for fascist remarks or by tackling the lives of mentally challenged people in Idiots. Whereas his 2011 feature, Melancholia starring Kirsten Dunst, was a lugubrious ballad about the world’s end, Lars von Trier returns to his familiar stomping grounds of explicit sex and violence in his new double-dip Nymphomaniac with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Starsgård, and Shia LaBeouf.

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Back in the U.S.S.R.: William Hurt Investigates Soviet-Style in Michael Apted’s Gorky Park

Arkady Renko (William Hurt, right) tries to shed a light on the role of Irina Asanova (Joanna Pacula, left) in the brutal murder of three people.
Arkady Renko (William Hurt, right) tries to shed a light on the role of Irina Asanova (Joanna Pacula, left) in the brutal murder of three people.

For half of a century, the Soviet Union was the one big enemy of all Western countries as well as a welcome antagonist in a myriad of books, movies, and television shows. Portraits of the socialist empire were usually fairly one-sided and sketchy. It was the time of the Cold War, after all, and the ‘Free World’ of capitalism was seen as the polar opposite of the Russian-led ‘Evil Empire’ from the East. The crime novel Gorky Park by American writer Martin Cruz Smith was probably one of the first serious attempts to craft a story set in the Soviet Union. A fine thriller making its way all to the top of the New York Times bestsellers, it came as no surprise that the book was soon adapted to the big screen by Hollywood. In light of the more recent global events, it’s perhaps also not a bad idea to revisit the movie.

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Slaves & Masters: The 86th Annual Academy Awards Coverage

'And the Oscar goes to...'
‘And the Oscar goes to…’

It’s that time of the year again. Hollywood appreciates itself by handing out prestigious golden trophies. 2013 was full of surprises, both in a positive and in a negative way. This year’s class trots out its fair share of favorites, ranging from a satire on capitalism and stockbrokers (The Wolf Of Wall Street) and a spy tragicomedy (American Hustle) to classic science-fiction (Gravity), historical drama (12 Years A Slave), and contemporary drama (Dallas Buyers Club).

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Money for Nothing: Martin Scorsese Makes Leonardo DiCaprio The Wolf Of Wall Street

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio, right) may be the Wolf of Wall Street - but at home, 'pussy runs the show' in the shape of his wife Naomi (Margot Robbie, left).
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio, right) may be the Wolf of Wall Street – but at home, ‘pussy runs the show’ in the shape of his wife Naomi (Margot Robbie, left).

After some rather unconventional career choices lately, Martin Scorsese has finally returned to the world he knows best – that of the real-life gangsters transported to the big screen. For The Wolf Of Wall Street, he has also brought back his favorite actor of the last decade and a half, Leonardo DiCaprio. This time, however, the seasoned director and his disciple haven’t taken on the challenge to deal with some of the lowlifes from their previous collaborations. The protagonists of The Wolf Of Wall Street are New York stockbrokers that actually existed and chiseled millions out of unsuspecting, mostly working-class victims. With Martin Scorsese back in his element at last, will he be able deliver another masterpiece?

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The Golden Mile: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost & Edgar Wright Celebrate The World’s End

Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Gary King (Simon Pegg), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman, from left to right) don't believe their own eyes.
Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Gary King (Simon Pegg), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman, from left to right) don’t believe their own eyes.

Acting duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have worked together on and off the screen ever since the British late 1990s cult sitcom Spaced. With the zombie spoof Shaun Of The Dead, comedians the two and their director friend from the same show, Edgar Wright, entered the film landscape with a bang in 2004. Three years later, the threesome came back with the utterly brilliant police comedy Hot Fuzz. Now, about a decade after their first movie success, the trio returns for more with The World’s End. One big question remains: Will it be more of the same, in a good sense, or have their tricks suddenly become old in the meantime?

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Fun in Space: Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills Not Only in This World

Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) shoots his way through Mexico, Texas - and even into outer space.
Machete Cortez (Danny Trejo) shoots his way through Mexico, Texas – and even into outer space.

There were times when Machete was but a bloodthirsty creature from one of the many fake trailers for the Grindhouse double-dip of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof and Planet Terror by his old friend Robert Rodriguez. Yet a full-blown effort by fans eventually forced the hands of the two filmmaking buddies, and the character re-emerged as the hero of a trilogy of full-length features much in the same manner as the previous Grindhouse entries. Now the knife-throwing Mexican scarface is back for more with Machete Kills, but will he be deliver?

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Alyona (Valeria Lanskaya) has just received a call from the future.

Future Management: Funny and Romantic Disaster Control in The New Year Calling Plan

Alyona (Valeria Lanskaya) has just received a call from the future.
Alyona (Valeria Lanskaya) has just received a call from the future.

New Year’s is an entirely different beast in Russia than in most other countries. For historical reasons, it’s basically Christmas and the rest of the holiday season rolled into one. The turn of the year is what Russians celebrate big time, and it’s also when they receive their gifts. That is why every December romantic, often fantastic films about the magic of New Year enter the movie theaters of the former Soviet Union. The New Year Calling Plan is a 2008 representative of the genre, a modern Russian equivalent of Back To The Future meets romance that practically hasn’t drawn any attention outside the country since it was released.

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Flash For Fantasy: Returning to Middle-Earth in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is scored of the prospects.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is scared of the prospects.

Upon its late 2012 release, the first The Hobbit movie by Peter Jackson, An Unexpected Journey, was greeted by rather mixed reviews. Still, fans of the Kiwi director and of Middle Earth creator J.R.R. Tolkien alike have been desperately waiting for the second part of the trilogy, The Desolation Of Smaug, for a year. While we’ve come to expect epic filmmaking from Peter Jackson, the beginning of the saga was fairly disappointing in many ways. For that reason, there’s one big question surrounding the sequel. Is The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug able to correct some of the flaws of An Unexpected Journey?

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Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson, left) and Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn, right) pursue their Mountain View dream.

Google is Your Friend: Shawn Levy’s The Internship, Or a Commercial of a Different Kind

Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson, left) and Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn, right) pursue their Mountain View dream.
Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson, left) and Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn, right) pursue their Mountain View dream.

‘Frat Pack’ members Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have been partners in crime on several comedy projects in the past, most notably as the genuinely funny womanizing Wedding Crashers. So on paper, their latest collaboration, The Internship, directed by Shawn Levy and co-penned by Jared Stern and no other than Vaughn himself, sounds like a great idea – especially when you factor in appearances by John Goodman, Max Minghella, Rose Byrne, and Will Ferrell. In theory, the star-laden $58 million film looks very promising, but what about in practice?

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Basket Case: James Stewart Defends Ben Gazzara in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy Of A Murder

Paul Biegler (James Stewart, center) is caught between a rock - Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara, right) - an a hard place - Laura Manion (Lee Remick, left).

James ‘Jimmy’ Stewart is one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors of all time. His noteworthy movies range from an Oscar-winning performance in Frank Capra’s The Philadelphia Story to becoming an Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite in Rear Window and Vertigo. After ‘Hitch’ had infamously ditched him for Cary Grant on North By Northwest, James Stewart managed to team up with another great European émigré director, Otto Preminger, for one of his better roles – the leading part in the courtroom drama Anatomy Of A Murder.

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Devils & Dust: The Corruption of Nicolas Cage in John Dahl’s Red Rock West

Drifter Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage) stares into the radiator of a car - and into the face of death.

Remember when Nicolas Cage was one of the more respected actors of the Hollywood family? It may appear like eons ago, but in the 1990s, he had a remarkable run of movies that worked and increased his reputation. Nicolas Cage couldn’t do any wrong – or so it seemed. He had the male starring role in David Lynch’s Wild At Heart, became a rom-com favorite with such films as Honeymoon In Vegas and It Could Happen To You, and even scooped an Oscar as best leading man for Leaving Las Vegas. Then he turned into an action hero in the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbusters The Rock and Con Air. One of the underrated gems from this period in Nicolas Cage’s career is Red Rock West, an indie road movie/noir by John Dahl.

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