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Andy Serkis

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

Back when I could afford to attend big outdoor sporting events, I invariably got gooseflesh during the pregame al fresco performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The Husky Marching Band does an especially bombs-bursting-in-air version. So maybe I’m a sucker for this kind of thing already, but I do think the deployment of the U.S. national anthem at a key moment in War for the Planet of the Apes constitutes one of the most truly spine-tingling moments of the movie year thus far. The gesture might sound pretentious—this is a sci-fi fantasy about monkeys, after all—but allegorical genre flicks have always thrived when told in big, broad strokes. Recall that the 1968 Chuck Heston Planet of the Apes, one of the greatest popcorn movies ever, tapped the Statue of Liberty for its trippy final image.

We are now three movies into the latest reboot of the Apes franchise, and finally in a groove.

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Videophiled: ‘Dawn’ of ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’

100ftjourneyThe Hundred-Foot Journey (Touchstone, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, VOD) is a film for our culture: a feel-foodie drama of racial tolerance, cross-cultural acceptance, and fusion cuisine. It’s produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (the classiest of contemporary feel-good filmmakers) and it stars Helen Mirren as the bastion of fine French cuisine and unshakable tradition in the prettiest little village in the South of France you’ll ever see in a movie.

The journey of the title is the distance between Mirren’s French restaurant, a one-star Michelin bastion of the region, and a new Indian restaurant opened by an immigrant family headed by Om Puri and represented in the kitchen by Manish Dayal, who learned the art from his late mother. There is a very underplayed romance between Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon, the young sous chef of Mirren’s establishment, but it is so understated you wonder if it’s actually catching fire at all.

There’s not a beat here that you will surprise you, nary a narrative turn you won’t see coming. While the proprietors go to war, hammering the Mayor with hassles about noise, zoning, and all sorts of nuisance complaints, Le Bon introduces Dayal to French cooking and it turns out that he’s a natural. Competition turns into cooperation and Mirren sponsors his entry into the world of competitive cuisine.

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Film Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

After much adversity, Caesar — the leader of the simian takeover of Earth — must admit a hard truth. His bickering, backstabbing ape brethren are much more like humans than they’d care to admit.

Ouch. Caesar’s grunted insight comes as no surprise as we’re watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the human population is not behaving admirably in the wake of the health apocalypse that killed off most of the population. In the time since the collapse, the apes have only gotten stronger. As you no doubt recall from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the successful 2011 reboot of a dormant franchise, the renegade primates got new brain power from an experimental drug and are just beginning to talk.

The best thing about Dawn is the opening 20 minutes or so, spent entirely with non-humans.

Continue reading at The Herald