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Film — past, present and future
'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes': Six things to know

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” opens Friday with a head of steam. Reviews for the Fox release are strong, tracking is solid and the sequel of the reboot of the movie franchise based on a novel — yes, it’s a jungle-like tangle if ever there was one — is  poised to become a blockbuster in a summer season starving for them. But crafting a new tale of an emerging ape race three years after the original reboot (10 years in movie time, after a simian flu wiped out much of the human race) wasn’t easy. Here are six things to know about how the Matt Reeves movie is put together. [Warning: Plot spoilers ahead.]

Actors see, actors do.With all of the years passing since the destruction wreaked by the events of 2011's “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” most of the humans from that film are gone, replaced by a new batch led by scientist Jason Clarke and nurse Keri Russell. (If seeing the man who tracked down Osama bin Laden and the woman who gave us Felicity play leaders in a summer blockbuster...

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Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' nearly perfect, critics agree

The 12 years Richard Linklater spent making "Boyhood" appear to have been time well spent. The coming-of-age drama starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Lorelai Linklater (the director's daughter) and shot over more than a decade is garnering nearly unanimously positive reviews.

It currently boasts a "100% fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 99 out of 100 on Metacritic, making it the best-reviewed film of the year thus far.

The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey writes that Linklater has delivered "an extraordinarily intimate portrait of a life unfolding and an exceptional, unconventional film in which not much else occurs. Never has so little meant more." She adds, "There is wonder to be found in the very ordinariness of 'Boyhood,'" and "even after nearly three hours, I didn't want the movie to end."

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis says "Boyhood"is a "tender, profound film." She writes, "Radical in its conceit, familiar in its everyday details,...

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First Look: Pixar's 'Lava'

Uku, the lead character in Pixar Animation's new short film, is crusty and prone to eruptions, but with a warm core underneath -- the kind of man James Earl Jones might play.

But "Lava," the short by director James Ford Murphy, isn't about a man, it's about a volcano.

The seven-minute musical love story between two mountains -- Uku and Lele -- will premiere at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan in August.

Drawn to Hawaiian music and island culture as a kid growing up in Detroit watching Elvis movies, Murphy, an animator on Pixar's features since 1998's "A Bug's Life," got the idea for "Lava" more than 20 years ago while honeymooning on Hawaii's Big Island.

"I thought it would be so cool to fall in love with a place who’s also a character," Murphy said in an interview. "I wanted to make Uku appealing and likable but also look like he’s been carved out of lava flows."

As part of his pitch to executives at Pixar, Murphy learned to play ukulele and wrote a love song,...

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Ryan Gosling-Russell Crowe noir 'Nice Guys' lands at Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. has acquired North American rights to "The Nice Guys," a 1970s-set noir that will team Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe with "Iron Man 3" director Shane Black.

Black will direct the film, which he co-wrote with Anthony Bagarozzi. The story centers on a private detective and a hired bruiser investigating the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in Los Angeles.

Both Crowe and Gosling have experience playing hard-boiled types: Crowe in "L.A. Confidential" and "American Gangster," and Gosling in the less-successful "Gangster Squad."

Crowe is coming off his well-regarded performance in the biblical epic "Noah," but for Gosling, "The Nice Guys" marks a return to more commercial fare after a string of arthouse endeavors including "Only God Forgives," a critical and box-office dud, and his directorial debut, "Lost River," which garnered poor reviews at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

For Black, "The Nice Guys" should provide plenty of room to apply his usual combination of dark...

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'Snowpiercer,' VOD and the future of film distribution

On June 27, a bold new sci-fi film opened in theaters. Critics raved. Fanboys exulted. Word-of-mouth was overwhelmingly positive. No, it wasn’t “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Upon its release, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer” appeared to have the trappings of a summertime theatrical hit. It had a grabby premise (haves and have-nots battling it out on a train hurtling through a post-apocalyptic landscape). It had wall-to-wall action (sword fights, fistfights, gunfights). It had a major star (Chris Evans of the “Captain America" and "Avengers" franchises) and a compelling, daring actress (Tilda Swinton).

There was just one bump in the road to potential box office glory: “Snowpiercer” opened in only eight theaters. Yes, eight. That's 4,225 fewer than “Transformers" debuted in the very same day. 

Well, if you've been frustrated — or perhaps just bewildered — that you haven't yet been able to see one of the most acclaimed films of the summer (Rotten Tomatoes' score:...

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'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes': Critics just love the apes

Humans and apes are on the brink of war in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and movie critics are siding with the apes. According to the majority of reviews, "Dawn" is a refreshingly smart summer sequel — one in which the simians are the most compelling characters on screen.

The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan writes that "'Dawn's' vision of masses of intelligent apes swarming the screen as masters of all they survey is even more impressive than it was the last time around [in 2011's 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'] and reason enough to see the film all by itself." He adds that Andy Serkis is "in top form" as Caesar, the leader of the apes, turning "motion capture into an art form all by himself."

On the other hand, Turan says, "When it comes to telling the story of the ragtag bunch of humans who inevitably clash with the upwardly mobile apes, director Matt Reeves and screenwriters Rick Jaffa

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Elvis Mitchell new curator at L.A. Film Fest; David Ansen steps down

Less than a month after the end of this year's edition of the Los Angeles Film Festival, David Ansen is out as the festival's artistic director. Film Independent, the organization that puts on the festival, announced the move Thursday.

Elvis Mitchell, who is currently involved with Film Independent's ongoing series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art including the Live Read screenplay readings, will step into the newly created role as year-round Film Independent Curator.

This year Mitchell, a longtime critic, host and personality on the local film scene, was a programmer of the new L.A. Film Fest section called L.A. Muse. Mitchell also hosts the radio program "The Treatment."

“Unifying the Festival and our year-round programming under Elvis’ remarkable vision will facilitate Film Independent’s mission to support a community of diverse, innovative and unique-minded artists," said festival director Stephanie Allain in a press release announcing the changes. "I can’t wait to deepen...

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'Fast & Furious 7' wraps production, thanks fans for support

The long and winding journey of "Fast & Furious 7" passed a significant milestone Thursday, as the film wrapped production on the eve of its original release date.

Initially scheduled to open July 11, the Universal film was ultimately postponed to April 2015 after the death of Paul Walker in a car accident in November.

The filmmakers announced the completion of production via the "Fast & Furious" Facebook page and added a heartfelt message thanking fans for their support.

"Today we completed the last shot in the production of 'Fast & Furious 7,"

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'Wild' trailer: Reese Witherspoon blazes a trail toward redemption

Reese Witherspoon is roughing it on the road less traveled in the first trailer for "Wild," an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's bestselling 2012 memoir about her 1,1000-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

"Wild," directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who helmed the Oscar-winning AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club," and adapted by Nick Hornby ("An Education"), stars Witherspoon as Strayed, who at age 26 set out on her trek after the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother.

Witherspoon, 38, has not attracted the kind of attention in recent years that she did when she won an Oscar for "Walk the Line" in 2006, but "Wild" could change that. The trailer finds her enduring not only the physical hardships of her journey but also a crumbling personal life marked by reckless drug use and promiscuous sex.

Given the nature of the story, Witherspoon can be expected to shoulder the burden of the movie's acting load, much in the way of James Franco in "127 Hours," Robert Redford in "All...

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'Unbroken' trailer: Angelina Jolie drama laces up for Oscar race

"Unbroken," the Angelina Jolie-directed biopic about the Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, could be in for a race of its own.

The first trailer for the Universal Pictures film has debuted, and it bears many of the hallmarks of an awards-season contender, including an inspirational true story, a potential breakout performance and a pair of Oscar-winning screenwriters.

Based on the bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand, "Unbroken" traces Zamperini's remarkable journey from juvenile delinquent to Torrance High track star to Berlin Olympian to World War II airman to Japanese POW survivor.

The trailer provides a glimpse of what looks to be a fierce performance from newcomer Jack O'Connell as Zamperini as he survives a plane crash in the Pacific, 47 days adrift in a raft and two years of torture in a prison camp.

It's all backed by swelling music and handsome period visuals (the latter captured by ace cinematographer Roger Deakins), and drawn from a script most recently...

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Inarritu's 'Birdman' to spread wings as Venice Film Festival opener

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's black comedy "Birdman" will kick off this year's awards season as the opening film of the Venice Film Festival.

Starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up actor who made his name playing an iconic superhero but is currently struggling to stage a Broadway play, "Birdman" will premiere in competition at the festival on Aug. 27.

The star-studded cast also includes Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts.

Like last year's festival opener, "Gravity," which was directed by Inarritu's pal Alfonso Cuaron, "Birdman" is pegged as an early Oscar contender. "Gravity" screened out of competition at Venice but went on to a stellar awards-season run; among its many trophies was an Oscar for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who also shot "Birdman."

Among the many intriguing elements of "Birdman" are the prospects of Keaton riffing on his own past playing Batman, and Inarritu — known for serious dramas such as "Amores Perros," "Babel" and "Biutiful" —...

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For 'Planet of the Apes' ' Matt Reeves, several boyhood connections

When he was 13, Matt Reeves began directing homemade movies with a friend. The Los Angeles teenagers would collaborate on homages to the 1970s genre cinema all around them, making shorts that for Reeves included such childhood grandiosities as "Intergalactic Battles."

Reeves' boyhood chum didn't grow up to be an accountant or an orthodontist: He's J.J. Abrams, the high-profile creator of "Alias" and "Lost," and director of the new "Star Trek" reboots and the upcoming "Star Wars" sequel (and who in "Super 8" even made a nostalgic ode to his childhood pursuits with Reeves).

In the years since the two teamed up to create the 1990s college-set TV series "Felicity," they've had rather different careers.‎ Reeves spent a long time turning down movies offered to him, has also been turned down for gigs he wanted and made a well-reviewed vampire movie ("Let Me In") that few saw because the company releasing it went under.

His one hit was the low-budget monster movie "Cloverfield." It was...

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