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Posts Tagged ‘Gary Oldman’

Jason Clarke and (beneath the CGI) Andy Serkis

Jason Clarke and (beneath the CGI) Andy Serkis

“DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES”  My rating: B (Opening wide on July 11)

130n minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Despite the overwhelming evidence, there is no rule that big summer blockbuster films have to be insufferably dumb.

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is actually pretty smart.

Oh, not in its plotting, which is all too familiar. Or in the acting from the “human” cast, which is perfunctory.

But in creating a  world 10 years after the great ape revolution depicted in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,”  director Matt Reeves (“Let Me In,” “Cloverfield”) and his huge team (the closing credits feel as long as the rest of the movie) have given us a vision that is part Eden, part sci-fi dystopia and populated with monkeys who at their best generate real emotions.

The film begins with a thrilling deer hunt by ape leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his followers through the primordial greenery of Muir Woods.  Screenwriters Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Mark Bomback envision the apes as a sort of undiscovered South American tribe living in a sprawling Ewok-ish town of massive “nests.”

These apes eschew the technology of the humans who once persecuted them, but they do make their own weapons of wood and stone.  Most communicate through sign language (we get subtitles), though Caesar and a few other chimps have learned to speak. They create their own versions of totem poles (assemblages of sticks and animal bones) and some of the females even wear rudimentary jewelry.

Most striking of all, the apes have a school, taught by an orangutan who understands human writing. (In the previous film we learned how the simians gained human-like intelligence as subjects in a military experiment.)

(more…)

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Gary Oldman as George Smiley

“TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY” My rating: B+ (Opening January 6 at the Glenwood Arts)

127 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Gary Oldman is often described as an actor’s actor…which in his case apparently means an incurable ham.

Oldman’s career is heavily weighted toward over-the-top, push-too-far performances. Sometimes this is forgivable, particularly when he’s in a bad movie and his fierce scenery gnawing is the only remotely entertaining thing in sight.

Too often over the years, though, I’ve found him to be a jarring pothole in a movie’s narrative highway.

Now I can happily report that in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” Oldman gives a marvelously restrained, subtle and carefully modulated performance.

He plays British spymaster George Smiley, the owlish Cold War protagonis of several John LeCarre novels — a role essayed by Alec Guinness in the 1979  PBS adaptation of “TTSS.” And he is quietly wonderful.

The movie’s not too shabby, either. (more…)

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“KUNG FU PANDA 2”  My rating: C

minutes | Rating: G

“Kung Fu Panda 2” is one of the most beautiful animated films ever, with fantastic action scenes, astonishingly detailed “sets” and a filmic sense worthy of any live-action epic.

It’s a good thing it’s so gorgeous, because dramatically it’s pretty much a wash.

Not awful. But not memorable.

This sequel assembles most of the voices from the first “Panda,” especially Jack Black (more…)

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