War for the Planet of the Apes

The final film in the ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel trilogy is the best yet, a bleak, thoughtful war film with Andy Serkis at his best

War_for_the_Planet_of_the_Apes_posterI’m floored by “War for the Planet of the Apes.” It has been a point of contention among critics as to why a blockbuster such as this one should be so grave, serious and grim. But the ambition it takes to make a film about talking chimps so emotional, gripping and moving is staggering. That more Hollywood movies don’t strive to evoke “Apocalypse Now,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “Platoon” is a war crime. The horror, indeed.

This “Planet of the Apes” prequel trilogy has been an exercise in madness. Slowly we’ve seen Caesar grow and evolve from being a precocious and smart monkey in “Rise” to having the motion capture technology fully capture Andy Serkis’s simmering rage and intensity. “Dawn” opened with the apes living peacefully in the woods, building a society as human civilization has crumbled. Now that’s gone, and director Matt Reeves has put in its place a bleak fight for survival. Continue reading “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Shattered Glass

Watching “Shattered Glass” makes me reconsider the importance I gave to all of my heated discussions in the newsroom. Here is a movie that treats human interest story telling with starry-eyed fascination and yet is so sympathetic and tepid without ever boiling down to the real story at stake.

The story of Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) is well known by me and any of my peers who have taken a journalistic ethics course in the last 10 years. Glass was a young reporter for The New Republic, a Washington D.C. based political mag with a distribution that included Air Force One, who in 1998 was found to have either partially or fully fabricated more than half of the 40 magazine features he wrote. He had for some time duped his editors by showing only his hand-written notes as evidence for fact checking. But when a small online tech magazine stumbled across a story he did on a hacker infiltrating a major software company, it was revealed that the company, the people, the locations and all the details had been complete fiction. To cover his tracks, he created phony business cards and websites and even had his brother pose as a source.

Glass’s story is more interesting than the movie is. Not only has “Shattered Glass” managed to horribly date itself in less than a decade, it goes about portraying Glass all wrong. Continue reading “Shattered Glass”