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'Apes' director Matt Reeves: I wanted to push ... Caesar's story into the realm of the mythic'

Los Angeles Times

When he was 8 years old, Matt Reeves started making 8-millimeter movies inspired by his love for the original "Planet of the Apes." "I'd have my friends put on gorilla masks and run around shooting these little sci-fi films," he recalls. "As a kid, I was captivated by these images of horses with apes on them." Decades later, Reeves, perched on a sofa in his tidy Hollywood office, has taken his fascination with primate cinema to a whole new level as the auteur behind the 2014 performance-capture blockbuster "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and this summer's "War for the Planet of the Apes." Taking the reins from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" director Rupert Wyatt, Reeves, lauded for his low-budget horror hit "Cloverfield," initially harbored reservations about helming Twentieth Century Fox's multimillion-dollar franchise.


'The Women's Balcony,' 'Moonlight' and more critics' picks, March 3-9

Los Angeles Times

Arrival Amy Adams stars in this elegant, involving science-fiction drama that is simultaneously old and new, revisiting many alien-invasion conventions but with unexpected intelligence, visual style and heart. Elle Paul Verhoeven's brilliantly booby-trapped thriller starring Isabelle Huppert is a gripping whodunit, a tour de force of psychological suspense and a wickedly droll comedy of manners. La La Land Starring a well-paired Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, writer-director Damien Chazelle's tuneful tribute to classic movie musicals is often stronger in concept than execution, but it's lovely and transporting all the same. Manchester by the Sea Powerful, emotional filmmaking that leaves a scar, Kenneth Lonergan's drama starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams is both heartbreaking and heartening, a film that just wallops you with its honesty, its authenticity and its access to despair.


'Moonlight,' 'Manchester by the Sea' and more critics' picks, Feb. 17-23

Los Angeles Times

Elle Paul Verhoeven's brilliantly booby-trapped thriller starring Isabelle Huppert is a gripping whodunit, a tour de force of psychological suspense and a wickedly droll comedy of manners. I Am Not Your Negro As directed by the gifted Raoul Peck, this documentary on James Baldwin uses the entire spectrum of movie effects, not only spoken language but also sound, music, editing and all manner of visuals, to create a cinematic essay that is powerful and painfully relevant. La La Land Starring a well-paired Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, writer-director Damien Chazelle's tuneful tribute to classic movie musicals is often stronger in concept than execution, but it's lovely and transporting all the same. Manchester by the Sea Powerful, emotional filmmaking that leaves a scar, Kenneth Lonergan's drama starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams is both heartbreaking and heartening, a film that just wallops you with its honesty, its authenticity and its access to despair.


Director Denis Villeneuve embraces the unknown with 'Arrival'

Los Angeles Times

"At one point in my life I had to choose between mathematics and cinema," says "Arrival" director Denis Villeneuve, who sees a similarity in the two disciplines: problem-solving. On a recent busy weekend during a break from editing the hotly anticipated "Blade Runner" sequel, Villeneuve sat down to talk about a handful of mysteries: the vagaries of Oscar recognition, movie manipulation and the ways the real world re-contextualizes your film for you. How important was that to making "Arrival" work? Me, I think this relationship with the unknown, the mystery of life, is so powerful and beautiful.


'Land of Mine,' 'Tanna' and more critics' picks, Feb. 10-16

Los Angeles Times

The Eagle Huntress A portrait of a 13-year-old Kazakh girl from Mongolia who defies eons of tradition by learning to hunt with fierce golden eagles is a documentary so satisfying it makes you feel good about feeling good. La La Land Starring a well-paired Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, writer-director Damien Chazelle's tuneful tribute to classic movie musicals is often stronger in concept than execution, but it's lovely and transporting all the same. Land of Mine Explosive devices that can detonate at any moment are intrinsically dramatic, and this Danish World War II film makes good use of that plot mechanism, but it has a whole lot more going for it as well. Loving Beautifully acted by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, this involving, socially conscious Jeff Nichols drama shows the personal lives of the interracial couple whose marriage led to the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional.