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James Franco and those damn dirty "Apes."

Variety is reporting that James Franco has been cast in a prequel to "Planet of the Apes" entitled "Rise of the Apes." He'll play a "young, driven scientist who becomes a crucial figure" in a war between mankind and genetically engineered super-apes. If he's very lucky, he may even yell "You maniacs!" while wearing a loincloth. The film goes into production in July for a June 2011 release. Though the project is being billed as a prequel, it's also...

Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, collaborators in anger.

Some actor-director pairings are legendary: Anthony Mann and James Stewart, François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud, Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Tsai Ming-liang and Lee Kang-sheng. To that illustrious list, we have lately been invited to add another pair: Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. At first, the idea seems too spurious to even think about. And yet... To date, Scott and Crowe have collaborated five times: "Gladiator...

Eight memorably disgusting cinematic meals.

The most important event of last week was clearly the introduction of KFC's Double Down, a sandwich that replaces the bread with chicken patties, to the mass public. I'm not going to try it, because I'm terrified that it could dehydrate me for the rest of the day (1380 mg of sodium!), but it's certainly a food milestone of some kind. In honor of the culinary Kraken being released upon the world, here's seven memorable cinematic meals, for better or worse. Actually, just worse...

Seven notably high concept movies.

The "high concept" movie (a much-abused term) is one whose premise can be summed up in a sentence, if not within the title itself -- for instance, what happens when a bored married couple's "Date Night" goes wrong? Wacky fun! The ideas is that the easy hook goes over well with your stereotypical movie executive -- it becomes the selling point rather than the actors or characters. If it sounds irresistible (and/or ridiculous), people will show up hoping to see exactly what...

Resurrecting "The Great Mouse Detective."

When Tim Burton arrived at Disney in 1979, fresh out of CalArts, he was put to work on 1981's "The Fox and the Hound," one of the more forgettable films of the Disney cel animation era. It was rough for him: working on a story he had no connection to, thematically or visually, he ended up sleeping 14 hours a day, sometimes sitting in a closet or under his desk to avoid seeing anyone. It's a neat metaphor for how Disney's animation department was beginning to feel. The new documentary...

Animators who have made the live-action leap.

It's a pleasant surprise to see that Brad Bird is being considered as a possible director for "Mission Impossible IV," a game of musical chairs that is said to include "Zombieland"'s Ruben Fleischer and Edgar Wright. Of course, "The Iron Giant" director has never helmed a live-action feature before, though that shouldn't be a stumbling block if the action choreography in "The Incredibles" is any indication. (Bird's already had been working on...

What do Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton see in each other?

Judging by the early word-of-mouth on "Alice In Wonderland," maybe I'm not the only one to find post-millennial Tim Burton unwatchable. Next up, Burton's sitting on top of the unpromisingly titled "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter," which he'll produce in partnership with "Wanted"'s Timur Bekmambetov. The book is from the author of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," of course. This will be the second time Burton and Bekmambetov have collaborated...

"Alice in Wonderland" through the years.

Screenwriter John August's reliably insightful blog caused a stir yesterday with a post about the misconception that he wrote the latest adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic. It's an understandable mistake, since August has collaborated on four films with "Alice" director Tim Burton, including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Big Fish." But then, he proceeds to explain the "recurring motif" of working on other "Alice"-related projects...
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