retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Just a few notes this morning...

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is exactly what you expect it to be - a very entertaining science fiction move that serves as a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes, the 1968 classic that starred Charlton Heston. This film is technologically vastly superior - instead of using actors in ape masks, it uses digital images created by motion capture technology.

As a result, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has one amazing performance - by Andy Serkis, who previously used the technology tom play Gollum in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and King Kong in the peter Jackson-directed remake. As Caesar, an ape who evolves into an extraordinarily developed being, Serkis is nothing short of spectacular. It is hard to know where Serkis ends and the technology begins, but the total result is a fully developed performance that deserves send-of-year awards.

The rest of the film is good - it suggests that the apes rise because of genetic engineering gone wrong, though it is careful not to be too thoughtful or profound about this plot point. The cast - James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow - does its job, though the writing doesn’t allow them to do much more. And, as much as Rise lays the groundwork for more sequels, it also cleverly acknowledges the original film with a series of small plot points that aficionados will pick up.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is good enough, and a fun popcorn movie for an end-of-summer night out.

Sarah’s Key, on the other hand, is much better than good enough, and despite some deficiencies, is finally an extremely moving experience.

Starring Kristen Scott Thomas, Sarah’s Key is a French film that sometimes uses subtitles and sometimes English to tell its story about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, a real event in July 1942 when French authorities conducted a mass arrest of Jewish citizens as one way of assuaging Nazi occupiers. The Sarah of the title is a 10-year old girl who hides her younger brother in a closet when the authorities come to arrest her father, mother and her ... with tragic results. Sarah’s story is alternated with that of Julia Jarmond, a 2011 journalist investigating the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, and who finds a personal connection to Sarah’s life.

My only quibble with the film is that it seems sometimes to give moral equivalency to Sarah’s and Julia’s life circumstances, which doesn’t seem fair. But overall, Sarah’s Key is an illuminating, touching experience. I recommend it highly.

Some wines to recommend this weekend...

• the 2009 Gavi Borghero, from Italy, is what I would call a good peasant white wine, great for summer.

the 2010 Pie de Palo Viognier, from Argentina, is lovely, with a nice pear thing going for it.

and, best of all, the 2010 Chateau Haut Selve, from France’s Bordeaux region, is a fabulously lush white wine that will knock your socks off.

All, by the way, are available from Nicholas Roberts Ltd. which powers the MNB Wine Club. The August wine club selections are still available for limited time, and to get more information, about this new MNB offering CLICK HERE.

That’s it for this week...I’ll see you Monday.
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