Throughout December, Ben Sachs and I will take turns writing about our ten favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

I’m not in the habit of tumbling for summer popcorn movies, but I must confess that I had a ripping good time with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the venerable sci-fi franchise and a kinda-sorta remake of its best sequel, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. I grew up with the original series, which undoubtedly accounts for my enjoyment of the new installment, but its tale of a research chimpanzee who becomes highly intelligent and launches an ape revolt against the human race also resonates as a PETA-style indictment of our malign power relationship with the animal kingdom. In that respect I may not have responded to the movie as much as I did if not for Michael Webber’s startling documentary The Elephant in the Living Room, which screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center in April.