Chilly Scenes

A Winter Movie Preview
[Some Dates Guaranteed To Change]

The Theory Of Flight Diseases and infirmaries are very hot; here, Kenneth Branagh attempts to overcome his monstrous narcissism by playing a shy man (convincing!) in love with a wheelchair-bound victim of neuro-muscular disease (Helena Bonham Carter). With any luck, it'll end up better than when the two romanced in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and HBC got her head torn off and then sloppily sewn back on. December 23

Virus It's not Sphere or Deep Rising, but it is a movie about being stuck on a big, storm-buffeted ship that is otherwise occupied by human-consuming aliens. This time, we're the "virus" to be expunged— get it? Or at least, Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, and Donald Sutherland are, and who's arguing? Been on the Universal shelf most of the year. January 15

You've Got Mail A cyber-remake of Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner, Nora Ephron's latest saccharine bid for box office was cowritten by both Ephron sisters and Wendy Wasserstein. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan will jump through the same old hoops. December 18

Brothers, keepers: Paxton and Thornton in A Simple Plan
Melissa Moseley
Brothers, keepers: Paxton and Thornton in A Simple Plan

Everything in Between
(in chronological order)

Storefront Hitchcock Robyn Hitchcock plays a downtown space in this perf doc, directed by the only person who can do them right, Jonathan Demme. November 18

Central Station Walter Salles directed this Brazilian entry into the Kolya sweepstakes: antisocial mail clerk woman helps a motherless boy find his father. Grabbed a couple of awards at Berlin. November 20

Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story Of Deliverance This year's Sick? The doc follows Athey, a performance artist who confronts pain and taboos, as he stages work in Zagreb, Croatia, and Mexico City. November 20

The Rugrats Movie Everyone's fave cadre of preschool self-starters hits the screen. Count on crude animation and knife-sharp jokes. November 20

Savior Dennis Quaid and Nastassja Kinski continue to give mouth-to-mouth to their fading careers in this Oliver Stone­produced maxi-indie about a Serb-hired mercenary finding redemption in Bosnia by protecting a Croatian newborn. November 20

Sue Amos Kollek is self-distributing this modest New York romance, wherein Anna Thomson (the slashed whore in Unforgiven) struggles to survive after losing her job and her lease. November 20

Waking Ned Devine In good old Ealing style, a winning lottery ticket with a dead owner has the inhabitants of a sleepy Irish village in a tizzy. Twinkle-toed as a case of Lucky Charms, this harmless Full Monty wannabe is a load of blarney, peopled by characters who drink so constantly it's a wonder they're not all reeking, brawl-pocked, and incontinent. November 20

Cracking Up An award winner at the New York Underground Film Festival, writer-director-star Matt Mitler's movie is about a Lower East Side performance artist with self-destructive tendencies. Featuring Camryn Manheim and Antz screenwriter Todd Alcott before they were names. November 23

A Bug's Life Disney and the Pixar boys try to pick up the scraps left behind by Antz; it's bound to be wittier than its competition, but we can't remember anyone ever asking the unmusical question, did we need two digital, celebrity-voiced cartoons about underdog ants saving the day clogging up screens in the same season? With vocal stylings by Kevin Spacey, Dave Foley, Phyllis Diller, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Denis Leary. November 25

Ringmaster Jerry Springer stars in this fictional take on the behind-the-scenes world of a highly controversial talk show. November 25

Steam: The Turkish Bath Here's an Istanbul-set story involving an inherited Turkish bath and homoerotic desires. Need we say it: hot, hot, hot. November 25

Home Fries A romantic comedy in which Drew Barrymore plays a pregnant waitress whose married lover dies mysteriously. Screenwriter Vince Gilligan is an X-Files vet. November 25

Very Bad Things Actor Peter Berg wrote and directed this worst-day-in-the-life farce, about a bachelor party in Vegas that goes horribly awry. A black comedy with horns; Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz, Jon Favreau, Daniel Stern, and Jeremy Piven all line up with cleavers. November 25

Port Djema Echoes of Welcome to Sarajevo: In an imaginary country in East Africa, a Parisian surgeon tries to fulfill a promise made to his friend, a humanitarian-aid worker who has just been killed there, and searches for a child his friend had taken in. November 27

Vietnam Long Time Coming Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams) coproduced this documentary about a 16-day bicycle ride in Vietnam taken by American and Vietnamese veterans. November 27

African Violet and The Land Is White, The Seed Is Black

Two sober meditations on apartheid and its legacy by South African filmmaker Koto Bolofo. December 2

The Last Emperor How about The Longest Emperor? Here's the director's cut, all 219 indispensable minutes of it. December 4

The Mirror Jafar Panahi's acutely self-reflexive follow-up to The White Balloon, in which the child actress of the first film, playing herself, storms off a film set. December 4

Shattered Image Raul Ruiz keeps rapping them out, and this time he takes on La Femme Nikita. Anne Parrillaud is a honeymooner who dreams she's an assassin, or an assassin who dreams she's a honeymooner. Raul keeps the balls in the air. December 4

Divorce Iranian Style This doc takes a look at the difficult process by which an Iranian woman can divorce her husband— the other way around is apparently no problem. December 9

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