Film Previews

A rundown of the season's movies— handpicked for their potential wondrousness or probable woefulness.

Snow Falling on Cedars The noble bestseller with the beautiful cover design gets Ethan Hawke, Sam Shepard, James Cromwell (as the judge, right?), and Shine director Scott Hicks. Courtroom suspense, tears, revelations, interracial romance, the whole megillah. (MA) December 22

The Talented Mr. Ripley Anthony Minghella will probably bring more taste and restraint to Patricia Highsmith's insidious pulper than it requires, the bouncy Mediterranean vibe that made Rene Clement's Purple Noon such a pleasure can't be recaptured, and Matt Damon may be twice the actor of Alain Delon, but he's half the star. Still, handicapping aside, it could cook. (MA) December 24

Any Given Sunday Oliver Stone does his high-pressure, frantic thing on pro football, with Al Pacino as a tired coach and Dennis Quaid as an aging QB. We're getting an eye-ache just thinking about it. (MA) December 25

The Surreal Deal: Diaz and Cusack In 'Being John Malkovich'
The Surreal Deal: Diaz and Cusack In 'Being John Malkovich'

Hanging Up There is something worse than being alone, depressed, strung-out, and broke at Christmas time, and its name is Nora. We're supposed to believe that Meg Ryan is the daughter of Walter Matthau— as if Matthau wouldn't have to mate with the goddess Athena and then still be extremely lucky with the gene selection for that to happen. Diane Keaton (who directs the Ephron sisters' script) and Lisa Kudrow also belong to the family. You'll have too many gifts to buy or pills to choke down to care. (MA) December 25

The Hurricane Norman Jewison reverts to disingenuous-white- Canadian-director- doing-racial-melodrama mode with this biography of Rubin Carter, but Denzel takes the lead. (MA) December 29

Killing You Softly with Song Interludes

For The Love of the Game The world has gone mad: Sam Raimi directs a mushy Kevin Costner romance. Next, David Lynch will get a G rating. (MA) September 17

Random Hearts Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas play a cop and a politico who get together after their philandering spouses die in the same plane crash. Count the shots in which they just stare at each other, not saying what director Sydney Pollack thinks we know they're thinking anyway. (MA) October 8

The Story Of Us Bruce Willis works through his Demi-divorce on film; he and Michelle Pfeiffer suffer through a separation after 15 years of marriage; antics ensue. Rob Reiner directed, which is a lot like Nora but balder. (MA) October 15

Anywhere But Here Mona Simpson's prime-cut novel gets the trembling-upper-lip treatment from scattershot director Wayne Wang, but Susan Sarandon is the nomadic Mom and Natalie Portman is the daughter, so it may kick cheek. (MA) October 22

Crazy in Alabama Antonio Banderas directs— DIRECTS— Melanie Griffith— MELANIE GRIFFITH— as an eccentric Southern housewife— AN ECCENTRIC SOUTHERN HOUSEWIFE— who kills her husband and goes to Hollywood. (MA) October 22

Dreaming of Joseph Lees A Somerset melodrama about a young woman prone to bad romantic choices and hopeless pining. Rupert Graves, understated as the title character, can't coax this hysteric off its chosen ledge. (JW) October 29

Music of the Heart The heart bleeds for poor Meryl Streep, resorting again and again in her forties to calculated treacle like this cockle-warmer about East Harlem violin instructor Roberta Guaspari. Someone get her Sarandon's or Russo's agent. (MA) October 29

Daddy and Them Actor-director-writer-caterer Billy Bob Thornton goes back to Arkansas and cooks up a little down-home romance, alcoholism, and family warfare for Christmas. (MA) December 23

Dependies, Stand Your Ground!

The Minus Man Blade Runner scripter Hampton Fancher comes out of the woods with this mysterious-stranger oddity and a great cast: Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Brian Cox, Mercedes Ruehl, and a game, if-Jewel-can-do-it Sheryl Crow. (MA) September 10

Splendor Gregg Araki's loose (presumably very loose) retread of Design for Living, with Matt Keeslar, Johnathan Schaech, and Kathleen Robertson trying to work out a mutually satisfying living arrangement. (DL) September 17

Sugar Town The L.A. music scene provides the setting for Allison Anders's somewhat satiric comedy about a tangle of women, each of whom is desperately trying to get ahead or cling to what she's got. (AT) September 17

Deterrence Stranded in a diner, the president (Kevin Pollak, as the first Jewish president) calls out WW III. Sounds like Rod Serling wrote it for a TV series with no budget. (MA) October 1

Happy, Texas Redneck crooks Steve Zahn and Jeremy Northam masquerade as a gay couple in suburban Texas. Worth it for the casting alone. A Sundance fave, whatever that means. (MA) October 1

Joe the King Frank Whaley writes and directs, as fading young character actors are wont to do after Oliver Stone has moved on, but this semiautobiographical stare into a hellish childhood is roughly twice as good as it should have been. (MA) October 22

Felicia's Journey Psycho and Peeping Tom are the antecedents for Atom Egoyan's adaptation of William Trevor's novel, about an innocent Irish teenager who travels to England in search of the boyfriend who did her wrong. (AT) November 12

Tumbleweeds Janet McTeer proves herself as mesmerizing onscreen as she is onstage in Gavin O'Connor's road movie about a woman and her daughter on the run from one bad relationship after another. (AT) November 19

Do They Still Make Movies in Other Countries?

Earth Since this account of the 1947 Partition of India is seen through the eyes of a small, polio-stricken girl, one hopes that Deepa Mehta's follow-up to Fire— controversial in Mehta's native India for its lesbian romance— doesn't stumble into the same sentimental traps as its predecessor. (JW) September 10

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