Picture This

Thrillers! Satires! Westerns! Indies! Blockbusters! Sequels!

Yi Yi
(October 6)

Edward Yang won the Best Director prize at Cannes for this clear-eyed domestic epic, set amid Taipei's alienated middle class. Yang's steady, compassionate gaze never simplifies the messy details—daily life is presented as a series of daunting choices, suppressed regrets, and quiet epiphanies.

Ratcatcher
(October 17)

Lynne Ramsay's impressionistic, hyperreal vision of an impoverished Glasgow childhood is the best non-Leigh Brit film to wash ashore in a decade. Run, don't walk.

In the Mood for Love
(November)

Wong Kar-wai. Tony Leung. Maggie Cheung. What more do you want?

Monkeybone
(November 3)

Henry Selick's new puppet animation, in which cartoonist Brendan Fraser becomes trapped in his own fantasy world. With Bridget Fonda and Rose McGowan; Whoopi Goldberg plays Death.

Suzhou River
(November 8)

Chinese director Lou Ye reprises Vertigowith a stylish, circuitous tale of obsessive love and a bewigged doppelgänger. At their best the playful narrative ruses and keening romanticism evoke vintage Wong Kar-wai.

Lies
(November 17)

Korean iconoclast Jang Sun Woo takes an unblinking look at a sadomasochistic relationship between a schoolgirl and a fortyish sculptor. A sly, candid anatomy of sexual desire, it's at once perceptive, moving, queasy, and comically relentless.

Quills
(November 22)

Philip Kaufman hopefully eschews the louche middlebrow titillations of Henry and June for a no-holds-barred Sade biopic, with Geoffrey Rush (who warmed up for the part in Elizabeth), Kate Winslet (likewise as the profane earth goddess in Holy Smoke), and Joaquin Phoenix (ditto as the sex-crazed, epicene tyrant in Gladiator).

Traffic
(December 22)

Steven Soderbergh—post Erin B., no longer an auteurist's best-kept secret but one of Hollywood's most bankable directors—takes on a drug-wars chronicle that originated as a Channel 4 miniseries. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones might seem like stunt casting, but he's also enlisted two of Hollywood's sharpest marksmen, Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro.

Shadow of the Vampire
(December 29)

The year's supreme metamovie, about real vampire Max Schreck devouring the cast and crew of Murnau's Nosferatu. As Schreck, Willem Dafoe gives the performance of his career: perfectly mimicked, hilarious, and sad.


September

The Watcher
(September 8)

No Jennifer Lopez, no kinky neck braces, no albino dogs, but the fall's token serial-killer entry is at least idiosyncratically cast. Keanu Reeves stretches (in theory) as a clue-dropping murderer, with James Spader's FBI agent in hot pursuit.

Urbania
(September 13)

Its ambitious, shifty framework of reconstructed urban myths doesn't quite prevent Jon Shear's moody study of bereavement from ending up in a quagmire of clichés, but it's a noble failure, especially compared to most of this year's Sundance product.

30 Days
(September 15)

Aaron Harnick, star of Judy Berlin, turns writer-director for a solipsistic nebbish-shiksa romance.

Almost Famous
(September 15)

In Cameron Crowe's self-mythol-ogizing coming-of-age navel-gaze, a teen scribe follows a (fictional) band on the road for a Rolling Stone piece, and everyone concerned learns a valuable life lesson or two.

Bait
(September 15)

48 HRS redux, though with an under?$40 million budget and should-be-a-megastar Jamie Foxx, you want to root for it anyway.

Crime & Punishment in Suburbia
(September 15)

Dostoyevsky by way of Dawson's Creek; Ripe's Monica Keena kills her father and then pays the price. Next: Joshua Jackson as Prince Myshkin.

Duets
(September 15)

Star-crossed after the breakup of original leads Brad and Gwyneth and plagued ever since by delays and bad buzz, Bruce Paltrow's karaoke comedy finally staggers out of last call.

Goya in Bordeaux
(September 15)

Carlos Saura, still winding his way through traveloguing Spanish music and culture, directs this biopic of the painter looking back on his life from a self-imposed French exile.

Human Resources
(September 15)

Gritty but predictably shaped French melodrama about a biz-school grad returning home to update the factory in which his father works. Laurent Cantent directs with a mostly non-pro cast.

Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kinder Transport
(September 15)

Judi Dench narrates this docu-mentary about the Kinder transport, in which 10,000 young, mostly Jewish children fled Hitler's Germany and found refuge in England.

Luminarias
(September 15)

Looks like a feature-length episode of a Latina edition of The View.

On the Run
(September 15)

Childhood buddies go nuts in the course of one long night in New York City.

Paragraph 175
(September 15)

Celluloid Closet documentarians Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein won prizes at Berlin this year for this oral history of homosexual persecution in Nazi Germany.

The Price of Air
(September 15)

More fucked-up suburbanites. Is there any other kind?

Chain of Fools
(September 22)

The Swedish directors' collective Traktor breaks out of advertising with Steve Zahn (as a barber) and Salma Hayek (as a detective) in a stolen-treasure fandango.

Double Parked
(September 22)

A struggling single mom struggles to support her struggling sickly son. Will have its broadcast premiere on Lifetime, probably.

The Fantasticks
(September 22)

Former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre attempts a comeback with this musical, which has been collecting dust for five years now.

Left Luggage
(September 22)

A philosophy student's worldview is tested by difficult relations with her parents, who are Holocaust survivors, and her employers, a Hasidic Jewish family (including matriarch Isabella Rossellini).

Never Better
(September 22)

The second British flick of the year to mine the bottomless hilarity of hairstyling contests.

The Specials
(September 22)

Second-string Mystery Men, with Rob Lowe and Melissa Joan Hart.

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