A Guide to the Season’s Competitors


Don Simpson Did not Die In Vain

Battlefield Earth John Travolta, looking to all the world like George Clinton, may have let his Scientology get the best of him at last, but odds are it’s a strictly nonsecular blam-bang-splat. Given L. Ron Hubbard’s deathlike seriousness, we’re probably not talking about a Starship Troopers dark horse. May 12

Mission: Impossible 2 Tom Cruise climbs a rock! Tom Cruise takes off his sunglasses! Tom Cruise puts them back on! Does the dazzling, blood-quickeningly useless trailer portend a dazzling, blood-quickeningly useless film? Would it matter if we could tell you? May 24

Gone in 60 Seconds Nicolas Cage sold his soul to Jerry Bruckheimer in exchange for that Oscar. Newly undead Angelina Jolie won Supporting Actress and thus leapt cackling into the career grave with Marisa and Mira. Now Nic and Angie join forces and steal cars. Gone in 666 Seconds? June 9

Shaft John Singleton goes the Tarantino route and revives all that is blax, recruiting always-on-the-QT Samuel Jackson. The indignity of Isaac Hayes swallowed by all that heavy-metal-video smoke during the Oscars demands recompense, perhaps to be found here. June 16

The Patriot Blithely ignoring the abysmal track record for Revolutionary War movies, Mel Gibson steps up with director Roland Emmerich to jaunt through the world of flintlocks and pony-tails. Crowds, flag-waving, and gory battles ensue. June 30

The Perfect Storm Veteran boatman Wolfgang Petersen enlists George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg to do the waving and shouting in this season’s disaster-movie entry, and wouldn’t you rather spend your Fourth of July with two kings instead of up the republic wrapped in Mel Gibson’s bloody flag? June 30

X-Men Anticipation is high for the filmization of this ageless and bizarre comic franchise, but with a dubiously deranged cast assort-ment (Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry) and a creepy director (Bryan Singer), it could be this summer’s Avengers. July 14

The Hollow Man Paul Verhoeven’s reworking of Wells’s The Invisible Man should, at the least, reprise the dystopian techno-thrills of Total Recall, though his last two, Starship Troopers and Showgirls, have been so astonishingly unhinged, there’s every reason to expect a brute-force mindfuck. July 28

Coyote Ugly Flashdance + Cocktail = dancing bar chicks. August 4

Bait 48 HRS redux, though with an under?$40 million budget (which could have covered craft services for M:I-2, maybe) and should-be-a-megastar Jamie Foxx, you want to root for it anyway. August 11

The Cell Another music-video hotshot in high-concept serial-killing mode, Tarsem tries to one-up David Fincher with this baroque gorefest. The most inspired casting of the season: Jennifer Lopez as a neuroscientist-diva with a taste for elaborate cybercouture. August 18

You Will Die Laughing

Road Trip In which Tom Green, MTV’s most fascinatingly repellent presence since Kennedy, either plumbs new depths of gross-out comedy or sells out. Or, if he’s smart enough, both. May 19

Shanghai Noon When was the last time an Old West movie made any money? How about an Old West odd-couple slapstick buddy laff riot? But the almost-heroes in this here wild wild west are Jackie Chan and always welcome Owen Wilson, so it should at least keep closet Rush Hour fans happy. May 26

Big Momma’s House It’s silly how people are always describing Martin Lawrence as a second-string Eddie Murphy, especially since Lawrence, strapping on drag and fatsuit in a bid to out-Klump the Nutty Professor sequel, will gladly do it himself. June 2

Me, Myself and Irene Jim Carrey returns to orthodox Hollywood hit making with this Farrelly foolery about a multiple personality battling his other selves for his girlfriend. There might be no disquieting media autopsy under the skin, but it might be fucking funny. June 23

Trixie Despite a widespread lack of interest, Alan Rudolph pursues his particular fake-innocent comedic vision in this loopiness about a ditzy security guard (Emily Watson) aspiring to detective-ness and getting embroiled in political skullduggery. June 30

Nuttly Professor II: The Klumps Eddie doing what Eddie does best, going wild in assorted characters. Too bad there’s this harebrained plot about DNA experiments and youth serum. July 28

Saving Grace A British comedy hinging on the hilarity inherent in watching Brenda Blethyn, as a middle-class broad whose life is collapsing, get stoned and grow her own weed. A big hit at Sundance, despite being the fifth film in five years with that title. August 4

The Tao of Steve Donal Logue plays a dopey lout who enjoys uncanny good luck with the ladies; since Logue used to do genius lunatic MTV promo spots (on Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”: “It’s like meeting the girl of your dreams, and then finding out she’s five”), let’s hope the filmmakers allowed him to ad-lib. August 4

Blow Dry Another Brit laughfest, about hairdressers. Yankee teens Josh Hartnett and Rachael Leigh Cook try on accents; Natasha Richardson and Alan Rickman use their own. August 18

The Replacements During an NFL strike, crusty coach Gene Hackman recruits a team of scabs including Keanu Reeves. Keanu should stay still and look beatific, not wear bulky equipment, yell, grunt, etc. With a dog-days release date, be very afraid. August 25

Was Sydney Pollack Unavailable?

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Gabriel García Marquez’s son Rodrigo coordinates a massive female-bonding love-in (Close, Hunter, Diaz, Flockhart) with five interlocking stories. July

Numbers Nora Ephron swears her latest, a John Travolta?Lisa Kudrow lottery-scamming caper, is not a romantic comedy—like that should make us any less fearful. The last Ephron-Travolta alliance, Michael, was not a romantic comedy—whatever it was, we can still smell it. July 14

What Lies Beneath The Sixth Sense will not go unfleeced. Michelle Pfeiffer is haunted by a girl’s unhappy ghost, and hubby Harrison Ford sets out to solve the case. Robert Zemeckis directs, so you know it’ll escape being memorable or recognizably human. July 21

I Was Made to Love Her It’s either incomprehensible or all too predictable that it’s taken this long for Chris Rock to get his own star vehicle, and perhaps a rickety one at that, since it’s a re-remake (of Here Comes Mr. Jordan). The ubiquitous brothers Weitz—co-directors this time out—may run the risk of stretching themselves too thin. July 28

The Legend of Bagger Vance Robert Redford epiphanizes the Steve Pressfield Buddhist-golf novel about a mystical 1930s links match involving a war vet (Matt Damon) and his enlightened caddy (Will Smith). August 4

Space Cowboys Clint Eastwood playing the age card, as one of four old Air Force pilots (the others are James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland) sent into orbit to repair a 1950s satellite. Hooey for retirees. August 4

Bedazzled Brendan Fraser hops on the multi-personality/alt-destiny bandwagon with this fantasy, in which a tech geek sells his soul to the devil (Elizabeth Hurley, natch) for seven wishes and seven differ-ent personalities. August 11

Was Robert Zemeckis Unavailable?

Disney’s The Kid A Trumpian, cheap-retro, syntactically daft title (Disney is the kid?) and a queasily high concept (slick yuppie meets himself as a little boy). But with Bruce Willis (that rarity—an under-appreciated Dead White Male), the setup becomes less Liar Liar, more La Jetée. It could happen. July 7

Child Labor

Dinosaur Digital Cretaceous-ness, except the sauropods are voiced by Kiefer Sutherland and Joan Plowright. May 19

Titan A.E. Matt Damon, in a bold opportunity to act without his teeth, voices a teen refugee (and, from the look of the worryingly anime-manqué stills, gym rat) fighting evil aliens. A dozen writers have their hands in this pot o’ CGI, but writing by committee often works in 2D (see Toy Story 2). June 16

Chicken Run Chances are Aardman’s free-range claymation will be the one Mel Gibson movie worth your time (the Patriot voices a mouthy American rooster). This farm-as-microcosm revolutionary parable (feisty hens up in arms) should satisfy those who balked at the second Babe movie. June 23

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle This resurrection of everyone’s favorite non-sequitur cartoon is a Tribeca Production, meaning Robert De Niro had a passionate need to play Fearless Leader. Jason Alexander and Rene Russo are Boris and Natasha, which suggests little improvement over the 1992 Dave Thomas?Sally Kellerman version. June 30

Pokémon the Movie 2000 The last movie’s “First Movie” claim turned out to be dreadfully prescient; will there be two a year for the rest of our lives? July 21

Thomas and the Magic Railroad A full-length feature of what on TV is only fascinating to toddlers in five-minute chunks. The Teletubbies Movie cannot be far behind. July 26

Teens at Risk

Boys and Girls Freddie Prinze Jr. and Claire Forlani do She’s All That?meets?When Harry Met Sally, though Blair Witch‘s Heather Donahue is present to balance the bland-sitcom factor. June 2

Crime and Punishment in Suburbia Dostoyevsky by way of Dawsons Creek; Ripe‘s Monica Keena kills her father and then pays the price. Next: Joshua Jackson as Prince Myshkin. July

Scary Movie Relabeling Scream If You Know What I Did Last Halloween with Kevin Williamson’s old Scream title, the Wayans boys pull a Mel Brooks on the recent jump-and-run teen yowlers we’re all tired of anyway. July 7

But I’m a Cheerleader Natasha Lyonne gets sent to gay-rehab camp, where she meets up with RuPaul’s butch counselor and Cathy Moriarty’s rabid head-mistress; fellow inmates include Michelle Williams and Heavenly Creature Melanie Lynskey. July 7

Loser Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari go to college, though he continues lusting haplessly after unattainable princesses and she continues lusting effectively after old guys (here, it’s her prof Greg Kinnear). But the redoubtable Amy Heckerling is running this show, which means we shouldn’t think we’ve seen it before. July 21

Mad About Mambo Felicity‘s Keri Russell (whose haircut/popularity correlation has received Aniston-worthy scrutiny of late) in an Irish romance. A Minnie Driver homage? July 21

Skipped Parts Two teens fumble their way toward coming of age—distracted on the way by Jennifer Jason Leigh as a neglectful mom and Drew Barrymore as a fantasy apparition—in Tamra Davis’s early-’60s drama. August

Save the Last Dance White kid Julia Stiles has trouble in her new inner-city school until she meets up with black kid/fellow rug-tearing enthusiast Sean Patrick Thomas, and nothing matters when they’re dancing. August 11

Jump A spoiled teen (Kirsten Dunst) feels threatened when an underdog inner-city cheerleading team threatens her squad’s preeminence. August 18

Auteur of Duty

Small Time Crooks Woody Allen, presumably in his stale but thank-fully glib Bullets Over Broadway mode, does a bumbling heist movie, with Jon Lovitz, Tracey Ullman, and Hugh Grant rounding out the cast. May 19

8 1/2 Women Peter Greenaway attains new heights in tedium and adolescent art ideas in this affected, pointless riff on Fellini, harem-keeping, father-son incest, and Kabuki. Pity is all you feel for stripped-down stars Toni Collette, Polly Walker, and Amanda Plummer. May 26

Passion of Mind Alain Berliner last directed the ethereally loopy, heartbreaking Ma Vie en Rose, about a little boy who wants to be a girl. Now he makes his English-language debut with Demi Moore, the languishing star who wants to be an actress. Alain, our prayers are with you. May 26

Sunshine Ralph Fiennes does his brooding, obsessive thing in István Szabó’s epic. Only he does it three times, playing three generations of a Hungarian Jewish family. Over the course of three hours. How big is your love? June 9

Love’s Labor Lost Shakespeare’s Public Enemy No. 1, Kenneth Branagh, pares down the verse to make room for ’30s-style song-and-dance routines. It’s tough to get Shakespeare’s plays right, but tougher to warp them into such frenetic, mawkish, bloated palaver. June 9

Wonderland Michael Winter-bottom (whose credits include a murderous-lesbian road movie, a literary adaptation, and a war zone polemic) tries out the three-sister dysfunctional-family model most recently used by Todd Solondz. The film is unsentimental yet unfailingly generous, note-perfect in rendering the textures of urban life. July 28

Daddy and Them Billy Bob’s white-trash valentine to Laura Dern has been moved three times over the course of a year, long enough for BBT to dump the old lady for Angelina Jolie. The tabloid subtext might help, but then again, the tabloids are probably all you need. August

Cecil B. Demented John Waters’s cozily anarchic bit of summer counterprogramming bashes multiplex fare and takes jabs at Dogma (its band of Baltimore cine-terrorists undertake a Vow of Celibacy). Melanie Griffith is, as required, obliviously bad. August 11

On Freaks and Geeks

Shoadow Hours Peter Weller and Balthazar Getty trawl through an L.A. netherworld of sex, drugs, and performance art. July 14

The Opportunists In a twist of fate irrevocably proving the existence either of God or Satan, Christopher Walken and Cyndi Lauper are cast in the same film. It’s a heist movie, if that’s germane. August

Impostor Tireless Vincent D’Onofrio (also in The Cell and Steal This Movie!) and Gary Sinise star in Gary Fleder’s late-21st-century cat-and-mouse thriller. August 11

Loving Jezebel One of the new breed of “sensitive booty” come-dies, about a player’s lifelong habit of balling his friends’ girlfriends. Hill Harper takes the lead. August 18

Texas Rangers Not a big-screen run of the Chuck Norris show. But imagine this nightmare: a John Milius co-scripted semi-teen version of the creation of the post?Civil War Rangers, featuring Vincent Spano, James Van Der Beek, Ashton Kutcher, etc. August 25

The Crew More horrifying than the synopsis—four retired Mafiosos pull off one last job to save their failing nursing home—is the lineup: Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, Seymour Cassel, and Dan Hedaya. Kill us now. August 25

Fast, Cheap, Hopefully Out of Control

Luminous Motion A 10-year-old, living on the road with his drifter mother (Deborah Kara Unger), hears voices and sees dead people (schizophrenia, not a sixth sense). May 19

Luminarias Looks like a feature-length episode of a Latina edition of The View. May 26

Thirteen The nonprofessional cast improvised many of their scenes in David Williams’s portrait of a young girl as seen through the eyes of her mother. June 2

Groove Greg Harrison’s Sundance fave is a well-intentioned document of the San Francisco rave scene, but the culture’s E-fueled euphoria doesn’t translate to the screen. Bring your own drugs. June 9

Jesus’ Son: Alison Maclean’s richly profane, dope-schizo version of the Denis Johnson novel about an amiable junkie named Fuckhead (Billy Crudup). Crudup eats up his first decent lead, but Jack Black, Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper, and Holly Hunter steal their scenes. June 16

Requiem For a Dream Pi‘s Darren Aronofsky cashes in his mini-hit to adapt the Hubert Selby Jr. novel about junkiehood. Ellen Burstyn’s the TV-addled mom, Jared Leto’s the smacked-out son, and Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans are his pals. June 16

Praise Chain-smoking asthmatic and eczema-plagued nymphoma-niac embark on intense, hermetic sexual affair. Discomfiting and mesmerizing, John Curran’s Brisbane-set hothouse halluci-nation was a hit on the festival circuit two years ago. June 21

30 Days Aaron Harnick, star of Judy Berlin, turns writer-director for a solipsistic nebbish-shiksa romance that should, if nothing else, put a stop to Woody Allen rip-offs for a good long while. June 21

Getting to Know You Based on three Joyce Carol Oates stories, Lisanne Skyler’s nuanced, astute, smartly structured debut boasts superb performances by Heather Matarazzo and Bebe Neuwirth and typically luminous cinematography by Jim Denault. June 28

The Broken Hearts League Gay rom-com hits rock bottom? Had the less butch title The Broken Hearts Club at Sundance. July

The Five Senses Pompously schematic Canadian nonsense, connecting five people who, in some special way, See, Hear, Smell, Touch, and Taste. July 14

The Wisdom of Crocodiles Jude Law was previously too hot to live (in Talented Mr. Ripley). Now Jude Law (JUDE LAW!) plays a vampire hot to kill. To reiterate, this film stars JUDE LAW. July 14

Chuck and Buck Chris and Paul Weitz, the siblings behind American Pie, make their acting debut—will this buddy comedy be kin to Luke and Owen Wilson in Bottle Rocket or the brothers Sheen in Rated X? July 21

Woman on Top Playing a Brazilian chef who moves to San Francisco after her marriage breaks up, Penelope Cruz inspires in all nearby men the usual hot and slavish desire as she slaves over a hot stove. July 21

New Waterford Girl This year’s small-town teen-disaffection pic (set in a Nova Scotia backwater in the ’70s) revisits familiar themes with wit, effortless empathy, and highly specific local color. July 26

Psycho Beach Party A two-pronged parody of psycho thrillers and beach-blanket romps, with Greg from Dharma and Greg and Last Days of Disco sweetie Matt Keeslar. August

Whipped A misogynistic-bar-guys-get-their-comeuppance farce, which has been awaiting release for a year and may wait longer still. August

The Films of Jay Rosenblatt Five shorts (including The Smell of Burning Ants and Human Remains) at Film Forum. August 9

Love and Sex Magazine writer/ frustrated single Famke Janssen seeks love with Jon Favreau. Remember: NBC’s Tuesday-night lineup is free. August 18

The Way of the Gun Mounting his directorial debut with a crooks-and-schemes saga, Christopher McQuarrie will surely slather on the phallic angst as he did with Usual Suspects. Would that be the way of the gun that’s in your pocket, or are you just . . . ? August

Steal this Movie! Abbie Hoffman gets the bio-pic treatment, with Vincent D’Onofrio as the ’60s radical and Janeane Garofalo as his wife. August 25

Global Warming

Kikujiro Revered for his diamond-cutting visual style as well as for his implacable presence and whip-cuts of sudden violence, Takeshi Kitano goes gooey in this Big Daddy scenario. The wickedly ironic filmmaking waters the syrup down a bit, and Kitano’s more fun to watch than Adam Sandler, but still. May 26

Humanité Booed by Cannes critics last year, subsequently awarded three prizes by the David Cronenberg?led jury, Bruno Dumont’s follow-up to Life of Jesus uses a hypnotically slow murder investigation as backdrop to its own microscopic scrutiny of mundane small-town lives. It’s a film of rare, strange power—an indifferent response is out of the question. June 14

Time Regained Raúl Ruiz adapts the final volume of Proust’s bildungsroman, with a cast that includes Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Pérez, and John Malkovich. June 16

The Butterfly A new historical Spanish heart-warmer in the Miramax tradition of The Grandfather, complete with star codger Fernando Fernan Gomez, who befriends a kid during the Spanish Civil War. June 16

An Affair of Love Two strangers meet to act out an unspecified erotic fantasy and become fuck buddies. Bourgie titillation, previously titled A Pornographic Affair. June 23

Alice Et Martin One of the season’s must-sees, the 1998 André Téchiné drama—cowritten with Olivier Assayas—tracks the psychological upheavals in the romance between a young provincial (Alexis Loret) and an older Parisian woman (Juliette Binoche). July

Shower Winner of the Audience Award at Rotterdam, this prodigal-son comedy from China finds a young man returning home to help run his father’s Beijing bathhouse. July 7

Water Drops on Burning Rocks François Ozon’s adaptation of an unproduced Fassbinder play. July 12

Two Women A Tehran student is terrorized first by a stalker, then by her husband, in this Iranian feminist melodrama. July 14

Criminal Lovers In his second release of the month, French provocateur François Ozon mutates the myth of the young murderous couple into an outrageously twisted psychosexual fairy tale. July 21

The Girl on the Bridge Down-and-out knife-thrower Daniel Auteuil saves suicidal waif Vanessa Paradis from jumping off a Parisian bridge in Patrice Leconte’s latest film. July 28

The Wind Will Carry Us Arguably his most elliptical, enigmatic, and provocative film to date, Abbas Kiarostami’s Venice prizewinner involves a man on an unspecified mission in a dusty village. July 28

The Day Silence Died After a rogue descends upon an Italian village and sets up a radio station, all of the town’s secrets and resentments flow like wine. August

Madadayo Made when he was 83 and getting an American release seven years after its completion, Akira Kurosawa’s final film is a meditation on mortality, limning the twilight years of an eccentric professor. August

The Personals A young Chinese woman suffers the pitfalls of want-ad romance. August

Pola X Aging enfant Leos Carax’s latest confounder, an intense and, for many at Cannes, discombob-ulating version of Melville’s Pierre, or the Ambiguities. August

Solas A Spanish drama about a miserable mother and a miserable grown daughter being miserable together in Madrid. August

The Story of O A 1998 Euro version of the beloved sadomasochistic classic. August

Aimée and Jaguar In World War II?era Berlin, two women—one a Jew, one a Gentile—fall in love. Leads Juliane Köhler and Maria Schrader shared the Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival. August 11

Godzilla 2000 All-Japanese return to man-in-a-rubber-suit form—actor Tsutomu Kitagawa even gets a credit as the lumbering lizard. Lots of meticulous city models crushed underfoot. August 11

Solomon and Gaenor A Jewish Welshman develops a doomed passion for a woman from an anti-Semitic family in this Romeo and Juliet?ish tale, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars. August 11

Incredibly True Adventures

Better Living Through Circuitry Rave-culture doc featuring DJ Spooky, the Crystal Method, and Roni Size. May 26

Grass Ron Mann has assembled 50 years of archival footage in what’s touted as a scathingly funny examination of the U.S. government’s never-ending war on pot. Typecasting alert: Woody Harrelson narrates. May 31

The Children of Chabannes The raw material here is reminiscent of Schindler’s List: In Vichy France, a school director provides refuge for nearly 400 Jewish children fleeing Nazi Germany. June 2

American Pimp Albert and Allen Hughes, the wunderkind twins behind Menace II Society, pioneer a new genre—the blaxploitation documentary—with their real-life look at mack daddies and their employees in several U.S. cities. June 9

Bookwars The city’s sidewalk book vendors are the focus of Jason Rosette’s doc, a prizewinner at the recent New York Under-ground Film Festival. June 9

Benjamin Smoke Jem Cohen, best-known for his Fugazi doc, Instrument, codirects this portrait of a transvestite Atlanta musician. July

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Televangelism’s raccoon-eyed dowager gets a frothy makeover. The tone is at once blindly sympathetic and dutifully ironic. July 28

The Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack Peripatetic folksinger Jack Elliott was Woody Guthrie’s last traveling companion, and Woody’s son Arlo as well as Pete Seeger and Kris Kristofferson show up in Aiyana Elliott’s documentary. August 16

I’m the One That I Want Margaret Cho films her well-received stage show chronicling the fallout from her disastrous season in sitcom hell. August 4

Darks Days First-timer Marc Singer records the time he spent living with homeless people camped out beneath subway tunnels; the result made him an unlikely Sundance darling. August 30

Rereleases: L’Atalante June 16; The Trial (Orson Welles) June 23; Blood Simple July 7; Ran August; Gimme Shelter August 11

Festivals and Retros

Sapph-O-Rama Lesbian cult movies at Film Forum. May 26?June 15

Docfest At the DGA Theater (opening night at BAM). May 31, June 2?6

African Film Festival At the Walter Reade. May 19?June 1

Lesbian and Gay Festival At the NYU Cantor Film Center and the New School. June 1?11

The Sopranos The first two seasons at AMMI. June 3?25

The Village Voice: Best of the ’90s Sixteen top films from the Voice‘s critics’ poll at BAMcinématek. June 10?July 30

Human Rights Watch International Film Festival A collection of documentaries, including the premiere of Showdown in Seattle: Five Days That Shook the WTO, at the Walter Reade. June 14?29

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 9, 2000

Archive Highlights