Picture This


The fall fanfare has begun: Ready to rock your world, DreamWorks is positioning Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous—the quasi-autobiographical adventures of a teenage Rolling Stone correspondent at the tail end of the ’60s—as this year’s American Beauty. Not to be out-MTV’d, the New York Film Festival kicks off with its most controversial opening night ever—Lars von Trier’s love-it-or-loathe-it Björk-scored musical tragedy Dancer in the Dark.

Björk isn’t the only star descending to Earth: In Miss Congeniality, Sandra Bullock plays an FBI agent gone undercover in a New Jersey beauty contest—her disguise is surely less elaborate than the prosthetic whatsits worn by Jim Carrey in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In another sort of vehicle, Anna Deavere Smith is a one-woman riot in Twilight: Los Angeles. The 6th Day presents Arnold Schwarzenegger battling the sinister clone people (speaking of which, Sylvester Stallone has the Michael Caine role in the remake of the vintage Brit gangster flick Get Carter). Little Nicky casts Adam Sandler as a satanic imp—further proof that he may be the Antichrist whom Jerry Falwell claims walks among us. In any case, the Walter Reade has a retrospective devoted to the Neapolitan comic genius Totò, while the American Museum of the Moving Image is preparing to showcase the “Man With a Thousand Faces,” Lon Chaney.

Cast Away reunites Tom Hanks with his Gump director Robert Zemeckis in a Robinson Crusoe story that is already being anxiously compared to Survivor. But then, America wouldn’t be America without at least one more monstrously inflated old TV show preparing for its close-up. Is your pacemaker up to the spectacle of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu as Charlie’s Angels? And are any of them as tough as the boxer Michelle Rodriguez plays in Karyn Kusama’s first feature, Girlfight? Indeed, Kusama’s scrappy independent heads a veritable conga line of Sundance prizewinners, including the West Hollywood-set Broken Hearts Club; the upstate New York brother-sister drama You Can Count on Me; the Staten Island romance Two Family House; the Appalachian period piece Songcatcher; and Sound and Fury , a documentary on the politics of deafness that enlivened Park City with a postscreening public argument between its subjects.

Last year’s Sundance sensation, The Blair Witch Project, lives on. The official sequel, Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows, directed by documentary-maker Joe Berlinger, follows Columbia’s crypto-remake Urban Legends: Final Cut. Other upcoming cheap thrills include E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire, in which F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) directs a real vampire (Willem Dafoe) in his 1922 classic Nosferatu. (You can prepare by catching Nosferatu when it’s shown with a new Alloy Orchestra score Halloween night at the Walter Reade.) Geoffrey Rush impersonates a different kind of monster, the marquis de Sade, in Philip Kaufman’s Quills, with Kate Winslet as his so-called laundress.

On the auteur front, ’50s-western director Budd Boetticher gets his due with an AMMI retro and an NYFF tribute. People who pay attention to directors will be looking forward to Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, a dope-smuggling saga that features Michael Douglas as an Ohio judge and Benicio Del Toro as a Mexican cop. Myself, I’m waiting to see what puppet animator Henry Selick (director of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach) does with Monkeybone, a phantasmagorical Walpurgisnacht set in a cartoonist’s coma-induced netherworld.

On the subject of hallucinatory fun, Miramax is set to rerelease A Hard Day’s Night, and several of the old ’60s “new waves” are being celebrated: The Brits occupy Film Forum, the Russians take over the Walter Reade, and the Czechs are scheduled for the BAMcinématek. Examples of the new Chinese cinema will be everywhere. Film Forum is opening Edward Yang’s domestic epic Yi Yi in early October and Lou Ye’s Shanghai-set voyeuristic mystery, Suzhou River, in November—the same month that BAM reprises last year’s wildly successful Hou Hsiao-hsien retro. And if we’re lucky, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love will be released before Thanksgiving. Ang Lee’s martial-arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—with Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh—is set to open in early December.

Other seasonal gifts might include Gus Van Sant’s holiday heart-warmer Finding Forrester, David Mamet’s Hollywood satire State and Main, and the comedy The Family Man, in which Nicolas Cage’s Wall Street tiger wakes up in an alternate suburban universe married to Téa Leoni. Sounds great, although the Christmas marvel I’m looking forward to is Jacques Tati’s comic masterpiece Playtime, screening at AMMI in the original 70mm. In another seasonal miracle of the technological kind, Film Forum has resurrected Miss Rita Hayworth in the long-unseen stereoscopic version of Miss Sadie Thompson, showing with the 3-D Three Stooges short Pardon My Backfire. If that doesn’t pop your cork, try complaining to Arnold’s clone.

Listings compiled and written by Michael Atkinson, Mark Holcomb, Dennis Lim, Nick Rutigliano, and Jessica Winter.

Ten To Watch For

Dancer in the Dark

(September 23)

Lars von Trier’s demi-Dogme musical, with Cannes-feted Björk as a factory girl whose downtrodden, headed-to-death-row reality is leavened by pro-am song-and-dance seizures. Cutting the crowd in half is what von Trier does best, so this could be the chat movie of the fall.

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.


(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


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


(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 Vertigo with 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.


(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.


(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).


(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.


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.


(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.


(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.


(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.


(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.


(September 22)

A Louisiana pre-Nam boot camp circa 1971, as imagined by repentant hack Joel Schumacher—the unknown cast and minuscule budget are supposed to signal integrity. Name actors and glossy production values are not the problem with Joel Schumacher movies.

Under Suspicion

(September 22)

Seasoned hack Stephen Hopkins traps Gene Hackman’s lawyer and Morgan Freeman’s cop on a Caribbean isle for murder-related mind games.

Urban Legends: Final Cut

(September 22)

Can there be a a thin drop left of anemic blood in po-pomo slasher decon? And could it be sucked from the chicken neck to a sequel nobody was waiting for?

Woman on Top

(September 22)

Doe-eyed Spanish pepper Penélope Cruz hits America in the lead of this frothy batch of formula, as a Brazilian cook escaping to San Francisco, making friends with drag queens, and struggling toward chef superstardom.

Best in Show

(September 27)

Tireless shooter of fish in barrels, Christopher Guest does a Waiting for Guffman on the dog-show circuit.

Twilight: Los Angeles

(September 27)

Slam director Marc Levin films Anna Deavere Smith’s acclaimed one-woman show about the Rodney King incident and its aftermath.

Barenaked in America

(September 29)

Jason Priestley documents the Barenaked Ladies’ latest tour of the States. There is at least one Voice staffer who thinks “It’s All Been Done” is a pretty good song.


(September 29)

The tag line is all you need: “Sometimes you have to give up the life of your dreams, to discover the dream of your life.” Ensuring maximum treacle carnage for this beauty-pageant “satire,” Sally Field directs.

The Broken Hearts Club—A Romantic Comedy

(September 29)

Variously described as a gay Big Chill and a millennial Boys in the Band. Consider yourself warned.


(September 29)

Karyn Kusama’s gritty but clumsy Sundance hit about girl boxing in Red Hook bears the great weight of buzz on its shoulders, but if you don’t expect much, it may pay off.

Remember the Titans

(September 29)

Denzel Washington does noble suffering again as a high school football coach in barely integrated 1970s Virginia. Director Boaz Yakin becomes a formulaic Hollywood utility man.

Sexy Beast

Crime boss Ben Kingsley lures ex-con Ray Winstone out of retirement in this invariably Lock-Stock-ish crime caper, given requisite flash by Jonathan Glazer, best known for his Radiohead underpass-collision clip.



(October 6)

Spike Lee satirizes network television. The target’s hardly fresh, but wait, there’s a gimmick—it’s Lee’s first venture into digital video. With Damon Wayans, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Savion Glover.


(October 6)

Is Adam Garcia, stage star of London’s Saturday Night Fever, the new John Travolta or the new Jennifer Beals? Here he’s an Australian steelworker who pursues a tap-dancing career. Like a maniac, maniac on the floor, no doubt.


(October 6)

Tours the brief history of computer animation with a “saucy synthetic hostess” named Phig, voiced by Jenna Elfman.

Digimon: The Movie

(October 6)

Like Pokémon, only digital, we presume.

Get Carter

(October 6)

Gratuitous remake of the hard-boiled 1971 Brit-noir that earned Mike Hodges (surprise indie success story of this year with smash hit Croupier) his cult rep. For some reason, Stephen T. Kay, who last made The Mod Squad, directs, and Sylvester Stallone takes the Michael Caine role.

Meet the Parents

(October 6)

Austin Powers helmer Jay Roach does a wedding-jitters comedy with Ben Stiller as a nurse (named Greg Focker) who clashes with his fiancée’s dad (Robert De Niro).

Mercy Streets

(October 6)

Not a bio of Anne Sexton (when’s that going to happen?), but a tough priest-vs.-crooks programmer that marks Eric Roberts’s return from straight-to-tape land.

Requiem for a Dream

(October 6)

Pi‘s indie cherry bomb Darren Aronofsky takes on Hubert Selby Jr.’s novel and sets out to make a normal, albeit druggy, movie. With Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly as two of those really, really beautiful junkies.

Two Family House

(October 6)

A pair of clans unexpectedly come together in this Sundance Audience Award winner.

Whispers: An Elephant’s Tale

(October 6)

Animated fluff about pachyderms, with voices by Anne Archer, Angela Bassett, and Joan Rivers.

The Red Stuff

(October 11)

Leo De Boer’s amused doc visits with the last living icons of Soviet self-celebration, the cosmonauts from the early ’60s, and swathes them in archival visions of Red festoonery. On a Film Forum double bill with Aki Kaurismaki’s Total Balalaika Show, in which the Leningrad Cowboys join the Red Army Choir for a concert in Helsinki.

The Animal Factory

(October 13)

Steve Buscemi, who could have made a terrific movie called The Tao of Steve, returns to directing with a dark prison tale starring Edward Furlong and Willem Dafoe.


(October 13)

Already smirking through daydream-believer poses on posters blanketing Lower Manhattan, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck ask us to fall in love all over again, with them. The premise sounds like another Random Hearts; Paltrow will be sure to do lots of tearless crying.

The Contender

(October 13)

A sex scandal returns to haunt a female vice presidential candidate. Given Rod Lurie’s last thudding attempt at political commentary (the war-what-is-it-good-for sermon Deterrence), this could be less diverting than the real contest.


(October 13)

A lad in north-England coal-mining country follows his dream by joining a dance class. A likely bid for Full Monty?esque middle-class Anglo cockle-warmer of the season.

Dr. T and the Women

(October 13)

True, he’s due to deliver a winner any minute now, but if there’s a less appropriate director than Robert Altman to make a movie about a gynecologist, we can’t think who. (All right, maybe Woody Allen.) Richard Gere plays the good doctor; Helen Hunt, Laura Dern, Shelley Long, and (God help her) Farrah Fawcett are among the sitting ducks.


(October 13)

More college potboiling, this time about racism.

Just Looking

(October 13)

A horny Bronx teen assigns himself a summertime goal: to witness two people shtupping. Directed by the former George Costanza, though Kramer was the bigger voyeur.

Lost Souls

(October 13)

She probably should have retired after her bold, untoppable USO performance in the South Park movie, but Winona Ryder soldiers on with this umpteenth Exorcist exorcism.


(October 13)

More DV hipness; this one’s a postapocalyptic fantasy.


(October 20)

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).

Just One Time

(October 20)

An East Village fireman and his fiancée consider threesomes with members of both sexes. Very Three’s Company.

Pay It Forward

(October 20)

Haley Joel Osment gets a challenge from his teacher (Kevin Spacey) that complicates the kid’s relationship with his troubled single mom (Helen Hunt). Director Mimi Leder has lots of TV movies under her belt; this sounds like another one.

Ring of Fire

(October 20)

The Johnny Cash tune presumably gets trotted out again, in this rodeo circuit dramedy written by James “son of Robert” Redford. Daryl Hannah, Molly Ringwald, and Kiefer Sutherland try to recapture the ’80s.

A Room for Romeo Brass

(October 20)

Shane Meadows, one of the U.K.’s brightest kitchen-sink hopes, zeroes in on the friendship between two 13-year-olds, one tubby and black, the other skinny and white.

The Yards

(October 20)

James Gray’s Little Odessa was one of the most promising American debuts in recent memory; his subway-yards family crime drama could be one of the season’s must-sees, gloomy advance word from Cannes notwithstanding. Mark Wahlberg heads a solid cast that includes James Caan, Joaquin Phoenix, and Ellen Burstyn.

Sound and Fury

(October 25)

Excellent advance word for this documentary about cochlear implants, seen by some deaf activists as a threat to their language and way of life; the film promises difficult questions about definitions of identity, culture, and abuse.

Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows

(October 27)

Everyone said it couldn’t be done—capitalize on the original’s $240 million with another mock-doc sequel—and it probably can’t be. But Joe Berlinger, of Brother’s Keeper and Paradise Lost fame, is in there pitching.


(October 27)

Julian Hobbs’s doc sniffs around serial killers’ artwork and the galleries that hoard the stuff.

George Washington

(October 27)

24-year-old David Gordon Green has a great eye, but his first feature, which owes perhaps too much to Days of Heaven and Gummo, is a psychologically dubious portrait of neglected Southern kids.

The Little Vampire

(October 27)

A little brat (the one from Jerry Maguire) makes friends with a little vampire brat, and they fly around and stuff. Reserved for children you actively despise.

Loving Jezebel

(October 27)

Hill Harper is a mild-mannered Casanova with married-girlfriend problems.

Lucky Numbers

(October 27)

What would the fall/winter season be without that pestilent wind called Nora? Now Ephron assays a let’s-rip-off-the-Lottery scenario of her own genius devising, with John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Bill Pullman, and Tim Roth wondering if things could get much worse.


(October 27)

Denys Arcand charts the career of a French Canadian supermodel—and finally satisfies the overwhelming demand for fashion-world satires created by Prêt-à-Porter.

A Time for Drunken Horses

(October 27)

Iranian filmmaker-actor Bahman Ghobadi makes a bid for international recognition with this tougher-than-leather neorealist odyssey about a family of children attempting to survive in the Kurdistani wilds.

Venus Beauty Institute

(October 27)

Nathalie Baye plays a promiscuous Paris beautician, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Boys Life 3

Another gay-shorts anthology.

Live Nude Girls Unite!

Strippers unionize in this shrill, egomaniacal first-person doc.

Me & Isaac Newton

It seems the only thing Michael Apted can do right is docs, so here he is, grilling seven scientists about how they attack unified field theory, robot technology, lemur conservation, language cognition, gene therapy, etc.

The Personals

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

The Story of O

Euro version of the beloved sadomasochistic classic.

Too Tired to Die

Fallen Angels‘ Takeshi Kaneshiro has a day to live. Mira Sorvino plays Death.


The Amati Girls

(November 3)

Is it redundant to have Cloris Leachman, Mercedes Ruehl, and Sean Young in the same movie?

Charlie’s Angels

(November 3)

Why is Hollywood cash-interested in remakes of TV series that can only be watched in reruns with half a beer bag on and the motivational inertia of a roadkill dog? Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu are the new Trio of Big Hair.

The Golden Bowl

(November 3)

Attack of the 50-Foot Merchant Ivory; this time they’ve got one of Henry James’s more neglected novels in their jaws.

The Legend of Bagger Vance

(November 3)

Robert Redford epiphanizes the Buddhist-golf novel about a mystical 1930s links match involving a war vet (Matt Damon) and his enlightened caddy (Will Smith).

Red Planet

(November 3)

We’ve destroyed the earth, mankind has to relocate to Mars, and the fate of the planet rests with intrepid astronaut . . . Val Kilmer! Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore, and Carrie-Anne Moss tag along.

The Weekend

(November 3)

Grief, more grief, and heartwarming resolution await a family during a post-funeral couple of days; Gena Rowlands and Deborah Kara Unger do the emoting.

Little Nicky

(November 10)

Adam Sandler is the son of Satan (Harvey Keitel) who just won’t toe the company line. Hey, here’s a Sunday Times think piece: Devil comedies, why now? With Ozzy Osbourne (as himself), Quentin Tarantino, Patricia Arquette, and Rodney Dangerfield.


(November 10)

Guiseppe Tornatore’s newest heart-warmer, about a Sicilian vamp who initiates, one way or another, a group of teenagers’ en masse cherry-popping. Written by Luciano Vincenzoni, master scripter of spaghetti westerns. Kids watching sex in a hayloft seems inevitable.

Men of Honor

(November 10)

The story of the Navy’s first black diver, Carl Brashear, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. Boilerplate Hollywood-smooching-military hokum, with Robert De Niro as Brashear’s superior officer.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

(November 17)

Jim Carrey, unrecognizable under prosthetics and digital effects, extrapolates a gag-and-slalom-filled feature from a single 23-minute cartoon. We’ll miss Boris Karloff.

Original Sin

(November 17)

Antonio Banderas makes the beast with two backs with femme fatale Angelina Jolie. Try to spot if her “Billy Bob” tattoo was one of those iron-on deals.

Rugrats in Paris: The Movie

(November 17)

The lovable, malapropism-spitting cartoon brats dismantle France and experience virtual reality; along the way, bespectacled worrywart Chuckie gets a new mom. If it’s half as witty as the reruns, it’ll be a gift to parents.

The 6th Day

(November 17)

Arnold Schwarzenegger narrowly survives a helicopter crash and returns home to discover he’s been replaced by a clone. Didn’t they clone Arnold years ago?

What’s Cooking?

(November 17)

Black, Latino, Asian, and Jewish neighbors come together. Thanks-giving, multiculti Sundance style.

You Can Count on Me

(November 17)

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, this brother-sister indie won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance.

102 Dalmatians

(November 22)

We can see it now: scampering puppies, wagging tails, and Glenn Close’s tonsils.

The Trench

(November 22)

Brit novelist William Boyd’s first film is a Remarque-esque WWI odyssey for a group of young Englishmen as they head into the meat-grinder of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.


(November 22)

Bruce Willis (reteaming with The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan) plays the miraculous sole survivor of a train wreck who bonds with a frail Samuel L. Jackson (like Rosie Perez in Fearless?).

Cherry Falls

Romper Stomper‘s Geoffrey Wright directs this teen-slasher parody, which apparently has as many hymen and virgin gags as Dr. Strangelove had dicks. What there could be left to satirize, you tell us.

Dungeons and Dragons

We almost completely forgot about this decades-old role-playing idiocy. With a script that is, we’ll bet, just loaded with Pinterisms.


Master P exec-produces a prison drama.

Signs & Wonders

This second feature by Sunday director Jonathan Nossiter was blasted at Berlin for its pretentious opacity—a quality that could, arguably, only have improved any given Sundance entry this year. Stars Stellan Skarsgård and Charlotte Rampling, so it can’t be all bad.

Simon Mágus

Devil-worshiping Jewish boy builds railroad. We’re not making this up.

Sweet November

Middlebrow bore Pat O’Connor remakes the ’60s Sandy Dennis disease melodrama/romantic comedy, reuniting Devil’s Advocate stars Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. Start praying now for a cameo by the devil—or at least Al Pacino.


Hillbrow Kids

(December 6)

German doc-makers Michael Hammon and Jacqueline Görgen chronicle Johannesburg street children.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

(December 8)

Ang Lee’s intermittently dazzling martial-arts crowd-pleaser makes the most of fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping (The Matrix) and a high-wattage quartet (Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, and Chang Chen, the kid from Happy Together), though it doesn’t so much revitalize the genre as discerningly repackage it for Western consumption.


(December 8)

Another Sundance victor collects its spoils; this one finds Janet McTeer trading academia for Appalachia.

Vertical Limit

(December 8)

Bond vet Martin Campbell directs a mountain-climbing rescue thriller, with Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, and Robin Tunney suffering in the snow. Feels like you just saw the whole movie right now, doesn’t it?


(December 15)

Clash of the cheekbones: Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp star in a romantic comedy centered around a chocolate shop in a French village. One hopes for lots of wordless gazing on the order of Beau Travail, but unfortunately Lasse Hallström directs. So long as he lights them well.

The Emperor’s New Groove

(December 15)

Disney animation about Incan rulers and llama herders. For a change, the assortment of voices is intriguing: Tom Jones, Eartha Kitt, John Goodman, Patrick Warburton.

The Family Man

(December 15)

Genius auteur Brett (Rush Hour) Ratner handles this identity-switching comedy (wealthy single banker Nicolas Cage gets plopped into a middle-class, soccer-mom existence) with his characteristic insight and irony. Just the sort of thing you hate Hollywood for in the morning.

What Women Want

(December 15)

Nancy Meyers, without her sty-mate Charles Shyer, helms this looming horror about a man (Mel Gibson) who can suddenly read the minds of women. Prognosis: sexist jokes followed by comeuppance and turnaround. Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Lauren Holly, Bette Midler, and Delta Burke get read; we get sick.

13 Days

(December 20)

Based on the White House tapes, it’s a literal tour of the Bay of Pigs dilemma, with Bruce Greenwood as JFK and Kevin Costner—supporting?—as adviser Kenny O’Donnell.

But Forever in My Mind

(December 20)

Another sweet growing-up Euromovie, this time Italian and chin-deep in soured politics and ’60s whiplash.

Cast Away

(December 22)

Robert Zemeckis steers this sinker, with Tom Hanks as a FedEx agent who gets stranded on a desert island. Might be decent, but could it match Yosemite Sam’s I-hates-coconuts genre apex?

Enemy at the Gates

(December 22)

A super epic (one of the most expensive made in Europe) about a master sniper at the Battle of Stalingrad, played by Jude Law. Directed with his ambitious anonymity by Jean-Jacques Annaud, and featuring Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Eva Mattes, and Bob Hoskins as Khrushchev.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

(December 22)

The Coens have their promiscuous, Rube Goldberg way with Depression-era screwball, casting George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson as Stooge-ish hoboes lost in a musical ’30s never-never South. If it’s not one of the year’s reigning shit-eating-grin movies, it’s not for lack of trying.

State and Main

(December 22)

A parasitic film crew descends on a yokel town in David Mamet’s anti-Hollywood farce, which is every bit as smug and vapid as his imagined targets.

Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000

(December 22)

We can never have enough movie versions of this hoary tale—how could you lay it to rest until Jonny Lee Miller has had a chance to play the Count? Craven is only one of five executive producers; the man in the hot seat is Patrick Lussier, editor of both Scream 2 and Scream 3.

An Everlasting Piece

(December 25)

Neither big-budget recyclable nor Baltimore memoir film, Barry Levinson’s latest involves two Belfast barbers, one Protestant, one Catholic, who team up. Billy Connolly probably isn’t in it enough.

Finding Forrester

(December 25)

The increasingly uninteresting Gus Van Sant has apparently called this unlikely-mentor movie in which a reclusive novelist (Sean Connery) bonds with a black teen athlete “the evil twin of Good Will Hunting.” Sounds more like the inbred cousin of Smoke.

Miss Congeniality

(December 25)

The unnecessary onslaught of beauty pageant/cheerleader satires rolls on: Sandra Bullock’s FBI agent goes undercover at the Miss New Jersey contest.

Moulin Rouge

(December 25)

Baz Luhrmann’s doubtlessly garish musical is not a remake of John Huston’s biopic, but it is set in fin-de-siècle Montmartre—where poet Ewan McGregor falls for courtesan Nicole Kidman—and (in a stroke of genius or madness) features John Leguizamo as Toulouse-Lautrec.


(December 25)

Roland Joffé’s Cannes opener about Louis XIV’s chef promises to be pretty vacant. Gérard Depardieu in the title role, with Julian Sands as the king and Uma Thurman as his mistress. Tom Stoppard cowrote, which means cute literary references to tickle the freshmen.

The Gift

Cate Blanchett portrays a telepathic woman embroiled in a murder mystery in backwoods Arkansas for Sam Raimi and cowriter/trailer titan Billy Bob Thornton. Keanu Reeves plays a suspect; Hilary Swank, again enduring the caprices of redneck mastodons, is his battered wife.

Proof of Life

Meg Ryan hires hostage negotiator Russell Crowe to return her kidnapped husband but finds herself falling in love with the interloper; insert your own hijacked-marriage joke here.

The Tailor of Panama

Slump-pope John Boorman, longing for a hit, adapts vintage le Carré, with Pierce Brosnan as the urbane spy in question. With Dylan Baker and Jamie Lee Curtis.


Buying the Cow

Commitment phobia rom-com. Etc.

Kingdom Come

Scarily prolific Brit Michael Winterbottom tosses off yet another one. Peter Mullan and Sarah Polley star in this Faustian Yukon gold-rush drama; Nastassja Kinski and Milla Jovovich try not to ruin too many takes.

The Million Dollar Hotel

Bono trails fellow aging former arena rocker Michael Stipe into the movie trade by writing, producing, and scoring Wim Wenders’s latest goulash of philosokitschy Eurotrash whimsy.


Can’t wait for this: Ed Harris directs and plays Jackson P., with Val Kilmer as de Kooning, Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, and Jeffrey Tambor as Clement Greenberg! The casting had to be more fun than the movie, and if this does train-wreck, it’ll be a fiery mess going down.


John Dahl’s mid-’90s neo-noirs haven’t aged well, but he’s good with actors (Gretchen Mol notwith-standing), and this romance-driven, psychodrama-spiked road movie has both welcome comic possibilities and Steve Zahn going for it.


This is Spinal Tap September 8;

The Times of Harvey Milk September 15; House of Wax (in 3-D) September 22; The Exorcist (director’s cut with extra scenes) September 22; Two-Lane Blacktop September 29; All About Eve October 6; Diary of a Chambermaid (Luis Buñuel) October 13; Wonder Boys October 20; Billy Liar (John Schlesinger) November 17; A Hard Day’s Night December 1; Miss Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth in 3-D!) December 22; The Mystery of Picasso (Henri-Georges Clouzot) December 29; 2001: A Space Odyssey December 31

Festivals and Retros


September 16-October 1

American Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Avenue at 36th Street, Queens, 718-784-0077

An assortment of films by America’s working-class auteur. Includes Boetticher’s seminal westerns with Randolph Scott and a rare screening of Arruza, the 1962 portrait of matador Carlos Arruza that all but ruined the director. Boetticher will attend the October 1 screenings.


September 23-October 6

Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 875-5600

Part of the 38th New York Film Festival.


October 7-29

American Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Avenue at 36th Street, Queens, 718-784-0077

Sixteen films featuring the American silent cinema’s renowned chameleon. Includes a restored print of Phantom of the Opera (1925), shown with live musical accompaniment.


October 13-15

BAMcinématek, 30 Lafayette Street, Brooklyn, 718-636-4111

Celebrate Czech Independence Day with this five-film series.


October 17-31

Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 875-5600

A tribute to the prolific Italian comic.


October 26-November 8

Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 505-5181

Includes television projects never seen in the U.S.


October 27-November 16

Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 727-8110

Thirty films by Britain’s original angry young men, from Tony Richardson’s Look Back in Anger (1958) to Lindsay Anderson’s If . . . (1968).


November 2-12

BAMcinématek, 30 Lafayette Street, Brooklyn,718-636-4111

Seven films from the Taiwanese virtuoso.


November 10-30

Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, 875-5600

A 25-film series featuring a new print of Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood (1962).


November 15-19

Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 505-5181

Experimental lesbian and gay film festival.


November 17-December 17

BAMcinématek, 30 Lafayette Street, Brooklyn, 718-636-4111

Three films by Czech pioneer Machaty—including the notorious Ecstasy (1932), in which Hedy Lamarr bares all—and selections from ’60s new wavers Milos Forman, Ivan Passer, and others.


December 1-7

Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, 505-5181

A bad-taste extravaganza celebrating masters of the form Troma Studios. Includes the, um, eagerly anticipated New York premiere of Citizen Toxie.