Film Preview

Highlights from 33 upcoming fall films and one Gay Film Festival




SEPTEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

CABIN FEVER — A flesh-eating virus devours a group of campers in this eagerly awaited horror flick from director Eli Roth. Talk about a skin flick! (9/12)

ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO Robert Rodriguez is, praise the lord, over his Spy Kids fetish, returning to the adult world with this third installment of his ravishingly action-stoked El Mariachi/Desperado series. The title — and the film’s tone — is a direct homage to the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns of the ’60s. With Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, and Johnny Depp. (9/12)

MATCHSTICK MEN — Nicholas Cage stars as a hyper-phobic con artist whose life is disrupted with the unplanned arrival of his daughter (Alison Lohman, White Oleander). Sounds a little Paper Moon-ish to us. Ridley Scott (Alien, Thelma & Louise) directs. Co-starring Sam Rockwell. (9/12)



Cold Creek Manor

COLD CREEK MANOR – We can’t wait to find out who belongs to the hand about to snatch Sharon Stone. Stone and Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone play a couple who purchase a new house and almost immediately find themselves terrorized by, among other things, snakes. And that hand. The psychological thriller comes from director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Timecode). With Stephen Dorff, Christopher Plummer, and Juliette Lewis. (9/19)

ANYTHING ELSE – Let’s hope the latest from Woody Allen is better than his past few efforts (though we must admit a sheepish enjoyment of Hollywood Ending). With the exception of Allen, Danny DeVito, and Stockard Channing, the cast is mostly youthful and spry — Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci and Jimmy Fallon (okay, maybe not that youthful) — and at least the plot doesn’t center on Allen’s infatuation with romancing someone one-fifth his age. Or so we think. (9/19)



Matchstick Men

UNDERWORLD – Vampires battle lycanthropes — and in the case of Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman, fall in love — in this action flick. Call it: Wereromeo and Vampiet. (9/19)

SECONDHAND LIONS – It’s the year Haley Joel Osment’s voice breaks! But never mind that: the still-chugging-along child star plays a fatherless teen forced to live with his two crotchety and eccentric uncles, played by the frequently marvelous Michael Caine (no, Michael, we still haven’t forgotten Jaws 4: The Revenge) and the always marvelous Robert Duvall. Written and directed by Tim McCanlies (The Iron Giant). (9/19)



The Rundown

LOST IN TRANSLATION – Perhaps Nepotism in Hollywood would have been a more fitting title for this film directed by Sophia Coppola — also known as the daughter of the director of The Godfather. She failed at acting, so why not try directing? Well, one good reason might be that her first film, The Virgin Suicides, was about as good as her acting. Still, there is buzz of the noteworthy kind (actually it’s more of an annoying hum) concerning this story of a friendship that develops between an actor (Bill Murray), in Tokyo to film a commercial and the world-weary wife (Scarlett Johansson) of a famous photographer (Giovanni Ribisi). (9/19)

THE RUNDOWN – We’re not big fans of The Rock (we prefer him in CGI-Scorpion King mode), but we’re actually looking forward to this over-the-top action-comedy in which he plays a bounty hunter searching for a renegade archeologist(Seann William Scott). From the previews, it looks as though Christopher Walken steals the show with yet another off-the-wall performance. Directed by Peter Berg. (9/26)



Duplex

DUPLEX — Danny DeVito directs this dark comedy about a couple (Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore) who find the perfect apartment and scheme to murder the elderly lady who owns it so they can move in. (9/26)



OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

PARTY MONSTER — Here’s one for the club kids. Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green star as New York party queens Michael Alig and James St. James, whose drug use and chaotic existence leads to murder. With Chloe Sevigny, Dylan McDermott, and Wilson Cruz. (10/3 at Visions)

THE SCHOOL OF ROCK – Big old loveable miscreant Jack Black stars as a rocker who gets fired from his band and takes a job as a elementary school substitute teacher, where he inspires his fourth grade class to reach creative heights. This would be a kiddie version of Dead Poets Society if not — and this is important, people — for the involvement of screenwriter Mike White (Chuck and Buck, The Good Girl) and director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused). With an indie pedigree like that, Rock could be one of the sleepers of the fall. (10/3)



Kill Bill

KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 – The long-awaited return of the Bad Boy of Nuevo American Cinema Quentin Tarantino. Apparently, it’s an homage to kung fu movies and ’60s splatter films. (Can you Biggie Size that combo, please?) David Carradine plays Bill, leader of a group of assassins who orders a hit on one of his best assassins, played by Uma Thurman. She awakens from a coma five years later and goes all revenge-a-rama. The film was so long, a decision was made to split it into two 90-minute parts, the second of which, will be released later in 2004 (or, perhaps, not at all, if the first film bombs). With Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen and Darryl Hannah. (10/10)

MYSTIC RIVER – Clint Eastwood gets back in the directing saddle with this dark drama of three childhood friends who reunite following the death of a young girl, leading to some disturbing revelations. The powerhouse cast includes Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Laura Linney and Laurence Fishburne. (10/10)

INTOLERABLE CRUELTY – George Clooney is a divorce attorney determined to foil his client’s gold-digging wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), all the while falling in love with her. Does this sound like a Coen Brother movie to you? What’s wrong, boys? With Cedric the Entertainer and Billy Bob Thornton. (10/10)

GOOD BOY! – Just what the world needed: another talking dog movie. It must be something to do with the way their puppy lips form words — it’s so cuuuute! Anyway, it appears that dogs come from a distant planet and are stationed on earth to help fertilize its sidewalks. Featuring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Delta Burke, Carl Reiner, Donald Faison and Brittany Murphy. Ruff, ruff! (10/10)

MAMBO ITALIANO — A pair of young gay Italian men shock their families with the news that they’re living together in blissful sin. With Paul Sorvino. (10/10)



9 Dead Gay Guys

REEL AFFIRMATIONS XIII — Has it been 13 years already for D.C.’s gay and lesbian film festival? Well, yes it has. And this year opens on Thursday, October 16, with a bang — Die, Mommie, Die, which won drag performer Charles Busch an acting award at Sundance and features Jason Priestly as his love interest. Also showing in this year’s festival: 9 Dead Gay Guys, Joan E. Biren’s documentary No Secret Anymore, and Latter Days, the story of an L.A. party boy who falls in love with his neighbor, a hunky repressed Mormon. (10/16 to 10/25)

RUNAWAY JURY – Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman go head to head in this adaptation of the John Grisham novel. John Cusak plays a juror up for sale to the highest bidder in a case involving gun manufacturers. Directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls). (10/17)



Texas Chainsaw Massacre

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – The 1974 classic that defined a horror movement gets a contemporary update that includes a bigger budget, Dolby 6.1 sound, and the anything-but-light-and-nimble producing hand of Michael Bay (Armageddon, Bad Boys II). It’s directed by video director Marcus Nispel and, from the previews, looks to be at the very least jolting. In a really loud way. (10/17)



Wonderland

PIECES OF APRIL — Peter Hedges, screenwriter of About a Boy and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, makes his directing bow with this comedy of errors about a girl (Katie Holmes) who invites her estranged parents (Patricia Clarkson and Oliver Platt) to her tiny Manhattan apartment for a Thanksgiving dinner. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong. With Sean Hayes as her wacky, nervous nell neighbor. (10/17)

WONDERLAND — James Cox’s drama chronicles the sad, sordid involvement of 13-inch (straight) porn legend John Holmes in a quadruple murder. With Val Kilmer as Holmes and Lisa Kudrow as his estranged wife. (10/17)



Scary Movie 3

SCARY MOVIE 3 – The Wayans Brothers are out, David Zucker (Airplane!) is in. This may not be a good thing. Movies spoofed include Signs, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Ring, The Others and Eight Mile. Again, this may not be a good thing. (10/24)

BROTHER BEAR – Disney’s latest stab at a classic animated feature comeback (“Okay, everybody, please just forget about Treasure Planet!“) serves up the voice of Joaquim Phoenix as a Native American hunter transformed into a bear who then helps reunite a stray cub with his mama bear. He learns a profound lesson about the nobility of wildlife and why hunters are not necessarily viewed by animals as very nice people. The tears are already forming. (10/24)



Brother Bear

ALIEN – Back in 1979, everyone could hear you scream in the theatres. The screams return on Halloween as the original returns to the big screen with newly restored scenes in a Ridley Scott-sanctioned “Director’s Cut.” We’ll be first in line. (10/31)



NOVEMBER HIGHLIGHTS


THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS — The saga concludes. Reported mind-blowing segments include a 14-minute helicopter chase and a fight to end all fights between a lone Neo (Keanu Reeves) and thousands of replicated Agent Smiths (Hugo Weaving). Can anybody say So Big? (11/7)

GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS — Seventies pastel kitsch flies across the screen in this dragstravaganza starring Clinton Leupp (aka Coco Peru and Jeffery Roberson (aka Varla Jean Merman). (11/7 at Visions)


LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION – Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman and Heather Locklear share the screen with Bugs, Daffy and Porky in this latest merging of the cartoon world with the real world. Directed by Joe Dante, who hasn’t made a film since 1998′s Small Soldiers and hasn’t made a GOOD film since 1990′s Gremlins 2. (11/7)


THE CAT IN THE HAT – Mike Myers gets all furry for this fanciful and whimsy-packed live-action adaptation of the beloved Dr. Seuss classic (see what happens when you rub his tummy!). Complete with a talking, bug-eyed goldfish. First-time direction by production designer Bo Welsh, whose design credits include Edward Scissorhands and the Men in Black movies. (11/14)

THE HAUNTED MANSION – Well, it worked with Pirates of the Caribbean, so why not? Eddie Murphy stars as the owner of a new house that, of course, is fraught with spirits, some playful, some wicked, all transparent. Also starring the head of Jennifer Tilly in a crystal ball. (11/28)



DECEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

HARRY POTTER AND THE BIG MAGICALÂ… What? No Harry Potter this year? How will we ever survive?


THE LAST SAMURAI – Tom Cruise goes a-huntin’ for Oscar with this Edward “Glory” Zwick-directed story of a Civil War veteran who travels to Japan to train the Emporer’s troops how to use guns against the swords of the Samurais. You know how to shoot, don’t you? You just cock the trigger and blow ‘em away! (12/5)

STUCK ON YOU – Matt Damon and Greg Kinear play conjoined twins in this new comedy from the guys who gave us a new take on hair gel in There’s Something About Mary. Expect bad taste — hopefully hilarious bad taste — to abound throughout. Co-starring Cher, and that’s hilarious enough for us. (12/12)


THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING – The movie event of the millennium (until the next movie event of the millennium). The epic tale concludes as Frodo, Sam and Gollum approach Mount Doom while Aragorn and the rest of the fellowship defend the city of Gondor from the rampaging armies of Sauron. The buzz is that the climactic battle scene will make the last film’s spectacular battle of Helm’s Deep look like a quaint little picnic. (12/19)

Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.

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