Film Preview

Fall 2004 delivers movies from John Waters, the South Park team, Oliver Stone, Pixar and more



SEPTEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

WIMBLEDON – If tennis mixed with love is your preferred tea, then this romance set amid England’s prestigious ball-batting event, starring Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, should prove the perfect cup. Avid golf fans will just have to sit this one out and await the release of U.S. Open: Fore! (9/17)

SKY CAPTAIN & THE WORLD OF TOMORROW – Everything in this sci-fi extravaganza is digital save the actors, who include Jude Law, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lawrence Olivier. Sir Lawrence, you say? Didn’t he die back in, oh, 1989? Indeed, he did. But his performance here has been digitally cultivated from archival footage and seamlessly integrated into the finished product. Before long, they’ll be digitally resurrecting Cary Grant, Judy Garland, Mr. EdÂ… (9/17)



Sky Captain

SILVER CITY – A bumbling politician (Chris Cooper) campaigns to become governor of Colorado in this political satire from the sharp mind of John Sayles. With Richard Dreyfuss, Miguel Ferrer, Daryl Hannah, Kris Kristofferson and Tim Roth. (9/17)

MR. 3000 – Bernie Mac plays a long-retired baseball star who returns to home plate after it’s learned he never reached the three thousand hits for which he’s nationally celebrated. Co-starring Angela Bassett and Paul Sorvino. (9/17)

THE FORGOTTEN – The premise of this paranoia-steeped thriller sounds pretty spooky. Julianne Moore plays a woman who loses her daughter in a plane crash — only to be told by authorities that the girl never existed in the first place. Is she delusional or being deluded? Joseph Rubens (The Good Son) directs. (9/24)



A Dirty Shame

A DIRTY SHAME – Tracy Ullman, Chris Issak and Selma Blair enter into the deranged world of Baltimore’s John Waters, whose story of a woman who suffers a conk on the head and becomes a sex addict with a nose for kink has been slapped with an NC-17. Waters fans should be delighted that the raunchy comedy is likely to be anything but watered down. (9/24)

SHAUN OF THE DEAD – A parody of living dead movies that, if the previews are any indication, looks extremely funny. If nothing else, it’s got a great title. (9/24)

THE LAST SHOT – A first-rate cast — Matthew Broderick, Toni Collette, Alec Baldwin, Calista Flockhart and Tony Shalhoub — pilot this comedy about a naïve young director whose latest project is financed by the FBI. His movie is used as a set-up to trap the mob. (9/24)

JU-ON: THE GRUDGE – Before you catch the remake with Sarah Michelle Gellar (see October Highlights), catch the Japanese original from the creators of Ringu. The story involves an evil, unforgiving spirit and the mysterious disappearance of a young boy with a really unnerving stare. Sam Raimi (Spiderman 2) has publicly touted it as one of the scariest movies ever made. (9/24)


OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES — A drama based on the journals of Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban revolution, who in his youth traveled across South America on a motorcycle. Starring Gael García Bernal as Guevara and Rodrigo de la Serna as his best friend and traveling companion Alberto Granado. (10/1)

TYING THE KNOT – A documentary about the debate over same sex marriage in America. Not to be confused with the 2003 television broadcast, Tying the Knot: The Wedding of Melissa Joan Hart. (10/1)

SHARK TALE – Dreamworks tries to work its Shrek-ian magic under the sea with this tale of an ordinary fish who gets mixed up with the mob (portrayed, naturally, by sharks). Featuring the voices of Will Smith, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese. We wonder if Nemo will make a cameo. (10/1)

BRIGHT LEAVES – Documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee (the wonderful Sherman’s March) explores, in his own whimsical and illuminating way, his North Carolina family’s deeply rooted ties to the tobacco industry. (10/8)

TAXI – The cinematic future of Jimmy Fallon — who left Saturday Night Live to follow in the footsteps of Will Farrell, Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo — resides with this action comedy about a cop who has his driving license revoked and is forced to get to crime scenes via a big yellow cab. Lucky for Jimmy, his driver is Queen Latifah. (10/8)

I HEART HUCKABEES – David O. Russell’s latest off-the-wall comedy concerns a pair of existential detectives (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) who examine the meaning of life for a confused young man (Jason Schwartzman). With Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law and Naomi Watts. (10/8)

REEL AFFIRMATIONS 14 – D.C.’s own GLBT film festival turns fourteen this year, with a full ten days of films and shorts celebrating, exploring and examining the gay experience. This year’s lineup has not yet been released, but you can get a jump on purchasing a festival pass by visiting www.boxofficetickets.com. For more info, visit www.oneinten.org or call 202-986-1119. (10/14 to 10/23)

TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE – From Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys who continue to make us laugh till we pee with Comedy Central’s South Park, comes a movie that takes on the fight against terrorism using marionettes in lieu of actors. Expect the boys to be merciless with the likes of George W. Bush, John F. Kerry, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins and Alec Baldwin. (10/15)

P.S. — Laura Linney stars as a woman who loses her true love to a horrible tragedy only to find him reincarnated in the body of a twenty-year-old hunk. At least he’s of age, which is more than Nicole Kidman can say of her reincarnated love (see Birth in November Highlights.) (10/15)

AROUND THE BEND – Four generations of men — Michael Caine, Christopher Walken, Josh Lucas and seven-year-old Jonah Bobo — are brought together to confront a family secret. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but they’re hunting wabbits. (10/15)

SING-A-LONG SOUND OF MUSIC — This one night event at GWU’s Lisner Auditorium is presented in conjunction with Reel Affirmations. Dress as your favorite character and come sing with the von Trapp family. (10/16 & 10/17)



The Grudge

THE GRUDGE – Sarah Michelle Gellar may no longer be a vampire slayer, but she’s pressing on in the realm of the supernatural. This American remake of the Japanese horror flick Ju-on (see October Highlights) is being helmed by that film’s original director. Expect creepy, atmospheric chills a la The Ring. (10/22)

ALFIE – What’s it all about? No, really, what is it all about? Here’s probably what: dated. Jude Law stars in the remake of the 1966 hit about a womanizer who grows weary of his non-committal, refreshingly hedonistic ways. With Susan Sarandon and Jane Krakowski. (10/22)

STAGE BEAUTY – This year’s purported Shakespeare in Love — but with a twist. Billy Crudup plays the Elizabethan era’s most celebrated actor, his specialty being female roles. His turf is threatened when Claire Danes bursts on the scene with her own (heretofore unheard of) aspirations to act and the Brits get a taste of what a real woman can do with a little Shakespearean verse. Crudup is relegated to appearing in drag shows at the infamous London drag bar, Ye Olde Pancake Makeup House. (10/22)

SURVIVING CHRISTMAS – A lonely man rents a family for the holidays. With Ben Affleck, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara and Christina Applegate. From the director of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. (10/22)

VERA DRAKE – Imelda Staunton plays a 1950s abortionist whose beliefs conflict with the mores of the time. The Mike Leigh-directed film just won best picture at the Venice Film Festival. (10/22)

SAW – A serial killer handcuffs his victims to a radiator and leaves them a grisly out by placing a hacksaw nearby. Will star Cary Elwes willingly lose an arm? Will detective Danny Glover find Cary in time? Reportedly, the horror film is one of the most alarming in years, though it has been toned down from the brutal, violent version that made the film festival rounds. (10/29)

THE MACHINIST – Christian Bale plays a man who hasn’t slept in a year. Has he never heard of Sominex? The actor lost 60 pounds for the role, approximately one-third of his body weight. (Luckily he’s gained it all back for his forthcoming role as Batman.) (10/29)

RAY – Jamie Foxx courts Oscar with his starring role in this biopic of the late, legendary blues singer Ray Charles. From the previews alone, you can tell that Foxx has the man down to his soul. (10/29)

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON — Lisner Auditorium presents a one-night-only event, the 3-D presentation of this 1954 campy horror classic, featuring live music and commentary by New York City’s The Jazz Passengers. Should be a hoot, a holler and a scream! (10/25)


NOVEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

ALEXANDER – Oliver Stone makes a (hopefully) blazing return to directing with this biopic of Alexander the Great, starring a sun-blonded Colin Farrell as the legendary conqueror. Unfortunately, word has it that Alexander’s homosexuality is swept under the Macedonian rug. With Anthony Hopkins, Val Kilmer, Angelina Jolie, Jared Leto and Rosario Dawson. (11/5)



Birth

BIRTH — Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who believes that a ten-year-old boy harbors the soul of her dead husband. Forbidden love — really forbidden love — ensues. With Lauren Bacall. (11/5)

THE INCREDIBLES – The latest CGI-feature from Pixar involves the exploits of a dysfunctional family of superheroes called back into action after living a quiet suburban life for years. With the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson and Holly Hunter. (11/5)

SEED OF CHUCKY – More like the pits. (11/10)



The Incredibles

AFTER THE SUNSET – Pierce Brosnan plays a jewel thief lured out of retirement to snag one last priceless diamond. Woody Harrelson plays the detective dogging his tail. Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour). (11/12)

FINDING NEVERLAND – Johnny Depp portrays J.M. Barrie in this biopic that explores the origins of the author’s classic, Peter Pan. (11/12)

BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON – Rene Zellweger puts on the tonnage again to portray everyone’s favorite British spinster. With Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball). (11/19)

THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE – He’s yellow, he’s squeezable, he’s ridiculously upbeat, and he’s far, far gayer than Tinky Winky. (11/19)

DECEMBER HIGHLIGHTS

CLOSER – Love and infidelity are served up in abundance in this drama from Mike Nichols. With Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman. (12/3)

BLADE: TRINITY – The vampiric vampire hunter returns for another battle with the bloodsucking undead. Starring — who else? — Wesley Snipes. (12/10)

OCEAN’S 12 – Clearly, 11 wasn’t enough. The original cast returns — as does director Steven Soderbergh — for more criminal merrymaking. (12/10)



Lemony Snickets

LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS – With this adaptation of the popular children’s book series, Paramount Pictures hopes to have a little Harry Potter of their own. The material, however, may prove too dark. Still, with a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Jim Carrey and Cedric the Entertainer, we can’t help but get goosebumps. (12/17)

THE AVIATOR – Martin Scorsese tackles the legend of Howard Hughes during his young, pioneering days, before he became a reclusive whacko. With Leonardo DiCaprio starring as Hughes, the scent of Oscar-worthiness hangs over this movie like lilacs in a field of, well, lilacs. (12/17)

SPANGLISH – Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni and Cloris Leachman headline this comedy about Mexican domestics from the generally reliable James L. Brooks’ (As Good As It Gets). (12/17)

MEET THE FOCKERS – Barbra’s back! And that’s good enough for us. In a stroke of inspired casting, Streisand and Dustin Hoffman play the uber-liberal parents of the newly-engaged Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) in this sequel to Meet the Parents. The fun really begins when their future staunchly conservative in-laws — Robert DeNiro and Blythe Danner, reprising their roles — arrive for a visit. (12/22)

AN UNFINISHED LIFE – Jennifer Lopez plays a down-on-her-luck woman who moves in with her estranged father-in-law (Robert Redford, getting craggier by the day). They heal old wounds and forge a friendship. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat). (12/24)

PROOF – John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) directs this screen adaptation of David Auburn’s powerhouse of a play in which a young woman comes to the aid of her dying father, a brilliant mathematician losing his grip on reality. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins and Jake Gyllenhaal. (12/24)



Phantom of the Opera

FAT ALBERT – Hey, hey, hey, it’s not a cartoon! And that truly terrifies us. (12/25)

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – Why, oh, why did Andrew Lloyd Webber hand his musical treasure to that hack of hacks, Joel Schumacher, a flamboyant fop who hasn’t made a good film sinceÂ… sinceÂ… well, ever, if you want to be honest about it. This, after all, is the “visionary” who put nipples on the Batsuit. Is he going to do similar honors for Gaston Leroux’s lovelorn madman? Maybe he can give the phantom a bubble butt while he’s at it. We can already hear the whole thing crashing, like an opera house chandelier. (12/24)

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