JULY 2004

AMERICA’S HEART AND SOUL: (Directed by Louis Schwartzberg; Disney) This documentary tribute to the spirit and gumption of contemporary American society takes the form of a cross-country odyssey on which we meet an intrepid, albeit blind, mountain-climber; a gutsy rug-weaver; the pioneer who founded Ben & Jerry’s, and many, many more typical Americans. Disney rejected another documentary dealing with American society—a little number called "Fahrenheit 9/11"--and opted to put its money on this arguably more patriotic project instead. Was that smart or what? For trailer, click here. Now Playing

BEFORE SUNSET: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Vernon Dobtcheff, Louise Lemoine Torres, Rodolphe Pauly (Directed by Richard Linklater; Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke; Warner Independent Pictures) A young and beautiful French woman meets a young and handsome American man on a train headed for Paris (she’s on her way home; he’s destined for the States). They make an immediate emotional connection, hop off the train in Vienna and spend the next few hours strolling, talking and doing what looks a lot like falling in love. Then they part. That’s what happened between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in Richard Linklater’s fragile but resonant 1995 movie, "Before Sunrise." Now, nine years later, they collide again in a Paris bookstore where he is signing his latest book. Will they finally live and love happily ever after? Maybe, but first he’s got to do something about the wife and kid he left behind. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE CLEARING:Robert Redford, Helen Mirren, Willem Dafoe, Alessandro Nivola, Matt Craven, Melissa Sagemiller, Wendy Crewson, Larry Pine, Diana Scarwid, Elizabeth Ruscio (Directed by Pieter Jan Brugge; Written by Justin Haythe; Fox Searchlight) Wayne Hayes (Robert Redford), an affluent, self-made businessman with a classy wife (Helen Mirren), two grown kids (Alessandro Nivola and Melissa Sagemiller) and a plush estate in Pittsburgh, has just about everything he could possibly wish for—until the day he is kidnapped by a desperate, out-of-work man (Willem Dafoe) who might well turn out to be the monster in tomorrow’s tabloid murder story. Based partially on real events that took place in the Netherlands, "The Clearing" marks the directorial debut of Dutchman Pieter Jan Brugge. To read Guy Flatley’s 2001 interview with Willem Dafoe, click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

DE-LOVELY: Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Allan Corduner, Sandra Nelson, Kieth Allen, James Wilby, Kevin McKidd, Peter Polycarpou, Richard Dillane, Edward Baker-Duly, Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Mick Hucknall, Alanis Morissette, Diana Krall, Robbie Williams, Caroline O’Connor (Directed by Irwin Winkler; Written by Jay Cocks; MGM/UA) In the 1946 all-star musical "Ziegfeld Follies," William Powell, playing legendary showman Flo Ziegfeld, looked down from heaven on the Technicolored highlights of his professional and personal life. Now, in a moderately star-studded musical drama, Kevin Kline, playing composer Cole Porter, looks back on his life in a similar fashion. But he’s not looking back from heaven in this down-to-earth flick--and if Porter was as naughty as some say he was, he probably never got there. Ashley Judd is cast as Linda Porter, a beautiful sophisticate who may or may not have minded that when the fleet was in, her husband was out cruising sailors. Remember how simple it all seemed when Cary Grant and Alexis Smith played the scintillating Porters in "Night and Day," still another all-star 1946 musical? To read Guy Flatley's review, click here; for Diane Baroni's review, click here; and for a Critics Roundup on "De-Lovely," click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

KING ARTHUR: Clive Owen, Keira Knightley, Ioan Gruffud, Stellan Skarsgard, Ray Winstone, Stephen Dillane, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Hugh Dancy, Ray Stevenson, Til Schweiger (Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Written by David Franzoni; Disney/Buena Vista) What sounds like a wannabe "Camelot"-- with Clive Owen, Keira Knightley and Ioan Guffudd as Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, but without songs by Lerner and Loewe or anyone else-- may not make you forget the Richard Harris-Vanessa Redgrave-Franco Nero triangle of "Camelot" (1967) or the romancing of Ava Gardner by Mel Ferrer and Robert Taylor in "Knights of the Round Table," the 1953 version of Arthurian chivalry, cheating and swordplay. But at least we know the movie won’t wave as many flags as does "America’s Heart and Soul," last week’s Disney event. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Vince Vaughn, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Chris Parnell, Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins, Stephen Root, Missi Pyle (Directed by Adam McKay; Written by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay; DreamWorks) Nowhere in 70’s San Diego can there be found a more obscenely macho group than anchorman Ron Burgundy and his Channel 4 Action News team. What happens to Ron when a hot, ambitious blonde with dreams of becoming a network anchorwoman joins the team shouldn’t happen to a pig. To read Guy Flatley’s 1998 interview with Vince Vaughn, click here; to read Guy’s 2000 interview with Jack Black, click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

RIDING GIANTS: (Directed by Stacy Peralta; Written by Sam George and Stacy Peralta; Sony Pictures Classics) It finally happened--a documentary opened the Sundance Film Festival last January, and this account of surfers who get their kicks from riding 90-foot waves made a big splash with the audience. The director is Stacy Peralta, a former skateboarder who won the director's prize at Sundance 2001 for "Dogtwn and Z-Boys," a documentary about the phenomenon of extreme sports. What's next--"The Ping-Pong Passionados"? For trailer, click here. Now Playing

SLEEPOVER: Alexa Vega, Mika Boorem, Jane Lynch, Sam Huntington, Sara Paxton, Bie Larson, Scout Taylor-Compton, Douglas Smith, Katija Pevec, Steve Carrell (Directed by Joe Nussbaum; Written by Elisa Bell; MGM) Four teen-age misfits—definitely not the most popular girls at their junior high—plan a scavenger hunt/sleepover that will turn their snobby sister classmates into major losers. God bless them--who SAYS America’s kids don’t have their priorities straight? For trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR: Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Jon Foster, Elle Fanning Mimi Rogers, Bijou Phillips, (Directed by Tod Williams; Universal/Focus) In 1987, Bridges and Basinger played a down-and-out Texas couple in "Nadine," a comic murder mystery directed by Robert Benton. This time out, they play an affluent couple living in New York's tony East Hampton. But, in a sense, they're still down and out. Although he writes admirable children's books, Bridges is a bit of a scoundrel who is not above cheating on the beautiful Basinger. After their two teenage sons are killed in a car accident, the bastard goes so far as to hire an assistant who is a dead ringer for one of his dead sons, hoping this will motivate the missus to divorce him. Instead, she takes the kid to bed. Is that incest or what? Writer-director Tod Williams, the man who gave us "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole," based his story on a portion of John Irving's novel, "A Widow for One Year." To read Guy Flatley's review, click here. For a Critics Roundup on "The Door in the Floor," click here, and to read Caryn James' New York Times interview with director Tod Williams, click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

A CINDERELLA STORY: Hilary Duff, Jennifer Coolidge, Chad Michael Murray, Dan Byrd, Regina King, Julie Gonzalo, Lin Shaye, Madeline Zima, Andrea Avery, Mary Pat Gleason, Paul Rodriguez (Directed by Mark Rosman; Written by Leigh Dunlap; Warner Bros.) Hilary Duff, an actress who should probably make her career decisions with a little more care, plays a San Fernando Valley girl named Sam who is reduced to slinging hash in her crass stepmom’s diner. Can there possibly be a happy ending in sight? Clue: She and a boy named Murray meet awfully cute on the internet. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

I, ROBOT: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, Shia LeBeouf, Emily Tennant, Peter Shinkoda, Craig March (Directed by Alex Proyas; Written by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Vintar; Fox) It’s 2035, and a robot has gotten too big for his britches by behaving just like a human being, deciding who should be murdered and then going ahead and doing the deed. And if robots like this guy start taking control of their own destiny, that must mean the world is on its last legs. Unless, of course, the tough, strictly human Chicago cop played by Will Smith can do something masterful about it. The truly bold thing about this movie is its assumption that there will still be a world around to save in the year 2035. For trailer,click here. Now Playing

MARIA FULL OF GRACE: Catalina Sandrino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Patricia Rae, Orlando Tobon, John Alex Toro, Yenny Paola Vega (Written and directed by Joshua Marston; Fine Line) First-time filmmaker Joshua Marston has been collecting applause and awards for this Colombian drama at festivals around the world, and so has Catalina Sandrino Moreno, who plays a teenager who ingests capsules containing heroin in order to smuggle them into New York, where she is determined to begin a new, productive life. Her mission, alas, is not so easily accomplished. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Franka Potente, Karl Urban, Tom Gallop, Tomas Arana, Oliver Tautorat, Wanja Mues (Paul Greengrass; Universal) Matt Damon is back as lovable assassin Jason Bourne, and even when he's behaving himself, he can't seem to stay out of deep, deep trouble. This time, he's falsely accused of savagely terminating a Chinese V.I.P. If the sequel is as classy and exciting as "The Bourne Identity," it will be very much worth catching--and precisely what underrated actor Damon needs to add snap to his sagging career. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

CATWOMAN: Halle Berry, Benjamin Bratt, Sharon Stone, Lambert Wilson, Frances McDormand, Byron Mann, Peter Wingfield, Frances Conroy, Samantha Simonds (Directed by Pitof; Warner Bros.) An earnest employee of a cosmetics firm (Halle Berry) is determined to prevent her bitch of a boss (Sharon Stone) from marketing a deadly anti-aging drug. So naturally Halle is terminated. That's not the end of the story, however. She gets to come back to life as--you guessed it--a catwoman with the dual skills of committing and solving major crimes. An infatuated detective (Benjamin Bratt) does his best to keep her purring on the right side of the law. Do I sniff a sequel in the works? For trailer, click here. Now Playing

A HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD: Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Dallas Roberts, Sissy Spacek, Wendy Crewson, Erik Smith, Harris Allan, Andrew Chalmers, Matt Frewer (Directed by Michael Mayer; Written by Michael Cunningham; Warner Independent Pictures) Spanning the years from 1967 to 1982, this intense drama--adapted by Michael Cunningham, author of "The Hours," from his own novel--tells the "Jules and Jim"-like tale of two guys rapturously in love with the same woman and, as mischievous fate would have it, with one another. Some of you out there will be saddened by the news that a bold full-frontal nude scene focusing on Colin Farrell has been scissored. What's behind this unkindest cut of all? Preview audiences found the spectacle distracting. That’s showbiz! To read Guy Flatley's review, click here; to read a Critics Roundup, click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

GARDEN STATE: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm, Ron Liebman, Method Man, Ann Dowd, Denis O’Hare, Michael Weston, Jean Smart, Jim Parsons, Jackie Hoffman, Amy Ferguson, Ato Essandoh, George C. Wolfe (Written and directed by Zach Braff; Miramax and Fox Searchlight) Writer-director Braff, who will be familiar to you if you’re a fan of TV’s “Scrubs,” cast himself in the leading role of Andrew Largeman, a Jersey boy who makes it big as an actor in Hollywood. But, as it turns out, Andrew has a rather large problem in making it big with the folks back home when he returns for his mother’s funeral. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

SHE HATE ME: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Woody Harrelson, Ellen Barkin, Brian Dennehy, Monica Bellucci, Jim Brown, John Turturro, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarita Choudhury, Ossie Davis, Lonette McKee (Directed by Spike Lee; Written by Michael Genet; Sony Pictures Classics) Jack Armstrong, the all-American whistleblower, is fired for exposing the corrupt conduct of his bosses. Luckily, his ex-fiancee makes it possible for him to survive. All he has to do to make a quick $180,000 is impregnate her 18 lesbian girlfriends. Anthony Mackie reportedly struts genuine star stuff in the role of Armstrong. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE: John Cho, Kal Penn, Fred Willard, Paula Garces, Neil Patrick Harris, David Krumholtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Christopher Meloni (Directed by Danny Leiner; Written by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg; New Line) Two New Jersey roommates—one of them Chinese-American, the other Indian-American—get a little higher on dope than usual one Friday and travel a long night’s journey into day in search of a White Castle burger. If you loved “Dude, Where’s My Car,” also directed by Danny Leiner, you’ll probably feel the same about this little gross-out. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

INTIMATE STRANGERS: Sandrilne Bonnaire, Fabrice Luchini, Michel Duchaussoy, Anne Brochet, Laurent Gamelon, Helene Surgere, Gilbert Melki, Urbain Cancelier (Directed by Patrice Leconte; Written by Jerome Tonnerre; Paramount Classics) In her first session with a new shrink, a dazzling woman spills her guts about her sex life. The only problem is that she has wandered into the wrong office, and the timid chap to whom she is confiding her secrets is in fact a tax accountant. But he’s too taken with her to fess up. Talk about meeting cute! For trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Kimberly Elise, Jeffrey Wright, Ted Levine, Bruno Ganz, Miguel Ferrer, Dean Stockwell, Jude Ciccolella, Simon McBurney, Vera Farmiga, Obba Babatunde, Zeljko Ivanek, Charles Napier (Directed by Jonathan Demme; Written by Dean Georgaris and Daniel Pyne; Paramount) Denzel Washington gave one of his finest performances--playing a homophobic lawyer who defends a man dying of AIDS--under the direction of Jonathan Demme in "Philadelphia" (1993). Eleven years later, the two have reteamed on a remake of "The Manchurian Candidate," John Frankenheimer's 1962 classic about an American soldier who is brainwashed by his captors during the Korean War and ordered to shoot a U.S. presidential candidate. Frank Sinatra, who starred as an Army major who tries to prevent the shooting, was so shattered by the assassination of JFK the following year that he reportedly made an effort to have his own movie permanently shelved. Whatever the case, his daughter Tina has co-produced the new version with Scott Rudin. Liev Schreiber attempts to fill the shoes of Laurence Harvey as the potential killer, and Meryl Streep plays the manipulative mommie made so chillingly memorable by Angela Lansbury in the original film. And replacing the Korean War, now considered so over, the Gulf War serves as the conflict that sets evil things in motion. To read a Critics Roundup on "The Manchurian Candidate," click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing

THUNDERBIRDS: Ben Kingsley, Bill Paxton, Brady Corbet, Anthony Edwards, Sophia Myles, Ron Cook, Soren Ïultonb, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Rose Keegan (Directed by Jonathan Frakes; Written by William Osborne, Michael McCullers; Universal) Hood, an unscrupulous, sneeringly nasty Brit with a very special telekinetic gift (Ben Kingsley), is about to train his evil gaze upon the Bank of England. And the only ones who can short-circuit his illicit pursuit of profit are super-smart billionaire (Bill Paxton) and his super-wholesome sons. Now Playing

THE VILLAGE: Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Howard, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Adrien Brody, Judy Greer, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Pitt, Cherry Jones, Jayne Atkinson, Celia Weston, Fran Kranz (Directed by M. Night Shyamalan; Disney/Buena Vista) Here's a movie with a little of something for everybody. The auteur behind the tale of scary, not-quite-human creatures who've nestled into the woods adjacent to a Pennsylvania town is M. Night Shyamalan, director of such other-worldly terror flicks as "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs." The movie (set in the late 19th century--so you needn't worry that this alien invasion of U.S. turf is happening NOW) reunites Shyamalan with Joachin Phoenix, one of the least offensive performers in "Signs." It also reteams Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt, that striking twosome from the little-seen, seldom praised 1981 thriller, "Eyewitness" (Sigourney plays Joaquin's mom and we can only hope that Bill plays his pop.) What else will this flick do for us? It will give us a chance to finally view Adrien Brody in a movie that wasn't shot eons before he won his "Pianist" Oscar, and it will showcase Bryce Howard in her most prominent appearance since she made her feature debut as a kid in daddy Ron's "Apollo 13" in 1995. Who could ask for anything more? Only those with a low tolerance for in-your-face mysticism. To read a Critics Roundup on "The Village," click here. For trailer, click here. Now Playing