JUNE 2004

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Robbie Coltrane, Gary Oldman, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, Julie Christie, Timothy Spall, Julie Walters, Fiona Shaw, Miriam Margoyles (Directed by Alfonso Cuaron; Warner Bros.) Poor Harry. He may not be able to complete his third year at Hogwart’s. How come? Because Sirius Black, a despicable mass murderer, has escaped from the slammer and he’s determined to add Harry to his list of victims. Why should you care about this kidstuff? Partly because Sirius Black is played by Gary Oldman, a seriously scary villain, but mostly because this installment of the Potter franchise has been helmed by Alfonso Cuaron, the extraordinarily gifted director of "Y Tu Mama Tambien." Now Playing

THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL: Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam, Ikhbayar Amgaabazar, Odgeral Ayusch (Directed and written by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni; ThinkFilm) After great difficulty, a camel in the Gobi Desert gives birth to a colt and then--to the horror of a family of nomadic herders—withholds her milk and her love from the newborn. The only way to save the colt’s life is to find a musician whose music can persuade the mother camel to share. When this Mongolian fable was shown at the New Directors/New Films series in New York earlier this year, The New York Times’ Elvis Mitchell said, "The directors achieve [their] goal so simply and expertly that the Disney animators are probably examining every frame of this movie to see where to begin the task of converting it into pencil tests…It’s a picture that will probably keep young eyes entranced." Now Playing

ZATOICHI: Takeshi Kitno, Tadanobu Asano, Yui Natsukwa, Michiyo Ookusu, Gadarukanaru Taka, Yuuko Daike, Daigoro Tachibana, Ittoku Kishibe, Saburo Ishikura, Akira Emoto (Written and directed by Takesi Kitano; Miramax) They call him Blind Zatoichi, and maybe that’s what he is. But this cool masseuse sees enough to know that the evil samurai and a pack of thugs who run things in the town he’s stumbled into need some disciplining. Now Playing

THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK: Vin Diesel, Judi Dench, Colm Feore, Ja Rule, Alexa Davalos, Karl Urban, Linus Roache, Nick Chinlund, Thandie Newton, Keith David (Directed by David Twohy; Universal) A sequel to "Pitch Black," a boffo Diesel/Twohy collaboration you surely did not miss, this sci-fi flick follows escaped convict Riddick on what sounds like an extremely perilous journey through a markedly unearthly 26th-century world. Enough said? Now Playing

GARFIELD: THE MOVIE: The voices of Bill Murray, Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Stephen Tobolowsky, Debra Messing, Alan Cumming (Directed by Peter Hewitt; Written by Joel Cohen; Fox) Garfield is back, and he is one unhappy cat. A dog named Odie has come into his life, competing for the affection of Garfield’s owner, Jon Arbuckle. So you might expect Garfield to be pleased when a villainous dog trainer kidnaps Odie. But this cat has a conscience and therefore feels more guilt than pleasure when he is once again the center of his master’s attention. So now he must do the right thing and make Odie come home. Now Playing

THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT: There are many who believe that, on balance, Bill Clinton was a remarkably effective commander-in-chief who was unjustly assaulted by various masters of the political smear. One of his staunchest defenders is Harry Thomason, the veteran producer who co-wrote and directed this documentary (based on the book by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons) with Nickolas Perry. The narrator is Morgan Freeman. Now Playing

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE: Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries, Aaron Ruell, Tina Majorino, Haylie Duff, Ellen Dubin, Emily Kennard, Sandy Martin (Directed by Jared Hess; Written by Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess; Fox Searchlight) Who’s Napoleon Dynamite? The nerdiest nerd in all of Preston, Idaho, and that’s really saying something. Napoleon is definitely not the most popular student in his hick high school, but the kid’s got heart, and you just know he’s going to make people sit up and notice him before the movie comes to an end. Now Playing

THE STEPFORD WIVES: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Glenn Close, Christopher Walken, Roger Bart, Mike White, Faith Hill, Lisa Masters (Directed by Frank Oz; Paramount) When married Manhattanites Nicole and Matthew move into a spookily serene Connecticut suburb, Nicole senses something very mysterious is going on. If you’ve seen the 1975 movie of the Ira Levin novel, you know the answer to the mystery lies in the fact that the men of the neighborhood have swapped their wives for cheerful cyborgs who say yes to everything, including lots and lots of sex. All of which should give Faith Hill plenty to warble about. This comic thriller is the first collaboration between director Frank Oz and screenwriter Paul Rudnick since "In & Out" in 1997. Cross your fingers that it will be half as funny. For the record, it should be noted that, as of late April, Oz is reportedly pleading with director Sydney Pollack to spring Nicole Kidman from her chores on his "Interpreter" so that she can do a re-shoot on a "Stepford" scene or two. Now Playing

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS: Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cecile De France, Jim Broadbent, Kathy Bates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Cleese, Owen Wilson, Ian McNeice, Luke Wilson, Rob Schneider, Mark Addy, Ewen Bremner, Marsha Yuen (Directed by Frank Coraci; Disney/Buena Vista) In the 1956 Oscar-winning version of Jules Verne's 19th-century tale of a bold attempt to make it around the world in record-breaking time, they had to make do with David Niven, Cantinflas and Noel Coward. Now we get Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan and Arnold Schwarzenegger! That's progress. Now Playing

DEAR FRANKIE: Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, Sharon Small, Jack McElhone, Mary Riggans, Sean Brown, Jayd Johnson, John Kazek, Katy Murphy, Anna Hepburn, Cal Macaninch, Sophie Main (Directed by Shona Auerbach; Written by Andrea Gibb; Miramax) Poor Frankie. Not only is the 9-year-old Scottish child deaf, but his mother has lied to him about his father. Instead of telling the lad that the man is a menace, she’s been writing fake letters from him to Frankie, saying that he’s a seafaring adventurer who travels to all corners of the world. Now Frankie is under the impression that his dad is on a boat soon to dock in his hometown. Will his mom tell him the truth, or will she get the crazy idea in her head that she can find a stranger who will be willing to masquerade as the boy’s long-gone father? Don’t pretend you couldn’t care less. Now Playing

DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY: Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Rip Torn, Jason Bateman, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Missi Pylel (Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber; Fox) Jeepers! Average Joe’s Gym is threatened with a takeover by Globo Gym, a soulless fitness franchise. There’s nothing for Vince Vaughn and other Average Joe’s regulars to do but to challenge Globo’s dodgeball team, headed by Ben Stiller, to a championship, winner-take-all-of-the-gym match. And speaking of winners, the movie kicked its way to the top of the box office for the weekend of 6/18-6/20. Click here for a list of the runners-up. To read Guy Flatley's 1998 interview with Vince Vaughn, click here. Now Playing

I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD: Clive Owen, Charlotte Rampling, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Malcolm McDowell, Jamie Foreman, Ken Scott, Sylvia Syms (Directed by Mike Hodges; Written by Trevor Preston; Paramount Classics) A gangster gone straight returns to the scene of his criminal past in an effort to track down the scoundrel who raped and then murdered his kid brother. This noir thriller reunites Mike Hodges and Clive Owen, the director and the star of the compelling "Croupier." To read Guy Flatley's 2002 interview with Malcolm McDowell, click here. Now Playing

THE TERMINAL: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Barry Shabaka-Henley, Gupta Rajan, Zoe Saldana, Eddie Jones, Jude Ciccolella, Corey Reynolds, Gillermo Diaz, Rini Bell, Stephen Mendel, Valera Nikolaev, Michael Nouri, Benny Golson (Steven Spielberg; DreamWorks) Tom Hanks, an Eastern European refugee, sets up housekeeping in a New York airport when his homeland is suddenly no longer considered a bona fide country. Talk about airport security! A happy ending seems certain, however, when Tom meets Catherine Zeta-Jones, a flight attendant who immediately jets his appetite. This might be less silly than it sounds, since the director is Steven Spielberg, who did swell by Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan" and "Catch Me If You Can." Plus it's un-silly enough to have been selected to kick off the Venice Film Festival on 9/1 (on the other hand, those laid-back Venetians may not be the least bit bothered by the possibility that their opening night attraction has already bombed in the U.S.) To read Guy Flatley's review, click here; for a Critics Roundup on "The Terminal," click here. Now Playing

FAHRENHEIT 9/11: (Directed by Michael Moore; Fellowship Adventure Group, Lions Gate Films, IFC Films) Michael Moore, the maverick who waged war on gun-toters in"Bowling for Columbine" and angered conservatives with his incendiary speech at the Oscar ceremonies, hasn't softened his message or toned down his combative style. "Fahrenheit 9/11," recipient of the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or, takes aim at President Bush and examines a link between the Bush and Bin Laden dynasties. And, unsurprisingly, the movie says the war in Iraq is a crock. To read A. O. Scott's report on the movie in The New York Times, click here; for Frank Rich's Times article on the way President Bush and his mother view the war in Iraq (as demonstrated in "Fahrenheit 9/11"), click here. Now Playing

WHITE CHICKS: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Jaime King, Lochlyn Munro, Anne Dudek, Rochelle Aytes, Jennifer Carpenter, Maitland Ward, Eddie Velez, Busy Philipps, Jessica Cauffiel, Faune Chambers (Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans; Columbia) A couple of African-American agents attempting to make a drug bust in Manhattan screw up badly, even by FBI standards. So how do the agents--who happen to be brothers--make things up to their bosses down at headquarters? They decide to thwart the planned kidnapping of Tiffany and Brittany Hilson, the fabled hotel heiresses, on a flight from Manhattan to the Hamptons. And the best way to do that is to pretend to be the blonde and flaky siblings—an endeavor which requires every bit as much makeup and padding as Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis wore in "Some Like It Hot." For trailer, click here. Now Playing

THE INTENDED: Janet McTeer, J.J. Field, Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Tony Maudsley, David Bradley, Philip Jackson (Directed by Kristian Levring; Written by Kristian Levring and Janet McTeer; IFC Films) Janet McTeer and Danish director Kristian Levring collaborated on the gripping but hard-to-sit-through "The King Is Alive," a 2000 death-in-the-desert film very much in the Dogma mode. Now the pair, romantically linked in real life, team in what sounds like another harrowing drama. McTeer plays a fortyish woman who travels with her younger lover to 1920’s Borneo, where the petty, venomous residents turn out to be an extraordinarily unwelcoming lot. Now Playing

THE NOTEBOOK: Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Joan Allen, James Marsden, Heather Wahlquist, Sam Shepard (Directed by Nick Cassavetes; Adapted by Jan Sardi from a novel by Nicolas Sparks; New Line) Director Nick Cassavetes has a habit of casting his mother, Gena Rowlands, in his movies—a habit in which Nick’s father, the late John Cassavetes, also indulged. And you couldn’t hope for a better habit. This time, Rowlands plays a fragile woman in a nursing home whose frequent visitor (James Garner) reads romantic passages from a notebook to her—all about a young couple (Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling) who fall in love and are then parted by World War II. Can you guess where that young couple ends up? Now Playing

TWO BROTHERS: Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Freddie Highmore, Oanh Nguyen, Moussa Maaskri, Vincent Scarito (Directed by Jeqan-Jacques Annaud; Written by Alain Godard and Jean-Jacques Annaud; Universal) A pair of tiger-cub siblings are separated, and when they meet many years later, they are forced to fight one another. This was filmed in Cambodia and Thailand, and it simply has to better than it sounds. Now Playing

THE CORPORATION: (Directed by Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar; Written by Joel Bakan and Harold Crooks; Zeitgeist Films) A festival favorite from Sundance to Hong Kong, this documentary conducts a clinical study of big corporations—thoroughly examining them the way a conscientious doctor would examine a patient—and comes to the conclusion that they are sick, sick, sick. I’m shocked, aren’t you? Now Playing

SPIDER-MAN 2: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Campbell, Rosemary Harris, Ted Raimi, Dylan Baker, Daniel Gillies, Donna Murphy (Directed by Sam Raimi; Written by Alvin Sargent; Sony) Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) has his hands full this time out. But his hands are not as full as those of Dr. Octopus. Thanks to a tricky graft, this mad Manhattan scientist (played by Alfred Molina, at right) has half a dozen hands with which to do evil to Spider-Man. Now Playing