MAY 2004

THE MUDGE BOY: Emile Hirsch, Tom Guiry, Richad Jenkins, Pablo Schreiber, Zachary Knighton, Ryan Donowho, Meredith Handerhan, Beckie King, John Alexander, Joshua J. Masters (Directed and written by Michael Burke; Strand Releasing) What’s a mudge boy? A boy whose last name is Mudge. His first name is Duncan, and he’s trying in the worst way to ease the pain brought on by his mother’s death--the worst way being to dress like Mom, talk like Mom, walk like Mom and feel like Mom. Not too surprisingly, Duncan’s odd behavior does not sit well with Pop. Now Playing

NEW YORK MINUTE: Ashley Olsen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Eugene Levy, Andy Richter, Riley Smith, Jared Padalecki, Drew Pinsky, Darrell Hammond, Andrea Martin, Bob Saget (Directed by Dennie Gordon; Written by Emily Fox; Warner Bros.) Jane and Roxy, twin sisters from Long Island, have shockingly little in common, but they have no choice but to pool their resources when they visit Manhattan, a borough that gives them more problems than any teen siblings, however plucky, should have to handle. Now Playing

SUPER SIZE ME: (Directed by Morgan Spurlock; Samuel Goldwyn Films) Morgan Spurlock's documentary, a prize-winner at Sundance, show the ghastly things that can happen if you go on a thirty-day all-McDonald's diet. I'd give this movie 2 Tums up! Now Playing

SEEING OTHER PEOPLE: Jay Mohr, Julianne Nicholson, Lauren Graham, Bryan Cranston, Josh Charles, Andy Richter, Matthew Davis, Jill Ritchie, Helen Slater (Directed by Wallace Wolodarsky; Written by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky; Lantern Lane Entertainment) Ed and Alice, a happily engaged couple, have a lot going for them, but they don’t have much to brag about with respect to sexual track records. So, naturally, two months before their marriage, they decide to sleep around with as many partners as possible. Ah, youth! Now Playing

VALENTIN: Julieta Cardinali, Carmen Maura, Jean Pierre Noher, Mex Urtizberea, Rodrigo Noya, Alejandro Agresti (Directed and Written by Alejandro Agresti; Miramax) A manly little Argentinian lad is used by his unscrupulous father as a magnet to attract grown-up babes. All the kid really wants is to be able to live with his discarded mother. Now Playing

VAN HELSING: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Will Kemp, Shuler Hensley, Kevin J. O'Connor, Samuel West (Directed by Stephen Sommers; Universal) Monster tracker Gabriel Van Helsing, Bram Stoker's soon-to-be-more-famous-than-ever creation, renews his effort to round up the usual suspects, including Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and, of course, Frankenstein's Monster. Lending moral support to Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is a crusading 19th-century ms. played by Kate Beckinsale. Now Playing

BREAKIN’ ALL THE RULES: Jamie Foxx, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Esposito, Peter MacNicol, Bianca Lawson, Gerald Emerick, Jill Ritchie (Directed and written by Daniel Taplitz; Screen Gems Inc.) What’s a guy to do when he’s abruptly given the gate by the beautiful girl he thought was his forevermore? Sit right down, pull himself together, and pen "The Breakup Handbook," a how-to guide advising would-be losers on how to drop a girl before she drops you. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Now Playing

CARANDIRU: Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos, Milhem Cortaz, Milton Goncalves, Ivan de Almeida, Ailton Graca, Maria Luisa Mendonca, Aida Lerner, Rodrigo Santoro, Gero Camilo (Directed by Hector Babenco; Sony Pictures Classics) Set in San Paolo’s crack-and-AIDS-infested Carandiru Penitentiary, Hector Babenco’s documentary-like drama is based on Drauzio Varella’s best-selling recollection of the brutality he witnessed as a doctor at the prison, climaxing in the bloody killing of 111 inmates during a 1992 uprising. The movie shocked critics and audiences alike and became a huge box-office hit in Brazil. Mercifully, the film is not without its lighter moments, one of which features Rodrigo Santoro and Gero Camilo (pictured above) as odd couple Lady Di and Too Bad. Now Playing

COFFEE AND CIGARETTES: Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Roberto Benigni, Tom Waits, Steve Buscemi, Alfred Molina, Cinque Lee, Taylor Mead, Iggy Pop, Genius/GZA, Steve Coogan (Directed and written by Jim Jarmusch; United Artists) Even though it’s heavy on the sipping, the puffing, and the talking (and probably on the Benigni), the buzz on this latest effort from indie icon Jim Jarmusch is mighty big. Now Playing

A SLIPPING DOWN LIFE: Lili Taylor, Guy Pearce, John Hawkes, Sara Rue, Ima P. Hall, Tom Bower, Shawnee Smith, Veronica Cartwright, Marshall Bell, Bruno Kirby, Clea DuVall (Directed and written by Toni Kalem; Lions Gate) An impressionable Southern girl is so ga-ga over a sexy rock singer that she carves his name on her forehead. That gets the dude’s attention, and a relationship of sorts develops. This love story sounds quirky enough to have been based on a novel by Anne Tyler, and that’s just what it is. Now Playing

STRAYED: Emmanuelle Beart, Gaspard Ulliel, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, Clemence Meyer, Jean Fornerod, Samuel Labarthe (Directed by Andre Techine; Written by Gilles Taurand; Wellspring) A widow flees Nazi-occupied Paris and heads for the forest with her two children. On the way, she meets a magnetic teenager who turns out to be a very resourceful young man. Now Playing

TROY: Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Peter O’Toole, Julie Christie, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Brendan Gleeson, Saffron Burrows, Claire Forlani, Emilio Estevez, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rose Byrne, Garrett Hedlund (Directed by Wolfgang Petersen; Warner Bros.) Brad Pitt as Troy Donahue? Not even. He’s just a Greek named Achilles doing battle against a nation called Troy. His chief rival is Hector, a hulky Trojan warrior played by Eric Bana. Hunky Orlando Bloom plays Paris of Troy, the rascal who snatched the red-hot Helen (Diane Kruger) from her Greek husband. All this and Julie Christie and Peter O'Toole, too. To read Guy Flatley's 1972 interview with O'Toole, click here. Now Playing

THE 24TH DAY: Scott Speedman, James Marsden, Sofia Vergara, Scott Roman, Adrian Di Giovanni (Directed and written by Tony Piccirillo; Screen Media Ventures) Dan (James Marsden) is single and gay; Tom (Scott Speedman) is married and presumably straight. They have sex together, and not long afterward, Tom is diagnosed H.I.V. positive. He kidnaps Dan, and then what do you think happens? Now Playing

SHREK 2: The voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett, Antonio Banderas, Larry King (Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon; Written by Andrew Adamson, J. David Stem, Joe Stillman and David N. Weiss; DreamWorks) The King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) are hopping mad when their darling little princess, Fiona (Cameron Diaz), turns out to be as ogre-like in appearance as her sadsack hubby Shrek. So they do all within their power to see that she switches her affection to Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). To read The New York Times and Variety reviews of "Shrek 2," click here. Now Playing

CONTROL ROOM: (Directed by Jehane Noujaim; Magnolia Pictures) The 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces is seen from two radically different points of view—that of Al Jazeera, the Arab-language satellite TV station, and that of CentCom, the U.S. Military news center for the war, in this documentary by Jehane Noujaim, director of the highly acclaimed "" The advance word is very strong. To read a New York Times report on "Control Room" by Caryn James, click here. Now Playing

STATESIDE: Jonathan Tucker, Rachael Leigh Cook, Agnes Bruckner, Val Kilmer, Joe Mantegna, Carrie Fisher, Ed Begley Jr., Diane Venora, Penny Marshall, Daniel Franzese, Zena Grey, Michael Goduti, Caryn Greenhut, Brian Geraghty (Written and directed by Reverge Anselmo; Samuel Goldwyn Films) Some not-so-nice things happen to a nice, privileged Catholic boy in 1980's Connecticut. Like what? Well, he gets high and cripples a priest from his school in a car crash, and when given the choice, joins the Marines instead of going to the state pen. And that may be his biggest mistake of all. Jonathan Tucker, so impressive as Tilda Swinton's son in "The Deep End," plays the bad-luck rich kid, and Val Kilmer struts his sadistic stuff as the boot-camp drill instructor charged with shaping him up. For Guy Flatley's review of "Stateside," click here. Now Playing

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward, Arjay Smith, Tamlyn Tomita, Austin Nichols, Perry King, Jay O. Sanders, Nestor Serrano (Directed by Roland Emmerich; Fox) Imagine your frustration if you were going about your business in the sunny South when suddenly, thanks to global warming, a whole new Ice Age popped up and, for starters, turned New York City into a super fridge. What's the big deal? Your brilliant son just happens to be in the Big Apple, participating in a scholastic competition. So you've got to go North and rescue the kid while, at the same time, everyone else is stampeding to the South. Dad, by the way, is Dennis Quaid, and Jake Gyllenhaal is Sonny. To read Diane Baroni's 2001 interview with Jake Gyllenhaal, click here. Now Playing

THE MOTHER: Anne Reid, Peter Vaughan, Anna Wilson-Jones, Daniel Craig, Danira Govich, Harry Michell, Rosie Michell, Carlo Kureishi (Directed by Roger Michell; Written by Hanif Kureishi; Sony Pictures Classics) Forget what you’ve heard about London being so vedddy dull and stodgy. Here we have grandma and grandpa, straight from the burbs for a visit with their married daughter. Grandpa, alas, suddenly kicks off. So what does his grieving widow do? She beds down with a lusty man half her age who also happens to be having a pretty hot affair with her daughter. There’s also a son on the scene, but let’s not go into that. Now Playing

RAISING HELEN: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin, Abigail Breslin, Helen Mirren, Felicity Huffman, Amber Valletta (Directed by Garry Marshall; Written by Patrick J. Clifton and Bethany Rigazio; Disney) Kate Hudson plays a party-loving Manhattan model who is forced to cut back on her partying when her sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car crash, turning her into an instant mother of three needy kids. Remember--at the time of her astonishing breakthrough performance in "Almost Famous"--how fresh, smart, sexy and all-around wonderful Kate Hudson seemed? What happened? Now Playing

SAVED!: Jena Malone, Mandy Moore, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit, Heather Matarazzo, Martin Donovan, Mary-Louise Parker, Eva Amurri, Chad Faust, Chris Evans, Valerie Bertinelli (Directed by Brian Dannelly; MGM/UA) What’s a Southern Baptist high school student to do when her gay boyfriend gets her pregnant and all of her former friends treat her like a SARS carrier? If she remembers how to pray, this is the time for her to get down on her knees. Now Playing

SOUL PLANE: Kevin Hart, Tom Arnold, Snoop Dogg, Method Man, K. D. Aubert, Godfrey, Brian Hooks, D. L. Hughley, Arielle Kebbel, Loni Love, Missi Pyle (Directed by Jessy Terrero; Written by Bo Zeng and Chuck Wilson; MGM) A naive wannabe swinger (Kevin Hart) tries to have fun on an airliner, but his efforts somehow end in outrageous insult and humiliation. So he sues the airline, gets a whopping monetary award, starts his own airline and takes off for loony adventures in the wild blue yonder. Now Playing

TIME OF THE WOLF: Isabelle Huppert, Beatrice Dalle, Patrice Chereau, Rona Hartner, Maurice Benichou, Olivier Gourmet, Brigitte Roiian, Lucas Biscombe, Hakim Taleb, Anais Demoustier, Serge Riaboukine, Daniel Duval (Written and directed by Michael Haneke; Palm Pictures) We don’t know the time or the place, but we do know that it’s not a good time or place for Anne and George (Isabelle Huppert and Daniel Duval). When they arrive at what seems to be their country home, they are greeted by gun-toting strangers who demand that they surrender their belongings and get on the road again. When George suggests that they all simply live side by side, he is instantly—and quite bloodily—shot dead. And that’s only the beginning of the horror in this follow-up to the hypnotic "Piano Teacher," the last collaboration between Huppert and Austrian director Michael Haneke. Don’t expect this to be the blockbuster of the season at your neighborhood cineplex. Now Playing