A Whole Lotta Lava Going On

Winter/Spring Movie Sneaks


It could well be that we have already witnessed the biggest movie event of 1997 -- and all before tearing off the January page of our new calendars. Star Wars: Special Edition, a re-release of the 1977 film with a touch of new footage and technical tweaking added, has seized the American box office in its first two weeks of exhibition and turned all its competitors into sputtering lame ducks.

The enormous popularity of Star Wars: Special Edition may actually provide the best possible lead-in for the year to come. Big spectacles are clearly in. One seasoned spectacle king, Steven Spielberg, has already laid claim to the Memorial Day holiday -- the traditional start of the summer movie season -- for the saturation release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. And in the next few weeks, the similarly spruced-up Star Wars sequels, Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back, are also due for release, while other distributors are suddenly running scared and scrambling to find alternate release dates.

In the big spectacle realm this year, natural disasters seem to be making a thematic comeback. Already waging in front of us is the odd face-off between the dueling volcano movies. Dante's Peak was first out of the gate on February 7, with Volcano now scheduled for an as-yet unspecified date this spring. Movies with choice titles like Anaconda and Flood are also on tap for the first five months of 1997. Then icebergs strike this summer when James Cameron's Titanic sets sail.

Another thing the Star Wars phenomenon makes evident is how whole-heartedly Hollywood has embraced the practice of recycling. Of course, it's the town's distinctive natural resources -- successful old movies and TV shows -- that are being recycled. Slated for release between January and May are modern updates of McHale's Navy with Tom Arnold and Disney's That Darn Cat, Jungle 2 Jungle's Americanization of the inexplicably successful French film Little Indian, Big City, and Val Kilmer's reincarnation of The Saint (a character played in different decades by George Sanders and Roger Moore). The Power Rangers will go Turbo in a feature follow-up and even those A Fish Called Wanda people are back with another kooky ensemble comedy. Some of this summer's planned familiarities include Batman and Robin, Disney's animated musical Hercules, Speed 2, Home Alone 3, and Alien Resurrection in which Sigourney Weaver once more does battle with the Alien.

Over the last few years, restoring and reviving older movies for new theatrical runs has grown into a distinct marketing niche. Now, the success of Star Wars: Special Edition is bound to open the floodgates as speculative distributors realize the profitability potential in just picking the right old film to re-release. In addition to the three Star Wars epics, this spring promises the re-releases of such cultural touchstones as The Graduate, The Godfather, and John Waters' Pink Flamingos. Also coming to theatres is a restoration of Vittorio De Sica's Oscar-winning Italian elegy The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.

Film biographies also abound. January's release of Disney's Prefontaine, the life story of the famed runner, is the first of another pair of dueling film subjects to cross the finish line. Robert Towne is, reportedly, working on another Prefontaine bio-picture to be released late this year. Howard Stern's Private Parts looks likely to come in a big winner when it is released on March 7. Curiously, the ghost of Selena will continue to haunt Stern as her film biography is due out March 21, and Selena and Private Parts will have to vie for our entertainment dollars. And though not technically a biography, When We Were Kings provides fascinating documentation of the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman title bout in Zaire in 1974.

Between now and Memorial Day, a slew of box-office heavy-hitters will also compete for our entertainment interest. Clint Eastwood directs and stars in Absolute Power, Al Pacino and Johnny Depp play gangland accomplices in Donnie Brasco, Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt go head to head in The Devil's Own, Bruce Willis and Gary Oldman partake in futuristic action in The Fifth Element, Bette Midler stars in Carl Reiner's That Old Feeling, Wesley Snipes investigates a White House killing in Murder at 1600, Jim Carrey is set to star in two films: Liar Liar and Trial and Error, and Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, and Janeane Garofalo prove that there's no place like home in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. But the ultimate (and literal) heavy-hitters award has to go to Hong Kong director Tsui Hark's American debut Double Team, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, and Mickey Rourke.

The next few months will also see the release of movies by some of the screen's most obstinate eccentrics. In addition to the 25th anniversary re-release of John Waters' Pink Flamingos, some new works we can expect are Touch from Paul Schrader, Lost Highway from David Lynch, the infamous Crash from David Cronenberg, Waiting for Guffman from Spinal Tapper Christopher Guest, and Blood & Wine -- yet another collaborative project from director Bob Rafelson and actor Jack Nicholson.

It looks as though we'll have plenty to choose from until the summer escapism starts rolling in around Memorial Day. And, remember, all these titles are subject to change as the Star Wars juggernaut continues to rewrite the season.

Star Wars


D: Clint Eastwood; with Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Judy Davis.

During a burglary of the White House, a master thief becomes a hunted man after he witnesses the president's sexual dalliances and government's subsequent cover-up; Clint Eastwood directs and plays the career criminal to Gene Hackman's womanizing president.


D: Kevin Spacey; with Matt Dillon, Faye Dunaway, Gary Sinise, Joe Mantegna.

In his directing debut, Kevin Spacey showcases a stellar ensemble cast for a suspenseful crime story about a robbery gone awry.


D: Alex Sichel; with Alison Folland, Tara Subkoff, Wilson Cruz, Cole Hauser.

The sister filmmaking team of director Alex Sichel and screenwriter Sylvia Sichel tells the story of the lifelong friendship between two high school girls in Hells' Kitchen, and the way the dynamics change over the course of one volatile summer; Dolly Hall (The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love) produces.


D: Luis Llosa; with Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson.

A documentary film crew on the Amazon River strays into dangerous waters when they pick up a passenger obsessed with the world's largest snake, the anaconda; Jennifer Lopez goes from her starring role in Selena to one of the season's biggest action-adventure epics.


D: Christian Duguay; with Aidan Quinn, Ben Kingsley, Donald Sutherland.

CIA master spy Donald Sutherland and Israeli agent Ben Kingsley devise a trap to catch the notorious international terrorist Carlos "The Jackal" -- a plot dependent on the grudging involvement of Jackal lookalike Aidan Quinn.


D: Robert Townsend; with Halle Berry, Martin Landau, Natalie Desselle.

The rags-to-riches dreams of two Georgia gals (Halle Berry and newcomer Natalie Desselle) transplanted to Beverly Hills go south when they realize they, unwittingly, have become part of a scheme to bilk the ailing millionaire (Martin Landau) who has befriended them; Hollywood Shuffle's Robert Townsend directs.


D: Lance Young; with Craig Sheffer, Sheryl Lee, Terence Stamp, Spalding Gray.

Unconventional sex therapist Terence Stamp becomes the focus of a young couple's sensual search for self-discovery.


D: Bob Rafelson; with Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Stephen Dorff, Jennifer Lopez, Judy Davis.

The creative duo of Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson reunite once more (previous films include Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, and The Postman Always Rings Twice) for this story about a wine dealer who conspires to pull a big heist.


D: Jeff Pollack; with Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, Vivica A. Fox, Tamala Jones.

Two men and their dates find their anticipated night of passion impeded by an all-night search for condoms.


D: Mark Herman; with Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor.

Music and class struggle play dominant roles in this Yorkshire mining town that is divided by labor strikes and family dissension; they also provide the town's salvation.


D: Jonathan Mostow; with Kurt Russell, Kathleen Quinlan, J.T. Walsh, Rex Linn.

Husband Kurt Russell must rescue his kidnapped wife Kathleen Quinlan after their car breaks down while traveling in the Southwest.


D: Jon Sherman; with Susan Floyd, Dan Futterman.

This intimate comedy observes two lovers who can communicate successfully with everyone but each other.


D: Mark Dindal; with the voices of Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, Natalie Cole, Don Knotts.

The new Warner Bros. feature animation division follows up its Space Jam debut with this animated musical (featuring songs by Randy Newman and choreography by Gene Kelly) about a talented cat trying to break the "species" barrier in Hollywood; it may give new meaning to the term "hoofer."


D: Kevin Smith; with Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams.

Part Three of Kevin Smith's self-described "New Jersey trilogy" (Clerks, Mallrats) casts a sharp and funny eye on the sexual and emotional barriers that exist between people as it tells its tale of two male comic book artists who are also best friends and the woman who comes between them.


D: Peter Duncan; with Judy Davis, Sam Neill, F. Murray Abraham, Geoffrey Rush.

This Australian black comedy earned Judy Davis that country's best actress award in 1996 for her portrayal of a woman whose fateful trip to Russia in 1949 has long-lasting and unforeseen consequences.


D: Michael Winner; with Jeremy Irons, Anthony Hopkins, Prunella Scales, Patsy Kensit.

This film adaptation of the play by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn was made in 1989 but suffered an aborted release when its distribution company collapsed; eight years later this wry tale about a timid man who joins a seaside theatrical troupe has received a second chance.


D: Alexander Payne; with Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Kurtwood Smith, Mary Kay Place, Kelly Preston, Burt Reynolds.

Believe it or not, Citizen Ruth is something of an abortion comedy that tells the story of a glue-sniffing nobody (Laura Dern) whose pregnancy becomes a political football for both anti-abortionist and pro-choice activists.


D: John Irvin; with Stephen Dorff, Timothy Hutton, Famke Janssen, Harvey Keitel.

A man plots revenge after his brother is killed after completing the perfect crime.


D: David Cronenberg; with James Spader, Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette, Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger.

Sex, death, and auto crashes are graphically and potently intertwined in this notorious new film by David Cronenberg (Dead Ringers, Videodrome, The Fly) which he adapted from J.G. Ballard's cult novel; Crash has been earning both kudos (special jury prize at Cannes) and condemnation (banned in London) as the NC-17-rated film slowly makes its way toward America.


D: Darrell Roodt; with Elizabeth Hurley, Ice Cube, Ving Rhames.

From the director of Sarafina! comes this action-drama shot in South Africa in which a man searching for his brother becomes mixed up with a Johannesburg drug cartel.


D: Roger Donaldson; with Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton.

The first of 1997's volcano movies to surge into theatres, Dante's Peak also ushers in the year's torrent of disaster adventures; 007's Pierce Brosnan and The Terminator's Linda Hamilton cut the mountain down to size.


D: Greg Mottola; with Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, Anne Meara, Pat McNamara, Campbell Scott.

First time writer-director Greg Mottola creates a hilarious family car trip through the wilds of Manhattan as a squabbling adult clan goes in search of one of the wayward husbands of one of their members; Steven Soderbergh co-produced this frequent festival favorite.


D: Alan Pakula; with Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Margaret Colin, Ruben Blades.

Director Alan Pakula, whose forte is the thriller (All the President's Men, Klute, The Pelican Brief), teams with box-office big boys Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt for this drama about a New York City cop who befriends an émigré from Northern Ireland who harbors a secret agenda and a violent past.


D: Mike Newell; with Al Pacino, Johnny Depp, Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, Anne Heche.

Al Pacino plays a mob veteran who mentors young associate Johnny Depp -- who turns out to be an FBI infiltrator -- in this based-on-a-true-story gangland tale penned by TV's Homicide creator Paul Attanasio and directed by Mike Newell (Enchanted April, Four Weddings and a Funeral).


D: Tsui Hark; with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, Mickey Rourke.

Individually and collectively, these three pugilistically inclined co-stars will, no doubt, inspire the group to be "as bad as they wanna be"; Hong Kong action maestro Tsui Hark directs as Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman play mismatched partners in counter-terrorism who battle the evildoings of bad guy Mickey Rourke.


D: Jaco Van Dormael; with Daniel Auteuil, Pascal Duquenne.

The movie's co-stars, Daniel Auteuil and Pascal Duquenne, shared the Best Actor Award at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival for their depiction of an unlikely friendship between a stiff businessman and a man with Down Syndrome; Toto le Hero's Jaco Van Dormael directs.


D: Tom Schulman; with Joe Pesci, George Hamilton, Dyan Cannon, Kristy Swanson, David Spade, Andy Comeau.

The evocative title refers to the proof that hit man Joe Pesci must bring to his employers when a job is completed; written and directed by Tom Schulman (scripts for Dead Poets Society and What About Bob?, the comedy ensues when his luggage is switched with an identical duffel bag at the airport.


D: Ivan Reitman; with Billy Crystal, Bruce Greenwood, Natassia Kinski, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Robin Williams.

In this American adaptation of the 1984 French film Les Comperes, two men are tricked into searching for a woman's runaway son; Fathers' Day is directed and co-produced by the nonpareil comedy pro Ivan Reitman (who also produced this season's Private Parts and Commandments).


D: Susan Streitfield; with Tilda Swinton, Amy Madigan, Karen Sillas, Paulina Porizkova.

Tilda Swinton and Amy Madigan play sisters who, despite appearances of professional and emotional success, are plagued by neurosis, self-doubt, and sociopathic behaviors; based on the book by Louise J. Kaplan, the movie analyzes these behaviors in terms of feminist structural analysis.


D: Robert Young and Fred Schepisi; with John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin.

The wildly successful team from A Fish Called Wanda reunites for a new comedy about a zoo amok with greed and lunacy.


D: Luc Besson; with Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Milla Jovovich.

Bruce Willis plays a cabdriver in 24th-century New York who becomes an unlikely hero in an apocalyptic battle in this new one from stylish action-adventure director Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Professional).


D: Beth Gage and George Gage.

The Tenth Mountain Division, America's only Alpine military unit formed during WWII, is the subject of this documentary which tracks the subsequent careers of its members who went on to become leaders in the nascent ski, sports, and environmental industries.


D: Mikael Salomon; with Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver.

The Flood folds two exciting movie spectacles into one: an armored-car-heist crime thriller and a natural disaster setting -- nothing soggy about this popcorn pusher.


D: Peter Byck.

Winner of the documentary competition award at the 1996 SXSW Film Festival, Garbage returns to town for a theatrical run; the movie examines the physical and spiritual aspects of garbage.


D: Richard LaBrie; with Gregory Hines, Vincent D'Onofrio, James Earl Jones, Max Gail.

Entered in a raft race on Oregon's Rogue River is blind, former football star Vincent D'Onofrio and wheelchair-bound Gregory Hines, who tries to help him cope.


D: Vondie Curtis Hall; with Tim Roth, Tupac Shakur, Thandie Newton.

Actor Vondie Curtis Hall makes his directing debut with this story about the frustrations of two junkies (the always startling Tim Roth and the late Tupac Shakur) who want to go straight but are caught in the inexorable wheels of bureaucracy.


D: George Armitage; with John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd.

Grosse Point Blank

In this black comedy from director George Armitage (Miami Blues), hired gun John Cusack searches for life's meaning at his 10-year high-school reunion where he reunites with his arch-rival and the girl he left behind.


D: Paul Thomas Anderson; with Samuel L. Jackson, Philip Baker Hall, John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow.

A crook, a hooker, and a gambler and his protégé prove there's honor amongst thieves in the casinos of Reno.


D: Bill Duke; with Laurence Fishburne, Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia.

Laurence Fishburne portrays mobster Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, the godfather of Harlem in the 1930s, in this period crime story helmed by the entertaining action director Bill Duke (A Rage in Harlem, Deep Cover).


D: Herb Gardner; with Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving, Martha Plimpton, Craig T. Nelson.

Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis star as the bickering, old park-bench buddies of Central Park in this screen adaptation of Herb Gardner's Tony Award-winning play.


D: Arthur Penn; with Nigel Hawthorne, Eric Stoltz, Louis Gossett, Jr.

Set in modern South Africa, this first feature in seven years from legendary director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man) uses the actual work of the Truth Commission for its narrative hook; former officers who tortured political prisoners are forced to answer for their actions and have the tables turned.


D: Pat O'Connor; with Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly, Joanna Going, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Crudup, Kathy Baker.

Two brothers compete for the affections of three wealthy and beautiful sisters in this late-Fifties period piece adapted from a Sue Miller short story and directed by Circle of Friends' Pat O'Connor.


D: Scott Silver; with David Arquette, Lukas Haas.

David Arquette and Lukas Haas portray young L.A. hustlers searching for friendship and honesty in this 1990s take on Midnight Cowboy.


D: John Pasquin; with Tim Allen, Martin Short, Lolita Davidovich, David Ogden Stiers, Sam Huntington, JoBeth Williams.

Disney re-makes one of the worst French imports ever to invade these shores, Little Indian, Big City and has lined up an impressive cast of players for the culture-clash comedy about a businessman who transplants from the jungle to the city the 13-year-old son he has never known.


D: Mira Nair; with Naveen Andrews, Indira Varma, Sarita Choudhury.

A servant girl in 16th-century India uses the mysteries of the Kama Sutra to advance her position in society; director Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala) places this steamy story in the employ of her continuing examination of society's fringe dwellers.


D: Gary Fleder; with Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes, Bill Nunn.

Washington, DC detective Morgan Freeman hooks up with doctor Ashley Judd to search for his missing, and possibly kidnapped, niece in this psychological suspense thriller.


D: Lynne Stopkewich; with Molly Parker, Peter Outerbridge.

A Canadian film based on a story by Barbara Gowdry, the sensual and controversial Kissed follows a young girl's fascination with death as it grows into the adult fetish of necrophilia.


D: Tom Shadyac; with Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Justin Cooper, Swoosie Kurtz, Jennifer Tilly.

Jim Carrey stars as a compulsive liar (and attorney) who is forced to tell the truth for 24 hours; the film reunites Carrey with Tom Shadyac, the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Nutty Professor.


D: David Lynch; with Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Robert Loggia, Robert Blake, Gary Busey, Richard Pryor.

David Lynch returns from the depths of his subconscious with another dream-like tale of seduction, violence, and deception that can be analyzed but never fully deciphered; Lynch co-wrote the script with Wild at Heart's Barry Gifford and Angelo Badalamenti again provides the music.


D: Emma-Kate Croghan; with Frances O'Connor, Alice Garner, Radha Mitchell.

College students engagingly stumble through academic frustrations, lovesickness, and housing problems in this Australian feature by young first-time director Emma-Kate Croghan.


D: Theodore Witcher; with Larenz Tate, Nia Long, Lisa Nicole Carson, Isaiah Washington.

Love Jones

Set in Chicago, this romantic comedy about young, black professionals examines contemporary courtship rituals and our need to keep getting back on the horse; the entertaining love jones tied for the audience award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.


D: Joe Mantello; with Jason Alexander, Randy Becker, Stephen Bogardus, John Glover, John Benjamin Hickey, Justin Kirk, Stephen Spinella.

Terrence McNally wrote this film adaptation of his Tony award-winning play about eight gay friends who gather together over the course of three summer holiday weekends; Jason Alexander joins the original Broadway cast of players.


D: Jerry Zaks; with Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronyn, Gwen Verdon.

Adapted by the late Scott McPherson from his acclaimed stage play, Marvin's Room stars Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep as two estranged sisters brought together by illnesses and the antics of Streep's arsonist son (Leonardo DiCaprio); in subtle serio-comic ways, all come to learn the virtues of selflessness.


D: Bryan Spicer; with Tom Arnold, David Alan Grier, Dean Stockwell, Tim Curry, Bruce Campbell, French Stewart, Ernest Borgnine, Tommy Chong.

Tom Arnold takes the helm of this rusty vessel from Ernest Borgnine (who appears in a cameo) as another motley crew sails into action mishaps, comedy, and Tim Curry's terrorist threats.


D: Murray Lerner.

This newly released documentary about the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival features the music of Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, and Donovan.


D: Dwight H. Little; with Wesley Snipes, Alan Alda, Diane Lane, Daniel Benzali, Ronny Cox, Dennis Miller.

Police detective Wesley Snipes tangles with solving a murder that occurs at the White House and the cover-up that ensues.


D: Ole Bornedal; with Nick Nolte, Patricia Arquette, Ewan McGregor, Josh Brolin.

A law student, played by Trainspotting's Ewan McGregor, takes a part-time job as a night watchman in a morgue just as a serial killer begins terrorizing the city; for director Ole Bornedal, Nightwatch is his American re-make of a movie he made two years ago in Denmark, although this stateside version has a script by Steven Soderbergh.


D: Steve Oedekerk; with Martin Lawrence, Tim Robbins, John C. McGinley, Giancarlo Esposito, Kelly Preston.

A car-jacking goes astray when the victim turns the tables on his mugger and the two men become fast friends and partners in crime.


D: Kevin Reynolds; with Samuel L. Jackson.

Waterworld evacuee Kevin Reynolds brings things back down to scale in this drama about high school teacher Samuel L. Jackson who inspires his troubled kids.


D: Ben Lewin; with Gia Carides, Anthony LaPaglia.

Test-marketed in Austin in 1996, Paperback Romance is an offbeat romantic comedy about a writer of erotic stories and a handsome society jeweler.


D: Bruce Beresford; with Glenn Close, Pauline Collins.

Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies, Driving Miss Daisy) wrote and directed this story about two British women in World War II who form a choir in defiance of their Japanese captors.


D: Glenn Gordon Caron; with Jennifer Aniston, Jay Mohr, Olympia Dukakis, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Bacon.

Ad exec Jennifer Aniston concocts a picture-perfect boyfriend and lifestyle in order to rise within the corporate world, then meets the guy (Kevin Bacon) she has framed on her desk.


D: Betty Thomas; with Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Jackie Martling, Mary C. McCormack, "Stuttering" John Melendez, Fred Norris, Ozzy Osbourne, David Letterman.

Running out of new media to conquer, Howard Stern gathers his friends to act out this film version of his best-selling autobiography.


D: Chuck Spirer.

This so-called hip-hopumentary looks at the world of rap music and goes behind the scenes with Ice-T, Notorious B.I.G., the Fugees, Redman, Salt 'N Pepa, and others.


D: David Mirkin; with Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo.

Best friends Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow fictitiously reinvent themselves for their 10-year high-school reunion and all goes well until Janeane Garofalo shows up to burst their bubble.


D: Paul Weiland; with Jean Reno, Mercedes Ruehl, Polly Walker.

In a small Italian village, a trattoria owner will stop at nothing to grant his wife's wish to be buried in the local cemetery; madcap plots to win the three remaining plots underscore this romantic comedy about undying love.


D: John Singleton; with Jon Voight, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Michael Rooker.

Boyz N the Hood director John Singleton tackles this story based on actual events which occurred in Florida in 1923 when a black town was ravaged by a white mob and the brave and unusual alliance formed by two men -- one black and one white -- to save the lives of devastated survivors.


D: Clare Peploe; with Bridget Fonda, Russell Crow.

Bridget Fonda and Russell Crow star in a romantic adventure involving magic, mysticism, and Mexico.


D: Phillip Noyce; with Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue.

Paramount Pictures hopes to launch a new action-adventure franchise by reviving Simon Templar, aka The Saint -- a world-class thief and adventure-monger who was played in the movies by George Sanders and on TV by Roger Moore; Val Kilmer now does the honors.


D: Gregory Nava; with Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda.


Slain Tejano star Selena Quintanilla Perez is immortalized in this biography written and directed by Gregory Nava (El Norte, My Family/Mi Familia) and filmed in Texas.


D: Billy Bob Thornton; with Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, John Ritter, J.T. Walsh, Natalie Canerday, Lucas Black.

One False Move's co-scriptwriter and actor Billy Bob Thornton writes, directs, and stars in this compelling story about a simple man released from an asylum after committing a gruesome crime 25 years earlier; Dwight Yoakam and John Ritter are both surprisingly cast.


D: Bille August; with Julia Ormand, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Harris.

When a scientist inquires about the death of a young boy, her investigation leads to a government conspiracy that she travels the globe to uncover; directed by Pelle the Conqueror Oscar winner Bille August.


D: Takeshi Kitano; with Kitano, Aya Kokumai, Tetsu Watanabe.

Japanese cult star Takeshi "Beat" Kitano serves as writer, director, editor, and star of this movie about a hard-boiled yakuza gangster.


D: Rusty Cundieff; with Cundieff, Tisha Campbell, Joe Torry, Paula Jai Parker.

Rusty Cundieff (Fear of a Black Hat) co-wrote and co-stars as well as directs this story about a pair of matchmakers who try to undo their success in order to get their old friends back.


D: Daniel Sullivan; with Ron Rifkin, Timothy Hutton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tony Goldwyn.

A headstrong father and Holocaust survivor clashes with his three grown children in this drama adapted from his stage play by playwright Jon Robin Baitz.


D: Richard Linklater; with Giovanni Ribisi, Amie Carey, Steve Zahn, Nicky Katt, Dina Spybey, Jayce Bartok, Parker Posey.

Director Richard Linklater crafts another ensemble piece that focuses on the disaffected twilight years between adolescence and adulthood; Eric Bogosian wrote this screen adaptation of his stage play and it was filmed here in Austin last summer.


D: Chen Kaige; with Gong Li, Leslie Cheung.

An epic tale of passion, wealth, and decadence by the director of Farewell My Concubine stars the inimitable Gong Li and has been banned in its country of origin, China.


D: Bob Spiers; with Christina Ricci, Doug E. Doug, George Dzundza, Peter Boyle, Michael McKean, Bess Armstrong.

Disney updates another classic, this one starring Christina Ricci as the 16-year-old owner of the cat that delivers an important clue to a mysterious kidnapping.


D: Carl Reiner; with Bette Midler, Dennis Farina.

A happily divorced couple spar and spark at their daughter's wedding in this comedy written by Leslie Dixon (Mrs. Doubtfire and Midler's Outrageous Fortune) and directed by comedy veteran Carl Reiner.


D: Andre Téchiné; with Daniel Auteuil, Catherine Deneuve, Laurence Cote.

Detective Daniel Auteuil discovers that his girlfriend is having a lesbian affair with philosophy professor Catherine Deneuve; director Andre Téchiné reunites with his Ma Saison Préférée stars Auteuil and Deneuve.


D: Scott Winant; with Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Aniston.

Romantic destiny is the subject of this looking-for-love story written by My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman and directed by thirtysomething executive supervising producer Scott Winant.


D: Paul Schrader; with Skeet Ulrich, Christopher Walken, Tom Arnold, Bridget Fonda, Janeane Garofalo, Gina Gershon, Lolita Davidovich.

Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel by cinema's dark prince Paul Schrader, the story involves a young man who discovers he has the gift of healing and is then beset by scam artists, religious zealots, and media hypesters.


D: Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher.

Winner of both the jury and audience awards at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, this documentary depicts the plight of the American farmer as it focuses on the corporate takeover of co-director Jeanne Jordan's family farm in Iowa and the wrenching effects the farm's dissolution has on all involved.


D: Kiefer Sutherland; with Sutherland, Mykelti Williamson, Kevin Pollak, Vincent Gallo, Kim Dickens.

Kiefer Sutherland co-stars as well as directs this gritty romance about small-time criminals and lovers on the lam, whose petty crimes go awry and lead to dire consequences.


D: Nick Cassavetes; with Gena Rowlands, Gerard Depardieu, Marisa Tomei, Jake Lloyd.

Gena Rowlands stars as an empty-nest widow who reinvents herself and finds love with Gerard Depardieu in this movie directed by her son Nick Cassavetes.


D: Loch Phillips, Lee Skaife; with Craig Addams, Benj Phillips, Aaron Alpern, Lucy Snowe.

Returning to Austin after a run during last year's SXSW Film Festival, Use Your Head comically follows six characters who partake in a government marijuana study.


D: Stephen Frears; with Stuart Dunne, Jack Lynch, Colm Meaney, Donal O'Kelly.

The Van is the third installment of Irish author Roddy Doyle's "Barrytown Trilogy" (The Commitments, The Snapper) that focuses on the daily lifestyles of working-class Irish residents; Eric Clapton contributed to the music score.


D: Mick Jackson; with Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Don Cheadle, John Corbett, John Carroll Lynch.

The other volcano movie, this one is now waiting in the wings, gauging the overall success of Dante's Peak and coasting on its nifty slogan, "The coast is toast"; in Volcano, L.A.'s La Brea Tar Pits serve as ground zero for another in that city's long line of natural disasters.


D: Christopher Guest; with Guest, Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, Parker Posey.

Satirists from Spinal Tap and Second City combine forces to create this wickedly funny send-up of small-town amateur theatre productions.

When We Were Kings


D: Leon Gast.

This 1996 Sundance special jury prizewinner chronicles the 1974 Mohammad Ali-George Foreman heavyweight boxing match in Zaire ("The Rumble in the Jungle") and provides never-before-seen footage of the famed event, a good deal of contemporary reflection about what it meant to be a black American 20 years ago, and an amazing portrait of the enduring impact Ali has had on American culture.


D: Dan Ireland; with Vincent D'Onofrio, Renee Zellweger, Ann Wedgeworth.

Set in Texas in the 1930s and based on the memoirs of Novalyne Price, The Whole Wide World lovingly recounts the troubled but enduring love affair between aspiring writer Price and Robert E. Howard, the popular and eccentric pulp fiction writer who created such immortal characters as Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja.


D: M. Night Shyamalan; with Denis Leary, Dana Delaney, Rosie O'Donnell, Robert Loggia, Joseph Cross.

A 10-year-old boy searches for meaning and answers from God following the death of his beloved grandfather.

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