From The Peacemaker to The Rainmaker... and Everything In Between

Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights

After the summer's deluge of slam-bang movie spectacles, fall is traditionally the season earmarked for more contemplative and dramatic fare. For the most part, that remains true, although the primary characteristic of this upcoming fall season may well be its diversity.

The variety of movies to choose from is extensive. Sci-fi spectacles continue to be well-represented with such films as the giant bug epic Starship Troopers, the DNA drama Gattaca, and the fourth entry in the Alien franchise, Alien Resurrection. Action thrillers weigh in with such examples as The Game, The Peacemaker, Mad City, and The Jackal. For legal thrillers, there's a new John Grisham adaptation, The Rainmaker, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and the Faustian drama of The Devil's Advocate. Drama is well-represented with such high-profile works as Cannes favorite The Ice Storm, the biographical drama Seven Years in Tibet, the adaptation of Jane Smiley's novel A Thousand Acres, director Mike Figgis' One Night Stand, Samuel L. Jackson's Eve's Bayou, and the Henry James adaptation Washington Square. Neo-noir lines up with the cop drama L.A. Confidential and U-Turn by Oliver Stone. Comedy fans look forward to In & Out and the BBC import Bean; horror fans can turn to the long-awaited Nightwatch and Wes Craven's anthology production Wishmaster. The arthouse screens will see a constant influx of this year's festival favorites, indie specials, and foreign fare. Some examples include In the Company of Men, The Full Monty, Sunday, Hurricane Street, Gummo, Gabbeh, Latin Boys Go to Hell, Jean-Luc Godard's latest film, For Ever Mozart, and Fast, Cheap & Out of Control.

One thing the season won't lack is star power. It's everywhere. Star match-ups abound. Witness the pairings of Michael Douglas and Sean Penn in The Game, George Clooney and Nicole Kidman in The Peacemaker, Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman in Gattaca, Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta in Mad City, Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin in The Edge, Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver in The Ice Storm (Kline also stars in In & Out; and Weaver in Alien Resurrection), Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, and Sidney Poitier in The Jackal. Other all-star casts include Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jason Robards in A Thousand Acres, and Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton, Julie Hagerty, Bo Hopkins, and Jon Voight in U-Turn.

These previews cover the three-month period of September through November. (We'll do another wrap-up of the holiday movies later this fall.) Keep in mind this caveat: All dates are subject to change. Opening dates are frequently tentative and should be treated with the same solemn respect as airline flight schedules: Sooner or later, the vehicle's gonna launch. It's always best to be prepared. -- M.B.

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