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Your forecast of the summer's top movies

Wednesday, Jun 28 2006

Page 3 of 4

Why you should see it: Sigh. If you know your Hong Kong films, you'd have no doubt that Jet Li and Ronny Yu and Yuen Woo-ping teaming up can only be awesome.

Why you should not: Steer clear if action isn't your thing.

The House of Sand

(Sony Classics)

Starring: Fernanda Montenegro, Fernanda Torres, and Ruy Guerra

Directed by: Andrucha Waddington (Me, You, Them)

Written by: Elena Soárez

What it's about: An early 20th-century Brazilian saga about an unhappy woman, a delirious husband, and a barren landscape that proves difficult to escape.

Why you should see it: Waddington's got props back in Brazil.

Why you should not: 59 years on a dune = um pouco louco.

The Night Listener


Starring: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, and Rory Culkin

Directed by: Patrick Stettner (The Business of Strangers)

Written by: Armistead Maupin & Terry Anderson (The Young Graduates) and Stettner, based on the novel by Maupin

What it's about: Williams plays a Garrison Keillor-like public radio host who tells embellished stories of his life and friends, but when he receives the manuscript of a memoir from an abused child (Culkin), he doesn't realize that it may be equally embellished.

Why you should see it: Stettner deftly dealt with similar issues of deceit in The Business of Strangers; Williams can certainly be as annoying as your typical talk radio host.

Why you should not: When it comes to drama, Williams is either spot-on (One Hour Photo) or insufferably mawkish (What Dreams May Come). His character here is a gay man whose lover has battled AIDS, which may mean lots of hugging, tears, and Williams doing that grinning thing that's supposed to make him look sad but really doesn't.

August 9

World Trade Center


Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Directed by: Oliver Stone (J.F.K. , The Doors)

Written by: Andrea Berloff

What it's about: Cage and Peña play real-life Port Authority cops who made it out of the World Trade Center alive after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Word is this isn't the work of a paranoid Ollie Stone, but a sober, down-to-the-details docudramatization of the events of the day, already seen this year in United 93.

Why you should see it: Cage is at his best when playing an Everyman stuck in a horrific, real-life situation (his portrayal of an EMT in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead remains among his career highlights, even if no one saw it).

Why you should not: Oliver Stone's a real hit-or-miss moviemaker; pray this is closer to Platoon and Salvador than Alexander or Any Given Sunday. Or Natural Born Killers. Or U-Turn. Or Nixon.

August 11


(Sony Classics)

Starring: Emily Rios, Chalo Gonzalez, and Jesse Garcia

Written and directed by: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

What it's about: On the verge of her 15th birthday, pregnant Magdalena is thrown out of her house and moves in with her great-great uncle and gay cousin, but she may lose even this makeshift family to urban gentrification.

Why you should see it: Love the Latina mama-drama.

Why you should not: Wacky outsiders overcome forces of oppression!

Step Up

(Buena Vista)

Starring: Channing Tatum (Coach Carter), Rachel Griffiths, and Heavy D

Directed by: Anne Fletcher

Written by: Duane Adler and Melissa Rosenberg

What it's about: Tatum plays a streetwise punk (is there any other kind?) who trashes a performing arts school and is sentenced to community service. He comes to find it ain't dat bad a joint, once a hot dancer at the school wiggles his broom just a little.

Why you should see it: Rachel Griffiths and Heavy D in the same movie! I only dared to dream.

Why you should not: Because it has to be awful.



Starring: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox Arquette, and Chevy Chase

Directed by: Peter Hewitt (Garfield)

Written by: David Berenbaum (Elf)

What it's about: Remember that Disney movie Sky High, about a retired superhero and the superschool his kids attend? This is pretty much the same thing, but with a bigger budget. And it's based on an actual comic book, Zoom's Academy for the Super-Gifted.

Why you should see it: Sky High was fun ...

Why you should not: ... But do we need another version? Tim Allen instead of Kurt Russell isn't exactly what you'd call trading up.

August 18

Material Girls


Starring: Hilary Duff, Haylie Duff, and Anjelica Huston

Directed by: Martha Coolidge (The Prince & Me)

Written by: John Quaintance, Jessica O'Toole, and Amy Rardin

What it's about: Duff and Duff play sisters — how about that? — who gots plenty of dough from their family's cosmetics company. But when the family biz is bankrupted by scandal, will the Duffs ever learn how to cope with being poor?

Why you should see it: Coolidge directed Valley Girl ...

Why you should not: ... four years before Hilary Duff was born.

Snakes on a Plane

(New Line)

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, some snakes, and a plane

Directed by: David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2)

Written by: John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez (Gothika)

What it's about: The title really says it all here. For full disclosure, it really should be Snakes on a Plane With a Bald-Headed Bad-Ass Black Guy Who Yells a Lot. Yes, the snakes deserve to die, and he hopes they burn in hell.

Why you should see it: Pay attention. Snakes. Plane. Samuel L. Jackson. What's not to love?


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