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Think Different 

Could it be that this year's crop of summer movies actually requires a brain cell or two?

Wednesday, May 28 2003
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Page 3 of 8

Hollywood Homicide Ron Shelton follows his serious cop movie (Dark Blue) with a not-so-serious one that teams up yesterday's heartthrob Harrison Ford with current "It" boy Josh Hartnett. Ford, of course, is the hard-bitten veteran cop saddled with rookie partner Hartnett, who has a thing for yoga and New Agey beliefs. Presumably, they learn something from one another while attempting to solve a case, the nature and location of which are described in the film's cleverly alliterative title. (Sony)

Jet Lag A romantic comedy set in Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, this film brings together French heavyweights Juliette Binoche, Jean Reno, and Sergi Lopez. And separates them. And brings them together again. They just keep running into one another! Lopez is better looking than Reno, so he probably gets the girl ... then again, French directors do love to offer unexpected twists. (Miramax)

Love the Hard Way Alas, not a gay sequel to the James Woods-Michael J. Fox cop buddy movie (for that groove, refer to John Hurt and Ryan O'Neal in Partners). Rather, this is one of those movies about a thief who gets involved with a woman who teaches him about life while he steals stuff. Features that uppity guy from The Pianist who looks like a mosquito, and helmed by German director Peter Sehr. (Daybreak Pictures)

Manito This gritty DV project showcases New York's Puerto Rican community through the prism of two brothers (Franky G. and Leo Minaya) at odds with each other and the world around them. (Smashing Entertainment/7th Floor)

Rugrats Go Wild Those really grotesque-looking kids meet up with the globe-trotting Thornberrys in what promises to be an exotic adventure. Where else -- apart from maybe Spago -- are you going to get Tim Curry and LL Cool J at the same place? With music by Devo's zany frontman, Mark Mothersbaugh. (Paramount)

June 20

Alex and Emma A Rob Reiner romantic comedy allegedly based on the Dostoevski short story "The Gambler" (more seriously adapted with Michael Gambon a few years back). Luke Wilson plays a novelist on deadline, while Kate Hudson is the stenographer who inspires him. As Wilson enacts scenes from the book in his head, Hudson morphs into multiple characters, thereby allowing the actress to try several different hairstyles and accents on for size. If she pulls it off, people may stop comparing Hudson to her mom. (Warner Bros.)

The Hulk Hey, brother! What'cha gonna do when the largest arms in the world run wild on you? Wait, wrong Hulk. No middle-aged wrestler's biceps can measure up to those of the 15-foot CGI creation who runs roughshod over San Francisco in this comic-book adaptation. Audiences will be lured in by lovely Jennifer Connelly and the promise of "Hulk smash!" but director Ang Lee hopes they'll stay for a story line he likens more to classic tragedy. Wait'll you see the mutated "Hulk dogs." Eric Bana, who did mood swings to perfection in Chopper, stars as alter ego Bruce Banner. (Universal)

Whale Rider Not actually a documentary about Lara Flynn Boyle visiting her boyfriend Jack Nicholson. Rather, based on a novel by Witi Ihimaera about a young Maori girl of the Whangara tribe who must struggle against both her beloved grandfather and a millennium of patriarchal rule to prove herself as a leader. The beach-dwelling tribe learns much from the girl when she demonstrates her spiritual connection to whales. (Newmarket Films)

June 27

28 Days Later A deadly biological agent breaks loose in the U.K.; in 28 days (the usual length of time for a mail-order package to arrive over there, sorta like "6-8 weeks" here) the entire nation has been quarantined, as the infected have become hideously unpleasant zombies who move in fast motion. Should mark something of a comeback for director Danny Boyle, who's floundered lately with the disappointing A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach. (Fox Searchlight)

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle The genius of director McG's first Charlie's Angels was that it had something for almost everyone: girls kicking ass for the ladies, fetishistic costume changes for the guys, self-satire for the hip ironists, Tom Green for those who prefer less subtle humor, Crispin Glover for the weirdos, etc. It was a movie that made no apologies for its junk food consistency, and neither does the new one, by the looks of things. Green and Bill Murray are gone, but instead we get Bernie Mac and, uh, Demi Moore. (Sony)

The Hard Word Australian crossover stars Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths star in this heist movie from down under, which looks not unlike something Guy Ritchie might make (and remember, prior to Swept Away, that wasn't perceived as such a bad thing). There's a plan, a gang is assembled, and something goes wrong -- but the cast members have funny accents, which makes it different. So funny, in fact, that the movie's trailer actually spells out key lines of dialogue on screen. (Lions Gate)

The Heart of Me Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams star in this 1930s-era British romance, based on the 1953 Rosamond Lehmann novel The Echoing Grove (a better title, all things considered). Russell Crowe's imaginary friend Paul Bettany is the unfortunate fellow forced to choose between the lovely ladies. (ThinkFilm)

Japon The feature debut of director Carlos Reygadas (and winner of several film festival awards from around the world), this drama tells the story of a suicidal painter (Alejandro Ferretis) befriended by an old woman (Magdalena Flores). The Chicago Tribune calls it "imaginative, dazzling." (Vitagraph Films)

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Luke Y. Thompson

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