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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 4 of 8

The Legend of Suriyothai Historical epic about Queen Suriyothai of Thailand, who died defending King Mahachakrapat. Lavish production, set in the 16th century, edited in part by Francis Ford Coppola, who loves his pad thai. (Sony Pictures Classics)

On-Line This jury prize winner from the Cinequest film festival concerns a sad sack (Josh Hamilton) who starts an adult Internet site with his roommate. (Lightning Entertainment)

July 2

Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde Everybody's ... um ... favorite frilly Harvard Law School grad is back. Reese Witherspoon dons the pink and heads to Washington to fight for animal rights. Obviously, she begins by removing all animal products from the craft service tables and catering trucks and serving her Chihuahua vegan dog food. (MGM)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Everybody's favorite public-domain Iraqi hero returns as a two-dimensional caricature voiced, natch, by Brad Pitt. Catherine Zeta-Jones voices the feisty sidekick chick and Michelle Pfeiffer the incongruous Greek goddess Eris. This is DreamWorks' only contribution to the summer screen. (DreamWorks)

Swimming Pool François Ozon follows up his delightfully weird musical 8 Women with this seemingly less delightful drama. British mystery writer Charlotte Rampling visits publisher Charles Dance's cozy abode in the South of France, but gets involved in intrigue with his daughter, Ludivine Sagnier. Looks moody, and iffy. (Focus Features)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Arnie's back, or something like that. Probably doesn't do the "nude Terminator" thing anymore though. Anyway, as the T-850 Terminator, he once again helps save humankind from those awful machines taking over the planet. Begging help are 18-year-old John Connor (Nick Stahl) and his girlfriend Claire Danes, who are being hunted by femme fatale "Terminatrix" Kristanna Loken. Franchise creator James Cameron didn't need the money, so Jonathan Mostow (U-571) directs. One question: Why don't the humans send back Robert Patrick to save everyone this time? Just curious. (Warner Bros.)

July 9

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Sometimes a sure thing at the box office isn't necessarily nauseatingly trite. This romp from director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) looks adventurous, atmospheric, and -- Geoffrey Rush excluded -- generally sex-ay. For sale is one Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings) as a lad who must team up with thickly eyelinered pirate Johnny Depp to save Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham) from bad pirate Rush. Based on the Disney ride, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and certain to earn a doubloon or two. (Disney)

July 11

Cet Amour-là Based on the true story of the love affair between sixtysomething alcoholic French novelist Marguerite Duras (Jeanne Moreau) and twentysomething personal secretary Yann Andrea (Aymeric Demarigny) over the last 16 years of her life -- as revealed in Andrea's tell-all book. (New Yorker)

I Capture the Castle Based on the debut novel by One Hundred and One Dalmatians author Dodie Smith, this romantic comedy sticks a couple of wealthy Americans alongside an eccentric English family living in a crumbling castle, sits back, and lets humorous situations ensue. (Samuel Goldwyn)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Apparently Sean Connery plays fictional adventurer Allan Quatermain here, and apparently he absolutely hated working with director Steven Norrington (Blade). Nonetheless, the movie got made, based on Alan Moore's zesty graphic novel, based in turn on classic characters such as Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), and Dracula's Mina Harker (Peta Wilson). Takes place in Victorian England, thus -- like Fox's other Moore adaptation, From Hell -- shot in Prague. (Fox)

Madame Sata In case you were looking for a movie about Joao Francisco dos Santos, the transvestite chef who caroused through Rio in the '30s, well, here's one. Lazaro Ramos plays the titular "Madame" while Karim Ainouz writes and directs. (Dominant 7)

Valentin Autobiographical story about the coming of age of an Argentine boy, whimsical and light, filled with hope, dripping with loveliness, oozing that certain je ne sais quoi that refreshes one's life and very soul. Supposedly, anyway. Written and directed by Alejandro Agresti. (Miramax)

July 18

Bad Boys II At long last, Michael Bay has come to his senses and quit with the Ben Affleck PG-13 crap. The original Bad Boys didn't get much love from critics, but it didn't need it -- this one doesn't look like it could use the help either. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back as mismatched cops, with Gabrielle Union replacing Téa Leoni as the potential love interest (good call!), and a supporting cast that includes Joe Pantoliano, Henry Rollins, and Peter Stormare. (Sony)

Exorcist: The Beginning In what may just be the casting coup of the year, Stellan Skarsgård steps in as the younger version of Max von Sydow's Father Merrin, battling demons in deepest, darkest Africa. This would have been director John Frankenheimer's final film, but the old master bowed out due to ill health early in the process, to be replaced by Paul Schrader. Thankfully, actor Liam Neeson bowed out too; for all his strengths, he's no Swede. (Warner Bros.)

Garage Days Goth fave Alex Proyas, director of The Crow and Dark City, takes a wildly different turn with this comedy about an up-and-coming rock band struggling to make it to the top. Set in Proyas' native Sydney, the film apparently does retain at least some of the director's trademark visual strangeness; a drug sequence or two allows for some fun with CG effects. (Fox Searchlight)

How to Deal Based on two young adult novels by Sarah Dessen, Mandy Moore's second feature starring role sees her cast as a cynical teen who has determined that true love doesn't exist. Care to take bets on whether she'll be proven wrong? The title's annoying and the poster banal, but Moore proved to be a surprisingly effective screen presence in the admittedly thin A Walk to Remember, so this could be the start of something big. (New Line)

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Luke Y. Thompson

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