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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 5 of 8

Johnny English Mr. Bean seems an unlikely James Bond type; then again, so did Mike Myers at one time. This spy spoof starring Rowan Atkinson has already been a monster hit in England, but by the looks of things, that isn't because of any kind of sophistication on the movie's part. John Malkovich plays the villain, and heck, he'd be a worthy adversary for Bond. The film's writers are similarly worthy; they actually did write the last two Bond films. (Universal)

Northfork From Mark and Michael Polish (Twin Falls, Idaho, Jackpot) comes this odd yarn about Montana locals in 1955 who must relocate to make way for a new dam. What -- there wasn't a movie waiting to be made about oil refinery employees on their lunch hours? Stars James Woods, Nick Nolte, and Daryl Hannah. (Paramount Classics)

July 23

Mission Without Permission Last year, director Bart Freundlich got Julianne Moore's best performance out of her in the otherwise spotty World Traveler. This year he enlists Panic Room's Kristen Stewart to play a young girl concocting a heist to afford her father a costly operation. Probably, like, fun and meaningful. (Fox)

July 25

Buffalo Soldiers Poor Miramax just can't find a good date to release a movie that's less than flattering toward the U.S. military (though they did OK with The Quiet American). That the movie's set in 1989 seems to be of no consequence. Soldiers (Joaquin Phoenix, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, and others) stationed in Berlin shortly before the fall of the wall get involved in some shady business involving drugs. (Miramax)

Camp A musical in the tradition of Fame (with which it shares composer Michael Gore), set at a summer camp for young actors, singers, and musicians. The story centers around a group of misfit kids who somehow have to manage to pull it all together for one big final production. Apparently someone involved heard that musicals are hot again. (IFC)

The Cuckoo A sweeping historical romance set in the Russian tundras, all about one bird and his unrequited love for Cocoa Puffs. Just kidding about that last part. It's a film set during 1944 against the backdrop of Finland's opportunistic war against Russia, waged to regain lost territory while the world at large was distracted by Nazis. Here, two soldiers from opposing sides become embroiled in a love triangle with a Lapp woman. (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Housekeeper Jean de Florette director Claude Berri wrote and directed this romantic comedy about a man (Jean-Pierre Bacri) whose wife has left him, so he hires a housekeeper (Emilie Duquenne). Thing is, she's never actually done any housework in her life. It's based on a novel by Christian Oster. (Palm)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Now that she's gotten over the loss of Daddy dearest, maybe Ms. Croft (Angelina Jolie) can get back to shooting stuff, jumping off things, and running afoul of armored primates made of stone. Jan DeBont takes over the directorial reins of this latest adventure, which sees Lara in Africa, looking for Pandora's Box (wait, wasn't Pandora Greek? Does it matter?). (Paramount)

Lucia, Lucia A Mexican woman (Celia Roth) loses her husband and discovers her life needs a makeover. Based on the novel by Rosa Montero, written and directed by Antonio Serrano. (Fox Searchlight)

Seabiscuit Tobey Maguire takes time out from slinging webs and wooing the daughter of a high-ranking Universal executive to pretend he's short enough to jockey a horse. Gary Ross (Pleasantville) takes on the novel by Laura Hillenbrand about the titular racehorse and the joy he brought to the country during the Great Depression. (Universal)

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over Robert Rodriguez returns to his beloved adventure franchise for the third time in as many years. Young spy Alexa Vega gets caught in a virtual-reality video game designed by the evil Sylvester Stallone and must be saved by her brother Daryl Sabara, and probably their parents Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino. With Salma Hayek and Ricardo Montalban, thank goodness. (Dimension)

The Weather Underground Everything ignites in local filmmaker Sam Green's riveting, revelatory portrait of uncivil disobedience. Three decades on, former members of the left-wing group -- which concluded that violence against the government was the only way to stop the Vietnam War -- talk candidly about those volatile days. At its core, The Weather Underground is a profound and profoundly relevant salute to idealism, its limits and its costs. (Shadow Distribution)

August 1

American Wedding For all the so-called immorality that goes on in the American Pie movies, it now seems that in this third one, long-suffering protagonist Jim (Jason Biggs) will end up marrying the first and only girl he's ever had sex with (Alyson Hannigan). Cast members who've gotten progressively more expensive (Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Chris Klein, Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne) have been jettisoned, but Fred Willard (yes!) joins the series as Hannigan's dad. Bob Dylan's less famous son Jesse (How High) directs. (Universal)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Just in case you missed George Clooney's impressive directorial debut last December, Miramax is rereleasing it, thereby delaying the DVD even further. Sam Rockwell stars as Chuck Barris, the Gong Show host who later claimed to be a CIA assassin. Clooney has a way with the camera; he's evidently been taking lessons in directing from his pal Steven Soderbergh. (Miramax)

Gigli At last you get to see it, folks: the movie that brought Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez together. What's the plot? Glad you asked: "B. Af" is Gigli, a hit man assigned to kidnap a retarded kid (Justin Bartha) and hold him for ransom. "J. Lo" is the lesbian hit woman assigned to baby-sit Gigli when it seems he won't be up to the job. Both become better (heterosexual) people thanks to the innocence and purity of their mentally challenged prisoner. Sounds like a blast, right? (Sony)

About The Author

Luke Y. Thompson

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