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Reelin' in the Summer

Here are the Joys of Summer...and the Oys of Summer, the nearly 100 movies scheduled to open between now and the end of August. Many of them may even make it to Denver.

They're listed in the order of their L.A. release:

May 30
Drunks. Peter Cohn's look at the inner workings of a twelve-step group provides funnyman Richard Lewis with his first non-comic role--excepting, of course, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. (The film originally aired on Showtime and is only now making its way to theaters.) The cast also includes Parker Posey, Faye Dunaway, Dianne Wiest, Amanda Plummer, Spalding Gray and the late Howard Rollins, Jr.

Gone Fishin'. National Lampoon's Fishing Vacation meets Lethal Weapon 3 as anglers Joe Pesci and Danny Glover tangle with jewel thieves. Director Chris Cain continues on the career arc that has already taken him from The Stone Boy to The Amazing Panda Adventure.

La Promesse. A fifteen-year-old boy tries to keep his promise to a worker whose death is the fault of the boy's father. Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne wrote and directed this new French drama.

Ripe. Thelma and Louise, adolescent style. Daisy Eagan and Monica Keena are sisters who take to the road when their parents are killed. Mo Ogrodnik directed.

Rough Magic. A magician's assistant (Bridget Fonda) flees to Mexico with evidence that could convict her boyfriend of murder. Russell Crowe, Jim Broadbent and Kenneth Mars co-star.

Saint Clara. In 1999, an junior-high student discovers she has the power of prophecy. Ari Folman and Ori Sivan directed this bizarre Israeli feature.

'Til There Was You. Jeanne Tripplehorn and Dylan McDermott (of TV's The Practice) are two destined lovers who can't quite seem to meet--just like in Alan Rudolph's 1987 Made in Heaven! Scott Winant (thirtysomething) directed from a script by Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life).

Trial and Error. When a lawyer (Jeff Daniels) is too hung over to show up for his most important criminal trial, his best friend (Seinfeld's Michael Richards), an actor with improv experience, takes over for him. Jonathan Lynn (My Cousin Vinny) directed.

The Van. Two out-of-work buddies in Dublin decide to open a fish-and-chips takeout business. Snapper director Stephen Frears and star Colm Meaney reunite for the film version of yet another of novelist Roddy Doyle's Barrytown novels, which were the source for The Commitments.

June 6
Bliss. Terence Stamp teaches young couple Sheryl Lee and Craig Sheffer about tantric sex. Lance Young wrote and directed.

Buddy. Rene Russo and a gorilla. Caroline Thompson wrote and directed; Francis Ford Coppola executive-produced; and Coppola look-alike Robbie Coltrane co-stars.

Con Air. Las Vegas is endangered when a plane transporting super-felons is hijacked in an escape attempt. In short, this is last January's Turbulence with a higher-profile cast--Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames and Colm Meaney. Simon West directed; Jerry Bruckheimer produced.

The Designated Mourner. Musical chairs: David Hare, primarily a playwright (Plenty), directs it; Wallace Shawn, an actor, wrote it; Mike Nichols, a director, stars in it. Nichols, Miranda Richardson and David de Keyser address the camera and recite their characters' ideas and experiences.

Hijacking Hollywood. Henry Thomas (of E.T. fame and Legends of the Fall infamy) stars as a moviemaking hopeful who moves from the Midwest to L.A., landing a gig as production assistant on Moby Dick 2. Also starring Kids in the Hall and Larry Sanders Show regular Scott Thompson and Animal House bad guy Mark Metcalf, this low-budget indie was directed and co-written by Neil Mandt.

Mouth to Mouth. An out-of-work actor takes a job at a phone-sex company in this screwball comedy from Spanish director Manuel Gomez Pereira. Javier Bardem (Jamon Jamon) and Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (A Walk in the Clouds) star.

The Pillow Book. Peter Greenaway, purveyor of such family entertainment as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, brings us this story of a woman (Vivian Wu) with a fetish for practicing calligraphy on human bodies. Ewan McGregor co-stars.

Timothy Leary's Dead. Yes, he certainly is, and more's the pity. His transition between two worlds last year is recorded for posterity in this documentary from Paul Davids, apparently right down to the removal of the doc's head.

To Have (or Not). Laetitia Mason directed this French Gen-X romance, for which star Sandrine Kilberlain won the Cesar for Most Promising Young Actress.

June 13
Salut Cousin. In a plot that recalls Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, an Algerian rube and his more sophisticated Parisian cousin hunt for a valuable suitcase.

Speed 2: Cruise Control. An ocean liner instead of a bus, Jason Patric instead of Keanu Reeves. Director Jan DeBont returns to the scene of the crime.  

Squeeze. Ultra-low-budget slice of life about rowdy teens at a youth center, written and directed by Robert Patton-Spruill from his own experiences as an acting teacher.

Temptress Moon. This melodrama from mainland Chinese director Chen Kaige (Farewell, My Concubine) stars Leslie Cheung and Gong Li in a story of drugs, incest, crime, betrayal, and everything else that makes life worth living.

Ulee's Gold. Peter Fonda plays a reclusive Florida beekeeper who must re-enter the world to rescue what remains of his family. One-sentence descriptions of films from writer-director-producer Victor Nunez (Ruby in Paradise) never do them justice, but Nunez always delivers.

Wedding Bell Blues. Paulina Porizkova, Illeana Douglas and Julie Warner head for Las Vegas in a last-ditch effort to get married (and divorced) before they turn thirty.

June 20
Batman and Robin. E.R.'s George Clooney dons Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer's hand-me-down Iron Maiden suit for Warner's fourth go-round with the Dark Knight. Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone snare the adolescent crowd as Robin and Batgirl, while Ah-nold and Uma show up as the villains, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy. Joel Schumacher returns as director.

Dream With the Fishes. A suicidal coward (David Arquette) and a man with a few weeks to live (Brad Hunt) meet up and go on a tear. Finn Taylor wrote and directed; Cathy Moriarty and Kathryn Erbe co-star.

Head Above Water. Harvey Keitel, Cameron Diaz and Billy Zane in a love farce involving a young woman caught between a staid judge and her ex-boyfriend. Jim Wilson directed. Michael Blake (Dances With Wolves) wrote it.

The Last Time I Committed Suicide. He may not be in Speed 2, but you can still catch Keanu Reeves in this story drawn from the life of Neal Cassady. Before you aging Kerouac fans get apoplexy, be assured that the callow Keanu doesn't play the redoubtable Neal. That part is filled by relative unknown Thomas Jane. Stephen Kay wrote and directed.

Love Serenade. Australian writer-director Shirley Barrett made this story about two sisters in love with a disco freak with gills.

June 25
Hercules. That the voices are provided by Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, Matt Frewer, Bobcat Goldthwait, Paul Shaffer, Rip Torn, James Woods and Charlton Heston should tell you just how true to Greek mythology this latest animated Disney feature is. But if the film is half as funny as the ads, this will be the summer's highest-grossing movie. Directed and co-written by John Musker and Ron Clements, who also made Little Mermaid and Aladdin.

Gabbeh. Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Once Upon a Time, Cinema) directed this fable about the stories woven in a Persian rug.

June 27
End of Summer. A turn-of-the-century drama about a repressed woman (Jacqueline Bisset) meeting her long-lost love (Peter Weller) at a resort. Written, produced and directed by Linda Yellen.

Face/Off. A science-fiction tale about a G-man (John Travolta) who finds his face and identity stolen by a vicious felon (Nicolas Cage). Directed by John Woo.

Fall. Writer-director-actor Eric Schaeffer--who went from the ultra-low-budget My Life in Turnaround to the studio production If Lucy Fell--returns to his indie roots with this comedy about a cabdriver involved with a model.

The Innocent Sleep.. Different men in black: After accidentally witnessing a ritual killing, Rupert Graves uncovers the nefarious workings of the International Secret Societies. Scott Michell directed; the cast also includes Annabella Sciorra, Michael Gambon, Waiting for God's Graham Crowden and Franco Nero.

Mondo. French Gypsy filmmaker Tony Gatlif, who made the hit documentary Latcho Drom, returns with a fable about a ten-year-old Gypsy boy growing up in Nice.

My Best Friend's Wedding. A jealous Julia Roberts sets out to sabotage the upcoming wedding of best pal Dermot Mulroney to Cameron Diaz. Another nuptial comedy from Muriel's Wedding director P. J. Hogan.

Shall We Dance? Masayuki Suo wrote and directed this Japanese film about a repressed businessman (Koji Yakusyo) who secretly starts taking ballroom dance classes.

July 2
Men in Black. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith play government UFO investigators in this comedy equivalent of The X-Files. Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty) directed; Steven Spielberg is among the producers.

Out to Sea. Counterprogramming for our neglected seniors: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau team up once again, this time as a pair of hustling dance instructors on an ocean liner. Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose) directed; Dyan Cannon and Elaine Stritch co-star.

Titanic. Big boat. Iceberg. Crunch. Glug. It took two studios to foot the bill for James Cameron's mega-disaster epic, which appears to be the most expensive movie ever made. July 2 is the latest alleged release date, but nobody expects the film to be ready in time. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio play star-crossed lovers; Billy Zane and Kathy Bates co-star.  

Wild America. A biopic about a family of wildlife documentarians from Arkansas. Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Devon Sawa and Scott Bairstow play the camera-wielding Stouffer brothers; William Dear (Harry and the Hendersons) wrote and directed.

July 3
When the Cat's Away. Cedric Klapisch wrote and directed this improvisatory comedy about a young woman (Garance Clavel) and her missing cat.

July 4
Contempt. A welcome reissue of Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 adaptation of Alberto Moravia's A Ghost at Noon. Originally derided by some as Godard's most accessible, "Hollywood" movie, it's now praised for the same qualities. Michel Piccoli plays the bedraggled screenwriter who loses the respect of his wife (Brigitte Bardot) in front of a crude American producer (Jack Palance). Fritz Lang appears as himself.

July 11
Contact. Close encounters of the fourth kind: Jodie Foster plays an astronomer who makes first contact with extraterrestrials. The commercially infallible Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) directed this adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel; Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt and Angela Bassett co-star.

Dirty Weekend. Lia Williams, David McCallum and Rufus Sewell star in this British story about an abused woman.

Nothing to Lose. Martin Lawrence: carjacker. Tim Robbins: disintegrating ad man. Confrontation...reversals...buddy pic. Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls) wrote and directed.

A Simple Wish. Martin Short and Kathleen Turner are fairy godparents competing for the affection of a seven-year-old (Mara Wilson) who wants to help her dad (Robert Pastorelli) succeed. Michael Ritchie (Smile) directed.

July 16
George of the Jungle. Brendan Fraser, who has already played primitives in Encino Man and Airheads, now applies his dramatic skills to the role of a lifetime--the live-action version of a Saturday-morning Tarzan-knockoff cartoon. Sam Weisman directed.

July 18
Late Bloomers. From Texas indie filmmakers Julia and Gretchen Dyer comes this two-year-old comedy about a high-school geometry teacher and a secretary who have an affair.

Mimic. Young Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, who made the transcendent vampire film Cronos, makes his American filmmaking debut with this thriller about genetic engineering. Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam star; the screenplay is credited to John Sayles (Lone Star), Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape) and Matthew Robbins (Sugarland Express).

Mrs. Brown. Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connelly star in this story of Queen Victoria and a Scotsman.

This World, Then the Fireworks. Billy Zane and Gina Gershon are incestuous siblings in a murder tale adapted from a Jim Thompson novel.

The Winner. Rebecca DeMornay and Vincent D'Onofrio star in a comedy about gambling in Vegas. Alex Cox directed.

July 23
Star Maps. Writer-director Miguel Arteta's Sundance hit looks at an ambitious eighteen-year-old Latino (Douglas Spain) trying to succeed in Hollywood at any cost.

July 25
Air Force One. The president of the United States (Harrison Ford) has to become an action hero when bad guys (led by Gary Oldman) seize Air Force One with the First Family on board. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire). Glenn Close plays the vice president.

Alive and Kicking. A gay dancer (Jason Flemyng) learns to cope with his HIV-positive status through his relationship with an older man (Antony Sher). Nancy Meckler directed from Martin Sherman's screenplay.

Anthem. Shainee Gabel and Kristin Hahn hit the road to interview such "cultural icons" as George Stephanopoulos, John Waters, Hunter S. Thompson and Michael Stipe in this new documentary.

Conspiracy Theory. The Lethal Weapon trio of producer Joel Silver, director Richard Donner and star Mel Gibson re-team for this thriller about a conspiracy buff who figures out too much for his own good. Julia Roberts and Patrick Stewart co-star.

Good Burger. Following in the footsteps of MTV and Saturday Night Live, the folks at Nickelodeon have promoted Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell's fast-food sketch into a feature. Brian Robbins directed.

Latin Boys Go to Hell. The relationship between a withdrawn Brooklyn boy and his visiting cousin. Ela Troyano directed.

July 30
187. Samuel L. Jackson plays a dedicated urban schoolteacher who finds his faith shaken after he's nearly killed by one of his students. A real change of pace for director Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves); John Heard and Kelly Rowan co-star.

August 1
Air Bud. A boy discovers that his dog is a better basketball player than he is. Charles Martin Smith directed.

Box of Moonlight. Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion) directed this story about the odd friendship between an uptight engineer (John Turturro) and a flaky eccentric (Sam Rockwell).

Cop Land. James Mangold (Heavy) moves into the bigtime with this story about a corrupt New Jersey cop. His cast includes Robert De Niro, a porked-up Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Cathy Moriarty, Annabella Sciorra and Michael Rapaport.  

In the Company of Men. In what sounds like an unofficial remake of the 1992 French film La Discrete, director Neil LaBute tells a story of two men who try to win a woman's love just so they can have the sadistic satisfaction of dumping her.

Leave It to Beaver. Christopher MacDonald, Janine Turner, Cameron Finley and Erik von Detten stand in for Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Billingsley, Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow in director Andy Cadiff's updating of the venerable TV show.

Paperback Romance. Yet more romantic comedy, this time between a jeweler (Anthony LaPaglia) and a writer of dirty books (Gia Carides).

Picture Perfect. Glenn Gordon Caron (Clean and Sober, TV's Moonlighting) directed this romantic comedy, starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon and Jay Mohr.

August 8
Career Girls. Mike Leigh's latest, after his Oscar-nominated Secrets & Lies, is a look at two thirtysomethings (Katrin Cartlidge and Lynda Steadman) reminiscing about their college days.

Desperate Measures. For the first time since Pacific Heights, Michael Keaton revisits the dark side as a convicted murderer who's a perfect bone-marrow match for the dying son of a cop (Andy Garcia). Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) directed.

Free Willy 3: The Rescue. The kid from Free Willy (Jason James Richter) is seventeen now, but he's still trying to liberate his aquatic buddy, this time from illegal whalers. Sam Pillsbury (Starlight Hotel) directed.

Napoleon. Joan Rivers, Adam Wylie and David Ogden Stiers put words in the mouths of animals in this live-action adventure about a golden retriever puppy lost in the Australian outback.

Spawn. A dead government agent (Michael Jai White) returns to life as a vengeful shape-shifter. Special-effects ace Mark Dippe directs this adaptation of Todd McFarlane's comic book, which has debuted on HBO in animated form.

Talk of Angels. An young Irish woman (Polly Walker) arrives as governess at a well-to-do Spanish household at the start of the Spanish Civil War. Vincent Perez, Frances McDormand and Franco Nero co-star. Nick Hamm wrote and directed.

August 15
Bandwagon. Four guys in a rock-and-roll band called Circus Monkey.
Def Jam's How to Be a Player. As an assignment for anthropology class, Jenny (Natalie Desselle) tries to reform her womanizing brother (Bill Bellamy). Lionel C. Martin directed this broad comedy.

Different for Girls. So this guy runs into his old best buddy, but the best buddy has now turned into a hot babe. Rupert Everett and Steven Mackintosh star.

Excess Baggage. In the first release in her big-bucks deal at Columbia, Alicia Silverstone plays a spoiled teen who stages her own kidnapping to get her father's attention. Marco Brambilla (Demolition Man) directed; Benicio del Toro, Christopher Walken, Sally Kirkland and Harry Connick Jr. co-star.

The Full Monty. Six unemployed male steelworkers turn themselves into a striptease act. Peter Cattaneo directed. G.I. Jane. The first woman admitted to the Navy SEAL training program must contend with a brutal instructor (Viggo Mortensen). Demi Moore in a wet suit. Directed by Ridley Scott.

She's De Lovely. Nick Cassavetes dusts off an unmade script written by his late father, John, for this drama about a convict (Sean Penn) who is released from prison only to discover that his wife (Robin Wright) is shacked up with another man (John Travolta). Harry Dean Stanton co-stars.

A Smile Like Yours. A young couple desperately wants to have children in this romantic comedy with Greg Kinnear, Lauren Holly, Joan Cusack, Jay Thomas and Christopher MacDonald. Keith Samples directed and co-wrote.

Steel. After the triumph of Kazaam, free-throw champ Shaquille O'Neal tries again, this time as D.C. Comics superhero Steel, an armor-clad fighter for truth, justice and the American Way. Kenneth Johnson wrote and directed; Annabeth Gish and Judd Nelson co-star.

Tetsuo: Body Hammer. Shinya Tsukamoto directed this sequel to his low-budget 1989 Tetsuo: The Iron Man. The original--a grueling item about a "metals fetishist" (played by the director) incorporating more and more inanimate objects into his flesh--made Crash look like a sophisticated romance.

August 22
The Delta. A suburban teen and a Vietnamese immigrant journey down the Mississippi.

Operation Condor. Jackie Chan wrote, directed and starred in this 1991 Indiana Jones knockoff--originally titled Armor of God 2--filled with adventure, physical daring and broad slapstick.

Sunday. A British actress and an unemployed executive have a kinky romance in Queens. Jonathan Nossiter's drama won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

August 29
Boogie Nights. Porno makers in the disco '70s try to elevate their genre into the realm of art--and perhaps art imitates life a tad too much as filmmakers try to keep their own movie from getting slapped with the kiss-of-death NC-17. Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy and Heather Graham star in this comedy-drama from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight).  

Hoodlum. Laurence Fishburne plays the title role in Bill Duke's biopic of legendary Harlem gangster Bumpy Johnson. Tim Roth, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia, Cicely Tyson and Clarence Williams III costar.

Kull the Conqueror. Kevin Sorbo, who plays Hercules on TV, takes on the role of another superhero, created by Robert E. Howard (Conan).


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