By Sam Levin
By Sam Levin
By Sam Levin
By Jessica Lussenhop
By Sam Levin
By Timothy Lane
By Sam Levin
By Dennis Brown
By our count, there are but two sequels waiting to have oil rubbed on their backs this summer -- one featuring an evil lord named Vader, the other featuring an evil lord named Schneider -- so the season has that going for it, which is nice.
But in lieu of sequels come comic-book superheroes (Batman, the Fantastic Four) and small-screen retreads (Bewitched, cursed with the worst trailer ever, and The Dukes of Hazzard, which not even General Lee's been waiting for) and big-screen redos (The Pink Panther, Bad News Bears, The Longest Yard, The Honeymooners, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and War of the Worlds), which doesn't even take into account Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, which is barely a movie anyway.
Of the 130-something movies scheduled to play this summer, a few will warm the hearts of the most air-conditioned critic. Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, with Bill Murray and Jessica Lange and Sharon Stone; Ron Howard's Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe as boxer Jim Braddock and Paul Giamatti as his trainer; and Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, arrive without action figures and Happy Meals -- and bless their sunburned souls for trying to make art during a season of commerce. Perhaps it won't be such a long, hot summer after all. -- Robert Wilonsky
CINDERELLA MAN Starring: Russell Crowe, Paul Giamatti and Renée Zellweger
Directed by: Ron Howard
What it's about: Ditched by his ugly sisters, Cinderella Man (Crowe) begs his fairy godmother to make him beautiful so he can go to the ball. Ah, if only. Instead, it's a Depression-era boxing movie, in which Crowe gets paid to punch people in the face.
Why it will be fabulous:Paul Giamatti might get to win that Oscar next year for his strong supporting turn.
Why it will be dreadful: Five words: "A film by Ron Howard."
MAD HOT BALLROOM Directed by: Marilyn Agrelo
What it's about: Documentary focusing on New York City public school kids who compete to be the best ballroom dancers. Since "Mad Hot" is contemporary parlance, and the ballroom somewhat retro, we can probably expect some amusing scenes in which the kids deride these dances as old-fashioned, only to realize that one can still be cool and like square stuff too.
Why it will be fabulous: It's Spellbound, but with ballroom dancing!
Why it will be dreadful: Who cares about ballroom dancing?
Written and directed by: Alice Wu
What it's about: A conservative Chinese-American widow (Chen) in a gossip-heavy Queens neighborhood has been living a secret love life, as has her lesbian daughter (Krusiec). When circumstances bring the truth out into the open, how will they both cope?
Why it will be fabulous: The folks at Sony Classics generally have a better eye for quality art-house than most.
Why it will be dreadful: Name the last good movie Joan Chen was in.
Written and directed by:Sebastian Cordero (Rodents)
What it's about:An ambitious TV reporter from Miami sets out for Ecuador in search of a serial killer known as the "Monster of Babahoyo."
Why it will be fabulous:Cordero has an obvious taste for the macabre, and this suspense thriller appears to indulge it again. The violence is said to be both extreme and inventive, the tension high.
Why it will be dreadful:If the gore overwhelms, audiences may not stomach this visceral exercise.
Directed by:Pierre Salvadori
What it's about:Antoine (Auteuil) is the maître d' at a fancy Paris restaurant who, one night, stumbles across heartbroken Louis (Garcia) trying to hang himself. After Antoine saves Louis, he tries to get the poor kid a job at the restaurant as a sommelier -- and then tries to get him the girl who dumped him (Kiberlain), only Antoine finds himself falling in love with the beauty as well.
Why it will be fabulous:The synopsis of this 2003 French offering makes it sound like Cyrano de Bergeracset in a restaurant -- a cross between a slapstick comedy and a melodramatic romance, which sounds as perfect as a cold glass of Pernod on a hot August day.
Why it will be dreadful:Uh, subtitles? Really, the only reading some of us do in summer takes place beside a beckoning body of water.
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Written by: Aja and Gregory Levasseur
What it's about: Two young women on vacation in the French countryside are terrorized by a psychotic killer who wears workman's overalls.
Why it will be fabulous: This no-holds-barred French slasher has already been a horror hit internationally.
Why it will be dreadful: The version being released here has been trimmed for an R rating and dubbed into English.
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