On a screen near you ...
Two Brothers: Jean-Jacques Annaud, director of the surprise international hit The Bear, returns to nature to tell the stories of two tiger cubs separated at birth, one of which becomes a legendary predator in 1920s French Indochina, while the other becomes a circus star. Guy Pearce is the explorer who unknowingly reunites them. Should this have any of the savage poetry and romanticism of The Bear, lightning could strike twice.
Spider-Man 2: Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is now a college student and part-time shutterbug for the Daily Bugle -- when he's not using the powers he inherited from a radioactive arachnid to battle super-freaks like Dr. Octopus (Alfred Molina), that is. The rest of his time is spent pining for girl-next-door Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), now a model dating the astronaut son of his Spider-Man-hating boss, and trying to help his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) through her grief over the death of Uncle Ben. The first two scripts were rejected, and comic-loving novelist Michael Chabon was brought in to spin the tale, only to have that re-written by Alvin Sargent. But Sam Raimi is still at the helm, and Bruce Campbell has a cameo, so how wrong could this really go?
Riding Giants: This film documents the history of surfing, starting with its early Polynesian roots, then follows the development of Southern California's surf culture in the 1940s, particularly a group of surfers who began searching for the biggest waves, or the "unridden realm."
Saved!: The latest in the recent spate of films about just how mean high school girls can be to each other -- and everybody else -- boasts an interesting twist. It's set in an evangelical Christian school where the queen bee, played by Mandy Moore, turns on former best friend Jena Malone when Malone gets pregnant during an act of charity -- attempting to convince her boyfriend he's not really gay.
America's Heart and Soul: Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg traveled the length of America shooting its beauty and wonder and interviewing citizens with some remarkable stories to tell in a documentary that just happens to be released in time for the nation's birthday. This is being released by Walt Disney Co., which has been accused of getting too far away from mainstream American values in recent years, so expect more heart-tugging than soul-searching.
Dear Frankie: A 9-year-old boy travels from town to town and hand-to-mouth with his mother (Emily Mortimer), occasionally receiving a letter from his father at sea, a sailor on the HMS Accra, who recounts his adventures in faraway lands. We know, of course, that the mother is writing the letters, creating a problem when Frankie hears the Accra is due to dock near their current home.
The Door in the Floor: The son (Jon Foster) of a private prep school teacher takes a summer job as an assistant to a famous children's book author and illustrator (Jeff Bridges) living in East Hampton, only to fall in love with his wife (Kim Basinger), who is still grieving the death of her two sons. If the premise sounds slightly familiar, that's because it's based on John Irving's last solid novel, A Widow For One Year, or at least the first third of it.
Napoleon Dynamite: The title character -- whose name is not, its litigation-fearing producer insists (though not very convincingly), taken from Elvis Costello's one-time pseudonym -- is a teen-age geek-outcast in Preston, Idaho, with an even geekier best friend, an amusingly screwed-up family life and a compulsion to break into a little dance at comically inopportune moments. Stuff happens. To the surprise of some and dismay of others, the self-consciously eccentric trifle became a must-see at Sundance.
King Arthur: The first meeting of the Round Table since 1995's First Knight is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, but don't look for exploding castles and super-swords. It aims to put the legend into historic context, with Arthur attempting to reunite a British kingdom that has been divided into fiefdoms by warlords. Clive Owen, of Croupier, is Arthur; Stephen Dillane is right-hand wizard Merlin; Keira Knightley is Guinevere and hunky Ioan Gruffudd, TV's Horatio Hornblower, gets a shot at movie stardom as Lancelot.
Anchorman: Had Broadcast News been a comedy -- wait, it was. OK, if Broadcast News had been a Will Ferrell comedy, it might have gone something like this. Ferrell is a top-rated, bona fide media star in San Diego in the '70s, beloved by the public and management, chased by local ladies, king of the world, until the arrival of Christina Applegate, a real reporter who challenges his authority, news skills and ethics. If you don't want to see this, you either a) have never seen Ferrell; b) have never seen local news; or c) don't remember how TV newsmen dressed in the '70s.
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