On a screen near you ...
Before Sunset: Nine years after the romantic chance encounter between Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, the pair are reunited in a sequel set in Paris, where Hawke, now a successful writer, is on a book tour. Linklater, fresh off his first studio hit, School of Rock, shot this in a little more than two weeks on a minuscule budget.
Sleepover: Alexa Vega (Spy Kids) is one of a quartet of recent eighth-grade graduates who, on a summer sleepover, are challenged by the popular girls to an all-night scavenger hunt that takes them from the suburbs to the city with all manner of unexpected adventures. One prediction: Some lucky lady will get her first kiss.
A Cinderella Story: Hilary Duff, liberated from Lizzie McGuire after Disney, in what looked like a bonehead move, failed to fatten her paycheck, moves to Warner Bros. for a comedy about a San Fernando Valley dork who works in a diner run by a stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) who dumps all the hard work on her. But her life takes a turn when a mysterious boy finds her lost cell phone and they begin a notes-and-e-mail courtship that will, she hopes, become real on the night of -- no looking ahead now -- the big dance.
I, Robot: Based on science-fiction pioneer Isaac Asimov's anthology of the same name, it incorporates elements of all nine stories about a future society where robots live with humans but must follow three iron-clad rules: A robot can never injure a human or allow a human to come to harm; a robot must obey all human orders unless it's to violate the first law; a robot must protect himself unless that violates the first or second law. In what is said to be a sort of prequel to the Asimov stories, Will Smith stars as a detective investigating a murder that seems to be a result of robot rule-breaking. Alan Tudyk (A Knight's Tale) is the primary robot suspect.
The Bourne Supremacy: 2002's The Bourne Identity, starring Matt Damon as a spy with amnesia, was a mid-sized hit for Universal, so they went ahead with the plan of adapting two subsequent novels by the late Robert Ludlum featuring the character. In this one, his identity goes missing again, this time stolen by a mysterious operative who assassinates a Chinese vice premier, putting a serious crimp in U.S.-Chinese relations that Damon has to sort out. CIA colleagues Brian Cox and Julia Stiles return, as does Franka Potente as Bourne's girlfriend. New agent Joan Allen joins them.
Catwoman: Warner Bros. has been trying to get this off the ground ever since Michelle Pfeiffer stole Batman Returns from the star and the other villains, but the result is very different from what was originally imagined. The character now bears little relation to pet-groomer Selina Kyle; she's a graphic artist named Patience Philips, played by Halle Berry, who is murdered when she stumbles across some evildoing. Fortunately for her, a cat she once befriended is an immortal Egyptian who resurrects her so she can defend the rights of felines and other animals. We can only hope this film lays on the camp.
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle: A simple Friday-night run to White Castle for a munchie-curing bag of burgers turns into an altogether larger sack o' woe for the roommates of the title, a Korean-American (John Cho) investment banker and an Indian-American med student (Kal Penn). Think, "Hey Dude, where're my fried onions?"
The Manchurian Candidate: A remake of John Frankenheimer's Cold War paranoia thriller, set in the present and starring Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber in the roles originally played by Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey. They're veterans of the first Gulf War who have been brainwashed and given code signals that, when activated by the enemy, are designed to trigger political and international turmoil. The original film was not successful when released, but after being withheld from circulation for 20 years (not, as rumor had it, because of the JFK assassination, but over a rights dispute) it became a cult classic.
Thunderbirds: A live-action version of the '60s British sci-fi show that used marionettes and stop-motion animation to chronicle the adventures of an Air Force colonel, his five sons and a high-tech support team who used their skills -- along with a lot of souped-up rockets, satellites, flying cars and other cool, fast-moving stuff -- in elaborate rescue missions. Bill Paxton plays the colonel, leading a lot of good-looking young people (and Anthony Edwards, as brilliant scientist Brains) in an attempt to prevent a power-mad villain, played by Ben Kingsley, from stealing all their cool stuff and using it for evil.
The Village: M. Night Shyamalan looks to raise a few more goose bumps with his first period thriller. Set in a small Pennsylvania village in 1897, the residents never leave, fearing that the mysterious creatures who dwell in the surrounding woods and with whom their elders apparently forged a truce will hurt them. Joaquin Phoenix is a young man looking to challenge the myth by leaving and taking the daughter (Judy Greer) of the village leader (William Hurt) with him. Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver and Cherry Jones are also in the impressive cast.
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi: Zatoichi, a beloved character from Japan's longest-running film series, is at the center of this film from director Takeshi Kitano, who blends light comedy with action.
The Clearing: Robert Redford is a successful, self-made businessman whose very good life goes very bad when he is kidnapped by a former employee and held for ransom in a forest. His wife, Helen Mirren, takes on the job of getting him freed. Though Redford may be the world's best-known champion of independent film through his Sundance Institute, this is the first time the aging movie star has ever participated in one -- save his financing and narrating Incident at Oglala, an agitprop documentary about the Leonard Peltier case.
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