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An autumn harvest of the arts Summer is over; movies for grown-ups are on the way

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fall means that kids go back to school. It also means that films for adults are in the offing -- from Martin Scorsese's disturbing sexual thriller "Cape Fear" to John Sayles' drama of smoldering ethnic tensions, "City of Hope."

The exception that proves the rule is that the first movie of the fall is really the last movie of the summer: "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare," which opens here Friday the 13th and will be the sixth -- and supposedly final -- installment of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series featuring dream slasher Freddy Krueger.

On the same day, Alan Parker's "The Commitments," which is about an Irish soul group in Dublin and has been delighting audiences in other cities for several weeks, finally arrives here.

Later that week (Sept. 17) comes Bernard Tavernier's "Daddy Nostalgia," a romantic film with a performance by the great Dirk Bogarde (as a dying man who reconciles with his daughter) that has critics grasping for superlatives.

The potentially interesting "Late for Dinner" opens Sept. 20. Two brothers accidentally undergo an experiment in 1962 that shuttles them -- physically unchanged -- to their hometown 29 years later. The film's director is W. D. Richter -- his "Buckaroo Banzai" is a cult classic -- who's got a phenomenal touch with such nutty material.

"Barton Fink," the sendup of Hollywood by the Coen brothers ("Raising Arizona" and "Miller's Crossing") that has been rivaling Kenneth Branagh's "Dead Again" as an intellectual's delight, also makes its belated Baltimore debut on the 20th. Then there's "Ramblin' Rose" with Laura Dern, Diane Ladd and Robert Duvall, and "Livin' Large," a comedy about a black TV newsman who slowly turns white because he tries so hard to assimilate in the white world.

In town at the Charles for only two days (Sept. 24-25) is "The Miracle," a new film by Neil Jordon ("Mona Lisa") in which a teen-age boy's fascination with a mysterious woman reaches a miraculous climax.

Sept. 27 will be busy with six new movies due, including "The "Fisher King" from director Terry Gilliam (of the strange and wonderful "Brazil" and the even more bizarre "Baron Munchausen"). It recasts the myth of the Holy Grail as a story about a big shot radio personality (Jeff Bridges) who falls on hard days and is redeemed by a crazed but visionary homeless person (Robin Williams).

Other films scheduled include: "Hangin' with the Homeboys," another in a spate of recent movies by young black directors; "The Super," a comedy starring Joe Pesci as a slum landlord forced to live in one of his own buildings; and "Deceived," in which Goldie Hawn -- in a rare non-comedic role -- discovers that her dead husband had been living with her under an assumed identity.

Also slated that weekend is "Necessary Roughness," a football comedy about a college team made up of over-the-hill, continuing education types; and "Married to It," a comedy about three married couples with a cast that includes Cybill Shepherd, Ron Silver, Beau Bridges and Stockard Channing.

Films scheduled for September but without specific release dates include "The Pope Must Die," an "Airplane"-like spoof about the Vatican whose title and subject matter has already caused some newspapers to turn down ads, and "Love Crimes," which stars Sean Young as a prosecuting attorney who becomes involved with an accused rapist.

On Oct. 3 comes independent filmmaker Richard Linklater's "Slacker," a movie about kids in the college town of Austin, Texas, who drop out of school and just hang out. Reviews and reception in other cities suggest that it will be to hip, young filmgoers what "Metropolitan" and "sex, lies and videotape" were in previous years.

Three films open the following day (Oct. 4) -- "Shout," a coming-of-age film set in the '50s starring John Travolta as a music teacher; "Ricochet," starring John Lithgow as a criminal obsessed with destroying the cop (Denzel Washington) who once sent him to prison; and "Paradise," which stars Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith in a drama about a couple who must overcome the death of their son.

Three important movies open Oct. 11. John Sayles' "City of Hope" explores racial tension and ethnic identity in ways that are sure to provoke debate for weeks. "Frankie and Johnny" is Terrence McNally's adaptation of his wonderful play ("Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune") about a love affair between a short-order cook (Al Pacino) and a waitress (Michelle Pfeiffer).

"Little Man Tate" promises to be interesting because of its subject (the battle for the soul of an extraordinarily gifted child between his mother and his psychologist), because it is the first film to be directed by Jodie Foster (who also stars) and because it features an original screenplay by Scott Frank, whose script for "Dead Again" is so impressive.

Other films opening Oct. 11 include "Ernest Scared Stupid," in which Ernest (Jim Varney) looses a troll upon the world; and "Suburban Commando," in which Hulk Hogan is an extra-intergalactic mercenary who wants to spend a quiet vacation at home.

On Oct. 18 David Mamet's "Homicide" (which was filmed in Baltimore last year) opens; like "City of Hope" it takes on issues of race and ethnic identity. Also that day, the rapper Vanilla Ice makes his debut in "Cool as Ice," about a mild-mannered biker who becomes a hero.

The most interesting movie scheduled for the following week (Oct. 25) looks like "Other People's Money," Norman Jewison's comedy starring Danny DeVito as Larry the Liquidator, a financial take-over artist who finally overreaches himself. Other openings

are "House Party 2," which reprises the antics of black comedians Kid N Play, and "The Butcher's Wife," a comedy in which Demi Moore is a backwoods clairvoyant who wreaks havoc upon a hip Greenwich Village neighborhood.

Other movies expected to have October releases are: "29th Street," in which the mob tries to rob Danny Aiello's son of a possibly winning lottery ticket; "K2," based on the acclaimed stage play (of the same name) about an ascent of the world's second highest and most difficult-to-climb mountain; "Antonia and Jane," in which the lifelong competition between two women keeps them going; and the re-release of David Lynch's 1977 cult classic, "Eraserhead"

Also still unscheduled for October are "Stepping Out," which stars Liza Minnelli as an inspirational tap dancer who teaches her students about -- what else? -- life; "The People Under the Stairs," a horror-thriller by director Wes Craven (who made it dangerous to fall asleep in the original "Nightmare on Elm Street"); and "Welcome to Buzzsaw," in which Matthew Broderick is stranded in a backwoods logging town and must deal with the assorted nuts who live there.

Three movies debut on Nov. 1, among them "Hard Promises," a screwball comedy in which a long-missing husband (William Petersen), who does not realize that he is divorced, tries to win back his wife (Sissy Spacek) on her wedding day, and "Curly Sue," the latest John Hughes film about a lovable kid (this time an 8-year-old orphan). But the class film of the week should be "Black Robe," Bruce Beresford's ("Tender Mercies" and "Driving Miss Daisy) movie about the first meeting in North America (in 1634) between European and American Indian cultures.

The most interesting movie for Nov. 8 is "Cape Fear," Scorsese's remake of the 1962 classic with Robert De Niro as the amoral ex-con who terrorizes the attorney (Nick Nolte) who put him behind bars. Another intriguing opening is "Prospero's Books," an adaptation by Peter Greenaway ("The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover") of Shakespeare's "The Tempest"; it stars the greatest actor in the English-speaking world, Sir John Gielgud.

Other movies due out that day are "Step Kids," Joan Micklin Silver's ("Hester Street" and "Crossing Delancey") film about a 13-year-old girl who tries to cope with her parents' divorce; and "Shining Through," the World War II story of an American Jewish woman (Melanie Griffith) who convinces her boss in the OSS (Michael Douglas) to let her spy behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany.

Also, "All I want for Christmas," one of those "heartwarming" holiday stories in which two kids try to reunite their estranged parents and in which Leslie Nielsen (Lt. Frank Drebin in "The Naked Gun" series) stars as Santa Claus; and "Strictly Business" in which an Ivy League-educated African-American achieves self-realization by falling for a dancer in a funky, uptown club.

On Nov. 15 there's "Rules of the Game," a comedy about the challenge of commitment that faces most modern couples.

A week later (Nov. 22) three films aimed at children open. The same team at Disney who gave us last year's "The Little Mermaid" will give us an animated retelling of "Beauty and the Beast," and Steven Spielberg resurrects Fievel Mousekewitz in "An American Tale: Fievel Goes West." The third film is "My Girl," in which a hypochondriac tomboy (Anna Chlumsky), whose best friend is played by Macaulay Culkin (of "Home Alone" fame), is raised in an offbeat household that includes her mortician father (Dan Aykroyd) and his cosmetologist girlfriend (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Other films scheduled to open sometime in November before the barrage of holiday movies hits include "The Double Life of Veronique," a French-Polish collaboration about two identical women in different countries who are mystically connected; "The Addams Family," which is based on the 1960s TV show (itself based on New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams' work), whose bizarre and macabre creations are impersonated by Christopher Lloyd, Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston; "Spotswood," in which a corporate efficiency expert (Anthony Hopkins) is brought to heel by the free spirits who work at a mocassin factory; and "For the Boys," which charts the 30 year career of a song-and-dance

team (Bette Midler and James Caan).

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