Crash - not to be confused with David Cronenberg's fetish flick - is directed and co-written by Million Dollar Baby scribe Paul Haggis . It looks at one tumultuous day in the lives of a dozen or so Los Angelenos who bump up against one another's deadly assumptions about race. The terrific ensemble cast includes Don Cheadle , Thandie Newton , Sandra Bullock , Ludacris (!) and the about-to-break Terrence Howard . But just as Sin City is making everyone take Mickey Rourke seriously again, Crash will make you reconsider Matt Dillon . No joke. May 6.
A couple of months ago, Kung Fu Hustle surpassed Shaolin Soccer as the highest-grossing Hong Kong-made movie in Hong Kong. It could do the same in North America. The story's simple - gangsters prey on poor people, kung fu heroes come to the rescue - but director Stephen Chow apparently kicks it up a notch with a fast-paced cartoon sensibility and the latest CGI tricks. April 22.
Fubar writer/director Michael Dowse is back with It's All Gone Pete Tong , a darkly comic film about Frankie Wilde , a European DJ who had it all - success, women, drugs - and then gradually lost his hearing. After plunging into a depression, he rebuilds his life and career. Winner of the best Canadian feature award at last year's Toronto International Film Fest, it stars Paul Kaye in a possible breakout role, with cameos by DJ Pete Tong , Tiësto and others. May 13.
Directed by Gladiator's Ridley Scott and with a cast that includes Orlando Bloom , Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons , Kingdom Of Heaven has the weight of a late-fall prestige pic. Bloom plays a regular guy who becomes a knight in the Crusades and fights against religious fanaticism. Oh, imagine the op-ed pieces! Only question: are viewers tired of swords and chain mail after that other epic starring Bloom? May 6.
Speaking of epics, Marco Tullio Giordana 's The Best Of Youth makes Return Of The King seem like a trailer. This six-hour film (in two parts) traces the lives of two Italian brothers from 1966 to 2002. Originally an Italian TV miniseries, it's been out in the U.S. for a month, where it's been called a masterpiece, as gripping and sprawling in its look at politics, love and corruption as any 19th-century novel. Crack open a Brunello and check out part one when it opens here May 13.
Star Wars zone
All I remember about Episode Two was that it didn't suck as much as Episode One. So, gee, maybe Episode Three will be a masterpiece. Its subtitle is Revenge Of The Sith . What or who is a Sith? I don't know - yet. But like zillions of others, I'll be there in line waiting to see Hayden Christensen get real bad (maybe he'll catch up to his acting) and become Darth Vader, and Ewan McGregor become Alec Guinness. I'm also curious to see Keisha Castle-Hughes in her first role since Whale Rider. May 19.
There's a new film fest practically every week in spring. Hot Docs (April 22 to May 1) kicks off its stellar slate with Sundance hit Murderball , a rousing look at quadriplegics in wheelchairs playing quad rugby. It also includes new work by legendary filmmaker Barbara Kopple and a tribute to Errol Morris (416-530-8105, www. hotdocs. ca). Ay, caramba! The AluCine Toronto Latino Film And Video Festival takes over the city April 29 to May 7 (416-966-4989, www.alucinefestival. com). Sprockets kids' film fest touches down at Harbourfront from April 29 to May 8 (416-968-FILM, www.e.bell. ca/filmfest/sprockets/index.asp). The Toronto Jewish Film Festival plays May 7 to 15 (416-324-9121, www. tjff. com). And the Inside Out Toronto Lesbian And Gay Film And Video Festival comes out strong from May 19 to 29 (www.insideout.ca).