The beginning of the calendar year isn't the best time to go to the movies. Studios generally dump their worst films, like Grandma's Boy, Date Movie and that unofficial James Franco Film Festival (Annapolis, Tristan & Isolde). Things perk up in the spring.
The most anticipated indie flick is definitely Terry Zwigoff 's Art School Confidential , adapted by Daniel Clowes from his comic. It stars Max Minghella (the kid in Syriana, and director Anthony's son) as a guy who's looking for love at art school but instead gets mixed up in a murder. The cast includes John Malkovich , Jim Broadbent and Anjelica Huston - none of whom has had a chance to shine recently. A definite must-see, especially since the director's last collaboration with Clowes resulted in the haunting, bittersweet Ghost World. Opens May 5.
Toronto has more film festivals than anywhere else in the world, and they all seem to take place in the spring. If you're into indie and experimental film, check out Images (www.imagesfestival.com) on till April 22. If you've got little ones, Sprockets should keep them occupied from April 21 to 30 (www.bell.ca/sprockets). Hot Docs , which this year includes a rare interview with living-legend director Werner Herzog , happens April 28 to May 7 (www.hotdocs.ca). And the best in queer film and video is screened at Inside Out , from May 18 to 28 (www.insideout.ca).
The trailers for Mission: Impossible III have been playing for months now, and they're pretty fucking terrific. Philip Seymour Hoffman , fresh off his Oscar win, as a psycho villain? Alias and Lost's J. J. Abrams directing? Tom Cruise ... er, okay, enough already. Let's just hope the couch-jumper stays away from Oprah and Matt Lauer and attends to his pregnant wife. It all happens May 5.
Yeah, the remake trend sucks. But I'm still looking forward to Poseidon , a souped-up, CGI-filled version of that classic 1970s disaster flick The Poseidon Adventure. If you don't do weekend afternoon TV, it's the one with the tidal wave, the upside-down ocean liner and the scantily clad folks braving trials by fire and water in search of a way out. The cast of the new version includes Kurt Russell , Josh Lucas and Richard Dreyfuss (guess who'll be delivering the comic relief?). But the big plus is director Wolfgang Petersen , who proved in Das Boot and The Perfect Storm that he knows a thing or two about water. May 12.
Enter the Code
When I was in Paris last year, a lot of people were scurrying around the city carrying worn copies of The Da Vinci Code . I'm sure every one of them - and the millions of others who have made the crudely written novel the bestseller of the decade - will be lined up to see Ron Howard 's film version, about murder, art and secret societies. Only question: is the film, which stars Tom Hanks , Audrey Tautou and Ian McKellen , review-proof? We'll find out after May 19.