The latest collaboration from the Smoke/Blue In The Face writer-director team of Paul Auster and Wayne Wang is The Center Of The World. It's also Wang's first film shot on video. Given Auster's reputation as a serious novelist and Wang's critical respectability, it should be interesting to see their take on the subject at hand, a Silicon Valley strip club frequented by wealthy young dot-commers. The cast includes Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway), Carla Gugino (Snake Eyes) and Vancouver's Molly Parker (Kissed). It opens April 20.
"Long-awaited" is a good term for Town And Country. The original release date for this romantic farce starring Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Garry Shandling and Jenna Elfman was 1999, and then it was scheduled for February 2000 and fall 2000 release. Check out www.inside.com for a very good piece on Town And Country's torturous route to theatres. It finally opens April 20. The odds that it sucks hugely are very good, but this is an awfully impressive cast, and director Peter Chelsom was responsible for The Mighty.
The Mummy Returns, slated for May 4, brings back everybody from the 1999 hit -- Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo and writer-director Stephen Sommers -- to see if lightning can strike twice. The original was unexpectedly entertaining, a more impressive thrill ride than the more vaunted Star Wars: Episode 1 and a terrific showcase for Fraser's goofy charisma. This film is set 10 years after the first and in London, which suggests wonderful possibilities in the fog-shrouded streets, though all that damp can't be good for folks who've been dry-preserved.
Finally, the first Dogme film with actual movie stars. Director Kristian Levring's The King Is Alive gives us a group stranded in the desert who, to ward off boredom and madness, stage King Lear. The cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, a Hollywood actor made for Dogme, Bruce Davison, Janet McTeer and Romane Bohringer. It's also a Dogme film that, for once, has a spectacular visual style, taking full advantage of its Sahara settings. Think of it as The Cell with a plot. Look for a May opening.
Straight from opening night at the Cannes Film Festival comes Moulin Rouge, though director Baz Luhrman's pronouncements about wanting to reinvent the musical form are enough to make anyone who remembers what he did to Shakespeare in the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes Romeo + Juliet a little nervous. One thing we do know at this point is that the story is set in 1899, but Madonna and the Beatles are on the soundtrack. OK, a lot nervous. Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor star, and John Leguizamo plays Toulouse Lautrec. There's lots of material on the film at www.BazMark.com. It opens June 1.
Calle 54, Fernando Trueba's affectionate documentary about latin jazz, features an electrifying array of stars (Tito Puente, Michel Camilo, Gato Barbieri, Chico O'Farrill) in live-in-the-studio performances filmed with maximum visual and sonic impact. A hit at every festival it's played from Venice to Miami, this is both a treat for latin jazz aficionados and a stimulating primer for those new to the form. It's marked in for a May opening.