It's winter, and between now and the end of February the studios' thoughts turn to Oscar, which opens up some space in the theatres for indies, documentaries and films that aren't being rolled out into 3,200 theatres. The majors have so thoroughly abandoned this period, it's the rare studio film that opens before April. Here are some reasons to look forward to the season.
SOMETHING NEW FROM CHARLIE KAUFMAN
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind has a tremendous cast in Jim Carrey , Kate Winslet , Kirsten Dunst , Tom Wilkinson and Elijah Wood . More important, it's the new screenplay by Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich), another story about messing with people's heads. Carrey and Winslet star as a couple who undergo a new, non-surgical procedure that can erase unpleasant memories, and then decide that they want them back. Look for it March 19.
The Fog Of War would have been on my 2003 top 10 list, but its release date was delayed. This fascinating Errol Morris documentary, an extended interview with Kennedy defense secretary Robert McNamara , investigates how a man can shape history in the worst ways imaginable and remain morally disengaged from the horror. The release date is February 6, but I'm setting the over/under for the actual release at March 6.
MORE FROM MAMET
Spartan , due out March 12, is the new David Mamet and the second of the year's three "the president's daughter is missing" films, but since it's Mamet, the president's daughter is kidnapped, not off having a wacky adventure with a cute guy. Val Kilmer stars as the man in charge of the investigation who finds out there's a whole lotta plottin' going on.
BENNIFER BUT BETTER
Jersey Girl , the new release from director Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy), is the other Bennifer movie, though Jennifer Lopez is in this one a lot less. It's a father-daughter story, with Ben Affleck and a kid. And for those who really wish Smith would take a new direction, Jersey Girl has a PG-13 rating, and Jay and Silent Bob are not in the film. It's scheduled to open March 19.
Hellboy may be just another odd comic book adaptation, but it's directed by Guillermo Del Toro , who gave us Mimic, The Devil's Backbone and Blade 2. Del Toro's definitely someone who loves the horror genre for itself, which speaks well for his adaptation of Mike Mignola 's graphic novels, with their twisted Lovecraft-meets- the-Nazis craziness. Hellboy, opening April 2, features Ron Perlman under a ton of effects makeup and John Hurt channelling the spirit of Gandalf.
Dances with Neve CampBell
The Company is 79-year-old Robert Altman 's 31st film since he turned 45, and that's not counting his television work. Working from a screenplay by Barbara Turner and producer/star Neve Campbell , the film tracks a few days and several dance numbers in the life of the Joffrey Ballet. The most impressive thing about it is that it's shot on video, and, until Altman mentioned it to critics at the Toronto film festival last fall, nobody realized it. It opens January 29
The Passion Of The Christ arrives just in time for Lent, which will give Catholics something to chew on during their season of denial. Is it anti-Semitic? On the one hand, the Pope has given it his seal of approval. On the other, James Caviezel , who plays Christ, was struck by lightning during the filming, which may just be the Almighty's way of saying that director/producer/writer Mel Gibson should put some subtitles on the thing, which will be released February 26 in Latin and Aramaic. watchingmovies