What's up, Docs
May is the start of the silly season, when the gigantic, effects-driven hyper-expensive Hollywood extravaganzas hit screens. What better way to prepare than by spending the last week of April with a healthy, cleansing dose of reality - real political dramas, people with real problems, social issues, tragedy -at Hot Docs (April 23 to May 2). Of course, it could also have the reverse effect. After all that reality, a summer full of CGI explosions and movies where Keanu Reeves plays a nuclear scientist could be a relief. http://www.hotdocs.ca/
Do not pass Go
Several months after its film festival premiere, Ron Mann 's oddball road movie Go Further , a documentary featuring noted hemp-head Woody Harrelson , arrives in local theatres April 23. Challenges just about every part of the Western lifestyle without self-righteous finger-pointing.
George Hickenlooper 's Mayor Of The Sunset Strip is a sad, funny portrait of veteran L.A. scenemaker and DJ Rodney Bingenheimer , who's been around forever and is still hanging on. Hickenlooper, who directed Hearts Of Darkness, uses the eternally optimistic Bingenheimer to anchor a fascinating essay on celebrity culture. Bingenheimer is in the peculiar position of being marginally famous without material success, and this tension is the key to the film's unexpected drama. In theatres April 30.
From Stephen Sommers , the director of The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and the best giant squid movie ever, Deep Rising, comes Van Helsing . This is the first starring vehicle for X-Men's Wolverine, Hugh Jackman , who plays the younger version of Dracula's nemesis, the vampire hunter Van Helsing. It's not exactly a remake of any of the Universal horror classics of the 30s, but Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man are in it. It does look a lot like House Of Frankenstein and House Of Dracula, which have all three characters, though Van Helsing appeared in neither of those films. Opens May 7.
With the absence of the regular summer franchises (Mission Impossible 3 and Star Wars Episode 3 are both scheduled for summer 2005, and the new Harry Potter and Spider Man movies are coming in June), you'd think the big May weekends would be a battle royal. But it turns out everyone's stepped back except Van Helsing and Wolfgang Petersen 's Trojan War epic Troy , hitting screens May 14. Brad Pitt stars as Achilles (Dude! Thou hast slain Patroclus!), Eric Bana as Hector, Orlando Bloom as Paris and more big-name stars as people who learn to -beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
The Day After Tomorrow boasts one of the year's funniest promotional items, a calendar whose pages are blank after May 28, the premiere date for Roland Emmerich 's apocalyptic thriller. What if we ignore the warnings about global warming and the Earth warms up and the ice age comes back. (I'm not sure about the science, but that's their premise and they're sticking to it.) With Dennis Quaid , Jake Gyllenhaal and Sela Ward , but since this is from the director of Independence Day and Godzilla, the effects are probably the real stars.