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Fall Preview: Film

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NOVEMBER

Charlie's Angels
While Farrah Fawcett can be seen losing her mind in Robert Altman's latest, the seventies TV show that made her a star gets a millennial makeover with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu as those three detectives with the leggy moves and the cantankerous boss whose face we never get to see (but we do get to see Bill Murray, who plays Charlie's assistant). All we want to know is whether Cameron will be doing a poster. (November 3)

The Golden Bowl
This Merchant Ivory costume drama, adapted from Henry James's final novel, promises plenty of well-coiffed socialites hurling themselves upon satin-upholstered divans. Advance word is that it's a bit on the slow side, but hey, it's Henry James, not Stephen King, for God's sake! Kate Beckinsale stars as a woman recently married to a prince (Jeremy Northam). She unwittingly discovers proof that he has a mistress (Uma Thurman). Distressed, she runs sobbing to her wealthy papa (Nick Nolte). (November 3)

The Legend of Bagger Vance
Triumph of the human spirit, anyone? Will Smith plays a curiously messianic golf caddie who mentors a World War I veteran (Matt Damon again) into becoming one hell of a putter. But will he be able to beat those two golf champions he's just challenged for a tournament? Charlize Theron plays Damon's beleaguered girlfriend, and Robert Redford directs. After The Horse Whisperer, nobody seems too optimistic about this one. But some of us have been Redford stalwarts since Ordinary People, so we're thinking The Natural meets Tin Cup. (November 3)

Red Planet
Hoping to succeed where Mars Attacks!, Mission From Mars (hey, didn't that come out this year, too?), and pretty much every other film with Mars in the title has failed, Anthony Hoffman's directorial debut finds Val Kilmer donning a kicky astronaut outfit to visit that tiny red dot in the sky -- only to get stranded there. Could be another lonely Robinson Crusoe update à la Cast Away, only with vaporizing guns in lieu of coconuts. For some reason, we've got to see this one. Hope springs eternal. (November 3)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Wearing ultra-elaborate face makeup that seriously threatens to upstage the elasticity of his actual face, Jim Carrey brings the Mean One to the silver screen. Just how well he and director Ron Howard succeed in presenting Seuss's classic with actual human beings is anyone's guess. Also opening for the kids today is Rugrats in Paris, which finds those shrill toddlers terrorizing the City of Light on Nickelodeon's dime. (November 17)

The 6th Day
It's the not-so-distant future, and anything can be cloned: cattle, chicken, cats, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays a pilot who arrives home one day to find that he's already there. Talk about déjà vu! Meanwhile, a villainous DNA specialist (Tony Goldwyn) is trying to murder him before the secret gets out. This is do or die for Arnold. Does he still have what it takes to sell tickets, or should he start seriously thinking about that political career? Directed by Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies). (November 17)

Unbreakable
Bruce Willis and writer-director M. Night Shyamalan team up for a second time, and given that their first pairing resulted in The Sixth Sense, we're expecting yet another tale chock-full of New Age occult trimmings that blows away the competition Thanksgiving weekend. This time around, Willis plays the sole survivor of a train crash who must find out why the fates have decided to spare him. Samuel L. Jackson is the mysterious figure who might have a few answers up his sleeve. The minimalist trailer already has audiences buzzing. I see big box office. (November 22)

Quills
Geoffrey Rush puts the S back in S&M as the notorious Marquis de Sade in this new film by Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Right Stuff). Sure, it's really about censorship and freedom, but you can still count on plenty of britches, bodices, exposed bosoms, and hearty slaps on the rump. Kate Winslet co-stars as the Marquis's admiring laundress. Joaquin Phoenix is the officious Catholic priest hoping to salvage what's left of his soul. And Michael Caine turns up as a sadistic doctor. Doug Wright adapted his own Off Broadway play. (November 22)

102 Dalmatians
"Mommy, I want a dalmatian -- again!" Expect another barrage of these-spotted-dogs-are-a-menace-to-your-children articles as underage audiences get more than their fill of pooches with cuddly, computer-enhanced facial expressions and painted-on spots -- not to mention even more elaborate costumes and scenery-chewing from Glenn Close, who reprises her role as the maniacal Cruella De Vil. New to the lineup is Gérard Depardieu, who co-stars as a creepy fur peddler. (November 22)

Original Sin
Their love, it is, how you say . . . taboo? Angelina Jolie plays a mail-order bride with a secret, and Antonio Banderas the somewhat startled recipient of the tattooed parcel in this murky melodrama set in 1880s Cuba. The sex scenes are supposed to be hot, but director Michael Cristofer's last film, Body Shots, let us down in that department. (November)


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