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The March Movie Preview
By Dave Thomas



It says a lot when I'm more psyched about the return of Charlie Kaufman and Todd Phillips than I am about new flicks from Kevin Smith and the Coen Brothers.



Here we go…





MARCH 5

HIDALGO

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
You remember how Speed Racer used to enter those ridiculously dangerous races through impossibly treacherous terrain with murderous competitors? Same thing but with Viggo Mortenson on a horse named Hidalgo going through Arabia (and based on a true story).

WILL IT SUCK?
Director Joe Johnston knows how to make a movie fun, if not necessarily good ("Jurassic Park III" - though I really liked "The Rocketeer"). Screenwriter John Fusco is kind of hit or miss (he wrote "Young Guns" but he also wrote "Young Guns II" - "Thunderheart" was decent enough, I guess). He knows horses at least ("Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron"). If it was enough to get Omar Sharif to continue his return from a self-imposed acting exile, the script is probably okay (Sharif's departure from the screen was inspired, he says, by the unbelievably crappy movies he was being offered). Early buzz is mixed.

It'll probably be a better-than-average actioner, but don't expect "Lawrence of Arabia".

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
A little "Passion of the Christ" holdover might sting (they both take place in the desert and their leads have beards, but that's about all they have in common) but the real threat is "Starsky & Hutch" which, surprisingly, has a lot of crossover. I'm thinking the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson fan base isn't all that different from the LOTR fan base and given that Viggo's the only real name here, they'll need as much of that crowd as they can get. $40mil.


STARSKY & HUTCH

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Movie version of the famous (well, not "Seinfeld" famous but probably as famous as "21 Jump Street" will be in twenty years) TV show with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller as the leads, Snoop as Huggy Bear and Vince Vaughan as the bad guy.

WILL IT SUCK?
Chances are, no. Unless you didn't like "Old School," that is. Me, I loved it so I'm looking forward to seeing what writer/director Todd Phillips (who also did "Road Trip" and, believe it or not, the Phish rockumentary "Bittersweet Motel") can do with such an awesome cast, reuniting Owen and Ben who did such a great job in "Zoolander," "The Royal Tenenbaums" (though they didn't share much screen time in that) and had some of the finer moments in "Meet the Parents".

Philips is paired with co-writer Scott Armstrong again and, unfortunately, one of the writers of "Cradle 2 the Grave" is also along for the ride. Maybe Will Ferrell's cameo will make up for that. Watch for the original Starsky & Hutch to make an appearance as well. If you even remember what they look like.

Apparently Phillips is glomming onto the idea of TV show adaptations. His next project is "The Six Million Dollar Man" with…wait for it…Jim Carrey.

We have the technology. We can make it suckier.

Early buzz, on "S&H" anyway, is fairly good.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Coming out of a comedy-heavy February won't necessarily help, but this is bigger than any of those comedies. Also, in the aforementioned race against "Hidalgo," this should take the lion's share of the audience and challenge the following week's comers for first as well. $80mil.

THE RECKONING

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
It starts out seeming like a wacky romp with Paul Bettany getting kicked out of the church in 14th Century England when they didn't look too kindly on things like adultery. Well, I guess they still don't. Anyway he hooks up with some traveling actors led by Willem Dafoe. And then, of course, they travel around solving crimes. No, really. Well, one crime actually in a small town where a woman has been accused of murder and the townspeople seem to know who really did it. Like I said, it starts out wacky.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz on this is good. Best pedigree behind it is the director's most recent film, "Gangster No. 1" which got some decent notices. Well, that and the award-winning novel on which it's based. Paul and Willem are pretty damn reliable, and you gotta love Brian Cox getting back into it after laying fairly low in '03 (he was in every single film that came out in '02. Every. Last. One.).

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
"Goodbye Lenin's" second frame is all this has to contend with when it opens. And this is in English with actors we recognize. In indie-land, we call that a slam-dunk. $3mil.




MARCH 12


SECRET WINDOW

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Scruffy writer Johnny Depp vs. John Turturro in full-on hick preacher mode, claiming Johnny stole his idea.

WILL IT SUCK?
You haven't lived until you've seen John Turturro do his impersonation of that scary preacher from "Poltergeist 2". Check out the trailer if you don't believe me. (http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/secret_window)

David Koepp directs here, and while he's had some success with thrillers ("Stir of Echoes") his screenwriting isn't exactly consistent. He's had some huge hits ("Spiderman," "Panic Room," "Jurassic Park,") some critical home runs ("Carlito's Way") and a fair amount of crap ("Bad Influence," "Snake Eyes," the sequel to "Jurrasic Park"). Adding to the inconsistency is the fact that this is based on a Stephen King novella and I don't need to tell you the extremes of Excellence or Suck those adaptations can reach. Regardless of the fine cast, which includes two of my favorites (Timothy Hutton and Ving Rhames - yeah, I'm weird), the trailer just makes me think we're in for the less good of the King extremes.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Although Johnny Depp is hot, and releasing it after he appears at the Oscars is a plus (though he'll most likely lose to Bill Murray or Sean Penn, unless they split the vote…I'll save that for another column), I still can't help but think that audiences that cheered him on in "Pirates" will go see "Agent Cody Banks 2" this weekend instead. Still, it won't do horribly. $30mil.


AGENT CODY BANKS 2:
DESTINATION LONDON

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
More Cody Banks. Less Hilary Duff. And by "less" I mean none.

WILL IT SUCK?
OK. When you can't get back the original writers or director of "Agent Cody Banks," something's wrong. Well, the original director contributed to the story, but that's about it. This time, they've got the screenwriter of "Big Momma's House," so everything's going to be just fine.

Anthony Anderson continues to commit slow career suicide by lending his talents.

"Agent Cody Banks is hop-hoppin' awayyyyy…"

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
The lack of Hilary will sting a bit. It cuts down, as you might imagine, on the tweenie girl audience. This will be made up for slightly by the presence of S Club 7's (no, I don't know who they are) Hannah Spearritt as the new female lead. Still, I think the bulk of this audience could be torn away by "The Girl Next Door" and "Starsky & Hutch". $48mil.


SPARTAN

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
David Mamet wrote and directed this. But if that's not enough for you I'll tell you that Val Kilmer and William H. Macy play Secret Service agents investigating a kidnapping that's more than it appears to be.

WILL IT SUCK?
As a writer/director Mamet simply refuses to suck. At worst in those two roles he's produced "Oleanna" which still scores a respectable 6.4 on IMDB's user ratings. The strong cast also includes Derek Luke and Ed O'Neill in "Dragnet" mode. The only thing that might give one pause is the presence of Val, but, in fits and starts, he seems to be in the midst of an indie resurgence ("The Salton Sea," "Wonderland," um, "Mindhunters").

Originally this was slated for a limited December release but got moved to a wide release now. That probably means that WB thought it couldn't hack it in the tough Oscar field (and didn't want Macy to compete with himself in "The Cooler") and/or it was too commercial for Oscar and might do better in wide release in a less crowded month. Or maybe it sucks.

Given Mamet's track record, though, I'm banking not.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Here Mamet's track record is not so good. His movies rarely make over $10mil. and when they do (as in the case of "Heist") they're not necessarily profitable. However, all of that likely turns around on DVD and that will probably happen here as well. Although there's no direct genre competition the name recognition just isn't there which is why the (in all likelihood inferior) Angelina Jolie/Kiefer Sutherland thriller "Taking Lives" will take this film's life in the box office the following week. Still, it'll be interesting to see what a wide release with a major studio (a rare thing for a Mamet-directed flick) will look like. $5mil.


THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
The girl next door is a porn star. Well, former porn star. Who cares? It's Elisha Cuthbert. She could be a former nun; we'd still want her to move in.

WILL IT SUCK?
Chances are, yes. The trailer's actually pretty funny. But I've got a feeling that those are the best parts of the movie. Having Timothy "I can't believe it's not Josh Duhamel" Olyphant around doesn't hurt, but having the director of "The Animal" and the writers behind "Van Wilder" and "My Baby's Daddy" does. A lot.

The early reviews are mixed, but I'm not hopeful.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
The only thing really getting in the way here is the "R" rating. Until the lousy reviews start pouring in (coupled by lousy word of mouth) just using the words "Elisha Cuthbert" and "porn" in the same thirty seconds will be enough to get hordes of horny teens into seats, provided they can get past ticket sellers that, strangely enough, are actually starting to card. $22mil.


WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Two brothers inherit a bookstore. One of them is named Wilbur. Guess what he wants to do. Then he falls in love and maybe doesn't want to do that other thing so much.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is outstanding. Has won some international awards. Most of the reviews revolve around disarming the title. It's supposedly very funny and very life-affirming. Those of you familiar with the Dogme title "Italian for Beginners" will want to check this out. It's writer/director Lone Scherfig's latest.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
A bigger studio might help. ThinkFilm managed to shepherd "Spellbound" to considerable dollars last summer, but that's been their only real success story so far. Besides, the following week they'll have to contend with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" from Focus and "Intermission" from IFC, both with big stars. $2mil.


BROKEN WINGS

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Israeli family tries to deal with the loss of their father.

WILL IT SUCK?
Just about swept the Israeli Academy Awards and has strong advance buzz so, no. Also won awards at Berlin and other international fests. Supposedly gives a very different view of life in Israel than we're used to from the news.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Sadly, the edge "Wilbur" has over this is that it's in English. However, the edge this has is Sony Pictures Classics, who knows how to promote foreign cinema. Maybe not as well as Miramax, but they're a close second. Still, both will be knocked out next week by the one-two indie punch I mentioned earlier. $600,000.


TWO MEN WENT TO WAR

(Delayed from December so here's the same info. again. Its chances haven't really improved.)

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Two British dentists invade France. No, really, this actually happened. They were tired of not seeing any action in WWII so they took it upon themselves to land in occupied France alone and sabotage the enemy. Oh, you believe that part? Then what…oh, yeah, the British really DO have dentists.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mixed, with audiences seeming to like it more than critics. It's already out on DVD and video in Britain, so if you have a PAL encoded DVD player, you can order it online. If not, you'll have to wait and see just how charmingly British this comedy/drama really is.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Not very. Even without all the competition it's got no stars and a mixed buzz. With the competition it will simply be ignored. $300,000.


MARCH 19


JERSEY GIRL

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Kevin Smith goes mainstream. Oh, I really hope not. But Ben Affleck loses his wife J. Lo (to complications during their daughter's birth as opposed to a media frenzy) and has to change his jet set lifestyle to care for his daughter.

WILL IT SUCK?
One the one hand, this is a more personal film for Smith, who based some of this on his experiences becoming a father. So this could reveal growth in him as a writer/director. On the other hand, this is PG-13, which many will see as a death knell for the racy dialogue one is used to hearing from the pen of Smith. (Fortunately the MPAA tag says the rating is due in part to "frank dialogue," so I guess there's hope).

The trailer, which, with Liv Tyler's introduction as a romantic interest makes it look like an attempt to wind back Ben's career to the care-free days of "Armageddon", does not look promising. It looks like a typical feel good "Baby Boom" romcom with nothing interesting except for the fact that it's a Kevin Smith film (and that J. Lo dies early on, which will please some fans).

Really, it comes down to my unwavering faith in Smith (I haven't truly disliked any of his films yet) that makes me psyched (though less than usual) about this one.

That and Stephen Root is in it (along with brief appearances by Matt Damon and Jason Lee).

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
A year ago, it would have done great. Ben and J. Lo were still hot and not oversaturated. Now Liv Tyler is much more popular if for no other reason than her appearances in the LOTR films. People may take the possibility of this being the end for Ben as a foregone conclusion (they may even want it to be the end) so word of mouth and reviews will have to be tight. It's got a fairly open field at first but "Scooby Doo 2" will knock everything out of the water the following week.

Another part of the problem is that die hard Smith fans will be turned off by the departure from the View Askewniverse (no Jay or Silent Bob in this one) and non-Smith aficionados need a better reason than "It's a Kevin Smith film" to go see something with Ben and J. Lo. $17mil.


DAWN OF THE DEAD

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Re-make of the Romero neo-classic in which survivors of a plague-like infection hole up in a shopping mall to fight zombies.

WILL IT SUCK?
I don't know which is weirder, that writer James Gunn has another movie coming out next week called "Scooby Doo 2" (he wrote the first one as well) or that he also wrote "Tromeo and Juliet." In the context of this, I'm gonna say "Scooby Doo". The fact that "Tromeo and Juliet" is a Troma classic may bode well for this update. There's serious common ground between Tromaville and 80's horror. It can be argued that one helped give birth to the other.

And Matt Frewer's in it in a role so small I can only assume he's either eaten or zombified or both. Zombie Max Headroom!

Horror make-up/fx legend Tom Savini also makes an appearance.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
They've assembled a decent b-list cast (Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer) to slightly up the draw but the real hard core zombie fans are the only ones you can count on here. Word of mouth will be a huge factor. No real competition. If the word of mouth is even slightly good, don't be surprised if this pulls a "Texas Chainsaw" and blows up bigger than expected. $50mil.


TAKING LIVES

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Angelina Jolie hunts a serial killer, blah, blah, blah…

I used to really like serial killer movies. When did they jump the shark?

WILL IT SUCK?
The director, DJ Caruso, did "The Salton Sea" which was a decent noir. Not a far cry, genre-wise. The novel on which this is based is supposedly very good, but, as usual, they've strayed from it considerably. Writer is pretty much an unknown. I kind of like the cast (with the exception of Jolie, actually). Oliver Martinez, Kiefer Sutherland (playing a heavy, at which he is exceedingly good) Tcheky Karyo, even Ethan Hawke's not bad. The producers, however, have made some serious crap in the past and Jolie's career's been on a seemingly never-ending slide since her Oscar, so I'm not holding my breath.

But hey, original music by Philip Glass (!?!?!)

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Nothing exactly matching it's style, but "Spartan," believe it or not, could take a little chunk though this is the clear frontrunner of the two. Without some serious word of mouth, though, nothing's gonna save this from being yet another mark against Jolie's ability to open a film. $32mil.


ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Wouldn't you love to erase the memories of that horrible love affair from your head? Well, now you can! Of course, this being a movie and all, there have to be some horrible side effects. Stupid narrative convention.

WILL IT SUCK?
Charlie Kaufman is the Philip K. Dick of screenwriters. He loves to fuck with your head by telling stories about people fucking with your head. In this case, it's all about the memories, or lack thereof, that can be moved, shuffled or destroyed. An intriguing premise. And with Michael Gondry at the helm, it could actually suck. (Gondry was responsible for Kaufman's least successful outing "Human Nature"). However, even that got some relatively good reviews. It's hard to go wrong with Kaufman.

Attached to a good script, it's hard to go wrong with lead Jim Carrey. The supporting cast, with Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson, Mark "Please Remember I Was In 'You Can Count On Me' Before 'In the Cut'" Ruffalo, and, God love him, David Cross tends to make the most of good writing as well.

Early buzz is mostly good.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
In the indie world it'll be the 400lb gorilla. Independent films just don't get casts like this. On top of that, you've got the Charlie Kaufman Fan Club to contend with. This'll be one of the bigger indie openings of the season. After that, it's on to wide release nirvana, where it'll be kept in the lower five by movies like "Scooby Doo 2". But it'll do better than "Dogville". $29mil.


INTERMISSION

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Another one of those many-people's-lives-intertwine-and-hilarity-ensues type thangs. This one's in Dublin.

WILL IT SUCK?
Hardly. The reviews so far are solid. With a strong cast (Colin Farrell, Cillian "28 Days Later" Murphy, and Shirley "Lauded but I haven't seen her in anything yet that stood out" Henderson) and, well, a totally newcomer writer and director, I guess the odds are even but the advance buzz and sweet trailer give me hope. Damn near swept the Irish Oscars.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
In limited release against anything but "Eternal Sunshine" it might do well. As it is, it'll have to struggle a bit. Colin Farrell vs. Jim Carrey isn't really a fair fight, even if Colin ended up starring in "Phone Booth" instead. On the other hand, Dreamworks ("Intermission's" co-distributor w/ IFC) vs. Focus (representing "Eternal") isn't much of a fight, either. Still, don't expect any miracles. $2mil.


MARCH 26


SCOOBY DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
I think the title pretty much spells it out.

WILL IT SUCK?
I think the title pretty much spells it out.

This is the filmography of "Scooby Doo 2" director Raja Gosnell:

Home Alone 3
Never Been Kissed
Big Momma's House
Scooby Doo

Which brings us, pretty inevitably I think, here.

I have to give them some sort of props, though, for keeping the same director. And screenwriter for that matter, (James Gunn, with a co-producer credit this time, go him) whom we've discussed earlier. All that means, though, is that we can expect about the same quality as "Scooby Doo."

And though it's nice that they're throwing Seth Green and Tim Blake Nelson into the mix, that's still not enough to make me go.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Still, with the promise of having The 10,000 Volt Ghost, The Creeper and Captain Cutler in the mix, what true fan (not already pissed off by the first movie) could resist? The kiddies will all come flooding back, too, though not on as many weekdays as they did for the first one, which was a June release. And, yes, "Scooby Doo 3" is already in the works. $154mil.


THE LADYKILLERS

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Tom Hanks plays a kindly old Colonel Sanders type who's hiding a dreadful secret. He's actually a two time Oscar winner! Actually the secret is that he's planning a heist but his old lady landlord starts to interfere. Mostly by slapping the shit out of Marlon Wayans, if you believe the trailer.

WILL IT SUCK?
I'd say so, except for the fact that it's a Coen Bros. movie. I said the same thing about "Intolerable Cruelty" and was pleasantly rewarded with it not sucking. As with Kevin Smith I have almost unflappable faith in their ability to deliver, no matter how shaky the concept. And here, they're sole screenwriters, which was not the case with "Cruelty," although in this case it's a remake, which are notoriously unstable creatures.

Still Tom Hanks usually chooses his roles quite warily and JK Simmons (making his second appearance this month, he's also in "Hidalgo") is always fun to watch.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
If they couldn't make it happen with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones on board, well, they just might with Tom Hanks who could buy and sell those two seven or eight times over. Up against "Scooby Doo" is tough. But the combo of Coen and Hanks fandom should still be potent. $105mil. (Easily the biggest Coen bros. movie ever).


NEVER DIE ALONE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
"Citizen DMX". Reporter David Arquette pieces together the rise and fall of a drug lord, told in flashback. Based on the Donald Goines novel, who like all great writers, did his best shit in prison.

WILL IT SUCK?
Depends who you ask. Variety seemed to like it but Hollywood Reporter trashed it (and apparently there were some walkouts when it screened at Sundance). It doesn't help that director Dickerson's track record isn't so hot ("Bones," "Demon Knight"). And, well, it is David Arquette. And as rappers-turned-actors go, DMX is no LL Cool J.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
DMX has a following, but he does better when paired with Jet Li or, God forbid, Steven Seagal. It doesn't have much competition, though Marlon in "Ladykillers" might draw the "urban" crowd some. The bigger problem is that DMX just isn't that big a movie star yet. $30mil.

SHAOLIN SOCCER

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Down and out ex-soccer player and his five brothers get trained by a shaolin student to kick ass (while playing soccer).

WILL IT SUCK?
OK. This has gotta be, like, the third time I've printed this preview. Miramax: Stop. Moving. The Frickin'. Release Date. Please. This has been around for years getting good buzz while being held back by Miramax (who picked it up at Cannes in 2001!). It's even had time to sweep the Hong Kong film awards. There was some controversy as to whether or not Miramax would dub it or release it in the original Cantonese. It looks like they've agreed to go with subtitles, which is a relief. The trailer looks cheesy, but fun. Here's hoping Miramax didn't gut it.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
It'll have some issues going up against "Ned Kelly," and the two heavy indie hitters from the previous week ("Sunshine" and "Intermission") won't have waned much. Still, this has a core following of kung fu fans who've waited years to see it and won't have much else to look at 'til "Kill Bill 2" comes out a full three weeks later. $5mil.


NED KELLY

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Back when Australia was the equivalent of the Wild Wild West, the Kelly gang, led by you know who became notorious outlaws, the most wanted men down under. But they were doing it for the people, man. So, yeah, this is basically Australian Braveheart.

WILL IT SUCK?
I'm sure the fimmakers were smart enough to address this, but watching Heath Ledger as Kelly wax poetic about it being "their land" is a little hard to swallow what with the original landowners and all being virtually wiped out in order for "the people" to settle there in the first place. Like I said, it resembles the West.

Actually, they may address that. Director Gregor Jordan's pretty hip ("Buffalo Soldiers"). It's also blessed with a pretty decent cast. There's the aforementioned Ledger, plus Orlando Bloom, Naomi Watts, and Geoffrey Rush, who leads a band of deputees who turn into skeletons at night. Okay, maybe not. But it's almost as if they were waiting for all the Australians to get hot before releasing the film. On the other hand, since Australians keep popping up as American heroes in our historical epics (well, at least they did in "The Patriot") why shouldn't we return the favor? James Van Der Beek as Kelly. Amanda Bynes as Naomi Watts. Randall "Tex" Cobb as Geoffrey Rush. Okay, maybe that's why.

It was nominated for a bunch of AFI awards. (That's "Australian Film Institute," not "American Film Institute". Yeah, they gotta do something about that.) The Australian critic's circles seemed to like it as well, nominating it for a bunch of their year-end awards.

The early buzz is very good, although one reviewer called it "impossibly masturbatory". That doesn't reflect the general reception, but I couldn't not print that.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
This could actually take on the second frame of "Sunshine" and "Intermission," or as I'm going to start calling them "Crusher" and "Lowblow". The cast is hot and could give even wide releases like "Never Die Alone" a run for their money. "Dogville" and "The United States of Leland" will present a challenge the following week, but, in indieland anyway, this will come out on top when it opens. $6mil.


MAYOR OF THE SUNSET STRIP

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Doc about Rodney Bingenheimer, a popular former KROQ DJ/impresario who knows everybody. And I mean ev-er-ee-bo-dee.

WILL IT SUCK?
It's directed by George "Hearts of Darkness" Hickenlooper, so probably not. Also, the subject is fascinating. Here's a guy who hung out with everybody from the Beatles and Elvis to Warhol and Manson (Charles and probably Marilyn as well). And what other film will feature appearances by Kato Kaelin AND David Bowie? Hickenlooper examines Bingenheimer's life in the context of what it means to have your existence defined by pop culture. Not surprisingly, I eat stuff like that up with a spoon.

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
Just about any doc will suffer in this indie-glutted weekend. Hickenlooper will give this just a little bit of a boost, though. $250,000.


A FOREIGN AFFAIR

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
Two brothers lose their ma and decide, as any reasonable people would, to replace her by going on a Russian romance tour to find a wife to do the chores ma used to do. Creeped out yet? It gets better. David Arquette is one of the brothers. Flee from "Never Die Alone" in the multiplexes and David's waiting there for you in the art house. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!!

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is actually pretty good. Having Tim Blake Nelson on board as the "sane" brother doesn't hurt (he re-teams here with Arquette, whom he directed in "The Grey Zone".) But of course, the best thing about this film is the presence of Allyce Beasley. That's right. Miss DiPesto's up in here!

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
I think me and about five other people are going to be genuinely curious about the return of Allyce Beasley. And even that won't get me to actually see the film. David Arquette's fan base, on the other hand…lemme tell ya…they're still waiting for "Ready to Rumble 2". This is an unusually glutted indie weekend, and whatever scraps "Shaolin Soccer" and "Ned Kelly" leave for the rest will be gobbled up by Crusher and Lowblow's second frame. $400,000.


BON VOYAGE

WHAT'S THE PITCH?
This movie, if you look at the trailer, just keeps piling on the plot. The upshot is that you have a noirish comedy/thriller revolving around several people whose lives intersect in dangerous yet humorous ways as the Nazis prepare to storm Paris.

WILL IT SUCK?
Early buzz is mixed. Got plenty of Cesar (French Oscar) noms but didn't win any (making it as good as, say, "The Color Purple"). Pretty strong cast including Isabelle Adjani, Gerard Depardieu (who's legally obligated to be in any French film released in the US), Yvan Attal (of "My Wife Is an Actress" fame) and Peter Coyote (!?!?)

HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
You know what other genre gets hurt in an indie crunch besides docs? Foregin films. On the other hand, Sony Pictures Classics doesn't fuck around with their imports. $2mil.

Next month we see if it was worth waiting an extra two months to see Uma Kill Bill.

 

- Dave Thomas
http://travelindave.blogspot.com




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