Hmm, this must be a first. A good portion of the spring's prestige movies are based on . . . Sean Connery's tattoo.
Absurd, but true. Connery, it is famously known, wears a faded blue stencil on a forearm that reads "Scotland Forever," meaning forever until the taxes got too high, which is why he now resides in Marbella, Spain.
But as it turns out, two of the biggest pictures of the spring appear to be illustrated versions of "Scotland Forever" -- one the old swashbuckler "Rob Roy," remade with Liam Neeson, and the other set in a slightly more medieval time frame, Mel Gibson's "Braveheart," about the coming of the English to Scotland in the first place.
When it comes to spring films, though, other possibilities are not so intriguing. "Die Hard With a Vengeance" sounds just like "Die Hards" one and two with a vengeance; "Crimson Tide" may be the last Armageddon picture, set on a nuclear sub; "Outbreak" gives us Dustin Hoffman in an Army uniform and some nasty, diseased monkeys.
Here's a look at the films on the way over the next three months, up until the formal beginning of the summer season on Memorial Day, with the usual blah-blah to the effect that as distributors jockey for position, some films may come, and some may go (that is, straight to video). Friday, the big news is the Dustin Hoffman picture "Outbreak," about an Army medical team combating a new virus that's contaminated a research installation. Wolfgang Petersen, the very good German director of "Das Boot" and "In the Line of Fire," helms the project, and
Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo are along for the ride.
David Frankel's "Miami Rhapsody" also opens that day, a full four weeks after opening in other markets. It's a romantic comedy, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Antonio Banderas, about a bride-to-be offended by the adultery she sees all around her. Finally, there's "Strawberry and Chocolate," a gay-themed film
set in Cuba.
March 17, the two studio pictures are "Losing Isaiah" from Paramount and "Bye Bye, Love" from Twentieth Century Fox. In the former, lawyer Jessica Lange helps welfare mom Halle Berry fight for custody of her child, and in the latter, a bunch of divorced dads, led by Paul Reiser and including Randy Quaid and Matthew Modine, struggle to cope with single parenthood. The horror entry is the sequel "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh," and I have no idea what that subtitle means.
Then there's "Federal Hill," set in Providence, R.I., with Nick Turturro of "NYPD Blue," about young Italian-Americans coming of age, and I don't want to go too far out on a limb, but I'd bet someone has seen "Mean Streets." Finally, "Muriel's Wedding" holds forth at the Senator; it's an Aussie comedy-drama about a dullish young woman much put upon by family and friends who decides to reinvent herself in the big city.
March 24, brings us Damon Wayans as "Major Payne," a gung-ho Marine officer riffed down to a wimpy boys' school. Then, from Disney, there's "Tall Tale," starring Scott Glenn as the bad guy, Oliver Platt as Paul Bunyan and Patrick Swayze as Pecos Bill. Nick Stahl is the kid. "Dolores Claiborne" appears to be a clone of "Misery," with Kathy Bates reappearing as a homicidal captor of a snooty yuppie, played not by James Caan but by Jennifer Jason Leigh. It's also adapted from a Stephen King book and also released by Castle Rock. The art film that week is "Queen Margot," with Isabelle Adjani, which re-creates the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre.
March 31, March goes out like a lion when a restored version of Sam Peckinpah's epically violent 1969 western, "The Wild Bunch," arrives; check your guns at the door, please. It's a weekend for wild: Also opening is "Born To Be Wild," but it doesn't have any guns in it at all, being a children's picture about a boy and his gorilla from Warner Bros. Then there's "Tank Girl," from the punk-futuristic British comic strip, with Lori Petty, directed by Baltimore's Rachel Talalay. And finally, "Tommy Boy," out of the "SNL" film factory; Lorne Michaels produces as Chris Farley plays a not terribly bright guy who has to fight to save his father's auto parts company from an evil stepmother played by Bo Derek. His ally: David Spade. His enemy: Rob Lowe.