A force of their Own

We all know what big movie arrives this week. But there are other potential stars in our galaxy -- Movies about love and 'Limbo," time travel and 'Tarzan.'


Let's try to ignore the 400-pound gorilla for a moment.

You know the one I mean. The one breathing down our necks from a galaxy far, far away. The one whose name I've vowed not to write until I absolutely have to (in tomorrow's paper).

Forget the beast. Do something to tick off his marketing team and enjoy the real treats of the summer, like "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" or "The Blair Witch Project," an ultra-spooky horror flick that was filmed in Maryland and sent Sundance into a terrified tizzy when it premiered there in January.

The following summer movie preview promises long-awaited movies from some always-fascinating directors: John Sayles, Mike Figgis, David Mamet and Eric Rohmer. And who isn't curious about "Eyes Wide Shut," the late Stanley Kubrick's sexual thriller that was years in the making?

Then there's always the delicious prospect of the summer sleeper, a hype-free film that manages to attract a crowd on its merits, of all things. No one can say what the sleeper will be but, rest assured, when it makes its splash, it will mark the return of sense and perspective. Maybe it will even make a 400-pound gorilla look puny.

(The following dates are tentative and subject to change.)


"The Love Letter": An anonymous love letter unleashes long-kept secrets in a sleepy New England town. Kate Capshaw plays the woman whose search involves her in an unexpected triangle. With Blythe Danner, Ellen DeGeneres and Tom Selleck.

"Three Seasons": The debut by Tony Bui tells the story of contemporary Vietnam through the points of view of a flower-seller, an American war veteran searching for his daughter, a Saigon street urchin whose livelihood is threatened and a bicycle taxi driver.

"Trekkies": Roger Nygard's documentary about those rabid "Star Trek" fans known as Trekkies. A portrait of obsession at its most inter-galactic.

"The Castle": Comedy about an Australian tow-truck driver whose house sits atop a toxic waste dump and who battles the government to save it.

May 28

"Notting Hill": Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant star. An unlikely romance blossoms between the owner of a small travel book store and a glamorous movie star.

"The Thirteenth Floor": Craig Bierko and Armin Mueller-Stahl are two virtual reality inventors. Their experiment in creating a simulacrum of 1937 Los Angeles results in a murder and a journey into the world of cyberspace. With Gretchen Mol.

"The Dreamlife of Angels": Chronicles the friendship between two young women pursuing solitary existences in France, one cheerfully optimistic about life, the other shy and hypersensitive. By Erick Zonca.

June 4

"Instinct": Anthony Hopkins is a primatologist who has been imprisoned for murders that occurred in the jungles of Rwanda and whose mysterious inner life is plumbed by a psychiatrist (Cuba Gooding Jr.).

"The Winslow Boy": Nigel Hawthorne is the patriarch of the Winslows, who in the England of 1912 undergo a court case that will affect the entire family. With Rebecca Pigeon and Jeremy Northam, directed by David Mamet.

June 11

"Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me": Brings back the world's funniest anachronism. Mike Meyers teams up with Heather Graham in another caper gone awry.

"Get Real": Follows the fortunes of a group of high school students facing adolescence and their looming futures, especially Steven, whose comfort with his homosexuality isn't shared by his new boyfriend.

June 18

"Tarzan": Disney's animated version of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs tale. A human baby is orphaned in the African jungle and raised by a family of apes. Featuring the voices of Tony Goldwyn, Glenn Close, Rosie O'Donnell and Minnie Driver, with songs by Phil Collins.

"Lovers of the Arctic Circle": By Spanish director Julio Medem. Explores the themes of chance and destiny in a complicated tale filled with multiple story lines that intersect and fuse.

"The General's Daughter": John Travolta stars as a military investigator whose investigation of a murder leads him to buried secrets in the U.S. military.

"This is My Father": A middle-aged teacher travels to Ireland with his teen-age nephew in order to discover the identity of his father and the family he never knew.

June 25

"Big Daddy": Slacker Adam Sandler tries to grow up by adopting a 5-year-old when his girlfriend dumps him for an older man.

"Limbo": David Strathairn stars as a traumatized fisherman living on a remote Alaska island, whose life is changed by the arrival of a singer (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and her disaffected daughter. When his brother shows up, an explosive event alters their lives forever. By John Sayles.

"An Ideal Husband": Rupert Everett is the devoted womanizer called by a friend (Jeremy Northam) whose marriage to a beautiful woman (Cate Blanchett) is threatened by a scheming interloper (Julianne Moore). Based on Oscar Wilde's play.

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