Serious films sweep into theaters

Movies: From Woody Allen to Woody the toy cowboy, the season promises big releases, big directors and big stars

Season Preview

September 09, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Staff

Now, it's time for the heavyweights.

Oh sure, 1999 already has seen the return of a galaxy far, far away in "The Phantom Menace," Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman naked in "Eyes Wide Shut," some unlucky film students in "The Blair Witch Project" and films starring everyone from Michelle Pfeiffer to Bruce Willis.

But now things get serious. Over the next four months, all manner of Hollywood royalty will be featured on screen, including Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Sean Penn and Winona Ryder. We've got new films from Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, John Frankenheimer, Oliver Stone and Milos Forman. We've got the sequel to "Toy Story" and the return of filmdom's favorite duo, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. We've even got more Pfeiffer and Willis, this time in the same movie.

And if you'll excuse the parochial pride, we've got "Liberty Heights," the new film from native son Barry Levinson, shot in Baltimore.

Herewith, the lineup of films scheduled to open here through the end of the year. With, of course, the usual caveat: Opening dates are subject to change (and you can bet more than a few will do just that).

September

"Love Stinks": In this "un-romantic" comedy, French Stewart (TV's "3rd Rock From the Sun") struggles to get rid of the girl. Tyra Banks, Bridgette Wilson and Bill Bellamy also star. Sept. 10

"My Life So Far": Director Hugh Hudson ("Chariots of Fire") takes us to the Scottish Highlands for this tale of a 10-year-old boy, his eccentric inventor father (Colin Firth) and his loving mother (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Sept. 10

"Stigmata": Patricia Arquette is a young hairdresser who begins displaying the wounds of Christ, and whose plight attracts the attention of the Vatican, which sends a priest (Gabriel Byrne) to ascertain whether the girl's sufferings are for real. Sept. 10

"Stir of Echoes": The thriller stars Kevin Bacon as Tom Witzky, a blue-collar Chicagoan whose life turns ominous after a post-hypnotic suggestion releases a subconscious power he never knew he had. Kathryn Erbe, Illeana Douglas and Kevin Dunn co-star. Sept. 10

"Blue Streak": Martin Lawrence is a jewel thief who, fresh out of jail, wants to get back the $20 million diamond he hid at what was then a construction site but is now a police precinct. His solution: Pretend to be a detective. Sept. 17

"For Love of the Game": Major League pitcher Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is having a rough time. Not only has he been traded from his beloved Detroit Tigers, but also the love of his life (Kelly Preston) is leaving him. Costner + baseball -- How can it lose? Sept. 17

"My Son the Fanatic": A Pakistani family living in northern England struggles with balancing their competing cultures. Stars Om Puri, Rachel Griffiths ("Hilary and Jackie") and Stellan Skarsgard. Sept. 17

"Trick": Two men struggle to consummate their passion in this comedy from director Jim Fall. Christian Campbell, John Paul Pitoc and Tori Spelling star. Sept. 17

"Dog Park": A romantic comedy about young people struggling to master the dating game. Stars Natasha Henstridge, Luke Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Mike McKinney and Bruce McCulloch of "Kids in the Hall," who tripled as writer-director. Sept. 24

"Double Jeopardy": Wrongly jailed for murdering her husband, a woman wins her parole, then finds out he's not so dead after all. Since she's already done the time, she reasons, why not do the crime? Ashley Judd stars, with Tommy Lee Jones as the parole officer who tries to stop her. Sept. 24

"Jakob the Liar": Robin Williams stars in another one of those laughter-amid-the-tears films he so loves. This one's about a Jewish cafe owner in Nazi-occupied Poland who lifts the spirits of his neighbors by making up news bulletins about Allied successes against Germany. Sept. 24

"Mumford": Writer-director Lawrence Kasdan cast the relatively unknown Loren Dean in the lead, as a psychiatrist who rolls into town and cures everyone of their neuroses. Includes Alfre Woodard, Hope Davis, Mary McDonnell, Ted Danson and Robert Stack. Sept. 24

"Simon Sez": This is what happens when you get bored with life in the NBA. Dennis Rodman stars as a way-cool Interpol agent out to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a wealthy American executive. Sept. 24

Also in September

"Black Cat, White Cat": Slapstick comedy and European folklore combine as a pair of Gypsy families living by the Danube River find their lives inextricably and surprisingly linked. From Bosnian-born writer-director Emir Kusturica.

"Caligula": The 1979 movie that Penthouse magazine insists is about the greatest film ever made stars Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and lots of naked women. This ode to Roman decadence has been digitally remastered, with an enhanced Dolby soundtrack.

"The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human": A mockumentary look at the bizarre mating practices of 20th-century humans. Mackenzie Astin, Carmen Electra and David Hyde Pierce star.

October

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