Summer Movie Guide - June
By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 14, 2004; Page H02
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
Who's Who: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman star. Alfonso Cuaron directs. Steven Kloves writes.
What's What: Convicted murderer Sirius Black (Oldman) is out of the slammer and looking for Harry in what may be the darkest addition to the Potter saga so far. That's probably thanks to Harry's puberty, not to mention Cuaron of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" fame. (June 4)
THE TWILIGHT SAMURAI
Who's Who: Yoji Yamada directs and writes (with Yoshitaka Asama).
What's What: Based on novels by Shuuhei Fujisawa, Yamada's Oscar nominee for best foreign language film concerns the rising and falling fortunes of a Japanese samurai ("The Last Samurai's" Hiroyuki Sanada). (June 4)
Who's Who: Hector Babenco directs and writes (with Fernando Bonassi and Victor Navas).
What's What: Babenco ("Kiss of the Spider Woman") returns to a prison setting to dramatize the events leading up to a notorious real-life uprising in a Brazilian penitentiary. (June 4)
IN MY SKIN
Who's Who: Marina de Van writes, directs and stars.
What's What: A disturbed Frenchwoman (de Van) becomes obsessed with self-mutilation. (June 4)
Who's Who: Robert Schwentke directs and writes.
What's What: A German weirdo collects human tattoos, and -- shades of "The Silence of the Lambs" -- he doesn't wait for his donors to be done with them. (June 4)
KIRIKOU AND THE SORCERESS
Who's Who: Michel Ocelot directs and writes.
What's What: Based on Senegalese folk tales, this 1998 animated film by French-born, Guinea-raised Ocelot follows an African boy's adventures as he tries to end the curse on his village. (June 4)
THE STEPFORD WIVES
Who's Who: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill, Jon Lovitz and Glenn Close star. Frank Oz directs. Paul Rudnick writes.
What's What: Despite being billed as a comedy -- okay, comedy-thriller -- and despite the presence of Lovitz, acerbic screenwriter Rudnick's contemporary updating of the 1975 women's-lib-themed film, based on Ira Levin's book about a town of preternaturally compliant wives, could elicit fewer gut-busting laughs than dark, knowing chuckles. One reason: Walken, who brings a creepiness to his comedy -- even when he guest-spots on "Saturday Night Live." (June 11)
THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
Who's Who: Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton, Karl Urban, Colm Feore and Judi Dench star.
What's What: Playing an alien "air elemental," Judi Dench (that's Dame Judi Dench to you) may or may not be on the side of antihero Diesel, reprising his "Pitch Black" role as Richard B. Riddick, a fugitive captured by an evil overlord (Feore) bent on achieving galactic domination through an army of necromongers. I promise you one thing: Unless they make "Pitch Black 3," you will never read the words "Judi Dench" and "necromongers" in the same sentence again. (June 11)
GARFIELD: THE MOVIE
Who's Who: Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt star, with Bill Murray supplying the voice of the computer-generated title character.
What's What: Garfield (Murray) investigates a dognapping in this part CGI, part live-action adventure, based on the popular comic strip about an orange tabby cat. (June 11)
Who's Who: Mario Van Peebles, Nia Long, David Alan Grier, Rainn Wilson, Ossie Davis and Adam West star. Mario Van Peebles directs and writes (with Dennis Haggerty).
What's What: Inspired by Melvin Van Peebles's book about the making of his critically polarizing but historically significant 1971 film, "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," son Mario Van Peebles, playing his father, tries to get inside the notorious filmmaker's head, but ends up going not too much deeper than his character's period-perfect mini-'fro. (June 11)
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Who's Who: Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cecile De France and Jim Broadbent star.
What's What: Accompanied by trusty sidekicks Chan and De France, Coogan's inventor Phileas Fogg races around the world by balloon and other means in this Disney take on the Jules Verne adventure novel. Sure-to-be tongue-in-cheeky cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates, Luke and Owen Wilson and Rob Schneider promise a welcome lack of sobriety to approaching a classic. (June 16)
Who's Who: Jared Hess directs.
What's What: Newcomer Jon Heder, a fine arts major at Brigham Young University, turns in a starmaking performance as the title character, a sweet but painfully awkward Idaho high school student whose uber-geek behavior gets put to quietly heroic use in this hilarious comedy from first-time director Hess, who co-wrote the deadpan script with wife Jerusha. (June 18)
DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY
Who's Who: Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn star.
What's What: Gym owner Vaughn enters a team of misfits in a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament to raise money to save his failing business. Grown-ups playing dodgeball? Now that's funny. Or maybe it's just the sight of Ben Stiller, as Vaughn's business and dodgeball rival, in that ridiculous blond wig and porn-star mustache. (June 18)
Who's Who: Jehane Noujaim directs.
What's What: Arab American filmmaker Noujaim's documentary is already controversial for what some have called its overly sympathetic (and others merely balanced) portrait of Qatar's al-Jazeera news operation. (June 18)
THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL
Who's Who: Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni write and direct.
What's What: Set in the Gobi Desert and utilizing real herders as actors, the blending of fiction with documentary tells the story of a mother camel who rejects her newborn calf after a difficult delivery. (June 18)
Who's Who: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diego Luna and Stanley Tucci star. Steven Spielberg directs.
What's What: Inspired by a true story, Spielberg's latest features Hanks as an immigrant who becomes permanently stranded in a New York airport when upheaval in his homeland (the fictional Balkan state of Krakozhia) invalidates his passport. Flight attendant Zeta-Jones brings sex appeal as his love interest, but can Hanks, who almost got lost beneath the prosthetic teeth, swampy southern drawl and Col. Sanders suit of his character in "The Ladykillers," rise above doing a Balki Bartokomous or Latka Gravas caricature? (June 18)
Who's Who: Lucas Belvaux directs.
What's What: Belvaux's three full-length films, each made in a different genre and featuring parallel but separate story lines and recurring characters, include the thriller "On the Run" (June 11), the romantic comedy "An Amazing Couple" (June 18) and the melodrama "After the Life" (June 18).
Who's Who: Marlon Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Jaime King star. Keenen Ivory Wayans directs and writes (with brothers Shawn and Marlon).
What's What: If the popularity of the "Scary Movie" juggernaut is any indication, "White Chicks" -- which features Shawn and Marlon Wayans playing black FBI agents going undercover as white women -- should pack 'em in, not to mention pack in a record number of dumb-blonde jokes. (June 23)
Who's Who: Michael Moore directs.
What's What: The award-winning and controversial filmmaker focuses on George W. Bush and his administration in this much-discussed documentary, which won the Palme D'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. (June 25)
Who's Who: Guy Pearce stars. Jean-Jacques Annaud directs and writes (with Alain Godard).
What's What: Filmmaker Annaud ("Enemy at the Gates") returns to the family-friendly flavor of his 1988 "The Bear" with a tale of twin tiger cubs -- one a cuddler, the other a fighter -- who are forced by a man (Pearce) to fight each other as adults. (June 25)
Who's Who: Anne Reid and Daniel Craig star.
What's What: A grandmother (Reid) has an affair with a man (Craig) who is sleeping with her daughter. (June 25)
Who's Who: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams and Gena Rowlands star. Rowland's son, Nick Cassavetes, directs.
What's What: Told in flashback, Cassavetes's unspooling of Nicholas Sparks's 1996 book reveals a story of undying love. (June 25)
MY SISTER MARIA
Who's Who: Maximilian Schell directs and writes (with Gero von Boehm).
What's What: Austrian actor Schell takes an affectionate documentary look at the life and career of his sister, actress Maria Schell. (June 25)
THE HUNTING OF THE PRESIDENT: THE TEN-YEAR CAMPAIGN TO DESTROY BILL CLINTON
Who's Who: Harry Thomason and Nickolas Perry direct.
What's What: Forget subtlety. If the title of this documentary, based on the best-selling book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, doesn't make its political sympathies clear enough, remember that co-director and Arkansas native Thomason is as well known for being a rabid F.O.B. (Friend of Bill) as he is for his work as a producer and director of such sitcom fare as "Designing Women." (June 25)
Who's Who: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina and James Franco star. Sam Raimi directs.
What's What: Peter Parker (Maguire) has his web-shooting hands full in this big-deal sequel to the slick, hands-down winner of 2002's summer action-movie sweepstakes. What with college coursework, a photography job, unrequited love for the girl next door (Dunst), a best friend (Franco) out to avenge his father's death from the first movie and a new super-villain, maybe Spidey can seek schedule-juggling advice from the multi-tentacled baddie Doc Ock (Molina). Then again, maybe a PDA is a better idea. (June 30)
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