By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 9, 2005
We weathered a summer in which, it seemed, the only offerings were misbegotten spins on long-ago TV shows. (If you have already forgotten "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Bewitched," God bless your mental self-preservation.) But what's so pleasantly surprising about this holiday season's offerings is the higher quality of their source material. At least the books, plays, former movies and historic events they're adapting or dramatizing make excellent starting points.
Consider one of the season's potentially biggest spectacles, "King Kong." Sure, there was that less-than-satisfying 1976 Dino De Laurentiis-produced spectacle (starring Jessica Lange). But Peter Jackson's new film is based on the classic, marvelous 1933 "King Kong," directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the one that starred Fay Wray. And judging by Jackson's track record -- you recall a certain trilogy involving hobbits, towering castles and walking, talking trees -- we can only be optimistic.
Then there are the books we'll be revisiting. First up: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," opening this weekend, based on C.S. Lewis's venerable "Narnia" series, which has charmed generations of children. Should this movie, a Christian allegory, have the slightest success, and most observers are expecting more than that, there should be more dips into the Lewis vault. Perhaps we'll be seeing film versions of "The Magician's Nephew," "The Horse and His Boy" and other Lewis novels.
Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha," starring Chinese actresses Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh as Japanese geishas (discuss), is based on Arthur Golden's best-selling novel. Having seen this, we can tell you that Marshall, who made the inspired "Chicago," has created an atmospherically sumptuous movie of billowing veils, beautiful costumes and floating cherry blossoms. Whatever you think of the story, you'll have no end of visual stimulation, especially with kimono-swishers Ziyi and Li.
"Hoodwinked," a computer-animated comedy featuring the voices of Glenn Close, Anne Hathaway, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton and Anthony Anderson, comes straight from a classic, namely "Little Red Riding Hood." It has been reconceived as a comic detective story that starts with a domestic disturbance at Granny's cottage. If DreamWorks can make nursery rhyme characters hilarious in "Shrek," Weinstein Co. heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein figure so can they.
Remember Charles Webb's novel "The Graduate" or its 1967 movie version starring Anne Bancroft as the seductive Mrs. Robinson? Both sources are the collective, central motif in "Rumor Has It . . .," which stars Jennifer Aniston as a woman who learns a delicious family secret. Apparently, her grandmother may have been the inspiration for Mrs. R., and a certain Beau (Kevin Costner) is the former young man who succumbed to her enticements. If you can't foresee what's going to happen, don't expect your agent to return your calls anymore.
History is the source of two intriguing films this holiday season. Steven Spielberg revisited a dark period in 20th-century history with 1993's "Schindler's List," a movie (adapted from Thomas Keneally's book) that retold the life of industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved hundreds of Jews from death camps during World War II. Spielberg goes to the dark side again with "Munich," about the aftermath of the infamous Black September tragedy, when Palestinian gunmen kidnapped and killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Games. Spielberg's film is about the Mossad squad that decided to take revenge on the assassins.
In another, equally compelling project, director Terrence Malick fuses American history with lore in "The New World." The movie tells the story of Jamestown settler John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas, set against a larger canvas: European conquest of an untamed America. Easy prediction: It's going to look great. Malick's films, such as "Days of Heaven" and "The Thin Red Line," are always an ocular feast.
On a lighter note, we're banking on some amusement from "Fun With Dick and Jane," which reprises the lightly funny 1977 film that starred George Segal and Jane Fonda. If the latest film smells of summer holdover, well, hey, two words: Jim Carrey. That Houdini bendy-toy of a comedian seems to work his way out of any bad movie and still make you laugh. And if "Rent" didn't do it for you as a satisfying Broadway-to-movie transition, there's the upcoming "The Producers." This film about two shysters (Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick) who think they'll make easy money off their investors with a stage bomb is the screen version of the stage musical of the movie. Got that? Given that Mel Brooks's original 1968 film, the one with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, was funny, well, a moviegoer can always hope .
The best bet for this holiday, thus far? Hands down, it's "Brokeback Mountain," which we've had the pleasure of seeing. It's based on a good literary source, too: E. Annie Proulx's short story of the same name. The movie, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, is about two male ranchers in the 1960s who fall in love one winter, only to spend the rest of their lives mainly apart from each other but never forgetting their bond. You can put "Brokeback" right at the top of your holiday list. The Oscar folks certainly will.
Now take a look at the movies in our preview guide and see what grabs your fancy.DEC. 14
Opening dates may change.KING KONG
Who's Who: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Thomas Kretschmann, Jamie Bell, Colin Hanks and Kyle Chandler star. Peter Jackson directs and co-wrote with Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens -- the creative team behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
What's What: Filmmaker Carl Denham (Black) arrives on a remote island to shoot a movie featuring actress Ann Darrow (Watts) and a giant ape reportedly at large on the island. He discovers not just a gorilla but a land full of dinosaurs. His filmmaking plans go awry when natives capture Ann, intending to sacrifice her to Kong, the gorilla. The ape, who becomes infatuated with Ann, saves the actress, only to be captured himself and shipped to New York City. Breaking free, he begins a skyscraper-scrambling quest to find her. The movie is based on the classic 1933 "King Kong," starring Fay Wray, which featured the legendary Empire State Building finale.DEC. 16
Who's Who: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway and Randy Quaid star. Ang Lee, the Taiwanese filmmaker who made "Sense and Sensibility," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Hulk," directs. Larry ("The Last Picture Show") McMurtry co-wrote with Diana Ossana.
What's What: Two cowboys, Ennis (Ledger) and Jack (Gyllenhaal) meet in the early 1960s when they're hired to watch sheep on Wyoming's Brokeback Mountain. Unfulfilled longings and driving loneliness lead to a passionate affair between the men. Although they go their separate ways, get married and have children, the romance remains the strongest force in their lives. The movie is based on an E. Annie Proulx short story.THE FAMILY STONE
Who's Who: Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker and Luke Wilson star. Thomas ("Big Eden") Bezucha directs.
What's What: When Everett Stone (Mulroney) invites his uptight New Yorker girlfriend, Meredith (Parker), home to meet his folks at Christmas, she's horrified at the grilling she gets. The Stones, including slacker son Ben (Wilson) and daughter Amy (McAdams), seem very aggressive. Traumatized, Meredith invites her cute sister Julie (Danes) to join her at the Stones. This being a romantic comedy, you get no extra candy canes for guessing what complications ensue.GO FOR ZUCKER
Who's Who: Henry Huebchen, Hannelore Elsner, Udo Samel and Golda Tencer star. Dani Levy, who co-founded the German production company X-Filme (with fellow filmmakers Wolfgang Becker, Tom Tykwer and Stefan Arndt), directs and co-wrote.
What's What: A Berlin pool shark named Jaeckie Zucker (Huebchen) learns that he can inherit money from his mother's estate only if he makes up with his estranged brother, Samuel (Samel). The money would save him from jail time and divorce. The trouble is Jaeckie and his brother, an Orthodox Jew, are polar opposites. The first German-Jewish comedy (Its original title: "Alles auf Zucker!") since World War II, Levy's film was a box office hit in Germany and won German Film Awards for best film, director and actor.HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
Who's Who: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon and Brendan Gleeson star. Mike Newell, who made "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Donnie Brasco," directs.
What's What: Yes, "Harry Potter" opened last month, taking in more than $100 million in its opening weekend alone. But this date marks the opening of the film's Imax version at the National Air and Space Museum. The shows will be daily at 5:30. (There are two screenings Dec. 24, at 11 and 1:45, and none on Christmas day.) Patrons are expected to observe the decorum and manners befitting any pupil of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry while standing in line.THE KEEPER: THE LEGEND OF OMAR KHAYYAM
Who's Who: Moritz Bleibtreu, Adam Echahly, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruno Lastra, Andy Madadian, Marie Espinosa, Rade Serbedzija and Christopher Simpson star. Iranian filmmaker Kayvan Mashayekh co-wrote and directs.
What's What: When Kamran (Echahly), a 12-year-old Iranian boy, discovers an 11th-century ancestor is the great Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet Omar Khayyam, he resolves to keep his legacy alive. The movie -- through Kamran's imagination -- revisits the age-old story, which features Khayyam (Lastra), the scheming Hassan Sabbah (Simpson) and the powerful Sultan Malikshah (Bleibtreu).MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
Who's Who: Zhang Ziyi, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Kaori Momoi, Kenneth Tsang and Youki Kudoh star. Rob Marshall, who made "Chicago," directs. Robin ("Matilda") Swicord and Doug Wright co-wrote.
What's What: The story, based on Arthur Golden's 1997 bestseller of the same name, is about Sayuri (Ziyi), whose impoverished family sends her to a geisha house in Kyoto at age 9. After rigorous training from Mameha (Yeoh) and despite the efforts of a formidable rival (Li), Sayuri becomes a legendary geisha. But though she can stir many hearts with a glance, she is forever drawn to one man (Watanabe) who remains elusive.DEC. 21
Who's Who: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Piper Perabo, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Carmen Electra and Kevin Schmidt star. Adam ("The Wedding Planner") Shankman directs.
What's What: The Baker family is back, with patriarch Tom (Martin) and his wife, Kate (Hunt), taking their multiple children on a summer lake vacation. When a snooty family with eight kids moves into the expensive summer house next door, Tom's competitive streak surfaces.FUN WITH DICK AND JANE
Who's Who: Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni, Angie Harmon, Jeff Garlin and Jullian Dulce Vida star. Former TV director Dean Parisot is behind the camera.
What's What: When Dick Harper (Carrey) loses his job, it's disastrous for him and his wife (Leoni). Faced with the loss of their savings and pension, and foreclosure of their home, the Harpers resort to robbing banks. And suddenly the corporate America that rejected Dick becomes attracted to his newfound success.DEC. 23
Who's Who: William Hurt, Marc Donato and Pascale Bussieres star. Swiss filmmaker Lea Pool, who made "Emporte-Moi," directs.
What's What: When her 10-year-old son, Pete (Donato), is diagnosed with a terminal disease, single mother Teresa Carlton (Bussieres) is determined to honor his final wish -- to capture the mariposa azul , or blue butterfly, the world's most beautiful insect. Teresa eventually persuades socially skittish entomologist Alan Osborne (Hurt) to help them search for the blue in the South American rain forests. The movie is based on a true story.BREAKFAST ON PLUTO
Who's Who: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, Gavin Friday, Ruth McCabe, Ruth Negga and Mark Doherty star. Neil Jordan, whose work includes "Mona Lisa," "The Crying Game" and "Interview With the Vampire," wrote and directs.
What's What: An Irish foster child (Murphy) grows up to be a transvestite whose adventures include a relationship with a rock star terrorist (Friday), arrest and interrogation for being a suspected terrorist in London, and a growing friendship with the priest (Neeson) who secretly fathered him.HOODWINKED
Who's Who: Voices of Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Anne Hathaway, Anthony Anderson, David Ogden Stiers and Andy Dick. It's written and co-directed by Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards (who wrote and directed "Chillicothe") and Tony Leech.
What's What: The "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale turns into a police story in this computer-animated comedy as Detective Bill Stork (Anderson) investigates a domestic disturbance at the home of Granny (Close), which involved Red (Hathaway) and the Wolf (Warburton).MUNICH
Who's Who: Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush, Daniel Craig, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ciaran Hinds, Hanns Zischler and Marie-Josee Croze star. Steven Spielberg, whose vast body of work includes "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial" and "Schindler's List," directs. Tony ("Angels in America") Kushner wrote.
What's What: After the tragedy at the 1972 Munich Olympics, when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September, a case officer (Rush) of the Mossad squad -- the Israeli secret service -- enlists a team of operatives to take revenge on the killers. Bana plays the leader of this hit squad. The events in the movie are based in part on George Jonas's controversial 1984 book, "Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team," which reveals that then-President Golda Meir approved of the reprisals.THE RINGER
Who's Who: Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Brad Leland, Geoffrey Arend, Bill Chott, Jed Rees, John Taylor and Leonard Flowers star. It's directed by Barry W. Blaustein, who wrote and directed "Beyond the Mat" and scripted "The Nutty Professor."
What's What: Steve Barker (Knoxville), in desperate need of money for a friend's medical bills, agrees to take part in a sleazy scheme, posing as an athlete in the Special Olympics. The other competitors instantly see through Steve's act, but instead of busting him, they enlist and train him to compete against the boastful gold medal pentathlete Jimmy (Flowers). The cast includes many real-life Special Olympics athletes.TRANSAMERICA
Who's Who: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Fionnula Flanagan, Burt Young, Elizabeth Pea and Graham Greene star. Newcomer Duncan Tucker wrote and directs.
What's What: Huffman (of TV's "Desperate Housewives") plays Bree, a Los Angeles resident who's awaiting a sex change operation. But Bree's plans are postponed when she gets a call from Toby (Zegers), a New York street hustler who claims to be her son. Bree agrees to escort him from jail, posing as a Christian missionary.DEC. 25
Who's Who: Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin and Oliver Platt star. It's directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who also made "Chocolat" and "The Cider House Rules."
What's What: The elderly Casanova recounts the story of his greatest love, Francesca (Miller), the woman who taught him the true meaning of love and respect for the opposite sex. He falls for Francesca when he's hired to give guidance to her brother in the art of seducing women. In a nod to Shakespearean romantic comedy, characters frequently resort to deceptions, masks and disguises to get what they want. Irons, who plays Pucci, a villainous cleric desperate to bring Casanova to trial for heresy, can be seen once again (after his recent appearance in "The Merchant of Venice") donning period costume in the water-bound city.MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
Who's Who: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Will Young, Kelly Reilly, Christopher Guest and Thelma Barlow star. Stephen Frears, whose many films include "My Beautiful Laundrette" and "Dangerous Liaisons," directs.
What's What: When her husband passes away, the wealthy 70-year-old Laura Henderson (Dench) refuses to be bored with widowhood and buys an old London theater. She hires Vivian Van Damm (Hoskins) as her impresario, only to find he's as headstrong as she is about running the theater. Faced with dwindling audiences, they stage all-nude musical revues, which soon become the toast of London as the city faces the Nazi bombing blitz.THE PRODUCERS
Who's Who: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Andrea Martin, Debra Monk, Gary Beach and Jon Lovitz star. Susan Stroman, director of the stage musical "Contact," directs.
What's What: Accountant Leo Bloom (Broderick) and failing impresario Max Bialystock (Lane) plot what they consider a fail-safe scheme: to raise a lot of investment money for a surefire loser on Broadway, watch the play fold, then pocket the investors' cash. But their first project, a Nazi costume musical called "Springtime for Hitler," becomes an overnight sensation. This movie version of Mel Brooks's real Broadway hit was inspired by Brooks's 1968 film, "The Producers," starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.RUMOR HAS IT . . .
Who's Who: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo and Mena Suvari star. Rob Reiner, whose many credits include "This Is Spinal Tap" and "When Harry Met Sally . . .," directs. Ted Griffin, writer of "Ocean's Eleven" and "Matchstick Men," wrote the script.
What's What: Aniston plays Sarah Huttinger, who returns to her family home in Southern California for her sister's wedding, only to learn a strange secret: Her mother and possibly her grandmother might have been the inspirations for Charles Webb's novel, and the 1967 film version of, "The Graduate." Intrigued to find the man (Costner) who attracted her grandmother all those years ago, Sarah finds herself becoming romantically involved with him.WOLF CREEK
Who's Who: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Nathan Phillips, Andy McPhee, Kestie Morassi and Guy Petersen star. Greg McLean wrote and directs.
What's What: In this horror film, two backpackers (Morassi and Magrath) in Australia are picked up by a friendly male driver (Phillips). But when the car breaks down, the pair find themselves stranded in a remote region. They think the problem is solved when a stranger tows the car, but their troubles have only just begun. The movie is inspired by a true story about a series of murders that occurred along Hume Highway in Australia in the 1980s and early '90s.JANUARY AND BEYOND
The following is a list of selected movies:BLOODRAYNE
Who's Who: Kristanna Loken, Michelle Rodriguez, Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Matthew Davis, Billy Zane, Will Sanderson, Udo Kier, Michael Pare and Meat Loaf star. Uwe ("Heart of America") Boll directs.
What's What: In 18th-century Romania, Rayne (Loken) is a dhampir, the daughter of a human mother who was raped by Kagan, king of vampires (Kingsley). Although she's driven by a need for blood, Rayne is emotionally attached to human beings. Determined to track down her father, she enlists vampire hunters Sebastian (Davis) and Vladimir (Madsen), who provide her with some important clues. (Jan. 6)GRANDMA'S BOY
Who's Who: Allen Covert, Jonathan Loughran, Peter Dante, Doris Roberts, Shirley Knight and Shirley Jones star. Nicholaus Goossen directs.
What's What: When his roommate (Loughran) blows all the rent money on hookers, video game tester Alex (Covert) is forced to move in with his grandmother (Roberts), who lives with two silver-haired roommates, Grace (Jones) and Bea (Knight). (Jan. 6)HOSTEL
Who's Who: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova, Jana Kaderabkova, Jan Vlasak and Jennifer Lim star. It's directed by Eli Roth, who wrote, directed and starred in "Cabin Fever."
What's What: When three backpackers come to a Slovakian city, they're caught up in a secret world where they can indulge their most twisted fantasies, including brutal torture. (Jan. 6)THE MATADOR
Who's Who: Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Philip Baker Hall, Adam Scott and Dylan Baker star. Richard Shepard, who made "The Linguini Incident" and "Oxygen," wrote and directs.
What's What: When he loses a lucrative contract in Mexico City, despondent businessman Danny Wright (Kinnear) becomes drawn to a drunk stranger (Brosnan) at a hotel bar who claims to be a hit man. Seeking a little adventure, Danny agrees to help him out in a murderous scheme. But when he returns home to his wife (Davis), Danny learns the edgy, dangerous man now considers him a friend for life and needs a favor. (Jan. 6)NAKED IN ASHES
Who's Who: Santosh Giri, Shiv Raj and Raman Giri as themselves. Paula Fouce, who co-wrote with William Haugse and Lisa Leeman, directs this documentary.
What's What: Filmmaker Fouce follows a pilgrimage to India by a number of yogis, whose lifelong (or lives-long) quest is to defeat the physical illusions of everyday existence, whether through years of silence, lying on beds of nails or, in the case of one devotee, remaining standing for more than 12 years. (Jan. 6)GLORY ROAD
Who's Who: Josh Lucas, Derek Luke and Jon Voight star. James Gartner has his directorial debut.
What's What: Set in 1966, this film is about an athlete-turned-basketball-coach, Don Haskins (Lucas), who transforms Texas Western College into an NCAA powerhouse with newly recruited African American players. The movie is based on the true story of Haskins, who was the first coach to put five black starters in a championship final. (Jan. 13)THE LIBERTINE
Who's Who: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Rosamund Pike and Richard Coyle star. Laurence Dunmore directs. Screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys adapts his own stage play.
What's What: Depp plays John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester, acclaimed poet, author and notorious debaucher. A friend of King Charles II (Malkovich), Wilmot undoes that special relationship when he lampoons the British ruler in a play. He is banished from England and faces a shortened existence, thanks to the ravages of syphilis. Morton plays Wilmot's lover, Elizabeth Barry. Malkovich, who is also one of the movie's producers, played Wilmot in Jeffreys's stage version. (Jan. 13)THE NEW WORLD
Who's Who: Christian Bale, Colin Farrell, Ben Chaplin, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Wes Studi and August Schellenberg star. Terrence Malick, who made "Badlands," "Days of Heaven" and "The Thin Red Line," wrote and directs.
What's What: In the early 17th century, John Smith (Farrell), one of the British colonists trying to create a settlement in Jamestown, Va., falls in love with Pocahontas (Kilcher), daughter of powerful Indian Chief Powhatan (Schellenberg). She feels the same passion for him, but their love is threatened by warfare between their people as well as Pocahontas's marriage to another man. Kilcher (full name: Q'Orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher) makes her debut. (Jan. 13)MATCH POINT
Who's Who: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton star. Woody Allen wrote and directs.
What's What: Chris (Rhys-Meyers), a former tennis pro, becomes very friendly with Tom (Goode), the son of a wealthy family, who introduces him to his sister Chloe (Mortimer). Chris and Chloe fall in love and get married. But Chris also finds himself attracted to Nola (Johansson), Tom's charismatic American girlfriend. Before long, he and Nola find themselves caught up in a dangerous affair. This British-made production, featuring an entirely British cast (except for Johansson), is a radical departure for Allen, who has spent most of his life making films in New York City. (Jan. 20)THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA
Who's Who: Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, January Jones, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Dwight Yoakam, Melissa Leo, Levon Helm star. This is a feature film directorial debut for Jones (he also directed the 1995 TV film "The Good Old Boys"). Guillermo Arriaga, who also wrote "Amores Perros" and "21 Grams," wrote the script.
What's What: When a Texas border guard, Mike (Pepper), kills and hastily buries a Mexican worker named Melquiades Estrada (Cedillo), Melquiades's friend Pete (Jones) assumes justice will prevail. When it doesn't -- local authorities ignore the case because Melquiades was an illegal alien-- Pete decides to take matters into his own hands. His mission? To bury his friend in his homeland and make Mike pay for his actions. This year, Jones took the actor's prize at Cannes for his performance, and Arriaga won for his script. (Feb. 17)MATCH POINT
Who's Who: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton star. Woody Allen wrote and directs.
What's What: Chris (Rhys-Meyers), a former tennis pro, becomes very friendly with Tom (Goode), the son of a wealthy family, who introduces him to his sister Chloe (Mortimer). Chris and Chloe fall in love and get married. But Chris also finds himself attracted to Nola (Johansson), Tom's charismatic American girlfriend. Before long, he and Nola find themselves caught up in a dangerous affair. This British-made production, featuring an entirely British cast (except for Johansson), is a radical departure for Allen, who has spent most of his life making films in New York City. (Jan. 20)