ENEMY OF THE STATE
A successful attorney unwittingly comes into possession of filmed evidence that implicates a National Security Agency official in the slaying of a Congressman, and is thrown into a terrible high-tech game of cat and mouse, with his life at stake. Will Smith is the upright citizen who becomes the target of electronic surveillance ranging from micro-miniature bugs planted on his body to satellite spying as he runs from sophisticated government agents in an attempt to figure out why he's been marked as a suspect. Deftly choreographed by director Tony Scott, this fast-paced Kafkaesque action-thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Director: Tony Scott. Stars: Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 127 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $110.887 million, (Buena Vista), No SRP, Priced for rental Available: 6/15, DVD: Day & Date.
A high school-set take on "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" as a being from outer space slowly takes over the faculty and students, with only a handful of students realizing what's going on and trying to stop it. Written by Kevin Williamson, and like "Scream," which Williamson also wrote, the film pokes grisly fun at itself and horror films in general, with the protagonists mapping their actions according to the sci-fi films they've seen. Great fun.
Director: Robert Rodriguez. Stars: Jordana Brewster, Clea Duvall, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Robert Patrick, Bebe Neuwirth. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 104 min.), Sci-fi Horror, 1998, Box office gross: $34.840 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/15, DVD: Day & Date.
GODS AND MONSTERS
Breathtaking story of director James Whale -- who helmed such horror films as "Frankenstein," "Bride of Frankenstein" and "The Invisible Man" -- and his days of glory in early Hollywood, told from the perspective of his memories in 1957 -- at age 67 -- after years of obscurity and in frail health after a stroke. Ian McKellen is magical as Whale, the horrormeister who slipped into cinematic oblivion and finished his days in exile at his home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Like the characters he pictured on the screen -- the monsters and the gods who created them -- Whale tried to defy the natural order of things, finally slipping into madness before he drowned in his own swimming pool.
Director: Bill Condon. Stars: Ian McKellen, Brendan Fraser, Lynn Redgrave, Lolita Davidovich, David Dukes. CC, (MPAA rating: NR, 105 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $5.541 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/8, DVD: Day & Date.
Misfired thriller about a woman who has prescient dreams, one of which foreshadows the abduction and murder of her daughter. As if that's not enough to drive one mad, her mind becomes melded with the serial killer's. Seemingly off the deep end, she's thrown into the exact same loony bin that housed the killer years earlier and -- well, there's too much coincidental action here to make this outing very involving. Annette Bening stars as the "is she or isn't she crazy" woman while Robert Downey Jr. chews the scenery as the killer.
Director: Neil Jordan. Stars: Annette Bening, Robert Downey Jr., Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn, Paul Guilfoyle. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 100 min.), Thriller, 1999, Box office gross: $11.347 million, (DreamWorks), No SRP, Priced for rental Available: 6/15, DVD: No.
Pleasing comedy about a working class girl who barely talks but can sing up a storm, recapturing the personas of Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Shirley Bassey and Marilyn Monroe. When Little Voice's lusty mother brings home a sleazy, small-time agent for an evening of fun, he hears her glorious voice and realizes she may be his ticket to fame. Naturally all three lives are changed when their ordinary worlds bump up against dredged-up desires and inner conflicts. A warm entertainment with great performances by Jane Horrocks, Michael Caine and Brenda Blethyn.
Director: Mark Herman. Stars: Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Ewan McGregor, Jane Horrocks. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 99 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $4.464 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/15, DVD: No.
Robin Williams stars as Patch Adams, a rebellious former-mental-patient-turned-medical student who bucks the establishment at the Medical College of Virginia by using humor and outrageous antics to help cure patients. Williams is cuddly sweet; the film pulls out every sentimental trick in the bag to please audiences as Patch Adams verbally slugs it out with the by-the-book dean, trying to bring a little joy to the world.
Director: Tom Shadyac. Stars: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Seymour Hoffman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 116 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $133.824 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental Available: 6/22, DVD: Day & Date.
PSYCHO Frame-for-frame reshoot of the 1960 classic -- an homage to the original and director Alfred Hitchcock -- fails precisely because of its attempt to have its cake and eat it too. Director Gus Van Sant plays it close to the original script, but in trying to bring the story up to the present in tone and setting, he's created a hybrid that doesn't equal nor add anything to the original. Remakes are for elaboration, not recapitulation. A curiosity piece at best.
Director: Gus Van Sant. Stars: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, Robert Forster. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Horror, 1998, Box office gross: $21.380 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/8, DVD: Day & Date.
A precocious 10th-grader -- who excels at everything but his grades -- tries to win the affection of a first-grade teacher at his school, enlisting the aid of a school benefactor/business mogul (Bill Murray) who has an agenda of his own: he's also fallen in love with the teacher. This idiosyncratic comedy, with its off-the-wall story line and characters, stays one step ahead of sticky sentimentality as it explores -- with an almost black humor touch -- three lonely lives in search of emotional repair. Bill Murray turns in one of his best comedy roles in a long time.
Director: Wes Anderson. Stars: Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, Seymour Cassel. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 95 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $15.189 million, (Buena Vista), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/29, DVD: Day & Date.
SIMPLE PLAN, A
A Trio of Midwest small towners -- a hard working bookkeeper, his simple-minded brother and one of their beer buddies -- come across a crashed private plane in the snowy hills, with a dead pilot and $4.4 million on board. Figuring it's "lost" drug money, they decide to keep it, hoping that no one will come after it. But the money eats at them, and the threesome get involved in a modern "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" scenario of mistrust and murder, sending their simple plan awry and scraping away the veneer of normalcy that hides inner terror.
Director: Sam Raimi. Stars: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Bridget Fonda, Brent Briscoe. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 121 min.), Thriller, 1998, Box office gross: $16.013 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/22, DVD: Day & Date.
THIN RED LINE, THE
Director Terrence Malick goes behind the camera after a 21 year absence to create this harrowing vision of personal hell during the fierce battle of Guadalcanal Island during WWII. Malick isn't so much interested in the exterior horrors of war -- there's very little gore -- as he is in the internal battles that move his characters along. The slow pacing -- mimicking the boredom of battle -- displaces and distances the viewer to give a better perspective on the anonymity of death. Highlighted by a fine ensemble cast, fabulous visuals and editing.
Director: Terrence Malick. Stars: Sean Penn, John Cusack, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 170 min.), War drama, 1998, Box office gross: $36.324 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/29, DVD: Day & Date.
By-the-numbers teen drama starring James Van Der Beek of "Dawson's Creek," about the trials and tribulations of a second-string high school football quarterback -- more interested in reading Kurt Vonnegut than football plays -- who butts up against his coach, his father's failed high school football ambitions and a teen love triangle. Pat and predictable.
Director: Brian Robbins. Stars: James Van Der Beek, Jon Voight, Paul Walker, Ron Lester, Amy Smart, Ali Larter. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 105 min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $52.000 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/29, DVD: No.
WAKING NED DEVINE
Wonderful tale about the inhabitants of a tight-lipped small Irish town who attempt to find out who in their midst has won the 6 million pound national lottery. When the winner -- Ned Devine -- is found dead, the townsfolk join together in an outrageous scheme to claim the money: one of them impersonates the dead man. One of the better comedies to come out of the British Isles in years -- and heads above "The Full Monty" in its subtle comedic underpinnings and delicate characterizations.
Director: Kirk Jones. Stars: Ian Bannen, David Kelly, Fionnula Flanagan. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 91 min.), Comedy, 1998, Box office gross: $23.099 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 6/22, DVD: Day & Date.
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