AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME
The further adventures of that throwback to the 1960s, photographer-cum-spy Austin Powers, with more really really really bad and stupid jokes and gags -- but audiences love it. Powers' nemesis, Dr. Evil, time travels to the 1960s to steal Powers' power -- his mojo. Naturally Powers journeys after the evil Evil, encountering the swingin' London scene and super-sexy spy Felicity Shagwell. Stars Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green and Mindy Sterling.
Director: Jay Roach. Stars: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green, Mindy Sterling. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min.), Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $205.000 million, (New Line), $22.98 SRP, Available: 11/16, DVD: Day & Date.
Last chapter in director Eric Rohmer's "Tale of Four Seasons" series. In the autumn of her life, a wine-grower in the South of France resists all attempts by her best friend and her son's girlfriend to find her companionship. An elegant tale of love. Stars Beatrice Roman.
Director: Eric Rohmer. Stars: Beatrice Roman. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 110 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $1.300 million, (USA Home Entertainment), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/23, DVD: No.
Acclaimed director Bernardo Bertolucci weaves his cinematic magic with this luscious tale of an affair between an expatriate African and her employer, an eccentric recluse living in an enchanting villa in Rome. The pair find themselves in a web of attraction and denial, with new awakenings and discoveries. Stars Thandie Newton and David Thewlis.
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci. Stars: Thandie Newton, David Thewlis. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 92 min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $2.032 million, (New Line), No SRP, Priced for rentalx Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
Adam Sandler plays a flaky law school graduate who eschews career and marriage to live the life of a slacker. When his girlfriend leaves him for a responsible older man, he decides to change -- on the surface at least -- and illegally "adopts" the illegitimate five-year-old son of his roommate. He becomes a reluctant dad when the boy steals his heart. Not Sandler's best work: there's too many bathroom jokes and childish humor. Our respect for Sandler after the gentle humor and warmth of "The Wedding Singer" has been destroyed by Sandler's reliance here on potty humor, foul language and downright nastiness toward others. Co-stars Joey Lauren Adams, Rob Schneider, Jon Stewart, Kristy Swanson and Cole and Dylan Sprouse.
Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Rob Schneider, Jon Stewart, Kristy Swanson, Cole and Dylan Sprouse. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 93 min.), Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $158.700 million, (Columbia TriStar), $21.96 SRP, Available: 11/2, DVD: Day & Date.
BLACK MASK (HAK HAP)
Fast-paced Hong Kong actioner released in the States this year to capitalize on the cachet of Jet Li after his great appearance in "Lethal Weapon 4." Story revolves around a gang of genetically engineered humans who go after cops and bad guys alike. Li, of course, is fabulous as one of the androids who hasn't turned bad and must fight them single-handedly. Showcase for Li's wonderful martial arts expertise.
Director: Daniel Lee. Stars: Jet Li, Karen Mok, Ching Wan Lau. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 89 min.), Action, 1996, Box office gross: $12.491 million, (Artisan), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
Sophisticated game of cat and mouse as a hot-shot insurance investigator (Catherine Zeta-Jones) goes after a master thief (Sean Connery), joining him in a series of gambits over three continents leading up to a multi-billion dollar heist tied to a millennium celebration in Kuala Lampur. There's plenty of time spent on high-tech preparations, break-ins and double-crosses and double-dealings, but eventually the film bogs down as the plot loopholes unravel. Co-stars Ving Rhames and Will Patton. Directed by Jon Amiel.
Director: Jon Amiel. Stars: Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ving Rhames, Will Patton. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 130 min.), Thriller, 1999, Box office gross: $87.600 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
Lackluster remake of classic Robert Wise 1963 film, based on Shirley Jackson's book, about people investigating an evil house that comes alive and terrorizes them. The original was truly scary in its subtlety; here there's a muddled plot, overdone special effects and very few chills. Director Jan De Bont ("Speed") opted for big and noisy when just the opposite was required: you can't truly scare people when it's too obvious what's coming. Stars Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Dern and Virginia Madsen.
Director: Jan De Bont. Stars: Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bruce Dern, Virginia Madsen. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 117 min.), Horror, 1999, Box office gross: $89.600 million, (DreamWorks), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 19991123, DVD: Day & Date.
Weird thriller about the attempt at rehabilitating a brilliant primatologist who ostensibly went mad after living in the African wild with mountain gorillas. Anthony Hopkins puts in a chilling turn as a scientist -- now caged and brought to America after killing two Rwandan park rangers. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays the shrink who tries to cure him. The pair become verbal sparring partners and their roles often switch as the film slowly unveils the reasons behind Hopkin's seeming madness -- culminating in a lesson in love and responsibility. Co-stars Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, George Dzundza and John Ashton.
Director: Jon Turteltaub. Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Donald Sutherland, Maura Tierney, George Dzundza, John Ashton. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 123 min.), Thriller, 1999, Box office gross: $33.648 million, (Buena Vista), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/16, DVD: Day & Date.
IRON GIANT, THE
Well-executed, fanciful adaptation of British poet laureate Ted Hughes' children's book about a metal giant from outer space who is befriended by a young boy, set in 1957 during the height of Sputnik and the Cold War. The metal-eating behemoth is a "puppy" in the hands of young Hogarth Hughes -- stumbling around the countryside in search of food and playing kids games -- until a paranoid government investigator brings on the Army for a fateful denouement. The moral here is love and trust -- as the boy and monster bond -- and the film imparts a strong anti-violence, anti-gun message. It's part 1950s Action comic book, part Frankenstein, all marvelous. One of the best films of the year.
Director: Brad Bird. Stars: Voices of Eli Marienthal, Vin Diesel, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Christopher McDonald. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 86 min.), Animated, 1999, Box office gross: $20.700 million, (Warner), $22.95 SRP, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
Sentimental, affectionate family film about an up-and-coming rock star who juggles career and fatherhood and doesn't spend as much time with his supportive wife and adoring son as he should. When he's killed in a car accident, he comes back as a snowman, finally learning how to nurture his wife and son and become the father/husband that he couldn't in life. Delightful story is highlighted by the deft camerawork of legendary cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs. Stars Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston and Joseph Cross.
Director: Troy Miller. Stars: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross, Mark Addy. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 108 min.), Family, 1998, Box office gross: $34.600 million, (Warner), $19.96 SRP, Available: 11/2, DVD: Day & Date.
LOVE LETTER, THE
A mysterious unsigned love letter upsets the status quo in a sleepy New England town, unlocking startling secrets and changing the lives of everyone it touches. At the center of the storm is one woman, Kate Capshaw, whose quest to solve the letter's riddle forces her to open her life to a new chapter involving two different men, one from her past and one from the present. American debut of Hong Kong director Peter Ho-sun Chan. Also stars Blythe Danner, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Selleck and Tom Everett Scott.
Director: Peter Ho-Sun Chan. Stars: Kate Capshaw, Blythe Danner, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Selleck, Tom Everett Scott. CC, (MPAA rating: R, min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $8.300 million, (DreamWorks), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
An American movie superstar (Julia Roberts) and a quiet, British travel-bookshop owner (Hugh Grant) fall for each other in London and have to overcome the pressures of her stardom before they can get together. Much of the film revolves around how normal people react to a world famous star. The centerpiece of the film is a delightful scene in which Roberts is Grant's date at a dinner party held by Grant's friends. The witty, charming and likeable Grant is at his best. Rhys Ifans is terrific as Grant's "roommate from hell." Julia Roberts, as usual, is consistently uninteresting.
Director: Roger Michell. Stars: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 124 min.), Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $114.701 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT
Trey Parker and Matt Stone's R-rated animated TV series makes it to the big screen, nastier and more flamboyant (if that's possible) than ever. The story line loosely revolves around the fine folks of South Park, Colorado, whose kids have their minds warped (as if they needed any extra push) by an R-rated Canadian movie. In response, a protest movement gets the U.S. into a war with its neighbor. There are side trips to hell as well as foul takes on Hollywood celebrities. Audacious and warped; you have to be a fan of the series to really appreciate this.
Director: Trey Parker. Stars: Voices of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman, Isaac Hayes, George Clooney, Eric Idle. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 80 min.), Adult animation, 1999, Box office gross: $51.900 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/23, DVD: Day & Date.
TEA WITH MUSSOLINI
Semi-autobiographical film about director Franco Zeffirelli's (as a child) life with group of expatriate British and American woman just before, during and after World War II in Italy. Stars Cher, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Judi Dench, Charlie Lucas, Baird Wallace and Lily Tomlin.
Director: Franco Zeffirelli. Stars: Cher, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Judi Dench, Charlie Lucas, Baird Wallace, Lily Tomlin. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 116 min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $13.700 million, (MGM), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/16, DVD: Day & Date.
WILD WILD WEST
This special effects laden adaptation of the classic 1960s Western TV series is overloaded with noise and music (a way-too anxious score by film great Elmer Bernstein) to the detriment of story line and logic. Government agent James West (Will Smith) and U.S. Marshall Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) team up to foil Dr. Arless Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), who has kidnapped the country's brightest scientists to build the ultimate weapon of destruction: the Tarantula, a gigantic walking killing machine he hopes to use to overthrow the U.S. Whereas the original had a certain suave sophistication about it, this version is all bluster and puffery. This one is strictly for the boys: the women (Salma Hayek, Bai Ling) are strictly window-dressing. Crank up the speakers and let it's inanity wash over you.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. Stars: Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Salma Hayek, Bai Ling, Ted Levine, M. Emmet Walsh. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 107 min.), Western comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $111.724 million, (Warner), $22.96 SRP, Available: 11/30, DVD: Day & Date.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
The Bard's comedy about star-crossed lovers, feuding sprites and a love potion gone awry, shifted to Tuscany at the end of the 19th century, with an all-star cast that includes Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci and Calista Flockhart.
Director: Michael Hoffman. Stars: Kevin Kline, Miche;;e Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Calista Flockhart. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 115 min.), Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $16.000 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 11/9, DVD: Day & Date.
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