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He Said He'd Be Back: Arnold Schwarzenegger, warming up for his gubernatorial run, stares down California's budget deficit in 'Terminator 3,' a sequel with no spending limits, lumbering our way July 2.

Too Fast, Too Foolish

This summer season looks remarkably like last summer's, and the summer before that. Could it be ... sequels?

By Richard von Busack

THE MOVIE SCENE in the summer of 2003 includes 15 sequels. Sorry, that was an exaggeration. Actually, it's only 14 sequels (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Bad Boys II, Terminator 3, Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde, Jeepers Creepers 2, Freddy vs. Jason, The Matrix Reloaded, Spy Kids 3-D, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, American Wedding, X2, Pokémon Heroes and Rugrats Go Wild) and one prequel: Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.

This wide load of reconstituted celluloid reflects our troubled times. The movie business exists in a barely controlled state of hysteria even when the economic climate percolates with profit. It relies desperately on proven formulas when the economy sours. When politics are as polarized as they are now, movies about the war on terrorism and the scores of thousands laid off aren't going to be made until the problems are too obvious to be ignored. Daddy Day Care may be the only film about layoffs this summer.

It's been years since the original Dumb and Dumber, Terminator, Bad Boys and the last Freddy Krueger movies, and maybe this return to these old favorites represents a way of getting back to what seem, now, like more innocent times. You will live long enough to see That '90s Show.

The key part of building a franchise is bridging the generations. Males aged 12 to 18 still fuel the summer movie market, but to be a really serious success, a film needs to appeal to girls in the same age group as well. That's why Charlie's Angels should be regarded as the world's oldest tweens from a business standpoint, and not just because they act like 13-year-olds.

The hope is that name recognition will seduce a few older viewers as well, who won't object to taking their kids to see something they've heard about. Most of the core audience for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle won't be old enough to remember the TV show, but parents aren't going to worry too much about their kids trooping off to see it.

Sequels have been a part of the movie business since the 1920s. They were previously "B-pictures," shot cheap and destined for the bottom half of double bills. Now they're treated as events, from the first advertising blitzes, with tie-ins to fast food and soft drinks, to the last high-fiving of their box-office grosses on the nightly TV news.

Certainly, there are cases where sequels are better than originals, as in the new X-Men film. However, that's so uncommon a phenomenon that it's a matter of comment when it does happen. The fact is that almost everything we'll see this summer looks like something we've seen already. And to fight off a bad case of diminished expectations, it'll take a certain amount of effort--reading up and a little gambling--to change that situation.

In our roundup of summer fodder, note that some opening dates are writ in stone on the foreheads of the marketing folks (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle isn't moving for anything short of the rapture). However, the opening dates for art-house fare and indies are dependent on the phases of the moon and can shift faster than Scott Peterson defense strategy. We've tried to indicate their anticipated openings in the Silicon Valley theaters. Especially notable films are marked with a star (*).


[ May | June | July | August | Waiting for a Date | Revivals ]

May

Finding Nemo

Emeryville-based Pixar's latest opus, in which a lost tropical fish, spirited away to Sydney, is tracked down by his dad (voiced by Albert Brooks). The film is a risk; not since the days of hepfish Charlie the Tuna and The Incredible Mr. Limpet have audiences warmed up to animated flounders. (May 30)

The Italian Job

No honor among thieves. After a $35 million heist in Venice, a gang of thieves led by Donald Sutherland is double-crossed by one of their members (Edward Norton). Robbers Mark Walhberg and Sutherland's daughter, Charlize Theron, reteam for revenge, which involves an Austin Mini chase through the L.A. subway tubes. The director is the anagramatically named F. Gary Gray. The coming attractions deserve some sort of award for giving away every possible plot point. (May 30)

The Sea

Iceland's Baltasar Kormákur (101 Reykjavik) directs a tale of a hostile family reunited against their will by the command of their father, owner of a lucrative fish-processing plant. Elements of Shakespeare and Ibsen abound against "dramarctic" North Atlantic coast locations. (May 30)

Wrong Turn

Albanian smolderer Eliza "Faith" Dushku stars in the summers' answer to The Hills Have Eyes and Two Thousand Maniacs!. The pouty Dushku and Jeremy Sisto arrive at a West Virginia village where the family trees are wreath shaped, and they like to have guests for dinner. Makeup (gag!) by Stan Winston. (May 30)

June

Alex and Emma

Blocked writer Alex (Luke Wilson) has a bucketful of woes in his life, including writer's block and gambling debts. His new secretary, Emma (Kate Wilson), helps him finish his novel to beat the clock. Based on Dostoyevsky's The Gambler and directed by the man thought least likely to adapt Dostoyevsky, Rob Reiner. (June 20)


Angels With Dirty Minds: Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz reprise the tease of 'Charlie's Angels' in 'Full Throttle' sequel.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu return with Bernie Mac retrofitted as Bosley's brother. Demi Moore plays a spurned angel gone bad, looking for vengeance, Once again, a person named "McG" directs. (June 27)

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

Eric Christian Olsen (in the Jim Carrey role) and Derek Richardson (picking up for Jeff Daniels) star in the high school years of the friendly morons. Troy Miller of Mr. Show directs, and Eugene Levy plays an evil high school principal. (June 13)

The Eye

The Pang Brothers--Danny and Oxideare--are Hong Kong directors who have relocated to Bangkok. Their horror film plays a variation on The Hands of Orlac, in which a cornea-transplant case begins to see fearful visions. (Tom Cruise has bought the rights for an English-language remake.) (June 13)


American Idlers: Prediction: 'From Justin to Kelly' is already behind the curve--audiences are saving their money for 'The Adventures of Reuben and Clay.'

From Justin to Kelly

Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini--stars of the first unspeakable American Idol--head to Miami during spring break. In between crossed signals and cute misunderstandings, they're slated to sing white soul songs in overpoweringly loud voices with enough vibrato to crumble your molars. Simon says two thumbs down. (June 13)

The Heart of Me

Upper lips stiffen in a between-the-wars love triangle, based on Rosamond Lehman's novel The Echoing Grove. Paul Bettany plays a man contended for by two sisters: Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams. Many will be watching to see whether Bettany--a much talked-about actor--can hold up as a romantic lead. (June 27)


Career Killer: Josh Harnett looks to shove aging Harrison Ford into "older half of odd couple" roles in 'Hollywood Homicide.'

*Hollywood Homicide

Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump) directed this certain to be out of the ordinary comedy about a pair of cops who moonlight to make ends meet in L.A. Harrison Ford and Josh Harnett co-star. (June 13)

*The Hulk

"Doc Bruce Banner / Pelted by gamma rays / Turned into the Hulk / Ain't he unglamorous! / Wreckin' the town / With the power of a bull / Ain't no monster cause / who is that lovable?/ It's the ever-lovin' Hulk! HULK!! HULK!!"--popular song of early 1960s. A smartly cast Eric Bana (who excelled in the Australian gangster film Chopper) plays the comic-book hero in normal form, while a CGI green giant (perhaps a little too cartoony, at least in the previews) takes up for him in radioactive wrath. Scriptwriter/producer James Schamus told me that the first step was to take director Ang Lee to see the Rouben Mamoulian version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; moreover, the trick here is also that Banner is full of bottled-up rage from being pushed too hard by his parents. The human side isn't stinted, what with Jennifer Connelly once again tending a bifurcated man (as she did in A Beautiful Mind. (June 20)

Japon

Alejandro Ferreti plays a man on the brink of suicide who befriends an elderly widow in a remote rocky valley far away from the world. (June 13)

*The Legend of Suriyothai

Francis Ford Coppola presents this epic of the medieval war between Burma and Thailand and of the hero queen who saved her nation. An old-fashioned widescreen blood and thunderer directed by a long-time pillar of the Thai film industry who's also a pedigreed prince: Chatrichalerm Yukoi. (June 27)

On-Line

Winner of the Jury Prize at Cinequest 2002, this is Jed Weintrob's shot-on-digital comedy about a pair of unemployed computer hackers who open up an online adult chat site. (June 27)

Prozac Nation

Elizabeth Wurtzel's so-called life, as emoted by Christina Ricci as the emotionally troubled woman on the popular (but so 1998) med. (June 6)

Respiro

Hard-scrabble life in today's Sicily, where Grazia (Valeria Golino), a volatile mom of three, tries to survive in a narrow-minded land. Pietro (Vincenzo Amato), her husband, defends her against gossip that becomes more and more difficult to ignore. (June 13)

Rugrats Go Wild

The Wild Thornberries and the Rugrats meet up on a desert island, meaning a lot of parents are going to be dragged to a lot of theaters. (June 13)

Sweet Sixteen

Ken Loach directs a social-realist drama about Liam (Martin Compston), due to be released from prison in time for his 16th birthday for an unhappy reunion with his deeply troubled family. To escape them, he plans a return to crime. (June 6)

Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters

In Imperial china of the 1800s, a quartet of martial artists go after a general, raised from the dead and hungry for blood. (June 6)

28 Days Later

Viral-mutated zombies attack London: a job for Dr. Quartermain, but he's nowhere to be found. This urban gutmuncher is by Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting. (June 27)

Together

Chen Kaige's story of a poor country boy who arrives in Beijing, bound and determined to become a violinist. Set in the present, it echoes the tenement dramas of the 1930s. Kaige's eye for charm and warmth certainly helps matters. Definitely for senior citizens. (June 6 in San Jose)


Shift Happens: Can Paul Walker's legions of fans fuel a 'Fast and the Furious' sequel without Vin Diesel?

2 Fast 2 Furious

John Singleton (Boys N the Hood) moves the action to Miami, where Paul Walker and Cole Hauser take up the cops-vs.-street-racer plot, This one's not Diesel powered. (June 6)

Whale Rider

A mystical drama of modern Maori life, in which an ignored girl--survivor of a difficult childbirth that took her twin brother and her mother--proves that she has royalty and spiritual power in her. (June 20)

July


Where There's a Will, There's a Martin: Martin Lawrence reteams with Will Smith for 'Bad Boys II.'

Bad Boys II

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star as undercover cops, re-creating the lucrative fun of the 1995 movie. On the bright side, Gabrielle Union co-stars. (July 18)

Buffalo Soldiers

In West Germany in the late 1980s, a bored U.S. Army clerk (Joaquin Phoenix) decides to make a little money on his own by selling Army surplus before it's really surplus. And then his new sergeant (Scott Glenn) discovers the ruse; fortunately, the man has a malleable Army brat daughter (Anna Paquin, who was so good in X2 as the troubled teenager Rogue). (July 25 in limited release.)

The Cuckoo

A World War II-era drama about a widowed Laplander and two combatants--a Russian and a Finnish soldier--who vie for her. (July 25)

Garage Days

Alex Proyas follows the career of a hapless but ruthless Australian garage band and its climb to the middle. (July 18)

How to Deal

Tween idol Mandy Moore stars in an adaptation of two of Sarah Dessen's young adult novels, with Allison Janney and Peter Gallagher as clueless parents; unlike in the risible A Walk to Remember, Moore doesn't catch leukemia this time. (July 18)

*I Capture the Castle

Novelist Dodie Smith, creator of 101 Dalmations, wrote the novel that's the source for this R-rated memoir about disenchanted 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain (Romola Garai), made to live in a draughty castle by her annoyingly unconventional parents: a nudist mom (Tara Fitzgerald) and a blocked-novelist dad. Then in comes the young American landlord of the place (Henry Thomas). (July 18)

Jet Lag

Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno as a pair trapped in a strike-bound Paris airport. She's escaping an old boyfriend, he's on his way to join a lover, but the two can't resist each other. (July 25)

Johnny English

He may not be Sean Connery, but he's certainly as swarthy as three Conneries put together: Rowan Atkinson is the incompetent secret agent brought on to stop a French scoundrel (John Malkovich) from usurping the British throne. (July 18)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

From Africa to China, the video-game-derived adventuress (Angelina Jolie) hunts for the legendary Pandora's Box (also known as "George W. Bush's cabinet"); highlights include a parachute-suit flight over Hong Kong. (July 25)

*The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Alan Moore's Victorian pastiche of the Justice League with a group of united adventurers from the pages of H. Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Bram Stoker ... and Mark Twain? Shane West plays U.S. Secret Service agent Tom Sawyer, a fiscally necessary American character retrofitted into Alan Moore's engaging comic-book series. Sean Connery plays the decrepit African explorer Alan Quartermain. His partners include a betrayed Sikh turned terrorist submariner--he who bears the mysterious nom de guerre "Nemo" ("no one" in Latin). The Nautilus' captain is played by Naseeruddin Shah; the rest of the cast includes Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng), the vampiress Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), that puckish meglomaniac the Invisible Man (Tony Curran) and Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend)--what are his superpowers, ultradecadence? (July 11)

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) heads to D.C., poodles, pink wardrobe and all. The director is Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, of Kissing Jessica Stein. (July 2)

Northfork

Mark and Michael Polish (Twin Falls, Idaho) tell this story of a city of the Western plains in the 1940s about to be inundated to make way for a dam. A young orphan seeks a new home in his imagination. Stars include Claire Forlani, Kyle MacLachlan, Nick Nolte, Peter Coyote and James Woods. (July 18)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Good-bad pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) offers his services to help out a grieving blacksmith (Orlando Bloom), whose betrothed has been kidnapped by pirates. The scurvy sea dogs, led by Geoffrey Rush, turn out to be under the influence of an evil spell. Skeletons, cutlasses and. we hope, people saying, "Harrrrr." Director Gore Verbisnki did The Ring. (July 9)

*Seabiscuit

Behind so many credulity-straining movies often lies a real-life story, however rejiggered or sweetened for the screen. And the story of the horse Seabiscuit (as told in Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit: An American Legend) is one such tale. The history of the played-out horse that became a national champion during the Depression is directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville) with an outstanding (Chris Cooper, Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and William H. Macy) cast. Even the previews are liquefying; bring a capacious handkerchief (July 25)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Dreamworks' new animated film features every Christian dog's favorite Muslim. The sailor is voiced (as is the custom) by a Midwesterner: Brad Pitt in this case. The old Sinbad pictures used to mention Allah by name--"Trust in Allah, but tie your camel." What are the chances of that happening in America in 2003? The seafarer tangles with rocs, skeletons and the vengeful goddess of chaos, Eris (Michelle Pfeiffer), as well as with a stowaway wench (Catherine Zeta-Jones). (July 2)


They Couldn't Do Worse Than the CIA In Iraq: Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega hurry to complete a 'Spy Kids' sequel before their voices change.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

Robert Rodriguez's franchise follows Juni and Carmen into a deadly computer game. The kids (Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega) are menaced by the villain Sylvester Stallone and helped by their granddad, that great living link to MGM's golden age, Ricardo Montalban. The guy danced with Cyd Charisse and Ann Miller, but all you punters

remember is that "rich Corinthian leather" commercial. (July 25)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Kristanna Loken plays T-X, the newest model terminator, sent to kill humanity's hero John Connor (Nick Stahl), as he hides from the ever-brewing conspiracy to replace man with machines. To fight this newest robot threat, Connor joins forces with the original Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (July 2)

Valentin

In 1969 in Argentina, a 10-year-old boy, abandoned by his parents, lives with his grandmother and fantasizes a life as an astronaut. (July 11)

August

*American Splendor

Of the six comic-book-derived films this year, this is the most important one: the long-overdue film biography of Harvey Pekar, by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. In semianimated, semidocumentary form, the film follows the life of Cleveland cartoonist (and occasional Metro contributor) Harvey Pekar, based on his self-published comics. Pekar's story is augmented with animation and documentary of his early friendship with R. Crumb (James Urbaniak), his marriage and his bout with non-Hodgkins' lymphoma. Paul Giametti impersonates the writer; Hope Davis is forlorn and funny as his irascible spouse, Joyce Brabner. (Aug. 15)

American Wedding

The third, and no doubt most profound, installment in the American Pie trilogy, with the charming Allison Hannigan joking about her fellatio-fancying and Jason Biggs doing his Harold Lloyd thing. (Aug. 1)

And Now Ladies and Gentlemen

Claude Lelouch (A Man and a Woman) directs this soft-pedal romance about a self-exiled Russian jewel thief (Jeremy Irons) who falls for a cabaret singer (Patricia Kaas) in a Morocco nightclub. (Aug. 8)

The Battle of Shaker Heights

Erica Beeney directs this, the second Project Greenlight film, about a teenage kid from Ohio enraptured by World War II re-enactment games. (Aug. 15)

Freaky Friday

Though it sounds like the stage name of a hip-hop artist, it's yet another version of the Walt Disney/Jodie Foster hit, this time with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan (who did the remake of The Parent Trap). It opens on a Wednesday; go figure. (Aug. 6)

Freddy vs. Jason

Naughty but knife massacrists team up, then squabble, as the pizza-faced Kreuger, Robert Englund, re-creates his (literally) immortal role. (Aug. 15)


Wedding Planners: J-Lo and B-Fleck must decide: chicken or fish for the reception dinner.

Gigli

Lesbian hit woman Jennifer Lopez tangles with a rival named Larry Gigli (Lopez's bethrothed, Ben Affleck); Martin Brest (Scent of a Woman) directs this romance/thriller. (Aug. 1)

Grind

Four skateboarders hit the road tracking down the skater they worship. The rollers include Mike Vogel, Vince Vieluf and Adam Brody. (Aug. 22)

Highwaymen

Robert Harmon (who did the mid-'80s shocker The Hitcher) returns to tough terrain in a story of a serial killer who runs over women with his car (in Texas, the genders are reversed). Jim Caviezel stars as the vengeful husband of one of the victims. (Aug. 27)

Jeepers Creepers 2

When Johnny Mercer wrote the song "Jeepers Creepers," I'm sure he had in mind a movie about a cannibal monster that flies through the air and eats squabbling high school students stranded in a bus in the middle of nowhere. Ray "Leland Palmer" Wise co-stars. (Aug. 29)

Le Divorce

Diane Johnson's novel spurred this contemporary Merchant-Ivory comedy about sisters Isabel (Kate Hudson) and Roxy (Naomi Watts) dealing with the labyrinths of French culture. Bebe Neuwirth co-stars. (Aug. 8)

Lucia, Lucia

Antonio Serrano (Seo, Pudor y Lagimas) directs this Mexican thriller about a woman (Cecilia Roth) whose husband mysteriously vanishes. Based on Rose Montero's novel. (Aug. 1)

*The Magdalene Sisters

Amid the scandals surrounding the Catholic Church is this outrage: an Irish horror story, revealed in a heart-wrenching report on CBS' 60 Minutes. Director Peter Mullan's drama memorializes the "Magdelene Laundries," where unwed mothers were enslaved in convents behind high walls, worked to death and buried in unmarked graves. (Aug. 1)

Marci X

Damon Wayans stars as an out-of-control rapper dealing with his new manager, the woman who inherited his record label: Lisa Kudrow. (Aug. 22)

Matchstick Men

Obsessive-compulsive Nicolas Cage plays a man suddenly surprised by the arrival of a teenage daughter he didn't know he had (Alison Lohman plays the disruptive girl). Ridley Scott directs. (Aug. 8)

The Medallion

After finding a charm that gives him the powers of an immortal warrior, Hong Kong detective Jackie Chan teams up with a British cop (Claire Forlani) to battle some similarly powered warriors from the dark side. With perennial villain Julian Sands leading the evildoers. (Aug. 15)

My Boss' Daughter

David Zucker of Airplane! directs a comedy story of an up-and-coming kid (Ashton Kutcher) who tries to pick up on his boss's wild daughter by housesitting the man's place ... little knowing that the girl (Tara Reid) is planning a wild party. (Aug. 22)

*The Secret Life of Dentists

Adultery is the third rail of contemporary American film. There are few topics that make directors more nervous, so a good domestic movie on the subject is very rare. Here, a married pair of Westchester dentists (Hope Davis, Campbell Scott) are nearly split up by the possibility of infidelity. A strong comeback by director Alan Rudolph, with a fine lead performances and much comedy relief by Dennis Leary, as a figment of Campbell's buttoned-down id. Based on Jane Smiley's novella The Age of Grief. (Aug. 22)

*Shaolin Soccer (a.k.a. Kung-Fu Soccer)

Stephen Chow (maker of such rich martial arts satires as From Beijing With Love and Forbidden City Cop) had a record success with this one in Hong Kong. He may well have his first American hit, as well. It's a hilarious parody of every sports movie made (Like Mike especially gets what's coming to it). A band of rejects unite to become a super team against steroided villains. Highlights: the master "Golden Leg" solemnly advising a pupil that he will be ready to play soccer when "you can kick an egg without breaking it." Soccer balls burst through cinder-block walls or arrive with flaming penumbras like spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. (Aug. 8)

S.W.A.T.

Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson team up as elite L.A. cops in the film version of the TV show. (Aug. 8)

Thirteen

The most hard-nosed of the summer's many tweener offerings, and co-written by an actual 13-year-old Nikki Reed. Evan Rachel Wood (of Once and Again) stars as a seventh grader in the social whirlpool. Holly Hunter co-stars. (Aug. 20)

Uptown Girls

In this fluffy comedy, a newly broke rich girl (Brittany Murphy) takes on the nannying of a spoiled Manhattan brat (Dakota Fanning of I Am Sam). (Aug. 15)

Waiting for a Date

*Bukowski: Born Into This

The life and literature of battle-scarred and bottle-scarred poet Charles Bukowski. Stewbum or genius? Probably a bit of both; this documentary remembers L.A.'s most popular literary figure after the similarly hard-drinking Raymond Chandler. Interviewees include Sean Penn and Bono, just two of the multitudes of less-gifted versifiers influenced by Bukowski.

Catch That Girl

A comedy by Bart Freundlich (World Traveler) about a young miss who plans a bank robbery to help her family.

Dirty Pretty Things

Stephen Frears' a drama about illegal immigrants holed up in an unsavory and perhaps lethal London tourist hotel. Oddly, Audrey Tautou is cast as a Turkish cleaning woman.

*Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary

Canada's Guy Maddin is well-remembered in a small circle of film fans because of his Tales From the Gimli Hospital. He has followed up making half-satirical films that exude the dead-flower fragrance of old melodramas and romances. Here he turns his attention to the most Gothic of Gothic tales, done as a mock-silent film with members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Exorcist: The Beginning

Paul Schrader (!) of Taxi Driver directs this return to the origins of Pazuzu: the demon that, like Rick James, nested briefly in Linda Blair. Stellan Skarsgård stars as Fr. Merrin (the part played by Max von Sydow in the original), matching wits with the creature in Africa during the 1940s. "The Exorcist is an accurate portrayal of ultimate evil"--a priest at Bethlehem Catholic High School, Bethlehem, Pa., 1973.

Wonderland

James Cox directs the story of the decline and fall of John Holmes, 1970s porn star, as enacted by Val Kilmer. It's a clammy tale of warped open relationships, too much drugs and the advent of AIDS. Moral: Despite what the spammers are telling you, a big penis doesn't mean happiness.



Revival Meetings

The summer includes the kind of cinematic retrospectives that make the Bay Area a desirable place to live

By Richard von Busack

"BIGGER THAN LIFE" is a 21-film tribute to Nicholas Ray running through June 20 at the Pacific Film Archive at UC-Berkeley. Best known for the James Dean picture Rebel Without a Cause, Ray's range is far more wide, from deathless noirs like On Dangerous Ground and In a Lonely Place to epics like 55 Days at Peking. His debut, the ahead-of-its-time doomed-couple crime drama They Live by Night, is a model for directors since, from Terence Malick (Badlands) to David Gordon Green (of All the Right Girls). This extensive Ray fest alternates with a select retrospective of Douglas Sirk (June 15-29): the director whose films All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life were the main inspiration for the art-house hit Far From Heaven.

The annual Silent Movie Film Festival comes to the Castro Theater July 12-13. This year's fest includes: Buster Keaton and his leading lady Brown Eyes the Cow in Go West (1925) and Lon Chaney Sr. in the berserk thriller/horror movie The Penalty (1920). Oh, what ever happened to villains who worked for a living? Here, playing a legless maniac named Blizzard, Chaney is simultaneously 1) planning grisly revenge on the surgeon who wrongly amputated his legs, 2) seducing the surgeon's artsy-fartsy daughter, 3) organizing an anarchist army against San Francisco, 4) and modeling for a life-size statue of Satan. Today, Kiefer Sutherland or Kevin Spacey kill a few measly victims and think of themselves as real multitaskers!

Closer to home, Palo Alto's Stanford Theater celebrates (May 28-June 19) the 100th anniversary of Bob Hope's birth with a series of new prints and rare revivals of Hope's popular and proto-nerd comedies, a major influence on so many comedians from Woody Allen to Adam Sandler. Sometime during the summer, also, is a 50th anniversary return of H-G. Clouzot's harrowing The Wages of Fear, the ultimate thriller about job-related stress.


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From the May 29-June 4, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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