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Now in our sixth calendar year!
PCR # 270  (Vol. 6, No. 21)  This edition is for the week of May 23--29, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
Summer's Here!

Commentary by:
Michael A. Smith

theater seats

A Truly Magic Moment
 by William Moriaty
Summer's Here!
 by Mike Smith
Remakes and Sequels....There is Only One George A. Romero
 by Drew Reiber
Seijun Suzuki-A-Go-Go
 by Peter Card
The Force Wasn't With Them....JawsFest On The Horizon....Monster Bash Also Looming
 by Matt Drinnenberg
From Last Week....Bad Hair Day....Who Are You?....Passing On....Jaws: The Story, Part 20
 by Mike Smith
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With the summer movie season finally getting a big start with the incredible $158 million five day box office gross of "Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," I thought I would take a brief look at what are the ten films I am most anxious to see this summer. Plot outlines courtesy of the Internet Movie Data Base. Please note that opening dates given are subject to change at the whim of the film companies.

Starring: Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti
Directed by: Ron Howard
What it's about: The story of Depression-era fighter and folk hero Jim Braddock, who defeated heavyweight champ Max Baer in a 15-round slugfest in 1935. In his first film since the underrated drama, "The Missing," Academy Award winning director Ron Howard re-teams with his "A Beautiful Mind" co-star, Crowe, in this sure to inspire true story.
Why do I want to see it: I can honestly say that I don't believe Ron Howard has ever made a bad movie. Crowe and Giamatti are two of film's most talented actors. Sadly, Ron's little brother, Clint, isn't in this one!

Starring : Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Directed by: Doug Liman
What it's about: A bored married couple is surprised to learn that they are assassins hired to kill each other. Though it sounds to me a lot like 1985's "Prizzi's Honor," it remains to be seen if Pitt and Jolie are this generations' Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner.
Why do I want to see it: Unless you've been on Mars the past few months, you know that Pitt and Jolie are the talk of the tabloid world. Back when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were an item the gossip helped sell tickets. These days, however, rumored romances can kill a movie, whether its a good one (Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan in "Proof of Life") or a certified stinker (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in "Gigli.") Besides, Brad and Angie aren't too hard on the eyes.

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Katie Holmes
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
What it's about: The story of how Bruce Wayne became what he was destined to be: Batman. No Nicholson, De Vito or Schwarzenegger. And Michael Caine as Alfred.
Why do I want to see it: It's Batman, dummy! Director Nolan ("Memento") is the perfect choice to do a serious film about the origins of the Caped Crusader. Bale looks great in the cowl and Oscar winners Caine and Freeman are Hollywood royalty. Plus: no nipples on the Batsuit that I can tell. And it gives me the chance to say "Katie Holmes" in print. I feel like I'm writing for People magazine!

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell
Directed by: Nora Ephron
What it's about: A producer remaking the classic sitcom "Bewitched" unknowingly casts an actual witch for the lead role. Yes, it's one of those "movies within a movie" that either work or crash and burn. Ferrell is cast as Darin Stevens in a new version of the 60's television show and recruits an unknown to play Samantha so that he can stand out.
Why do I want to see it: If you grew up in the 1960s and were a boy you either had a crush on Mary Tyler Moore or Elizabeth Montgomery. Me, I was a Liz man. Plus the show was pretty darn funny. This project has been delayed for years after the death of original director Ted Besell sent it back to the drawing board. Director Ephron, who wrote "When Harry Met Sally," and both wrote and directed "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" certainly knows her way around a romantic comedy.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
What it's about: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival. Director Spielberg has promised to be faithful to the original 1953 film in his portrayal of the Martian death machines and he and Cruise have been down the science fiction road successfully in the past with "Minority Report."
Why do I want to see it: After "Revenge of the Sith," this is easily the most anticipated film of the summer. And it's being released 30 years and 9 days after the granddaddy of all summer blockbusters, Spielbergs' "Jaws" was released. Plus, no matter if he's a sports agent, a secret agent or the last samurai, Cruise always delivers a winning performance. Whoa! Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes mentioned on the same page. I'm ready for US Weekly!

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans
Directed by: Tim Story
What it's about: A group of astronauts gain superpowers after a cosmic radiation exposure and must use them to oppose the plans of their enemy, Doctor Victor Von Doom. Lots of visual effects and Chiklis in 60 pounds of foam as The Thing. The big trouble will be making it believable. Many of the powers featured here were already utilized in "The Incredibles" and rumor is that one scene had to be completely scrapped because it was too similar to a scene in "The Incredibles."
Why do I want to see it: One of my favorite comic books growing up, I was a true follower of Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, the Human Torch and The Thing. I must admit that I always felt a kinship with Ben Grimm and his alter ego The Thing. Not that I ever turned orange and hollered, "It's clobbering time!" But I wanted to.

Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore
Directed by: Tim Burton
What it's about: A young boy wins a tour through the most magnificent chocolate factory in the world, led by the world's most unusual candy maker. Pretty self explanatory. Depp re-teams with his "Finding Neverland" co-star, Highmore.
Why do I want to see it: If ever a story called for the Tim Burton touch it's this one. Though the story is basically the same one told in "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," don't expect Depp to be as easy to love as Gene Wilder. He and Burton are the best actor/director collaboration since Robert DeNiro met Martin Scorcese.

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Greg Kinnear
Directed by: Richard Linklater
What it's about: A grizzled little league coach tries to turn his team of misfits into champs. Fans of the original will notice a very PC handling of the teams racial and social make up.
Why do I want to see it: Because the original is a classic. I can remember laughing at the idea of a girl playing baseball with me. And, as I've coached baseball over the years, I've had my own Tanner Reinholds, Kelly Leaks and even a Timmy Lupus or two. Thornton is a perfect choice for coach Buttermaker and the previews look hilarious. Besides, every summer needs at least one baseball movie. Sadly, to my knowledge none of the original Bears is making a cameo appearance. Can Jackie Earle Haley be THAT busy these days with his Texas based video production company? Though I'm happy to hear that Jackie is returning to the big screen in a big way, co-starring with Sean Penn and Jude Law in the remake of "All the King's Men."

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
What it's about: Cousins Bo and Luke Duke, with a little help from their cousin Daisy and Uncle Jesse ,egg on the authorities of Hazzard County, Boss Hogg and Sheriff Coltrane. Just think back to all those Friday nights you spent watching the General Lee jump over things.
Why do I want to see it: Because Knoxville and Scott are pretty funny guys, as is director Chandrasekhar, best known as one of the members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Though I'm worried by the fact that no less then SEVEN writers are credited for the script, how can you go wrong with Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg and Willie Nelson as Uncle Jessie? Sadly, no cameos here either. I know John Schneider and Tom Wopat are busy doing musical theater, but I haven't seen Catherine Bach in YEARS!

Starring: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline and Beyonce Knowles
Directed by: Shawn Levy
What it's about: A prequel to the 1964 Peter Sellers original film, where the detective must solve the murder of a famous soccer coach and find out who stole the infamous Pink Panther diamond. The original spawned no less then five sequels, including one with Roberto Begnini as Inspector Clouseau's son. Martin helped write the script, but the absence of creator Blake Edwards has me skeptical.
Why do I want to see it: Because Martin and Kline are two of the best film comedians of all time. Their scenes together in Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" were the highlight of the film and they have a genuine ease with each other that makes you want to see them again. I don't expect Martin to make anyone forget the late, great Peter Sellers and I seriously doubt he does either. Very big shoes to fill.

This week's commentary, "Summer's Here!", is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.