Persistent Visions

This season's cinema demands attention

Rain Kiwi director Christine Jeffs' feature debut is not without its charms. Based on the novel by Kirsty Gunn, this story of an adolescent girl's blossoming awareness offers a slow, sensuous contemplation of womanhood's threshold. The film takes place in 1972 in and around a cottage on the New Zealand shore rented by inert Ed Phelon (Alistair Browning) and his cuckolding wife, Kate (Sarah Peirse), with their two children, adolescent Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) and little Jim (Aaron Murphy). (IDP)

The Sum of All Fears Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams) does the Tom Clancy political thriller thing, with Ben -- loud throat-clearing sound -- Affleck attempting to fill Harrison Ford's CIA shoes from Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Necessary Roughness notwithstanding, producer Mace Neufeld loves his franchises (this one, the Omen movies, etc.), so expect a pushy push to get this going again. With Morgan Freeman and Bridget Moynahan. (Paramount)

13 Conversations About One Thing This ambitious relationship debacle from Jill Sprecher (Clockwatchers) weaves a complex narrative among confused New Yorkers, including Matthew McConaughey, John Turturro, Clea DuVall, Amy Irving, and Alan Arkin. What's the one thing? Who knows -- life, probably, or something like it. (Sony Classics)

Undercover Brother Damn if this doesn't promise guilty giggles -- especially that orange-soda-in-the-spin-out gag. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Spike's cousin), this comedy features Eddie Griffin (Double Take) as the soulful secret agent, a hero who could bump Austin Powers as the silly spy to see this summer. Co-written by John Ridley (Three Kings) and Michael McCullers (Austin Powers in Goldmember), the movie features James Brown as himself and toothy Denise Richards as "black man's kryptonite." (Universal)

June 7

Bad Company Having kinda-sorta redeemed his reputation in Hollywood with Flawless and Tigerland, Joel Schumacher returns to big-budget high concept with this Jerry Bruckheimer production about a street hustler (Chris Rock) who agrees to assume the identity of his late twin brother, a CIA agent, for one crucial mission. Anthony Hopkins is Rock's mismatched partner in action, thereby proving that every possible odd-couple pairing of actors in Hollywood will eventually happen. (Buena Vista)

Bartleby Crispin Glover stars in this comedic modern-day update of Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener. The day he tells the boss at a public records firm (David Paymer) that he'd prefer not to do an assigned task, all heck breaks loose. (Outrider)

Cherish Robin Tunney (Vertical Limit, Niagara, Niagara) plays a girl under house arrest trapped in her attic, where she mostly listens to '80s music and bonds with her supervisory officer, played by O Brother, Where Art Thou?'s Tim Blake Nelson. (Fine Line)

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood This'll be a fun title to use in your next game of charades. Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri directs this tale of a neurotic writer (Sandra Bullock) who learns life lessons as she discovers her eccentric mother's past. Via flashbacks, we get to see the life and times of Mom and her three best friends (the titular Ya-Yas) through the ages, as portrayed by three different actors apiece. Ellen Burstyn, Maggie Smith, Fionnula Flanagan, and Shirley Knight play the present-day ladies; Ashley Judd is among those playing the younger versions. The biggest chick flick of the summer. (Warner Bros.)

June 14

The Believer Considered too controversial for big-screen distribution until Showtime picked it up for a cable-TV run, this hot-button Sundance award-winner depicts the life of a Jew-hating skinhead (Ryan Gosling) who just so happens to be Jewish himself. Billy Zane and Theresa Russell are among his race-baiting mentors. (Fireworks)

The Bourne Identity Swingers director Doug Liman takes a crack at the Robert Ludlum novel, sprucing it up with extra action sequences designed to wow 'em at the multiplexes. Matt Damon stars as the spy with amnesia, with Run Lola Run's Franka Potente as the woman who helps him, y'know, run. (Universal)

Green Dragon The story of a Vietnamese brother and sister sent as refugees to an orientation center at Camp Pendleton after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. (Silver Nitrate)

Late Marriage Writer/director Dover Koshashvili (Im Hukin) explores the ups and downs of imperfect nuptials in this dramedy, wherein a 31-year-old suitor must gain the approval of his mother before marrying an older divorcée. Winner of nine Israeli Academy Awards. (Magnolia)

Les Destinées Director Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep) delivers a three-hour period epic about the turn of the 20th century and its effects on a small-town priest (Charles Berling). Emmanuelle Béart and Isabelle Huppert co-star. (Wellspring)

Promises This documentary, shot mostly in 1997 and '98 by Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg, and Carlos Bolado, explores the hearts and minds of a few Arab and Jewish preteens in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Precocious Torah scholars (Shlomo, Moishe) are juxtaposed with passionate Palestinian lads (Faraj, Mahmoud), and we get a strong sense that the constant battle for the Holy Land has had rather unholy consequences for their young spirits. It's the secular Israeli kids (Yarko and Daniel) and especially a graceful young Palestinian refugee (Sanabel) who offer the most hope. (Cowboy)

Scooby-Doo A great big, computer-animated Great Dane runs around a haunted amusement park with a bottle-blond Latino guy (Freddie Prinze Jr.), a danger-prone dipstick (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a stoner freak (Matthew Lillard), and a sexy, bespectacled chick (Linda Cardellini). It also stars Rowan Atkinson (Bean) as the villain, and is written by Craig Titley and James Gunn (the latter of The Specials), and directed by Raja Gosnell (Big Momma's House). You're probably going to give them your money. (Warner Bros.)

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