Persistent Visions

This season's cinema demands attention

Windtalkers Finally! John Woo's epic WWII movie about a Navajo communicator (Adam Beach) and the Marine (Nicolas Cage) assigned to protect him has seemed like a dreamy, slo-mo trailer for so long now, it's hard to believe we'll be seeing the actual movie. Budgeted at around $100 million, the film promises lots of Woo's explosive action as well as lots of brotherly soldier experiences. With Christian Slater. (MGM/UA)

June 21

Cinema Paradiso: The New Version In the tradition of Apocalypse Now and Amadeus, it's yet another highly acclaimed drama being rereleased with almost an hour of extra footage. In this case, Miramax initially trimmed footage from Giuseppe Tornatore's coming-of-age tale as a concession to perceived short attention spans stateside. It won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in the trimmed form, but Miramax is finally making amends to the spirit in which the film was made by restoring Tornatore's original cut. (Miramax)

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys Jodie Foster, who also produced, plays a one-legged nun who gets targeted for a mean prank by a gang of Catholic schoolboys (led by Kieran Culkin) unhappy with the punishment they received for drawing an offensive comic book. The comic book itself comes to life in animated segments designed by popular comic book artists Thomas Fleming and Todd McFarlane. Also starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Jena Malone. (ThinkFilm)

The Fast Runner The first-ever feature film performed entirely in the Inuit language. Based on a legend passed down through the ages, it apparently involves a love triangle, a mysterious shaman, and a man running naked through the snow. (Lot 47)

Home Movie American Movie documentarian Chris Smith once again turns his camera on real-life eccentrics, as he takes a look at people with unusual dwellings, among them a houseboat, an abandoned missile silo, and a treehouse in the rain forest. (Cowboy)

Juwanna Mann It's like a Mexican saying, "You want a man?" -- get it? This long-delayed comedy deals with a down-on-his-luck basketball player (Miguel A. Nunez Jr.) who stuffs his shirt and joins the WNBA as female player "Juwanna Mann." Enough said. (Warner Bros.)

Lilo and Stitch You know those animated movies about wicked, interstellar criminals who appear as cute pets to sweet Hawaiian girls? Here's one of those, directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, featuring the voice talent of Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, and David Ogden Stiers. (Buena Vista)

Minority Report Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, this Steven Spielberg picture features Tom Cruise as a cop in Washington, D.C., circa 2080. The kick is that he works for a division that fingers criminals before they've committed their crimes, and -- whoops -- he becomes one. Also stars Swedish people, such as Max von Sydow and Peter Stormare. (Fox)

June 28

The Emperor's New Clothes A fanciful historical tale in which Napoleon (Ian Holm) returns from exile in Elba to find an impostor (also Holm) in his place. Despite the title, it's doubtful that Holm will be seen prancing about in the buff -- the movie's actually based on the 1991 French novel The Death of Napoleon. (Paramount Classics)

Hey Arnold! The Movie Yet another Nickelodeon cartoon gets the big-screen treatment with animation that looks to be only up to small-screen standards (it was originally intended to air as a season finale). Still, the anti-corporate message of the film may be a good thing: Oval-headed Arnold must rally the neighborhood to keep a ruthless developer from razing it to build a new mall. In addition to the usual TV cast, the film features the voices of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Sorvino, and Christopher Lloyd. (Paramount)

Mr. Deeds It's nice to have Adam Sandler in the movies -- as opposed to in one's kitchen or bathroom. Here he gives Gary Cooper a run for his money in Steven Brill's remake of the Frank Capra classic. Winona Ryder and Steve Buscemi co-star. (Sony)

Pumpkin Sorority sister Christina Ricci falls in love with a "special" athlete (Hank Harris) and sparks fly all over campus. Sort of like a Freddie Prinze Jr. comedy, except the guy's actually retarded. Directed by Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder. (MGM/UA)

Sunshine State John Sayles (Lone Star) maintains his indie sensibilities with this character-rich drama set in small-town Florida. The director admits that he doesn't watch The Sopranos, but rather culled Edie Falco from Eric Mendelsohn's charming Judy Berlin and teamed her up with Angela Bassett. (Sony Pictures Classics)

July 3

Like Mike Fifteen-year-old Lil' Bow Wow (Calvin Cambridge) stars in this basketball fantasy about a pair of shoes with magical properties, once worn by Michael Jordan. It's directed by John Schultz, co-stars Robert Forster, Crispin Glover, and a bunch of NBA stars, and is based on a Gatorade ad campaign. If you loved Kazaam.... (Fox)

Men in Black 2 Noting that Will Smith makes more money than he does these days, Michael Jackson appears here briefly, perchance to screen-test his latter-day cinematic potential. Otherwise, it's Smith recruiting the memory-wiped Tommy Lee Jones to battle a sexy new alien played by Lara Flynn Boyle. Director Barry Sonnenfeld stands to wipe our memories of Big Trouble. (Sony)

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