Persistent Visions

This season's cinema demands attention

Notorious C.H.O. Filmed live at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, this is funny lady Margaret Cho's follow-up to I'm the One That I Want. (Wellspring)

The Powerpuff Girls Movie Little, hyper, buglike creatures fight evil. Oh hell, it's obviously a phenomenon, as the girls are even name-checked in the upcoming horror movie Infested. ("They rock," offers one character.) Here, director Craig McCracken utilizes a lot of groovy animation to tell their origin story. (Warner Bros.)

July 12

Blue Crush Pitched as a kind of The Fast and the Furious for female surfers, probably due to shared star Michelle Rodriguez, Blue Crush actually sounds more like that actress' Girlfight, as it depicts two ladies with boards (Remember the Titans' Kate Bosworth is the other one) who enter an all-male surfing competition. (Universal)

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course One of summer's riskier big-ticket films, Collision Course sees gung-ho Aussie zookeeper-cum-animal-wrestler Steve Irwin plopped into a fiction film about a spy satellite that's been swallowed by a wild crocodile. Irwin reputedly improvised all his own dialogue, which could make for either great entertainment or a total cinematic train wreck. (MGM/UA)

Lovely & Amazing One of two Catherine Keener movies due out this summer (the other's Simone), this romantic dramedy from Nicole Holofcener (Walking and Talking) is all about women's issues -- motherhood, daughterhood, appearance, self-esteem, that lot. It also stars Brenda Blethyn and Donnie Darko's Jake Gyllenhaal. (Lion's Gate)

Never Again Eric Schaffer (If Lucy Fell) gives us Jeffrey Tambor going to a gay bar to try his luck, only to encounter single mom Jill Clayburgh. Michael McKean shows up in support, but isn't it about time he did something big and weird instead of just helping his friends? (USA)

Reign of Fire What if real dragons took over the world and no one invited you? Not to worry, as Rob Bowman (The X-Files movie) will provide a convincing simulation, with Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, and Izabella Scorupco fighting big lizards in their back yard. (Buena Vista)

The Road to Perdition Yet another vengeance story, but quite the fancy one, starring Tom Hanks as a Depression-era Mob hit man, Paul Newman as his father, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as an unfortunate victim. Directed by Sam Mendes, whose American Beauty rode the DreamWorks bandwagon to the Oscars. They may as well stuff the envelopes for this one right now. (DreamWorks)

July 19

Eight Legged Freaks David Arquette and Kari Wuhrer fight giant poisonous spiders in this comedic actioner produced by Independence Day creators Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. Arquette's track record of late isn't the best, but based on the trailer, the arachnids alone ought to be worth the price of admission. (Warner Bros.)

Halloween: Resurrection You can't keep a bad guy in a white William Shatner mask down. Undoubtedly jealous that Jason got another movie, Michael Myers returns from the dead to battle Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks. Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal comes back to the series, and Jamie Lee Curtis' character shows up briefly. You'd think they'd at least wait until October to release it. (Dimension)

K-19: The Widowmaker Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson nearly nuke the North Atlantic in this dramatization of the 1961 incident wherein the Soviet Union's first nuclear submarine malfunctioned. Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days) directs. (Paramount)

Master of the Flying Guillotine The 1975 martial arts extravaganza from writer/ director Yu Wang returns to delight a new generation of people who enjoy watching other people kick and hit each other. Yu himself appears as the One-Armed Boxer, who's troubled by the titular character, who happens to be blind. New subtitled print features 10 minutes of additional footage. (Pathfinder Pictures)

Me Without You This London-based coming-of-age story comes from writer/director Sandra Goldbacher (The Governess). Featuring Michelle Williams and Anna Friel as two friends learning about life and love, the film also stars Allan Corduner (Arthur Sullivan from Topsy-Turvy) as well as Kyle MacLachlan and Trudie Styler. (Dakota Films)

My Wife Is an Actress Writer/director/star Yvan Attal makes his feature debut as a manly sportswriter confounded by his wife's dramatic tendencies. The wife is Attal's real-life wife, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Terrence Stamp plays the, um, straight man to their shenanigans. (Sony Pictures Classics)

Stuart Little 2 New mother Geena Davis returns to the big screen in a colorful and charming sequel sure to please the entire family, wherein she is, doubtless, as colorful and charming as ever. Also features Hugh Laurie and some sort of rodent. (Sony)

24 Hour Party People The Manchester (Madchester, as it was lovingly called) music scene finally gets its big movie break in this period picture (1970s to early '90s) by Michael Winterbottom (Jude). Although the Smiths were cut out -- what the hell? -- other faves are in, including Joy Division and the Stone Roses. (MGM/UA)

July 26

Austin Powers in Goldmember After resolving the somewhat groundless lawsuit from MGM (parody is protected by the First Amendment, remember?) by agreeing to attach a James Bond trailer to the film, New Line releases the latest Mike Myers spy parody with original title intact and several pointed jabs at MGM and the Bond franchise reputedly added. Myers returns as Austin, Dr. Evil, Fat Bastard, and new villain Goldmember, with Destiny's Child singer Beyoncé Knowles as love interest Foxxy Cleopatra, Michael Caine as Austin's dad, and Britney Spears as the girlfriend of Mini-Me (the sure-to-be-scene-stealing Verne Troyer). Expect at least one new catch phrase. (New Line)

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