Think Different

Could it be that this year's crop of summer movies actually requires a brain cell or two?

Finding Nemo Pixar's latest computer-animated opus goes underwater in this tale of a young clown fish who gets kidnapped by a diver and winds up in a tank in a dentist's waiting room. Fortunately, the fish's dad (Albert Brooks) is on the case, with the help of a CIA father-in-law ... wait, wrong movie. The sidekick in this one is another fish, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. Advance word has it that the script isn't quite up to Pixar's usual high standards, but the deep-sea visuals look breathtaking. (Disney)

The Italian Job He tried stepping into Cary Grant's shoes in The Truth About Charlie; now Mark Wahlberg tries on Michael Caine's footwear for size. Wahlberg's not a bad actor, but he doesn't help himself by forcing comparisons to the greats like this. Italy, meanwhile, barely registers any screen time in this heist remake directed by F. Gary Gray (A Man Apart), and Edward Norton only appears as the villain because he was contractually forced to do so by Paramount. Mos Def, Seth Green, Charlize Theron, and Donald Sutherland also appear in what looks to be at least a strong ensemble. (Paramount)

The Sea Another one of those humanistic Icelandic slices of life. No, really. Young director Baltasar Kormákur delivered the scintillating navel-gazing of 101 Reykjavik, and with this film (originally titled Hafio) he returns with a sort of homecoming, focusing on a father calling together his brood to assemble his life story. If you're into Icelandic imports, Björk is also touring this year. You have choices. (Palm)

Together Chinese auteur Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin) returns with He ni zai yi qi, this tale of a young, aspiring violinist who travels with his father to the bright lights of Beijing. Another "boy's journey" sort of movie, and an obvious bid by Kaige to bridge the gap between his Chinese roots and Hollywood paychecks, but indeed it looks -- and sounds -- charming. (United Artists)

WisegirlsMira Sorvino, Mariah Carey, and Melora Walters (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) are waitresses at a Mafia-owned restaurant in New York City. It sounds like a comedy, but it's really a nightmare: Sorvino witnesses a mob hit, then gets paid off to keep her mouth shut -- and, well, you can guess the rest. (Lions Gate)

Wrong Turn Director Rob Schmidt of the iffy, pretentious Crime and Punishment in Suburbia has somehow managed to keep working. His latest concerns teens chased through the mountains of Virginia by -- what else? -- hideously deformed, inbred, cannibalistic mutants. In case you don't get enough of this in real life, you may consider joining Eliza Dushku and Jeremy Sisto for their little adventure. Or you may not. With effects by Stan Winston. (Fox)

June 6

2 Fast 2 Furious Star Vin Diesel and director Rob Cohen may have bailed on this particular franchise, but Paul Walker's still around, now directed by John Singleton, and hanging with a new bald-headed ethnic sidekick in the form of Tyrese Gibson. Multiculturalism was cited as a major part of the last film's success, so the cast also includes Ludacris, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, and the simply monikered Jin. We figure it's the fast cars people like, though, and there are plenty -- as long as they crash into stuff, it's all good. (Universal)

Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary In the beginning, there was Bram Stoker's vampire novel. Then the Royal Winnipeg Ballet turned it into a dance, scored with selections by Gustav Mahler. Canadian public television filmed this, and now it's coming to big screens here in the United States. Mostly black-and-white and entirely dialogue-free, this ain't your father's Dracula -- it's more like your great-grandfather's Dracula. After Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000, though, anything's an improvement. (Zeitgeist)

Marooned in Iraq Nope, it's not about your enlisted cousin -- well, probably not. Celebrated Persian director Bhaman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses) returns with Gomgashtei dar Aragh, this tale of Kurd musicians from Iran who cross into Iraq to save one of their own from oppression. (Wellspring Media)

Respiro Those who found themselves briefly envying Dustin Hoffman when Valeria Golina kissed him in Rain Man may take heart as the saucy Italian cuts loose here. She plays a young mother of three on a tiny fishing island whose antics lead local villagers to think her insane. Well duh -- she's an actress. (Sony Pictures Classics)

Sweet Sixteen English workingman's filmmaker Ken Loach (Poor Cow, Bread and Roses) delivers the story of a Scottish lad (Martin Compston) struggling to make a home for his mother, who's newly sprung from prison. Naturally, more hard knocks await. (Lions Gate)

Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters A potential martial arts-horror classic from the director of Time and Tide. Possibly jealous that John Carpenter gets a vampire movie with his name in the title, Hark similarly delivers ... well ... hunters who hunt vampires. This time, however, we join four students with elemental superpowers in 19th-century China. (Destination Films)

June 13

Capturing the Friedmans This documentary follows the dissolution of a seemingly typical family, after the arrest of father and son, and subsequent ostracism of the clan by the local community. But all was not as it seemed, and as the filmmakers took a closer look, disturbing questions were raised. (Magnolia)

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