Think Different

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

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle The genius of director McG's first Charlie's Angels was that it had something for almost everyone: girls kicking ass for the ladies, fetishistic costume changes for the guys, self-satire for the hip ironists, Tom Green for those who prefer less subtle humor, Crispin Glover for the weirdos, etc. It was a movie that made no apologies for its junk food consistency, and neither does the new one, by the looks of things. Green and Bill Murray are gone, but instead we get Bernie Mac and, uh, Demi Moore. (Sony)

The Hard Word Australian crossover stars Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths star in this heist movie from down under, which looks not unlike something Guy Ritchie might make (and remember, prior to Swept Away, that wasn't perceived as such a bad thing). There's a plan, a gang is assembled, and something goes wrong -- but the cast members have funny accents, which makes it different. So funny, in fact, that the movie's trailer actually spells out key lines of dialogue on screen. (Lions Gate)

The Heart of Me Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams star in this 1930s-era British romance, based on the 1953 Rosamond Lehmann novel The Echoing Grove (a better title, all things considered). Russell Crowe's imaginary friend Paul Bettany is the unfortunate fellow forced to choose between the lovely ladies. (ThinkFilm)

JaponThe feature debut of director Carlos Reygadas (and winner of several film festival awards from around the world), this drama tells the story of a suicidal painter (Alejandro Ferretis) befriended by an old woman (Magdalena Flores). The Chicago Tribune calls it "imaginative, dazzling." (Vitagraph Films)

The Legend of Suriyothai Historical epic about Queen Suriyothai of Thailand, who died defending King Mahachakrapat. Lavish production, set in the 16th century, edited in part by Francis Ford Coppola, who loves his pad thai. (Sony Pictures Classics)

On-Line This jury prize winner from the Cinequest film festival concerns a sad sack (Josh Hamilton) who starts an adult Internet site with his roommate. (Lightning Entertainment)

July 2

Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde Everybody's ... um ... favorite frilly Harvard Law School grad is back. Reese Witherspoon dons the pink and heads to Washington to fight for animal rights. Obviously, she begins by removing all animal products from the craft service tables and catering trucks and serving her Chihuahua vegan dog food. (MGM)

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Everybody's favorite public-domain Iraqi hero returns as a two-dimensional caricature voiced, natch, by Brad Pitt. Catherine Zeta-Jones voices the feisty sidekick chick and Michelle Pfeiffer the incongruous Greek goddess Eris. This is DreamWorks' only contribution to the summer screen. (DreamWorks)

Swimming Pool François Ozon follows up his delightfully weird musical 8 Women with this seemingly less delightful drama. British mystery writer Charlotte Rampling visits publisher Charles Dance's cozy abode in the South of France, but gets involved in intrigue with his daughter, Ludivine Sagnier. Looks moody, and iffy. (Focus Features)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Arnie's back, or something like that. Probably doesn't do the "nude Terminator" thing anymore though. Anyway, as the T-850 Terminator, he once again helps save humankind from those awful machines taking over the planet. Begging help are 18-year-old John Connor (Nick Stahl) and his girlfriend Claire Danes, who are being hunted by femme fatale "Terminatrix" Kristanna Loken. Franchise creator James Cameron didn't need the money, so Jonathan Mostow (U-571) directs. One question: Why don't the humans send back Robert Patrick to save everyone this time? Just curious. (Warner Bros.)

July 9

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Sometimes a sure thing at the box office isn't necessarily nauseatingly trite. This romp from director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) looks adventurous, atmospheric, and -- Geoffrey Rush excluded -- generally sex-ay. For sale is one Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings) as a lad who must team up with thickly eyelinered pirate Johnny Depp to save Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham) from bad pirate Rush. Based on the Disney ride, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and certain to earn a doubloon or two. (Disney)

July 11

Cet Amour-là Based on the true story of the love affair between sixtysomething alcoholic French novelist Marguerite Duras (Jeanne Moreau) and twentysomething personal secretary Yann Andrea (Aymeric Demarigny) over the last 16 years of her life -- as revealed in Andrea's tell-all book. (New Yorker)

I Capture the Castle Based on the debut novel by One Hundred and One Dalmatians author Dodie Smith, this romantic comedy sticks a couple of wealthy Americans alongside an eccentric English family living in a crumbling castle, sits back, and lets humorous situations ensue. (Samuel Goldwyn)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Apparently Sean Connery plays fictional adventurer Allan Quatermain here, and apparently he absolutely hated working with director Steven Norrington (Blade). Nonetheless, the movie got made, based on Alan Moore's zesty graphic novel, based in turn on classic characters such as Dr. Jekyll (Jason Flemyng), Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), and Dracula's Mina Harker (Peta Wilson). Takes place in Victorian England, thus -- like Fox's other Moore adaptation, From Hell -- shot in Prague. (Fox)

Madame Sata In case you were looking for a movie about Joao Francisco dos Santos, the transvestite chef who caroused through Rio in the '30s, well, here's one. Lazaro Ramos plays the titular "Madame" while Karim Ainouz writes and directs. (Dominant 7)

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