May 6, 2004

Take One

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Arguably, last summer’s most memorable moments came from Johnny Depp’s radiant turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. But, of course, the widely adored Kill Bill, Bill Murray’s brilliantly sardonic performance in Lost in Translation, and the dazzling conclusion of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were just around the corner. This summer, the probable blockbusters include Troy, Shrek 2, and King Arthur, not to mention the highly anticipated remakes of The Manchurian Candidate and The Stepford Wives. However, many films scheduled for release this summer have been made, for the most part, under the radar. Here are just a few that may create some memorable moments of their own:

The Day After Tomorrow (May 28)

This action-packed thriller made from the director of Independence Day is visually stunning and deals with the often unpredictable forces of nature, as well as the desperate search by a father (Dennis Quaid) for his son. Global warming and the greenhouse effect have reached unprecedented levels, and a new Ice Age is beginning. Massive tidal waves, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes change the world beyond recognition, and special effects create chilling images of New York City frozen-over. Quaid’s character, a paleoclimatologist, travels to the city to attempt to save his son, while everyone else, naturally, attempts to escape.

Around the World in 80 Days (June 16)

This cinematic adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel stars newcomer Steve Coogan as Phileas Fogg, an inventor from London who makes an audacious bet that he can successfully travel around the globe in 80 days. Set in 1872, Fogg and his sidekick, Passepartout (Jackie Chan), experience numerous, exhilarating adventures as they travel to many foreign lands, including France, India, and China, encountering perilous situation after perilous situation. Of course, they are furtively followed by a detective. The book was remarkable, and hopefully this film will be as accurate as possible in preserving its integrity.

The Terminal (June 18)

In this moving film from director Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks stars as an immigrant from Eastern Europe who, upon arrival in New York, discovers that, in the preceding hours, the war in his homeland has reached the point where his nation no longer exists. Trapped with a voided passport from a now-nonexistent land, he resides at the terminal in Kennedy Airport, thereby temporarily creating his own self-sufficient yet absurd world of kindness, dreams, amusement, and coincidence, all while falling in love with a flight attendant (Catherine-Zeta Jones). Amazingly, the film is based on a true story; Merhan Karimi Nasseri was once stranded in a Paris airport for over ten years after someone stole a briefcase containing his refugee papers.

A Home at the End of the World (July 23)

Starring Colin Farrell and Robin Wright Penn, this film, from the writer of The Hours, recounts the complex lives of two best friends over a 12-year period from the 1960s to the 1980s. Amidst an intricate love triangle, the best friends question themselves and their lives as they deal with issues involving death and an unexpected pregnancy. The film, like The Hours, should be elaborate, yet well-conceived and poignant. The same might be said for another summer 2004 release, We Don’t Live Here Anymore, which, behind a terrific script — adapted from a pair of Andre Dubus short stories — and an insightful performances by Naomi Watts explores tension in marriages.

Honorable Mentions

De-Lovely (June 25) is a musical portrayal of composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kilne), reflecting on his life as if it were one of his dazzling stage shows; this moving narrative may be the Chicago of 2004.

Also, in the Ethan Hawke romantic drama Before Sunset (July 2), the two strangers from the original film Before Sunrise cross paths in Paris nine years later, but once again, their time together is limited, as they try to catch up and also figure out what might have been.

Finally, the refined thriller The Clearing (July 2) should create some excitement this summer, as it tells the story of a business tycoon, played by Robert Redford, who is kidnapped and must negotiate for his life.

Archived article by Avash Kalra