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Your three-month forecast of the summer's top movies.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley
Directed by: Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)
Written by: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio (Shrek), based on the Disneyland ride
What it's about: Bill Nighy joins the fun as supernatural part-man/part-octopus villain Davey Jones, out to collect the soul of Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) just in time to ruin the marriage plans of Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth (Knightley).
Why you should see it: Depp's Jack Sparrow is one of the most entertaining characters in cinematic history.
Why you should not: Bloom is still a stiff. And Chow Yun-Fat is in part three, not this one.

Once in a Lifetime (Miramax)
Featuring: Pelé and Matt Dillon
Directed by: Paul Crowder (Riding Giants, Dogtown and Z-Boys) and John Dower
Written by: John Dower and Mark Monroe
What it's about: Matt Dillon narrates a documentary about the New York Cosmos, the soccer team that brought Brazilian superstar Pelé to America.
Why you should see it: The agony and the ecstasy.
Why you should not: There's soccer in it.

July 14

A Scanner Darkly (Warner Independent)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, and Woody Harrelson
Written and directed by: Richard Linklater, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick
What it's about: In the near future, a government drug-enforcement agent (Reeves) winds up being ordered to spy on himself. Like Linklater's Waking Life, the entire movie is done in rotoscoped animation, so it's hard to tell whether it really counts that Winona Ryder does her first-ever nude scene.
Why you should see it: Previous Philip K. Dick-based movies: Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall ...
Why you should not: ... also Paycheck, Screamers, and Impostor.


Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (Lions Gate)
Starring: Leonard Cohen, Bono, and the Edge
Directed by: Lian Lunson
What it's about: Lunson's doc about the singer-songwriter, featuring a pretty candid interview with the inexplicable ladies' man, uses a tribute show at the Sydney Concert Hall in 2005 to tell Cohen's beguiling journey from Montreal to a monastery on Mount Baldy.
Why you should see it: Because Lunson mingles footage of Cohen talking with scenes of his acolytes singing his famous-blue-raincoat songs.
Why you should not: See above; the performances are as mediocre as Cohen is magnetic.

Pulse (Weinstein Company)
Starring: Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder (Lost), and Christina Milian
Directed by: First-timer Jim Sonzero
Written by: Stephen Susco, with Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street), Tim Day, Vince Gilligan, and Ray Wright, based on the film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
What it's about: A remake of the J-horror flick Kairo: When the souls of dead kids start popping up on her server, Kristen Bell needs to seriously think about getting a firewall.
Why you should see it: Bell is fantastic as a teenage private eye on Veronica Mars, so she should be up for teen ghostbuster too.
Why you should not: If Hollywood is good at anything, it's taking a subtle, moody piece of art (like Kairo) and turning it into one long, steaming, bespangled turd.

You, Me and Dupree (Universal)
Starring: Matt Dillon, Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, and Michael Douglas
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo (Welcome to Collinwood)
Written by: Mike LeSieur
What it's about: Wilson's the best man in Dillon and Hudson's wedding, and when he loses his job after traveling to Hawaii for the wedding, they let him stay in their house.
Why you should see it: The Russos have estimable TV credits, including stints on Arrested Development and FX's woefully unappreciated Lucky.
Why you should not: There hasn't been a lovable Owen Wilson movie since ... since ... Bottle Rocket? That can't be right.

July 21

Clerks II (MGM)
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson, and Rosario Dawson
Written and directed by: Kevin Smith (Clerks)
What it's about: Dante (O'Halloran) and Randal (Anderson) are still slacking away their lives, except their twenties have turned into their thirties, and both work at fast-food joint Mooby's. In other words, this is what Kevin Smith does when his attempt at maturity (Jersey Girl) tanks, and he's left going back to the well. Again. And again.
Why you should see it: Because it's just like Clerks. With a Jason Lee cameo.
Why you should not: It really is just like Clerks.

Lady in the Water (Warner Bros.)
Starring: Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man), Bryce Dallas Howard (Manderlay), and Freddy Rodriguez
Written and directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village)
What it's about: A lonely apartment building superintendent (Giamatti) discovers a beautiful woman (Howard) in the building's swimming pool, who turns out to be a mermaid. And there are other supernatural creatures after her ...
Why you should see it: Advance word says there's no gratuitous twist ending this time. Shyamalan's a good director when he doesn't paint himself into a corner; even The Village had its moments until that terrible "surprise" finish.
Why you should not: This film's been labeled a "bedtime story." What does that even mean?

Monster House (Sony)
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, and Nick Cannon
Directed by: First-timer Gil Kenan
Written by: Pamela Pettler, Dan Harmon, and Ron Schrab
What it's about: Sounds like The 'Burbs meets Poltergeist: Three kids live next door to a creepy house that turns out to be ... duh-duh-dunh ... a monster.
Why you should see it: Uh ... uh ... it's animated?
Why you should not: Have you seen the trailer? Was it made in 1992?

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