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

Page 5 of 6

World Trade Center (Paramount)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Peña, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Oliver Stone (J.F.K., The Doors)
Written by: Andrea Berloff
What it's about: Cage and Peña play real-life Port Authority cops who made it out of the World Trade Center alive after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Word is this isn't the work of a paranoid Ollie Stone, but a sober, down-to-the-details docudramatization of the events of the day, already seen this year in United 93.
Why you should see it: Cage is at his best when playing an Everyman stuck in a horrific, real-life situation (his portrayal of an EMT in Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead remains among his career highlights, even if no one saw it).
Why you should not: Oliver Stone is a real hit-or-miss moviemaker; pray this is closer to Platoon and Salvador than Alexander or Any Given Sunday. Or Natural Born Killers. Or U-Turn. Or Nixon.

Zoom (Sony)
Starring: Tim Allen, Courteney Cox Arquette, and Chevy Chase
Directed by: Peter Hewitt (Garfield)
Written by: David Berenbaum (Elf)
What it's about: Remember that Disney movie Sky High, about a retired superhero and the superschool his kids attend? This is pretty much the same thing, but with a bigger budget. And it's based on an actual comic book, Zoom's Academy for the Super-Gifted.
Why you should see it: Sky High was fun ...
Why you should not: ... but do we need another version? Tim Allen instead of Kurt Russell isn't exactly what you'd call trading up.

August 18

The Night Listener (Miramax)
Starring: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, and Rory Culkin
Directed by: Patrick Stettner (The Business of Strangers)
Written by: Armistead Maupin & Terry Anderson (The Young Graduates) and Stettner, based on the novel by Maupin
What it's about: Williams plays a Garrison Keillor-like public-radio host who tells embellished stories of his life and friends, but when he receives the manuscript of a memoir from an abused child (Culkin), he doesn't realize that it may be equally embellished.
Why you should see it: Stettner deftly dealt with similar issues of deceit in The Business of Strangers; Williams can certainly be as annoying as your typical talk-radio host.
Why you should not: When it comes to drama, Williams is either spot-on (One Hour Photo) or insufferably mawkish (What Dreams May Come). His character here is a gay man whose lover has battled AIDS, which may mean lots of hugging, tears, and Williams doing that grinning thing that's supposed to make him look sad but really doesn't.

Snakes on a Plane (New Line)
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, some snakes, and a plane
Directed by: David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2)
Written by: John Heffernan and Sebastian Gutierrez (Gothika)
What it's about: The title really says it all here. For full disclosure, it really should be Snakes on a Plane with a Bald-Headed Badass Black Guy Who Yells a Lot. Yes the snakes deserve to die, and he hopes they burn in hell.
Why you should see it: Pay attention. Snakes. Plane. Samuel L. Jackson. What's not to love?
Why you should not: Sorry, there's just no good excuse not to.

August 18 LIMITED (WIDE ON SEPT. 8)

Trust the Man (Fox Searchlight)
Starring: David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Written and directed by: Bart Freundlich (The Myth of Fingerprints)
What it's about: Four New Yorkers in various stages of relationships hash out the old issues (sex, friendship, marriage, adultery) as they struggle to make sense of modern love. With jokes!
Why you should see it: The foursome of Duchovny, Moore, Crudup, and Gyllenhaal have more than their fair share of talent (and vowels). And it looks like it doesn't take itself too seriously, which is instant death in these kinds of movies.
Why you should not: Are you really concerned about the problems of rich, white, wealthy, beautiful, and well-apartmented Manhattanites?

August 25

Factotum (Picturehouse)
Starring: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor (I Shot Andy Warhol ), and Marisa Tomei
Written and directed by: Bent Hamer, based on the novel by Charles Bukowski
What it's about: Dillon plays Henry Chinaski (Bukowski's alter ego) in this movie about drinking, writing, having sex, and drinking. In other words, Bukowski.
Why you should see it: Dillon hasn't had a role this dark and juicy since Drugstore Cowboy, and the wonderful Lili Taylor just hasn't had enough roles, period.
Why you should not: Aren't we, as a people, dead tired of Bukowski yet? Mickey Rourke nailed it in 1987's Barfly, and there hasn't been anything new to say about talented but pathetic drunks ever since.

Lunacy (Zeitgeist)
Starring: Czech actors you're very unlikely to have heard of.
Written and directed by: Jan Svankmajer (Little Otik)
What it's about: Blending his trademark surrealism and stop-motion animation with live action, Svankmajer adapts two Edgar Allan Poe short stories and throws in some Marquis de Sade for good measure. Grave robbery, orgies, and a mad sanitarium feature prominently.
Why you should see it: Does it not sound fabulous?
Why you should not: All the fat goth girls in the audience will probably reek of cigarettes. And for a movie about a man-eating tree stump, Little Otik wasn't as good as it should have been.

Beerfest (Warner Bros.)
Starring: Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie), Cameron Scher, and Blanchard Ryan (Open Water)
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Written by: Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan (Club Dread)
What it's about: Two wacky lugs travel to Germany to enter, compete in, and perhaps maybe even triumph in a series of beer chugs. Seriously, that's it.
Why you should see it: It's possible to smuggle beer into a movie theater, but you're really better off with a pint of vodka to pour in a slushie.
Why you should not: Aside from the asinine concept, the label "from the director of The Dukes of Hazzard" packs the punch of a cigarette warning.

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