Spring Arts 2006

What to Watch For

Page 6 of 7

David Warner

Apocalypse Now: We're all going back to the future this season whether we like it or not, with a couple of high-profile movies hoping to make the most of the end of the world as we know it. First up, on March 1, is the long-awaited V for Vendetta, a big budget, big buzz project starring Natalie Portman as a budding revolutionary in a totalitarian society of the not-too-distant future. Next up is A Scanner Darkly (March 28), also set in a decimated near-future, in which director Richard Linklater imagines a world of rampant drug use and bad behavior. This one boasts a strong, bankable cast (Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves), some intriguing ideas (sourced from a Philip K. Dick novel) and a continuation of that blending of live action and animation that Linklater pioneered in Waking Life.

The Good Stuff: All of those movies that haven't opened yet but that you keep hearing such amazing things about — the ones that have wracked up award after award at Cannes and the other big festivals — well, they're all going to start rolling into local theaters over the next few months. Be on the lookout for Tommy Lee Jones' magnificent Three Burials of Mequiades Estrada (tentatively opening Feb. 24 at Sunrise Cinemas in Tampa); Manderlay (Lars von Trier's love-it-or-hate-it follow-up to Dogville); Thank You for Smoking (the quirky little indie comedy that generated an ugly bidding war at the most recent Toronto Film Festival); Dave Chappelle's much admired Block Party; the minimalist high-art masterpieces L'Enfant and Cache; and the broody Russian sci-fi epic Night Watch. And all you gluttons for punishment take note: Guy Ritchie's new film Revolver should be showing up sometime soon too.

Festival Fever: Film festival season in Florida starts any second now, beginning with the buffet of foreign films served up by the Tampa International Film Festival. From Feb. 2-11, TIFF will present films from Argentina, France, Peru, Spain and Hungary, highlighted by a retrospective of acclaimed Indian director Buddhadeb Dasgupta (who'll be flying in for the event). Then, before you can even catch your breath, the season's second cinematic shindig will be upon us when the 10th Annual Tampa Jewish Film Festival rolls into town from Feb 8-20. Orlando gets in on the action with its long-running Florida Film Festival, March 24-April 2, and Sarasota weighs in with, you guessed it, the Sarasota Film Festival, March 30-April 9. The season ends with a bang on April 5-12, when Tampa's always unpredictable Ybor Festival of the Moving Image kicks off, complete with a personal appearance by legendary filmmaker Les Blank. www.sarasotafilmfestival.com, www.jewishtampa.com, www.floridafilmfestival.com, www.yborfilmfestival.com, www.tampafilmfest.com.

Idlewild: OK, I'll believe this one when I actually see it with my own eyes. Still, the studio suits are claiming that Outkast's long-delayed big screen project is almost certain to show up in theaters sometime very soon, which could be good news for viewers who like their movies and their music large, loopy and full of peculiar hooks. Idlewild stars Outkast's Andre 3000 and Big Boi as 1930s nightclub musicians dealing with gangsters trying to muscle in on their turf, and early reports are calling the film a lavish wink at old-school Hollywood spectacles. Sounds like this could be great stuff. Then again, I'm one of those suckers who couldn't wait to see Under the Cherry Moon.

Filmy Fun for the Whole Family: Hollywood tends to fill its winter and fall months with serious dramas, and we all know what summer is for. But spring is time for recharging the old batteries and lightening up with film fare that goes down smooth and easy. The wee ones will have plenty to keep them busy over the coming months, beginning with this week's Nanny McPhee and continuing on through the season with a live action Curious George (Feb. 10) and a trio of animated takes on our fine, furry friends: Over the Hedge (March 17), The Wild (April 14) and Ice Age 2 (March 31). Meanwhile, adults can enjoy low-cal entertainment with non-threatening comedies like Robin Williams' R.V. (March 17), the long postponed remake of The Pink Panther (Feb. 10), the Scary Movie-esque spoof of romantic comedies Date Movie (Feb. 17), and, speaking of the devil, Scary Movie 4 (April 14).

Endless Summer: Spring is in the air, but summer (that most lucrative of cine-seasons) is never far from Hollywood's heart. Old farts like Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis will be racing about the screen trying to convince us they've still got what it takes in Firewall (Ford vs. kidnappers) and 16 Blocks (Willis under siege as a New York City detective), opening Feb. 7 and March 3 respectively. Kiefer Sutherland will be doing a modified version of his 24 shtick when he races against time to foil a catastrophic plot in The Sentinel on April 24. Multiplexes will play host to the ghosts of 9/11 on April 28 with the arrival of the long-awaited Flight 93, the story of the one terrorist-hijacked plane that didn't hit its target. And summer's celluloid harbinger shows up on May 5 when Tom Cruise struts into town with MI3, the latest installment of the popular Mission Impossible franchise. Summer officially begins the week after (with a remake of The Poseidon Adventure) and it's all downhill from there, so enjoy while you can.

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