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Austin Chronicle Fall Film Round-Up

September Films

By Marjorie Baumgarten

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997: 


Bill Nighy, Philip Voss.

Love in the time of AIDS (pre-protease inhibitors) is examined in this story about an HIV-positive ballet star whose life becomes further complicated by the arrival of a most unlikely partner. (Sept. 26)


D: Nikita Mikhalkov; with Anna Mikhalkov.

From the Russian director of Burnt by the Sun, which won an Oscar for best foreign film a couple of years ago, comes this personal and political documentary that juxtaposes the collapse of the Soviet Union with the growth of the director's daughter, Anna. (Sept. 5)


D: Christian Duguay; with Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland, Ben Kingsley.

CIA master spy Donald Sutherland and Israeli agent Ben Kingsley devise a trap to catch the notorious international terrorist Carlos "The Jackal" -- a plan dependent on the grudging involvement of Jackal lookalike Aidan Quinn; it's the first of two "Jackal" movies slated for this season. (Sept. 26)


D: Tom DiCillo; with John Turturro, Sam Rockwell, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, Lisa Blount.

Living in Oblivion and Johnny Suede director Tom DiCillo adds a new wistful dimension to his offbeat humor with this road trip to self-discovery that stars John Turturro as a hard-working but emotionally distant boss and family man who sets off to find some half-remembered haunt from his childhood and winds up discovering a whole new approach to life; Turturro's guide along the way is newcomer Sam Rockwell, a backwoods naïf in a Davy Crockett cap who plays Pan to Turturro's uptight 20th-century man. (Sept. 12)


D: Marcos Zurinaga; with Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, Giancarlo Giannini, Jeroen Krabbe, Miguel Ferrer.

Puerto Rican director Marcos Zurinaga fashions a dramatic thriller around one man's obsessive quest to discover the identity of the killer of Federico Garcia Lorca, the great poet and playwright who was murdered under mysterious circumstances in 1936 at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. (Sept. 12)


D: Lee Tamahori; with Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle Macpherson, Harold Perrineau, L.Q. Jones.

The setting for screenwriter David Mamet's newest male bitchfest is a remote corner of the Alaskan wilderness, where intellectual billionaire Anthony Hopkins and hotshot fashion photographer Alec Baldwin struggle for survival after their plane crashes; Once Were Warriors' Lee Tamahori directs this tempest in the tundra. (Sept. 26)


D: Wim Wenders; with Bill Pullman, Andie MacDowell, Gabriel Byrne, Loren Dean, Traci Lind, Daniel Benzali, K. Todd Freeman.

German film auteur Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) creates a dramatic meditation on the intersecting effects of violence on various people's lives, one of whom is a successful Hollywood producer of action blockbusters. (Sept. 12)


D: Felix Enriquez Alcalá; with Steven Seagal, Marg Helgenberger, Harry Dean Stanton, Stephen Lang, Kris Kristofferson.

Steven Seagal here stars as an EPA agent who goes undercover to discover who is dumping lethal chemicals down abandoned mine shafts in Kentucky; Dallas-bred cinematographer Felix Enriquez Alcalá makes his debut as a feature film director. (Sept. 5)


D: Peter Cattaneo; with Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, Hugo Speer.

Six unemployed British steelworkers, led by Trainspotting's Robert Carlyle, are inspired to form an unlikely strip act to boost their tapped-out fortunes; somehow, the routine restores the confidence and self-esteem of these noticeably un-buffed and unprofessional dancers. (Sept. 12)


D: David Fincher; with Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, James Rebhorn, Deborah Kara Unger, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarine, Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Seven's David Fincher directs Michael Douglas and Sean Penn as brothers who can't stop playing the Game -- an expensive role-playing contest in which real conspirators and real bullets are part of the fun. (Sept. 12)


D: Shusuke Kaneko; with Tsuyoshi Ihara, Akira Onodera, Ayako Fujitani, Shinobu Nakayama.

In 1995, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the popular sea monster Gamera, the Daiei Co. of Japan created an all-new Gamera adventure, one that pits the turtle-like creature against the Gyaos -- giant flying lizards that feed on human flesh. (Sept. 12)


D: Frank Oz; with Kevin Kline, Tom Selleck, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley, Bob Newhart.

When a high school English teacher played by Kevin Kline is outed as a gay man by an unthinking former student (Matt Dillon) as he delivers his Oscar acceptance speech, the situation quickly leads to screwball farce; authored by playwright and humor writer Paul Rudnick, the movie also features a big smooch scene between Kline and Tom Selleck's aggressive tabloid TV news reporter. (Sept. 19)


D: Neil LaBute; with Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, Stacy Edwards.

Winner of the Filmmaker's Trophy at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this low-budget indie is a dark drama about contemptible behavior whose stark visual style suits its narrative and emotional economy; as two mid-level corporate men hatch a plot to humiliate a random woman, it becomes clear that the abuse is but one symptom of the pathology and perversion of power. (Sept. 5)


D: Matthew Harrison; with Kevin Corrigan, Linda Fiorentino, Michael Rapaport, James Woods, Burt Young, Lili Taylor, Olek Krupa, John Ventimiglia.

Kicked in the Head is a New York City love story helmed by Matthew Harrison, the writer-director of the lean and riveting low-budget film Rhythm Thief; this new one features a host of familiar New York indie actors and was executive produced by Martin Scorsese. (Sept. 26)


D: Curtis Hanson; with Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, David Strathairn.

This hard-boiled crime story is adapted from a James Ellroy novel and features Aussie actors Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce as the two adversarial cops, Kevin Spacey as a cop more interested in his rising celebrity, Danny DeVito as the editor of a sleazy tabloid, and Kim Basinger as the callgirl with the peekaboo hairstyle; it was a hit at Cannes this year, where the French can always be counted on to embrace a good policier. (Sept. 19)


D: Ela Troyano; with Irwin Ossa, John Bryant Davila, Jenifer Lee Simard, Alexis Artiles, Mike Ruiz, Annie Lobst, Dashia.

Taking its dramatic cues from the steamy luridness of Latin soap operas, this sexual roundelay focuses on Manhattan club culture and a group of straight and gay Latinos and Latinas, and one in particular who is trying to find his way out of the closet. (Sept. 5)


D: John Patrick Kelly; with Kate Capshaw, Jeremy Davies, Vince Vaughn, Paul Rudd, Daniel Meyer, Ashley Judd.

Swingers' Vince Vaughn plays a drifter who gets caught up in a sultry romantic mystery set in rural Kansas in 1960; the film's steamy sex scenes and a graphic depiction of a bull castration have been causing a bit of a stir in advance screenings. (Sept. 26)


D: Shirley Barrett; with Miranda Otto, Rebecca Frith, George Shevtsov.

Two sisters in rural Australia fall for the Barry White-loving deejay who's moved in next door; the Cannes award-winning black comedy is by a first-time filmmaker and features a soundtrack chock-full of Seventies classics. (Sept. 19)


D: Mimi Leder; with George Clooney, Nicole Kidman.

The first feature film from DreamWorks, the company formed three years ago by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, is a thriller about nuclear terrorism and is also the first feature film by E.R.'s Emmy-award-winning director Mimi Leder. (Sept. 26)


D: George Tillman, Jr.; with Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long, Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, Jeffrey D. Sams, Irma P. Hall.

Sunday night dinner proves to be the key ingredient for keeping a squabbling African-American family together after their matriarch falls ill; George Tillman, Jr. directs his debut feature for Kenneth "Babyface" Edmond's debut film production company. (Sept. 26)

Vanessa L. Williams, Nia Long, and Vivica A. Fox in Soul Food


D: Various.

This latest compendium of animated shorts boasts an international crop of premieres and the return of Nick Park's Oscar winner "Close Shave." (Sept. 12)


D: Jocelyn Moorhouse; with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Colin Firth, Keith Carradine, Kevin Anderson, Jason Robards.

Based on Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this farm family saga about a dictatorial patriarch and his three daughters has been described by the director Jocelyn Moorhouse (How to Make an American Quilt) as "King Lear in the cornfields" although early reports indicate that there's been significant abridgement of some of the book's more malignant dysfunctions. (Sept. 19)

Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in A Thousand Acres

Other September


D: Macky Alston.

Documentary filmmaker Macky Alston's search for his roots takes an unusual path when he sets out to find unknown family members: the descendants of the slaves once owned by his North Carolina family. (Sept.)


D: Brett Thompson.

Friends and colleagues reminisce in this documentary about the life and times of the notorious Grade-Z Hollywood auteur Ed Wood, the director of Plan Nine from Outer Space and the transvestite opus Glen or Glenda. (Sept.)


D: Philip Goodhew; with Julie Walters, Rupert Graves, Matthew Walker, Laura Sadler.

When a provincial housewife (Educating Rita's Julie Walters) in 1950s England begins having "intimate relations" with her young lodger, her daughter sees too much and her husband sees too little in this black comedy of murder and manners. (Sept.)


D: Manuel Gomez Pereira; with Javier Bardem.

Seeking upward mobility, a struggling actor takes a job as a phone sex operator in this Spanish screwball comedy. (Sept.)


D: Ole Bornedal; with Nick Nolte, Patricia Arquette, Ewan McGregor, Josh Brolin.

A law student, played by Trainspotting's Ewan McGregor, takes a part-time job as a night watchman in a morgue just as a serial killer begins terrorizing the city; for director Ole Bornedal, Nightwatch is his American re-make of a movie he made two years ago in Denmark, although this stateside version has a script by Steven Soderbergh. (Sept.)


D: Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell.

Teenagers who left home to ride the rails during the Depression are the focus of this documentary that contrasts the romanticism of the open road with the heartbreak of a nation's broken promises; the soundtrack features music by Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Doc Watson, and Elizabeth Cotton. (Sept.)


D: Nick Hamm; with Polly Walker, Vincent Perez, Franco Nero, Frances McDormand.

A young Irish girl working as a governess in Spain on the eve of the civil war finds herself enveloped in politics and forbidden love. (Sept.)


D: M. Night Shyamalan; with Denis Leary, Dana Delaney, Rosie O'Donnell, Robert Loggia, Joseph Cross.

A 10-year-old boy searches for meaning and answers from God following the death of his beloved grandfather; school-teaching nun Rosie O'Donnell helps him along the way. (Sept.)


D: Robert Kurtzman; with Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Reggie Bannister, Andrew Divoff, George "Buck" Flower, Tammy Lauren.

Wes Craven executive produces this horror pile-up -- an anthology that features Robert Englund ("Freddy Krueger"), Tony Todd ("Candyman"), and Kane Hodder ("Jason"). (Sept.)

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