Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Fall Film Round-Up

November Films

By Marjorie Baumgarten

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997: 


D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet; with Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Ron Perlman, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Michael Wincott.

Ripley, Sigourney Weaver's kick-ass action hero, is literally brought back from the dead for this fourth encounter with those alien predators; Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children's co-director Jean-Pierre Jeunet should be in his element directing the otherworldly aliens. (Nov. 26)


D: Don Bluth and Gary Goldman; with the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Kelsey Grammer.

The first release from the new Fox Animation Studios mixes adventure, comedy, romance, and music in this feature-length animated retelling of the drama of the last surviving Romanov princess; though eager to distinguish themselves from the pack, Fox seems destined to follow Disney's lead in fudging historic verisimilitude for the sake of carefree cartoon entertainment. (Nov. 21)


D: Mel Smith; with Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol, Pamela Reed, Harris Yulin, Burt Reynolds.

Based on the eponymous character of the BBC television show (seen here on PBS and HBO), Mr. Bean is a screwball character of few words who, in his feature film debut, plays a British museum worker sent to Los Angeles. (Nov. 7)


D: Paul Thomas Anderson; with Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, John C. Riley.

Set amid the late-Seventies L.A. porno film world, Boogie Nights puts its focus on an extended family of filmmakers who are trying to redefine the adult entertainment film industry; Mark Wahlberg gives his Calvins a workout as the ensemble's lead and Burt Reynolds plays the idealistic producer in this film by the 26-year-old director of Hard Eight. (Nov. 7)


D: Elia Suleiman; with Suleiman, Ula Tabari, Fuad Suleiman.

This Palestinian filmmaker's first feature film is structured as a diary about life in Nazareth and Jerusalem over the course of a few days; the award-winning film presents several vignettes that provide us with a variety of perspectives and points of view. (Nov. 21)


D: Kasi Lemmons; with Samuel L. Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Diahann Carroll, Jurnee Smollet.

Samuel L. Jackson produced and costars in this Louisiana family drama that's told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl; actress Kasi Lemmons makes her directorial debut. (Nov. 7)


D: Deepa Mehta; with Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Jaaved Jaaferi.

The modern transformation and social upheaval experienced in a New Delhi household is the subject of Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta's startling new film in which two neglected wives (and sisters-in-law) begin to question the traditional familial arrangement and increasingly discover and act upon their own needs and desires. (Nov. 7)


D: Les Mayfield; with Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher McDonald, Clancy Brown, Ted Levine.

Writer-producer John Hughes updates the Disney classic, The Absent Minded Professor, in which Robin Williams now plays the distracted flubber inventor. (Nov. 26)


D: Michael Caton-Jones; with Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Sidney Poitier, Diane Venora.

Bruce Willis gets an opportunity to play a villain, the ruthless assassin known as the Jackal, whose mission it is to eliminate the director of the FBI, Sidney Poitier; Richard Gere is cast as an Irish terrorist and underground operative. (Nov. 14)


D: Jonas Pate and Josh Pate; with Tim Roth, Renée Zellweger, Chris Penn, Michael Rooker, Ellen Burstyn, Rosanna Arquette.

Identical twin brothers Jonas and Josh Pate co-wrote and directed this psychological thriller about a brilliant murder suspect played by Tim Roth, who, when interrogated about the brutal murder of prostitute Renée Zellweger, turns the tables, on the cops. (Nov. 21)


D: John Musker and Ron Clements; with the voices of Rene Auberjonois, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll.

Ariel and the gang from Disney's popular multiple Oscar-winner of 1989 get a fashionable re-release just one week before Fox's new animation studio is due to release its much ballyhooed Anastasia. (Nov. 14)

Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta in Mad City


D: Costa-Gavras; with Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta, Mia Kirshner, Alan Alda, Blythe Danner, William Atherton, BiIl Nunn.

Costa-Gavras (Z, The Music Box) directs this hostage thriller in which John Travolta plays a laid-off museum security guard whose lethal rage becomes stage-managed by an unscrupulous TV journalist (Dustin Hoffman) who's been banished to a backwater market. (Nov. 7)


D: John Leonetti; with Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Deron McBee, Irina Pantaeva, Lynn Red Williams.

The sequel to the 1995 success promises even more butt-kicking action choreography and superhero derring-do. (Nov. 21)


D: Mike Figgis; with Wesley Snipes, Nastassja Kinski, Robert Downey Jr., Kyle MacLachlan, Ming-Na Wen.

Wesley Snipes plays a married man who can't shake loose his memory of a one-night fling with a married woman (Nastassja Kinski) in this new film by Leaving Las Vegas' Mike Figgis, who completely rewrote the original script by Joe Eszterhas. (Nov. 14)


D: Francis Ford Coppola; with Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Danny DeVito, Jon Voight, Mary Kay Place, Teresa Wright, Virginia Madsen, Mickey Rourke, Dean Stockwell, Roy Scheider, Andrew Shue, Randy Travis, Danny Glover.

Here we have a true match-up of the titans: The legendary Francis Ford Coppola scripted and directs mass-market novelist John Grisham's The Rainmaker (not to be confused with Coppola's early picture The Rain People); folks are wondering if the talented young actor Matt Damon has what it takes to become the next Matthew McConaughey. (Nov. 21)


D: Jon Avnet; with Richard Gere, Bai Ling.

Richard Gere plays an American entertainment lawyer on assignment in China who wakes up with a dead Chinese woman in his bed and is presumed to be guilty of her murder. (Nov. 26)


D: Paul Verhoeven; with Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Michael Ironside.

Humans fight giant alien bugs for the survival of the species in this sci-fi action adventure based on the Robert Heinlein novel and helmed by the director of RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and... Showgirls. (Nov. 7)

Other November

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control


D: Jean-Luc Godard; with Jack Palance, Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Fritz Lang, Jean-Luc Godard.

One of Frenchman Jean-Luc Godard's finest works, Contempt (1963) is a story about the making of movies and details the souring of both artistic and romantic passions; this re-release provides the opportunity to properly experience Raoul Coutard's widescreen camerawork and the pleasure of watching director Fritz Lang play himself. (Nov.)


D: Sidney Lumet; with Anne Bancroft, Albert Brooks, Helen Mirren, Kyra Sedgwick, James Spader, Jeffrey Wright.

The health care system goes under the knife in this new comedy from veteran director Sidney Lumet. (Nov.)


D: Errol Morris; with Dave Hoover, George Mendonça, Ray Mendez, Rodney Brooks.

Maverick documentarian Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven) here creates a warm and subtle meditation on humankind's will to endeavor; four seemingly disparate subjects -- a topiary gardener, a lion tamer, a photographer of mole rats, and a robot scientist -- are interviewed and then intercut by the filmmaker as they talk about their idiosyncratic passions for their life's work. (Nov.)


D: Bill Bennett; with Matt Day, Frances O'Connor.

Respected Australian writer-director Bill Bennett returns to his home turf after his disappointing foray into Hollywood with last year's Two If by Sea and delivers this sexy road movie about a couple of con artists who stumble into a plot involving an incriminating videotape, numerous murders, recovered memories, and double crosses. (Nov.)


D: John Greyson; with Brent Carver, Marcel Sabourin, Aubert Pallascio, Jason Cadiux.

Winner of the Canadian Genie award, Lilies is set in a men's prison circa 1952 and shows what happens when a bishop sent to hear the prisoners' confessions is forced to sit still while the men enact his own buried secrets. (Nov.)


D: Gillian Armstrong; with Ralph Fiennes, Cate Blanchett.

A gambling priest and a contrary businesswoman in 1860s Australia combine forces to bring a glass church to the outback in this new film directed by Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Little Women) and adapted from Peter Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel. (Nov.)


D: Kristine Peterson; with Molly Gross, Marisa Ryan, Jason Bortz, Bob Neuwirth, Natacha La Ferriere.

Members of an all-girl band in Seattle explore questions of love, ambition, and political activism as they apply to the realm of present-day alternative subcultures. (Nov.)


D: Peter Howitt; with Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Two parallel stories recount the different destinies experienced by Gwyneth Paltrow's English ad executive, whose future course in life will be determined by whether she makes it past the sliding doors of the subway and onto the train or is left on the platform. (Nov.)


D: Iain Softley; with Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache, Alison Elliot, Elizabeth McGovern, Charlotte Rampling.

London drawing rooms and Venetian palazzos at the turn of the century provide the backdrop for this passionate romance based on a Henry James story; the heart-vs-head drama is directed by Backbeat's Iain Softley. (Nov.)


D: Michael Winterbottom; with Stephen Dillane, Woody Harrelson, Marisa Tomei, Kerry Fox, Emily Lloyd.

Mixing news footage with dramatic scripting, Michael Winterbottom (Jude, Butterfly Kiss) shot this movie last year in the streets of Sarajevo; it tells the story of a war correspondent who shifts from dispassionate objectivity to active involvement. (Nov.)

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