Film Scouts Comment

Preview of Christmas 1999 Films

by Thom Bennett
Ho, ho, ho-hum. Christmas comes but once a year, and along with the hustle and bustle and reindeer and shopping-mall Santas comes a bouillabaisse of Oscar hopefuls and feel-good schmaltz served up by the studios to combat the Academy's short attention span. So without further ado, here are a handful of holiday hopefuls to get you through the season.

Anna and the King (Dec. 17th)
Starring Jodie Foster, Chow Yun Fat
Picture, if you can, "The King and I" minus Yul Brenner, but plus Hong Kong action-god and John Woo-alum Chow Yun Fat, and you begin to get the picture. For those expecting a trademark Chow Yun Fat shootout, this is not the place to look. While the pairing of he and Foster may seem a bit odd, the engaging story of the relationship and battle of wits between the young governess and the King of Siam should prove to be a winner.

Magnolia (Dec. 17th)
Starring Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Bowen, Tom Cruise and a host of others
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Writer/Director Anderson's much anticipated follow-up to his highly successful "Boogie Nights" is a "Short Cuts"-esque tale of intertwining lives in California's San Fernando Valley. Featuring an all-star cast, multiple story lines, and, considering the curiosity factor of whether the young filmmaker can indeed follow up his initial success, "Magnolia" should have a little something for everyone.

Bicentennial Man (Dec. 17th)
Starring Robin Williams, Sam Neill, Embeth Davitz, Allan Rich, Oliver Platt
Directed by Chris Columbus
NO WAY! Robin Williams in a sentimental family film? Who woulda thunk it? This time, the hyper-kinetic Mr. Williams plays a walking, talking robot that just wants to be human - think Mork meets the Tin Man. For those who have not yet tired of the warm and fuzzy Robin Williams, "Bicentennial Man" may just be the thing to warm your heart during the Holidays (that is, if the Grinch doesn't do the trick first.)

Angela's Ashes (Dec. 24th)
Starring Robert Carlyle, Emily Watson, Shane Murray-Corcoran
Directed by Alan Parker
Based on the best selling, Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Frank McCourt, "Angela's Ashes" (for the dozen or so people who did not read it) is the true-life story of Mr. McCourt's childhood and struggles of his family in Ireland. Not the typical feel-good all over holiday film. However, under the direction of the fabulous Mr. Parker ("The Wall", "The Commitments"), the compelling story and two amazing actors (Carlyle and Watson) at the absolute top of their respective games, should offer a fulfilling trip to the movies and leave not a dry eye in the house.

Any Given Sunday (Dec. 22nd)
Starring Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, Lauren Holly, Cameron Diaz
Directed by Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone tackles professional football, warts and all, in this film about a third string quarterback who gets his big chance when the aging star quarterback is injured. As with any Oliver Stone film, there is at least some level of curiosity as to how he will approach his chosen subject. Add into the mix the Pacino factor and they may really have something here. A release date smack in the middle of football season can't hurt either.

Girl Interrupted
Starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Clea Duvall, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg
Directed by James Mangold
Based on the memoirs of Susanna Kaysen, "Girl Interrupted" is the story of her stay in a mental institution in 1976. A labor of love for Ryder, this poignant story may get trampled amongst the slew of holiday films. However, with a largely recognizable and likable cast under the guidance of director James Mangold ("Heavy", "Cop Land"), this film will hopefully find its audience.

Man on the Moon (Dec. 22nd) Starring Jim Carrey, Courtney Love, Danny DeVito Directed by Milos Forman In what is one of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory, Jim Carrey takes on the role of bizarre comic and cult icon Andy Kaufman. Perhaps the role Carrey was born to play, Andy Kaufman's multiple-personas-stranger-than-fiction life is an ideal subject for director Milos Forman to tackle. Could Jim Carrey finally get the Oscar attention that many felt he deserved for last year's "Truman Show"? Time will tell. However, how can anyone resist one of today's most versatile actors portraying one of the most manic personalities in recent pop culture history?

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