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Wednesday, September 9, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Seattle Times' Guide To Fall Arts -- Movies

After the summer of "Saving Private Ryan," what can "The Thin Red Line" tell us about World War II warfare?

Now that we've seen "The Truman Show," do we really need Eddie Murphy's commentary on media overkill in the upcoming "Holy Man"?

Usually the fall movie schedule promises the kind of substance, quality and variety that rarely turn up during a hot-weather season dominated by car chases and dim comedies. That's not the case this year.

It may very well be that we've already seen the 1998 movies that will be taking home most of the Academy Awards next spring.

Still, the rest of the year does look strong at the multiplexes, particularly if you're a fan of such directors as Terrence Malick and Martin Brest, who are returning after an absence of several years, or if you simply can't get enough of such busy actors as Edward Norton, Christina Ricci, Billy Crudup, Ian McKellen, Meryl Streep, Drew Barrymore, Ewan McGregor, Fairuza Balk and Vince Vaughn.

The fall list includes movie versions of Toni Morrison's "Beloved," Anna Quindlen's "One True Thing" and the prize-winning play "Dancing at Lughnasa," plus comeback attempts from such directors as John Dahl ("Rounders"), John Waters ("Pecker"), John Frankenheimer ("Ronin") and Roland Joffe ("Goodbye, Lover"). Also: two computer-animated cartoons about insects, a Halloween logjam of horror movies and a cartoon biblical epic, "Prince of Egypt."

There will be remakes of "The Shop Around the Corner," "The Out of Towners," "Gloria" and "Psycho," sequels to "Babe" and "I Know What You Did Last Summer," and numerous reissues, including "The Big Chill," "The Wizard of Oz," a four-hour version of "The Last Emperor" and a re-edited version of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil."

As a class act, "Saving Private Ryan" may prove impossible to top. But the studios appear to be trying.

--------- Best bets ---------

"Without Limits." Warner Bros. has bounced around the opening date several times for Robert Towne's uncommonly intelligent sports film, starring Billy Crudup as a doomed Oregon track star, Steve Prefontaine. Donald Sutherland plays his coach. Originally set for February, then April, it now appears to be opening this month. It was co-produced by Tom Cruise (who felt he was too old to play the role), and tells essentially the same story as Disney's early-1997 release, "Prefontaine," in which Jared Leto played Prefontaine.

"God Said Ha!" Spokane-raised Julia Sweeney's outstanding film of her one-woman stage show took top honors at the Seattle International Film Festival, winning the Golden Space Needle for best picture. It's based on a series of personal catastrophes that began with the news that her brother was dying of cancer. The subject sounds grim, but Sweeney deals less with approaching death than with the extraordinary and sometimes comic circumstances that accompanied the situation.

"Gods and Monsters." This year's Golden Space Needle for best director went to Bill Condon for his imaginative version of the last days of horror-film director James Whale. Based on Christopher Bram's 1995 novel, "Father of Frankenstein," it stars the droll Ian McKellen as Whale and Brendan Fraser in a career-peak performance as his gardener. When he brought the movie to the Seattle International Film Festival in May, Condon called it "a comedy about death," but it's so much more than that - funny, touching, multi-leveled and altogether unique. It's now set for a pre-Halloween limited release that may include Seattle.

--------- September ---------

"One True Thing." Carl Franklin, who made "One False Move" and "Devil in a Blue Dress," directed this adaptation of Anna Quindlen's novel about a New York reporter who moves home to help her parents. Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellweger head the cast.

"Simon Birch." Previously known as "A Small Miracle," this adaptation of John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany" stars Joseph Mazzello as a fatherless boy who develops a strong friendship with a tiny outcast (Ian Michael Smith). Ashley Judd, Oliver Platt and David Straithairn are the adults with the most prominent roles.

"Digging to China." Timothy Hutton made his directing debut with this story of a mentally retarded man (Kevin Bacon) who befriends a child (Evan Rachel Wood) who has lost her mother (Cathy Moriarty).

"The Best Man." Italy's entry in this year's foreign-film Oscar sweepstakes deals with the consequences of an arranged marriage. The title character is an immigrant who comes home to find that he will be more than a best man at a friend's wedding.

"Permanent Midnight." Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo co-star in this drama based on Jerry Stahl's autobiographical tale of heroin addiction.

IMAX Film Festival. This actually began yesterday and runs through Sept. 27, as the Pacific Science Center bids farewell to its old IMAX theater with a collection of past hits including "Chronos," "To Fly," "Beavers," "Antarctica" and "Fires of Kuwait." The Center's new theater, which will be equipped for 3-D presentations, opens in mid-October.

"Rounders." Director John Dahl, the film-noir specialist who made "The Last Seduction" and "Red Rock West," is back with this story about high-stakes underground poker-playing in New York. The hot cast includes a pair of recent Academy Award winners, Matt Damon ("Good Will Hunting") and Martin Landau ("Ed Wood"), plus Edward Norton, John Malkovich and John Turturro.

"Let's Talk About Sex." First-time writer-director Troy Beyer stars in this tale of a budding talk-show host who enlists her roommates to help her gather interview footage from 250 women.

Mira! Festival de Cine y Video Latino 1998. Another festival celebrating Latino culture through film, video and performance. It will be held Sept. 14-20 and includes an appearance by Edward James Olmos, who appears in three films: the brand-new "Wonderful Ice Cream Suit," "The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez" and "Mi Familia."

"Rush Hour." Chris Tucker plays an FBI agent and Jackie Chan is a security chief in this action comedy directed by Brett Ratner, who made Tucker's "Money Talks."

"Touch of Evil." This new "director's edition" marks the second attempt by Universal Studios to present Orson Welles' 1958 film-noir classic in a version closer to his original intentions. The 95-minute version released in 1958 was replaced in the 1970s by a version that included 10 previously unseen minutes. This new edition, supervised by Walter Murch, Bill Varney and film historian Rick Schmidlin, follows the instructions in a 58-page memo Welles wrote in 1958. It was ignored by studio executives at the time.

"The Water Boy." Adam Sandler wrote the script for this comedy, in which he also plays a college football-team water boy who has a special talent. Kathy Bates and Fairuza Balk fill out the cast.

"Pecker." Christina Ricci, Martha Plimpton and Edward Furlong co-star in writer-director John Waters' comedy of contrasts between the New York art world and blue-collar Baltimore.

"The Deep End of the Ocean." Stephen Schiff, who adapted the new version of "Lolita," did the script for this film of Jacquelyn Mitchard's novel about a family that loses a 3-year-old son. Michelle Pfeiffer, Treat Williams and Whoopi Goldberg are the stars.

"A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries." The latest Ivory/Merchant production focuses on an American family living in Paris in the mid-1960s. Barbara Hershey and Kris Kristofferson play the parents of the young heroine (Leelee Sobieski). The script is based on the experiences of Kaylie Jones, daughter of "Thin Red Line" novelist James Jones.

"Ronin." Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgard co-star in this thriller about a group of secret agents who hire themselves out for private purposes. John Frankenheimer is the director.

"Urban Legend." Yet another "Scream" spin-off. Alicia Witt plays an endangered New England college student who suspects that a series of murders is based on the legend that a psychology professor once killed six of his students. Also in the cast: Jared Leto as an ambitious journalism major and Joshua Jackson as a practical joker.

"Sonatine." An earlier film from star-director Takeshi Kitano, whose "Fireworks" caused a sensation earlier this year.

"Point of Order." A new 35mm print of Emile DeAntonio's great 1964 documentary about the Army-McCarthy hearings.

"Goodbye, Lover." Patricia Arquette, Ellen De Generes and Dermot Mulroney co-star in this black comedy about greed and a family inheritance. The director is Roland Joffe, who made "The Killing Fields" and "The Mission," and has so far demonstrated a gift for comedy only with his Demi Moore remake of "The Scarlet Letter."

"Without Limits." Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne, who made his directing debut with the 1982 track film "Personal Best," returns to the subject with this fine biography of Steve Prefontaine.

"Phoenix." Danny Cannon, who made "Judge Dredd," directed this film noir about a corrupt Arizona cop, starring Ray Liotta, Anthony LaPaglia and Anjelica Huston.

"Shadrach." William Styron's coming-of-age short story about a 99-year-old ex-slave (John Franklin Sawyer) and the child (Scott Terra) he influences in mid-1930s Virginia. Harvey Keitel and Andie MacDowell play the impoverished parents of seven children. Jonathan Demme is one of the executive producers.

------- October -------

"Spike and Mike's 1998 Festival of Animation." This year's edition includes the 1998 Oscar winner for best animated short subject, "Geri's Game," plus recent prize winners from Sweden and England.

"The Mirror (Ayneh)." A new Iranian production about a lost little girl who takes a bus home from school, hoping it's the right one. The latest film from the director of "The White Balloon," Jafar Panahi, it had its local premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival and returns Oct. 2 for a weeklong run at the Varsity.

"Strangeland." Psychological thriller about a hunt for a killer, starring Dee Snider, Elizabeth Pena and Robert Englund.

"Lolita." Already shown on cable, Adrian Lyne's remake of the Vladimir Nabokov novel, starring Jeremy Irons as Humbert Humbert and Dominique Swain in the title role, makes its local theatrical debut Oct. 2.

"Habit." Director Larry Fessenden is scheduled to present this new horror movie at the Grand Illusion, which will show other horror films through Oct. 30.

"Living Out Loud." Adult comedy about an elevator operator who falls in love with a divorcee. Directed and written by Richard LaGravenese, it stars Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito and Queen Latifah.

Seattle Lesbian/Gay Film Festival, Oct. 23-29. No titles have been announced for the third annual edition of this series. At press time, no dates had been announced for the Polish Film Festival or the Eastside Film Festival, but they usually take place in October too.

"Detroit 9000." Quentin Tarantino's distribution arm, Rolling Thunder, is releasing this 1972 blaxploitation epic starring Rudy Challenger as Michigan's first black gubernatorial candidate. Alex Rocco and Scatman Crothers are in the cast, and the director is Arthur Marks ("Friday Foster," "Buckstown").

"Universal Comedy." The Varsity has booked eight days of new 35mm prints of comedies owned by Universal Studios, including "Duck Soup," "Sullivan's Travels," "The Palm Beach Story," "My Little Chickadee" and "My Man Godfrey." The fun begins Oct. 18.

"I Want You." Michael Winterbottom's drama about a parolee obsessed with a former lover, starring Alessandro Nivola, Rachel Weisz and Labina Mitevska.

"Antz." Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone and Gene Hackman are among the voices for this computer-animated cartoon from DreamWorks. Allen has the title role: a whining insect.

"What Dreams May Come." Vincent Ward, who made "The Navigator" and "Map of the Human Heart," directed this adaptation of Richard Matheson's book about a dying man (Robin Williams) who cannot accept his fate. Cuba Gooding Jr., Max von Sydow, Annabella Sciorra and Rosalind Chao are in the cast.

"Bride of Chucky." Jennifer Tilly and Brad Dourif co-star in this Universal release about a doll in a white wedding dress that turns into a pint-sized, homicidal harlot. Directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Ronny Yu.

"Holy Man." Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum co-star in this story about a cable programming director who hires a spiritualist. Tom Schulman, an Oscar winner for "Dead Poets Society," worked on the script. The director is Stephen Herek, who made "Mr. Holland's Opus" and the live-action remake of "101 Dalmatians."

"Esmeralda Comes at Night." Jaime Humberto Hermosillo's whimsical story of a nurse, played by Maria Rojo, who is happily married to five husbands and plans to wed a sixth.

"Practical Magic." Filmed in the Northwest, this "Bewitched"-style comedy stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as orphaned sisters who grew up in the eccentric household of their sorcerer aunts (Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing). Based on Alice Hoffman's novel, it was directed by Griffin Dunne.

"Chicago Cab." Julianne Moore, Gillian Anderson and John Cusack co-star in this story of a Chicago cab driver (Paul Dillon) who provides therapy to his customers. It recently had its local premiere at Bumbershoot.

"Beloved." Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Civil War slavery, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Beah Richards, Irma P. Hall and Thandie Newton. The script is partly the work of Richard LaGravenese, who did "The Bridges of Madison County."

"Clay Pigeons." Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix, co-stars in "Return to Paradise," are together again in this story of a serial killer who happens to arrive in a small town at the same time as a couple of killings. Scott Wilson is the suspicious sheriff, and Janeane Garofalo plays an eccentric FBI agent.

"Orgazmo." Trey Parker, co-creator of "South Park" and star of "BASEketball," wrote, directed and stars in this story of a hunky Mormon, Joe Young, who becomes a porn star. Dian Bacher plays his sidekick.

"Everest." The most popular IMAX movie to date, this account of the tragic 1996 Everest climb will open the new IMAX theater at Pacific Science Center on Oct. 22. The theater is the first in the state to be equipped for 3-D IMAX productions - some of which may open before the end of the year.

"Apt Pupil." Bryan Singer, whose last film, "The Usual Suspects," won a couple of Academy Awards, is back with this adaptation of Stephen King's novella about a fugitive Nazi war criminal (Ian McKellen) who is blackmailed by a fascinated high-school student (Brad Renfro). Also in the cast: Bruce Davison, Joe Morton, Joshua Jackson, David Schwimmer, Elias Koteas.

"Soldier." Futuristic action movie starring Kurt Russell as a veteran of numerous galactic conflicts and Jason Scott Lee as a next-generation fighting machine. Directed by Paul Anderson, who made "Shopping," "Event Horizon" and the first "Mortal Kombat."

"Pleasantville." Steven Soderbergh co-produced this comedy about teenagers who get trapped in a black-and-white 1950s sitcom. Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels and William H. Macy play the adults, and Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon are the kids.

"Home Fries." Romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore as a pregnant woman whose affair with a married man leads to unexpected complications when he dies. Catherine O'Hara is his Machiavellian widow. The director, Dean Parisot, won an Academy Award for his short, "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings."

"Life is Beautiful." Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, writer-director-actor Roberto Benigni's latest movie is a different kind of Holocaust drama, about a book-shop owner who is sent to a concentration camp just three months before the end of World War II.

"Slam." Marc Levin's much-praised tale of a pot dealer who gets slapped with a stiff sentence when he tries to flee the scene of a shooting. Washington D.C.'s mayor, Marion Barry, plays a judge. Winner of the jury prize for best drama at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.

"The Mighty." Rodman Philbrick's novel about two teenage outcasts, played by Kieran Culkin and Elden Henson, who make up for each other's limitations when they become friends. Sharon Stone plays Culkin's mother, Gena Rowlands and Harry Dean Stanton are Henson's grandparents, and the director is Peter Chelsom ("Funny Bones").

"The Impostors." Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott, the creators of "Big Night," follow it up with this slapstick farce about mistaken identity. Tucci and Oliver Platt play down-and-out performers involved in a series of misunderstandings, and the supporting cast includes Steve Buscemi, Isabella Rosellini and Lili Taylor.

"Gods and Monsters." Bill Condon's terrific adaptation of Christopher Bram's 1995 novel, "Father of Frankenstein," with Ian McKellen as horror-film director James Whale and Brendan Fraser as his gardener. Winner of the best director prize for Condon at this year's Seattle International Film Festival.

"The Mummy." Michael Almereyda, who made the arty vampire movie, "The Addiction," is the man behind this Halloween-week release.

"John Carpenter's Vampires." Also scheduled to be released the day before Halloween, this latest horror film from the director of "Halloween" stars James Woods as a vampire slayer who battles a vicious 600-year-old vampire (Thomas Ian Griffith) in modern New Mexico. Tim Guinee and Daniel Baldwin play his assistants. It's based on a novel by John Steakley.

"Celebrity." The opening-night attraction at the New York Film Festival this month, Woody Allen's latest comedy deals with celebrity in some of its most ridiculous forms. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kenneth Branagh, Winona Ryder and Melanie Griffith are in the cast.

"American History X." Tony Kaye's drama about a man's attempt to change the course of his brother's violent life, starring Edward Norton, Edward Furlong and Fairuza Balk.

-------- November --------

"Carla's Song." Ken Loach's latest film stars Robert Carlyle as a Scottish bus driver who has an affair with a Nicaraguan emigre (Oyanka Cabezas). Scott Glenn plays an ex-CIA operative with an attitude.

"I Married a Strange Person." Oregon animator Bill Plympton's latest feature is the 80-minute tale of a newlywed couple who run into trouble when the husband discovers he has a kind of Midas touch: He can turn his thoughts into reality.

"The Big Chill." It's the 15th anniversary of this aging-boomer classic, so Sony Pictures Entertainment is rolling it out in theaters again, accompanied by a remastered CD of the Motown soundtrack. It apparently includes no restored footage, although Kevin Costner had a prominent role that wound up on the cutting-room floor before the first release in 1983.

"Stepmom." Chris Columbus, who directed "Home Alone" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," is the director behind this story of an unlikely friendship between a divorced mother (Susan Sarandon) and the career-minded girlfriend (Julia Roberts) of her ex-husband (Ed Harris).

"I'll Be Home For Christmas." Jonathan Taylor Thomas gets a girlfriend in this Disney vehicle from Arlene Sanford, who directed "A Very Brady Sequel."

"The Eel." Shohei Imamura, who won the top prize at the 1983 Film Festival for "The Ballad of Narayama," won it again last year for this adaptation of Akira Yoshimura's novel, "Sparkles in the Darkness." It's about an outcast ex-con who killed his wife and communicates mostly with a pet eel.

"I Still Know What You Did Last Summer." "Scream" specialist Kevin Williamson, who wrote the original "I Know What You Did Last Summer," isn't listed in the credits of this sequel starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as the guilty college student of the first film and Freddie Prinze Jr. as her high-school sweetheart. Brandy plays her best friend, and Matthew Settle is a prospective new boyfriend.

"Jack Frost" (a k a "Frost"). Michael Keaton plays Jack Frost, a musician on the verge of making it big, who dies in a holiday highway accident. He comes back in the form of a snowman built by his son, Charlie (with help from the Henson Creature Shop). The director is Emmy-winning Troy Miller.

"Velvet Goldmine." Writer-director Todd Haynes, who made the innovative indie films "Safe" and "Poison," returns with this tale of the glam-rock scene in London in the early 1970s. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a mythical rock icon, Toni Collette is his wife, Christian Bale is a British journalist and Ewan McGregor is another rock star. The film won a prize for best artistic contribution at the Cannes Film Festival.

"Meet Joe Black." Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins are the stars of this remake of the 1934 fantasy, "Death Takes a Holiday," which was previously redone as a 1971 TV movie. The director is Martin Brest, whose last film, "Scent of a Woman," earned him an Oscar nomination.

"A Bug's Life." John Lasseter's follow-up to "Toy Story" is another computer-animated cartoon, about a colony of ants doing battle with grasshoppers. Dave Foley, Madeline Kahn, Denis Leary and Phyllis Diller are among the voices.

"At First Sight." Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino co-star in the story of a woman who falls in love with a blind man. Directed by Irwin Winkler, it's based on a book by Oliver Sacks, whose writings inspired "Awakenings."

"Babe: A Pig in the City." James Cromwell, who earned an Oscar nomination for his role in the first "Babe," is back for this sequel, and so is George Miller, the co-producer and co-writer of the original.

"Very Bad Things." Peter Berg, best-known for his role on "Chicago Hope," turns writer-director with this black comedy about a bachelor party that goes awry when a stripper is accidentally killed.

"Enemy of the State." Director Tony Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who made "Top Gun" and "Crimson Tide" together, re-team for this story of a Washington lawyer who discovers a plot to trample civil liberties. Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jason Lee and Scott Caan head the cast.

"Rugrats: The Movie." Nickelodeon's cartoon series comes to the big screen, with Tim Curry and Christine Cavanaugh providing some of the voices.

"A Night at the Roxbury." Lorne Michaels and Amy Heckerling co-produced this "Saturday Night Live" spinoff starring Will Ferrell, Christ Kattan and Molly Shannon.

"A Cool, Dry Place." Vince Vaughn again, this time as a lawyer who tries to start over in Kansas when his wife leaves him and his son. Directed by John N. Smith, who made "Dangerous Minds" as well as "The Boys of St. Vincent."

"Arlington Road." Tim Robbins and Jeff Bridges co-star in a thriller about a college professor who specializes in terrorism.

"Best Laid Plans." Mike Newell was the executive producer for this story of young people involved in kidnapping and murder, starring Alessandro Nivola, Josh Brolin and Reese Witherspoon.

"Elizabeth." Cate Blanchett is Queen Elizabeth I and Geoffrey Rush is her friend, Sir Francis Walsingham, in this 16th century drama directed by Shekhar Kapur ("Bandit Queen").

"The Celebration." Thomas Vinterberg directed and co-wrote this story of family secrets revealed at the 60th birthday of a patriarch.

"Condo Painting." Begun as a short film for an art gallery, John McNaughton's feature about New York artist George Condo kept expanding and eventually became a feature-length portrait. It includes the last recorded interviews with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

"Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane." Writer-actor-director Joe Carnahan's road movie about a couple of near-bankrupt car dealers who strike a deal with a car broker that appears to be too good to be true.

"Shattered Image." Raul Ruiz, who made the intriguing Marcello Mastroianni movie, "Three Lives and Only One Death," directed this ambiguous tale of a wealthy young heiress who appears to be on her honeymoon when she suspects her husband of plotting her murder.

"The Siege" (a k a "Against All Enemies"). Edward Zwick's first film since "Courage Under Fire" again stars Denzel Washington, this time as the head of a New York terrorism task force. Bruce Willis plays a general who argues against a presidential order to bring the army into the streets.

-------- December --------

"Affliction." Paul Schrader's adaptation of Russell Banks' novel starring Nick Nolte and Mary Beth Hurt as a New Hampshire couple whose marriage is disintegrating. Sissy Spacek, Willem Dafoe, James Coburn fill out the cast.

"Psycho." Apparently locked into a Dec. 4 release date, Gus Van Sant's remake of the Hitchcock classic stars Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates and Anne Heche as the guilty, doomed thief who stops at his motel.

"Star Trek Insurrection." Tentatively set to open one week after "Psycho," this installment in the series was directed by Jonathan Frakes, who made the last one, "Star Trek: First Contact." He also stars, along with Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton and other familiar faces.

"Prince of Egypt." DreamWorks is betting the farm on this feature-length cartoon variation on "The Ten Commandments," based on the same book, "Prince of Egypt," that filled in gaps in the biblical story line in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 epic. What, you say, that was already a cartoon? Val Kilmer provides the voice of Moses, Ralph Fiennes is Rameses and Patrick Stewart is Seti.

"Shakespeare in Love." Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman wrote this romantic comedy, set in London in 1593, starring Joseph Fiennes (Ralph's brother) as the young playwright, Will Shakespeare, and Gwyneth Paltrow as an actress who disguises herself as a man to audition for his play. The director is John Madden ("Mrs. Brown"), and the cast includes Geoffrey Rush, Ben Affleck, Colin Firth and Judi Dench.

"Down in the Delta." Poet-writer Maya Angelou directed this story of a Chicago woman (Alfre Woodard) whose mother (Mary Alice) makes a sacrifice to move her daughter and grandchildren to Mississippi. The script is by Myron Goble, and the cast includes Al Freeman Jr., Esther Rolle, Loretta Devine and Wesley Snipes.

"The Faculty." Kevin Williamson, the busy writer behind "Scream" and "Dawson's Creek," wrote the script for this high-school story about burnt-out teachers and hormone-driven students. The large cast includes Elijah Wood, Piper Laurie, Salma Hayek, Bebe Neuwirth and Robert Patrick.

"Mighty Joe Young." Originally scheduled to go up against "Godzilla," this remake of the 1947 big-gorilla movie is now set to open Dec. 18, which is around the same time "Titanic" opened last year.

"You've Got Mail." Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, previously paired in "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Joe vs. the Volcano," are back in another romantic comedy, this one based on a 1940 classic: Ernest Lubitsch's "The Shop Around the Corner," which starred Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. Nora Ephron directed this version, and Greg Kinnear and Parker Posey are in the cast.

"The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean." Giuseppe Tornatore, the Oscar-winning director of "Cinema Paradiso," returns with this story of a gifted piano player who was abandoned at birth on a trans-Atlantic ship. He grows up to rival jazz legend Jelly Roll Morton. Tim Roth heads the cast.

"The Hi-Lo Country." Director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Walon Green created this adaptation of Max Evans' Western novel, starring Woody Harrelson and Billy Crudup as best friends who are attracted to the same married woman (Patricia Arquette). Sam Elliott and Willie Nelson are in the cast.

"Patch Adams." Robin Williams teams up with director Tom Shadyac, who did "Liar Liar" with Jim Carrey and "The Nutty Professor" with Eddie Murphy. The subject: a medical student's eccentric approach to healing.

"A Civil Action." John Travolta plays a Boston attorney involved in a Massachusetts toxic-waste suit.

"Central Station." One of the most popular films at this year's Sundance Film Festival, about a boy who travels to Brazil after his mother is hit by a bus.

"The Wizard of Oz" (reissue). Another MGM restoration from the folks who brought us this summer's underwhelming reissue of "Gone With the Wind."

"The Thin Red Line." Writer-director Terrence Malick's first film since his 1970s classics, "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven," is a star-studded adaptation of James Jones' novel about the battle on Guadalcanal Island in World War II. Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson and John Travolta head the cast.

"The Out-of-Towners." Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn co-star in a loose remake of Neil Simon's 1970 comedy about unprepared visitors to Manhattan.

"Little Voice." Mark Herman, director of "Brassed Off," wrote and directed this adaptation of Jim Cartwright's prize-winning London play about a young girl who doesn't speak but can express herself through vintage songs. Jane Horrocks recreates her stage performance, and the cast includes Ewan McGregor, Brenda Blethyn, Michael Caine and Jim Broadbent.

"Dancing About Architecture." Writer-director Willard Carroll's tale of 11 lovestruck people in Los Angeles, featuring Gillian Anderson, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards, Ryan Philippe, Dennis Quaid, Gena Rowlands and Madeleine Stowe. The title refers to the saying, "Talking about love is like dancing about architecture."

"Office Space." The first live-action film from writer-director-producer Mike Judge, creator of "King of the Hill" and "Beavis and Butt-head."

"Dancing at Lughnasa." Meryl Streep stars in the film version of the prize-winning play.

"Hillary and Jackie." Emily Watson stars in this drama about the life of the cellist, Jacqueline du Pre, and her sister, Hillary. Directed by Anand Tucker, it's based on the book by Hillary and Piers du Pre.

"Blast From the Past." Romantic comedy starring Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, Sissy Spacek, Christopher Walken and Dave Foley.

------------------------- Maybe sooner, maybe later -------------------------

"Snow Falling on Cedars." Ethan Hawke stars in this adaptation of the popular book about a Japanese man accused of murder in the Pacific Northwest. It was directed by Scott Hicks, who made "Shine," and written by Ron Bass, the Oscar-winning writer of "Rain Man."

"The Last Emperor." The original four-hour version of Bernardo Bertolucci's Oscar-sweeping 1987 epic will be released in the U.S. for the first time by Artisan Entertainment. It ran only 160 minutes during its first American release.

"My Life So Far." A family memoir directed by Hugh Hudson, director of "Chariots of Fire" and "Greystoke." Colin Firth, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Malcolm McDowell head the cast.

"God Said Ha!" It's not on Miramax's 1998 release schedule, but Julia Sweeney's film of her autobiographical stage show took the top prize at this year's Seattle International Film Festival, so it could pop up soon.

"Talk of Angels." Vincent Perez and Polly Walker co-star in this adaptation of Kate O'Brien's novel, "Mary Lavelle," about an Irish governess involved in the Spanish Civil War. It previously appeared on this list in 1996 and 1997, and Miramax is indicating a fall release.

"The Fantasticks." Based on the world's longest-running musical, this Michael Ritchie film may set a record for the world's most-delayed coming attraction. It previously appeared in our fall guides for 1995, 1996 and 1997, it's apparently been finished for some time, yet it hasn't even turned up on video.

"Theory of Flight." Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter co-star in this story of a frustrated artist who becomes caretaker to a wheelchair-bound woman.

"The Last Days." Steven Spielberg is the executive producer of this Holocaust documentary, which will be shown in some theaters in October to qualify for the Academy Awards. The general release is now set for February.

"The Alarmist." David Arquette stars in this story of an earnest young man who sells burglar alarms door-to-door and has an affair with a young mother (Kate Capshaw). Stanley Tucci is the charismatic, scheming owner of Grigoris Home Security Systems.

"Rushmore." Another comedy originally set for summer release, this one stars Bill Murray as a tycoon and Jason Schwartzmore as the prep-school student he befriends. It was directed by Wes Anderson, who made "Bottle Rocket."

"Virus." Also bumped from the summer schedule, this thriller about a killer alien stars Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland. The director is John Bruno, who won an Oscar for his special-effects work on "The Abyss."

"The Wind in the Willows." Monty Python's Terry Jones wrote and directed this delightfully whimsical live-action version of the Kenneth Grahame children's classic, starring Nicol Williamson as Badger, Eric Idle as Rat and Steve Coogan as Mole. It played in Olympia earlier this year, but hasn't yet had a theatrical booking in Seattle.

"Frogs for Snakes." Barbara Hershey stars in this story of a loan-shark collector who wants to become an actress. She has one last job to finish.

"Monument Ave." Previously known as "Snitch," this Irish-American crime comedy stars Denis Leary, Billy Crudup, Ian Hart, Martin Sheen and Colm Neaney.

"Hit Me." Long-delayed release of a 1996 film based on Jim Thompson's "A Swell-Looking Babe," starring Philip Baker Hall, Elias Koteas and the late Haing S. Ngor.

"The 13th Warrior." Originally called "Eaters of the Dead" and scheduled to open last spring, this Michael Crichton movie was rescheduled for July, but still hasn't been heard from.

"Dancer, Texas Pop. 81." Tim McCanlies' coming-of-age story, set in a tiny Texas town that may soon be losing five of its high-school graduates. Ethan Embry plays the nerdy one.

"Welcome to Woop Woop." Stephan Elliott, who directed "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," is following it up with this story of a New York con man who gets trapped in an Australian town where the local radio station plays only Rodgers and Hammerstein's songs. The soundtrack album, released earlier this year, features knockout disco updates of "I Cain't Say No" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." Rod Taylor and Jonathon Schaech head the cast.

"In Dreams." Writer-director Neil Jordan, whose "Butcher Boy" was one of the highlights of the spring, returns with this DreamWorks thriller starring Robert Downey Jr. as a killer who is obsessed with Annette Bening.

"Gloria." Sharon Stone plays a Bronx moll in this remake of John Cassavetes' 1980 film, which earned a best-actress Oscar nomination for Gena Rowlands.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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