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'Erin Brokovich' and other innovative films on the horizon

Y2K should be another watershed year for Hollywood

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It’s almost impossible to guess where the next narrative innovations will come from: The thing about surprises is, they tend to surprise you. But we’re marking our moviegoing calendars as follows:

BLACK AND WHITE James Toback follows his Two Girls and a Guy with an almost-all-improvised effort about white kids and hip-hop culture—starring everyone from Wu-Tang Clan members to Brooke Shields. (March)

ERIN BROCKOVICH It sounds like a traditional David vs. Goliath flick about a single mom (Julia Roberts) who takes on utility companies, but after the ultra-stylish, narrative-bending joys that were Out of Sight and The Limey, we’re dying to see what director Steven Soderbergh has up his sleeve. (March 17)

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM Involving Brooklyn junkies and shot partially on digital video, Darren Aronofsky’s [Pi] follow-up promises to be twisted and groundbreaking and bizarre…. Just the way we like it. (Summer)

O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? The Coen brothers (Fargo) helm this 1930s period jailbreak flick starring George Clooney. And there are musical numbers. Need we say more? (October)

AMERICAN PSYCHO Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) tweaks the gruesome 1991 Bret Easton Ellis serial-killer novel—adding a feminist spin. (April 7)

TIME CODE 2000 Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis’ latest will be an entirely improvised ensemble thriller bankrolled by Sony.

MAGNOLIA After 1997’s electric Boogie Nights, director Paul Thomas Anderson delivers an Altmanesque epic intertwining the lives of a guru (Tom Cruise), a cop (John C. Reilly), a salesman (William H. Macy), a dying father (Jason Robards) and other denizens of the San Fernando Valley. (Dec. 17)