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First Look: Movies

DAME DIRECTORS, DANCERS, AND THE DEVIL—IT’S THE DAWN OF A NEW DECADE

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No asteroids? No computer glitches? Why, it’s enough to put Schwarzenegger’s agent off lunch. Take heart, disaster-mongers: Hollywood’s 2000 slate still promises devils, aliens, Arnold clones, and invisible Kevin Bacons aplenty. But somewhere between the Bang and the Whimper, subtler trends are at work, portending developments more compelling than a boring old apocalypse. We gamely attempt to categorize the (almost) uncategorizable.

GYNO MIGHT

”Well, it’s about time,” says Diane Keaton, hearing that the coming year boasts a plethora of women-directed pics. ”It’s like the millennium celebration — this marks a new world for us.” Keaton has good reason to be effusive: She’s helming Hanging Up, a bittersweet comedy written and produced by Uberscribes Delia and Nora Ephron, starring Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, and her inimitable self as sisters who must deal with the impending death of their libertine father, played by Walter Matthau (February)…. Nora herself takes the chair to direct John Travolta in Numbers, a comedy about a bankrupt weatherman who attempts to rig the state lottery (July)…. Sally Field makes her feature directorial debut with Beautiful, a Cinderella story starring Hallie Eisenberg and Minnie Driver (summer)…. Fellow newbie Bonnie Hunt (The Green Mile) wears three hats (writer, director, actor) for Return to Me, a romantic dramedy about a widower (David Duchovny) whose new love is the recipient of his wife’s transplanted heart (April 7)…. And at long last, director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) brings us American Psycho, with Christian Bale in the role once offered to Leo (April).

But this isn’t even taking into account the myriad movies about women. First-time director Rodrigo Garcia (son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) shows us some Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her — and some things you can’t, like that Glenn Close, Calista Flockhart, Holly Hunter, and Cameron Diaz likely settled for low-budget scale to work on this collection of vignettes (April)…. And of course, there’s that paean to women’s rights, Charlie’s Angels (November) — sure to earn the NOW seal of approval.

CATCHY ‘TOONS

”The ones who have trouble with [animation] are the teenagers, and that’s a vast movie audience,” says Don Bluth. ”To try to make a movie that fits them and the rest of the family is a pretty big challenge.” Bluth’s newest offering, Titan A.E. (June 16), seems to be taking it on, employing an edgy sci-fi plotline (Earth is destroyed in the first five minutes) and the voices of Matt Damon and Drew Barrymore. But Bluth is hardly alone in his desire to woo new animation fans. The field is crowded in 2000…. Disney taps the timeless Pooh craze with The Tigger Movie (February)…. Celebrate Thanksgiving with Rugrats in Paris, a sequel that transports the precocious poppets to the City of Lights…. The ‘toon presence is felt in the real world as well in Monkeybone, a comedy more Bakshi than Bluth, about a comatose cartoonist (Brendan Fraser) who must escape the splash-panel fantasy world of his imagination in order to return to consciousness (fall)…. Considering that many of this year’s promising live-action features — X-Men and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas included — are based on ‘toons, you won’t be surprised to learn that Disney’s 102 Dalmatians is slated for Christmas, with Glenn Close returning as the deliciously malicious Cruella DeVil. But she’ll face stiff holiday competition from an even more infamous ink-and-paint villain when Jim Carrey dons green fur in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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