HUMAN TRAFFIC White-collar drones by day, five Welsh club kids spend weekends dancing, copulating, and getting trashed. After strong receptions in the U.K. and at the Toronto Film Festival, the fast-paced import was picked up with the blessing of Miramax’s Emperor Weinstein. BOTTOM LINE Its subject matter is profane, it was made in Europe on a low budget, and it has no household names. Miramax had better hope audiences are nostalgic for Trainspotting. (May 5)
UP AT THE VILLA The English Patient‘s Kristin Scott Thomas finds herself in another adulterous imbroglio. She’s a penniless widow in pre-WWII fascist Florence who weighs her romantic options after a wealthy but passionless gentleman proposes. Sean Penn stars as a brash, married American who proves tempting. Director Philip Haas (Angels & Insects) adapted the film from W. Somerset Maugham’s 1941 novella. BOTTOM LINE We hear Thomas and Penn have wonderful chemistry. (May 5)
SCREWED With the aid of his criminally impaired friend (Dave Chappelle), a chauffeur (Norm Macdonald) screws up the kidnapping of his boss’ pooch so badly that he’s believed to have been abducted himself. Biopic go-to scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Man on the Moon, The People vs. Larry Flynt) go far from factual with their joint directorial debut. BOTTOM LINE It was shot nearly two years ago — and films age like dogs. (May 12)
8 1/2 WOMEN He doodled on Ewan McGregor’s, er, doodle in The Pillow Book; now director Peter Greenaway paints a slightly different picture, with a movie about a widowed millionaire (John Standing) and his son (Matthew Delamere) who get so obsessed with Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2that they decide to fill their own private harem with barely dressed babes (Amanda Plummer and Toni Collette, to name two). BOTTOM LINE The high-art nudie film of the year. (May 26)
PASSION OF MIND Nearly a year after its completion, the Passion of Demi Moore (her first feature since 1997’s G.I. Jane) is finally let loose. The English-language debut of Alain Berliner (Ma Vie en Rose) showcases Moore as a woman who alternates identities in her dreams — from a single New Yorker to a mere of deux in southern France — and must decide which is real. BOTTOM LINE As low-key as comebacks get. (May 26)
Basketball is a metaphor for life when Peter Coyote (a.k.a. the Voice of Oscar) shows the residents of a sleepy Pacific Northwest town how to shoot at THE BASKET. Jamie Foxx’s plans for marriage are HELD UPwhen fiancée Nia Long (Boiler Room) dumps him in rural Arizona, while in JEROME a man’s dreams of freedom in the Grand Canyon State are thwarted after he meets an enigmatic hitchhiker. Attention-starved teen Mena Suvari (American Beauty) considers being deflowered on the Internet in AMERICAN VIRGIN. Crucible director Nicholas Hytner lends his talents to CENTER STAGE, about a love triangle between ballet dancers. Two buddies struggle to remain friends after each gets involved with a different women in INTO MY HEART. In the Japanese comedy ADRENALINE DRIVE, a rental-car clerk adds excitement to his life after he’s in an auto accident with a gangster. Ian McKellen narrates the 3-D, IMAX-size CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: JOURNEY OF MAN, the Canadian troupe’s latest extravaganza. In LUMINOUS MOTION, a mom and her son live the fast life on the road. Action auteur Takeshi Kitano is KIKUJIRO, a freeloader who accompanies a boy on his quest for his mother. In ACHILLES’ LOVE an insurance agent fights with his lothario pal over the affections of a dance company manager. THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE, Luis Bunuel’s Oscar-winning 1972 fable about a group of friends whose dinner plans are repeatedly thwarted, is re-released. This month’s documentaries include THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which tracks the journey of Stacy Baker from Tulsa housewife to L.A. porn starlet Stacy Valentine; interviews with hip international mix masters charge up BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY; champion female boxer Lucia Rijker is the subject of SHADOW BOXERS; and Woody Harrelson narrates GRASS, about the U.S. government’s anti-reefer tactics. Another celeb, another worthy cause.