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Summer Movie Preview - May

‘Star Wars Episode II’, ‘Insomnia’, ‘Unfaithful’ and more…

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Star Wars Episode II — Attack Of The Clones

Starring Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson

Written By George Lucas, Jonathan Hales

Directed By George Lucas

Press Portman for spoilers to attack of the Clones, and she just sighs. ”Everyone knows the story,” says Episode I‘s Queen Amidala (now just a senator in Episode II). ”It’s in how the tale is told where people will be surprised.” She has a point: Every Star Wars-phile knows that the new movie — the second in Lucas’ trilogy of prequels to his original Star Wars cycle — finds Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) mired in those angry young Jedi-wannabe years before becoming big bad Darth Vader. Episode II merely reveals how Anakin and Amidala’s romance, Anakin’s mother, and the machinations of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid) and bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) factor into the evil evolution.

Yet the question dogging Episode II isn’t about story but storytelling. In a recent interview, even McGregor (back as Obi-Wan Kenobi) reportedly said he found Episode I ”flat.” So all eyes are again on Lucas, who prior to Episode I hadn’t directed a film since 1977’s Star Wars. ”I think he did feel more comfortable directing Episode II,” says producer Rick McCallum. ”Twenty-plus years away was a big deal.” This time, Lucas got writing assistance from Hales (who worked on the filmmaker’s The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series) and used only digital cameras during production; he shot for 60 days in the summer of 2000, then wrote and shot additional scenes throughout postproduction. Episode II boasts even more F/X creations like Episode I’s junk dealer Watto and the much-reviled Jar Jar Binks, who both return, by the way, though detractors of the floppy-eared Gungan will be pleased to know that Binks has a smaller role this time. Pay close attention to Jar Jar’s first appearance, which winks knowingly at his critics. ”I can’t wait to see what happens the first moment he appears on screen,” says McCallum, who wouldn’t elaborate on the scene. Guess Episode II does have some secrets after all. The Lowdown Look, it’s going to make a zillion bucks whether or not it’s better than Episode I—and the early buzz suggests that it is. (May 16)

Insomnia

STARRING Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan, Maura Tierney , Nicky Katt, Paul Dooley

Written By Hillary Seitz

Directed By Christopher Nolan

If it’s not one debilitating condition for Christopher Nolan, it’s another. The 31-year-old writer-director made hay out of amnesia — and spun it into box office gold — with last year’s Memento, earning critical hosannas, the support of peers like Steven Soderbergh (who is an executive producer of this film), and an Oscar nomination. So what to explore for an encore? Sleep deprivation, naturally, via a remake of a 1998 Norwegian thriller. In Nolan’s version, Pacino steps into the Stellan Skarsgard role to play a Los Angeles cop — and acute sufferer of the titular malady — called to a tiny Alaskan town to help track down a murderer played by Robin Williams. Yes, that Robin Williams.