By Dan SniersonJosh WolkChris Willman and Daniel Fierman
November 16, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Let’s Face It: Everyone wants to open their presents early. That’s why, here at EW, we dispense with the suspense, providing you with a day-by-day rundown of the cinematic morsels coming to theaters in the next two months. Simply yank out the center-spread calendar on the next few pages and slap it on the fridge, or over the mantel, or on the back of Grandpa’s recliner, and count down the days to your favorite flick. And if that flick happens to be Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, well, that’s just between you, the calendar, and Grandpa’s recliner.

NOVEMBER 9

Everything Put Together Pitch Black’s Radha Mitchell ventures into even darker territory, playing a woman trying to cope with the loss of her infant. (American Cinematheque)

Heist In clipped, naturalistic tough-guy speech, a thief (Gene Hackman) is led into engineering One Last Score. Also with Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo. Written and directed by David Mamet. As if you had to frickin’ ask. (Warner Bros.)

I Remember Me Filmmaker Kim Snyder is the subject of her own documentary about chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition she developed on the set of Home for the Holidays, where she was a production assistant. (Zeitgeist)

King of the Jungle John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge) stars as a mentally challenged man tracked by his dead mother’s lesbian lover. Next on Springer… (UrbanWorld)

The Man Who Wasn’t There Call it Unpleasantville: The Coen brothers pay homage to film noir with this black-and-white meditation on morality, identity, and the tonsorial arts. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, and James Gandolfini. (USA Films)

Maze Tourette’s syndrome can’t stop an artist (Rob Morrow, who also wrote and directed) from romancing a friend (Laura Linney) who’s pregnant by another man. (Andora)

Shallow Hal High Fidelity’s Jack Black (see related story in this issue) romances a 300-pound Gwyneth Paltrow in this Farrelly brothers romp. (Twentieth Century Fox)

NOVEMBER 14

The Wash Though writer-director D.J. Pooh (who coscripted Friday) observes that the shooting schedule on his car-wash comedy/kidnap caper was ”tighter than fish ass,” he feels he got optimal results from his power pairing of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. ”They decided whenever they jumped on the big screen together, it would be something different,” says Pooh. ”Something that everybody would respect.” And what better way to garner cred than getting Eminem into the picture: The rapper cameos as a (presumably potty-mouthed) former employee. (Lions Gate)

NOVEMBER 16

The Fluffer Yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. A young swain (Michael Cunio) takes, ahem, an entry-level position in the world of porn. (First Run)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Something about wizardry. See related story in this issue. (Warner Bros.)

Lola A single mother dances for dollars in a sailors’ cafe in this restored rerelease of Jacques Demy’s 1961 ”musical without music.” (Winstar)

Novocaine Steve Martin evokes Little Shop of Horrors memories as a dentist entangled in a darkly comic web of drugs, deceit, and dentures. Costarring Laura Dern and Helena Bonham Carter. (Artisan)

The Simian Line Four couples (including Cindy Crawford, William Hurt, Samantha Mathis, Harry Connick Jr., and Lynn Redgrave) confront destiny in the form of a palm reader (Tyne Daly) who predicts that one of their relationships is doomed. (Gabriel Film Group)

NOVEMBER 21

American Adobo Five Filipino friends struggle to navigate choppy interpersonal waterways. (Out Rider)

Black Knight Martin Lawrence gets medieval on us as a time-traveling theme-park employee hurtled back to the Dark Ages and enlisted to do battle with an evil king. We know, it sounds awfully edgy, but we’re told it’s actually a comedy. (Twentieth Century Fox)

The Devil’s Backbone How do you say ”Boo!” in espanol? Find out in this Spanish-language ghost story from Mimic helmer Guillermo del Toro. (Sony Pictures Classics)

Sidewalks of New York Writer-director-actor Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen) returns for more relationship-induced soul-searching in Gotham. With Heather Graham, Brittany Murphy, and Stanley Tucci. (Paramount Classics)

Spy Game It sounds like quite a coup: Robert Redford is an agent coming in from the cold; Brad Pitt is his estranged protege, for whom things have gotten chilly (he’s stuck in a Chinese gulag). Intergenerational, easy-on-the-eyes espionage action ensues. Of course, the world has changed significantly since the movie wrapped, and spook-heavy entertainment is struggling. But director Tony Scott (Enemy of the State) is unfazed by the politics of the moment, saying ”the movie is about policy over heart,” adding that his only real worry about the film during this time of global crises is ”a third of [it] takes place in the Middle East.” (Universal)

The Way We Laughed Two Sicilian brothers relocate to a rapidly evolving Turin that’s thrown off the shroud of tradition. (New Yorker)

NOVEMBER 23

In the Bedroom Sissy Spacek (see related story in this issue) and Tom Wilkinson play a seemingly normal New England couple dealing with highly abnormal circumstances in this examination of a tragedy’s impact on a family. (Miramax)

NOVEMBER 30

ABCD …stands for American-Born Confused Desi (that last term is a South Asian racial designation for anyone of Indian or Pakistani origin). Raj resists westernization; his promiscuous sister Nina embraces it — literally — in this Hindu Joy Luck Club. (Eros)

The Affair of the Necklace Oscar winner Hilary Swank proves 18th-century countesses don’t cry, portraying a young woman who becomes enmeshed in the politics of revolution while in search of her royal roots. (Warner Bros.)

Bay of Angels A rerelease of the 1963 Jacques Demy drama in which a bank clerk gets caught up in the seductive world of gambling. (Winstar)

Behind the Sun This Venice Film Festival fave from Central Station director Walter Salles follows feuding families in 1910 Brazil — even though the Ismail Kadare book (Broken April) it’s based on is set in Albania. (Miramax)

The Independent Jerry Stiller plays an ultraprolific B-movie producer (responsible for pictures like 12 Angry Men and a Baby), who recruits his estranged daughter (Janeane Garofalo) to reinvigorate his flagging outfit. (Arrow)

Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy In case The Fluffer wasn’t enough for you, check out this supersize documentary portrait of the unlikely sex symbol they call ”The Hedgehog.” (Maelstrom)

Texas Rangers The long-delayed Western about a ragtag group of post-Civil War rebels (including James Van Der Beek and Usher) finally moseys into theaters. We think. (Dimension)

Won’t Anybody Listen In this documentary (shot over seven years), a hardworking Michigan rock band called NC-17 just can’t get a break in Los Angeles. (7th Art)

DECEMBER 5

Pinero Benjamin Bratt stars in this portrait of Miguel Pinero, the late Nuyorican poet and playwright whose Short Eyes brought him fame in the 1970s. See related story in this issue. (Miramax)

DECEMBER 7

The Business of Strangers It’s Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance, O) as you’ve never seen her. ”She’s not the sympathetic leading lady,” she says of her character, a loose cannon who crosses (socio)paths with a businesswoman (Stockard Channing). ”She can change at the drop of a hat.” Meaning, one moment the women are bantering over cocktails; the next Channing has persuaded Stiles to truss and torment an unconscious man. The film may be about how gender, ambition, and fear conspire to hollow out the yuppie soul, but no one’s calling it a chick flick, least of all Stiles: ”I get teased at school [Columbia University] for doing chick flicks.” (Miramax)

Eban and Charley Also coming out: this love story about a 15-year-old boy and a 29-year-old man. Guaranteed not to arouse any controversy whatsoever. (Picture This!)

Final In this thriller directed by Campbell Scott, Denis Leary awakens from a coma to find that his doctor is comely Hope Davis (Hearts in Atlantis). That’s the good news. The bad news is, she might be trying to kill him. (Cowboy)

No Man’s Land Serbs, Bosnians, U.N. observers, and enterprising media vultures collide in Danis Tanovic’s (literally) Balkanized black comedy, which took the Best Screenplay prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. See related story in this issue. (MGM)

Ocean’s 11 And you thought all George Clooney could steal was the ladies’ hearts. In this Steven Soderbergh-directed remake of the Rat Pack caper, career criminal Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his pals (Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Don Cheadle included) plot to relieve three Vegas casinos of several million smackers. Still hungry for star wattage? Here’s the lagniappe: Julia Roberts plays Clooney’s unamused ex-wife. Somewhere, the Chairman of the Board is smiling. (Warner Bros.)

Princesa A Brazilian transsexual in Milan dreams of a knight in shining armor. (Strand)

DECEMBER 14

Iris Apparently, late novelist-philosopher Iris Murdoch was such a juicy role that the makers of her biopic had to cast not one but two capital-A Actresses in the role: Kate Winslet as the young Murdoch and Dame Judi Dench as the older Murdoch, who faced the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease in her last years. See related story in this issue. (Miramax)

Lantana Adultery, death, and dread turn several lives topsy-turvy in an Australian ensemble drama featuring Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, and Barbara Hershey. (Lions Gate)

Not Another Teen Movie ”My character is a mixture of all the bitches from these bad movies,” says Jaime Pressly. ”She’s a cross between the head bitch from She’s All That, Bring It On, and…” She thinks about it for a second: ”…three more.” We feel your pain, Jaime. Most teen movies are about as memorable as a bag of recyclables, but Scary Movie-style cliche immolation is Teen Movie’s entire raison d’etre, and the targets aren’t all recent (hint: It’s set at John Hughes High School). Did younger cast members look to Pressly, a veteran of Tomcats, Joe Dirt, and Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, for guidance? ”I don’t want to say yes and sound like a bitch,” she frets. ”But yes.” (Columbia)

The Royal Tenenbaums Luke Wilson sees his third collaboration with cowriter/brother Owen and director/pal Wes Anderson as one more step in a natural progression. ”The way I look at it, Bottle Rocket was high school, Rushmore was college,” says the easygoing Texan, who plays a tormented former tennis prodigy who reunites with his eccentric family. ”Now, with Tenenbaums, we’re all grown up.” Indeed, there are awfully grown-up expectations for the film, which also stars Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Anjelica Huston, and, of course, Owen. If nothing else, Luke Wilson may start a trend with his retro Bjorn Borg-esque tennis accessories. ”Our costumer went online and bid on it,” he explains. ”All the Fila stuff was either the originals from the ’70s or specially made. They don’t actually make shorts that short anymore.” Thank goodness. (Touchstone)

Vanilla Sky Not a whole lot is known about Cameron Crowe’s new thriller (based on the surreal Spanish melodrama Open Your Eyes) except that the working title could have been Jerry Maguire Gets His Comeuppance. Tom Cruise plays a hotshot New York adman who jilts a casual squeeze (Cameron Diaz) for the object of his infatuation (Penelope Cruz); the losing lady responds by wrecking her car — with him in it. Disfigured by the crash, he then…um…well, that’s the part we don’t really understand. (Strap yourself to something sturdy and watch the trailer; you’ll see what we mean.) Tom? Penelope? Cameron? The other Cameron? Anyone? Well, at least costar Jason Lee is remarkably forthcoming about his role: ”I play a very creative character, very free-spirited.” He pauses, as if perusing his nondisclosure agreement. ”It’s a damn good part, I can tell you that.” Thanks for clearing everything up. (Paramount)

DECEMBER 19

Little Otik Czech this out: Bozena and Karel want a child, but can’t conceive. So they take the next logical step, carving a baby out of a tree stump and nursing it to life, in this partially animated fairy tale. (Zeitgeist)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Something about Hobbits. See related story in this issue. (New Line)

DECEMBER 21

Almost Elvis Who says there can be only one? Not the rhinestoned, sideburned hopefuls in this documentary about competing Elvis impersonators. (7th Art)

How High Method Man and Redman soberly examine higher education in America with this searing…okay, okay, it’s about two guys who get into Harvard by smoking a mutant strain of brain-building weed. See related story in this issue. (Universal)

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Nickelodeon’s computer-animated smarty-pants faces the usual elementary-school pitfalls: fitting in, getting grounded, saving parents from belligerent space aliens. (Paramount)

Joe Somebody Filming in Minnesota, Julie Bowen (TV’s Ed) often wondered why people would live in such an inhospitable region. ”I figured it out. You get to eat extra lard, and your excuse is that it’s insulation for the winter,” says the actress, who plays Tim Allen’s love interest. ”The Midwest is not afraid of a little cheese.” But to hear Allen tell it, there’s precious little cheese to be had in this dark comedy about a guy who snaps after getting beaten up over a parking space on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. ”Everyone’s damaged in this, in a way that [audiences will] relate to,” Allen promises. ”Everyone’s life is based on fear.” Can we have just a little cheese with that? (Twentieth Century Fox)

Kate & Leopold A 21st-century Manhattan girl meets a 19th-century time-traveling duke in a romance starring Meg Ryan and X-Men’s Hugh Jackman. See related story in this issue. (Miramax)

The Majestic Jim Carrey finds life difficult after Truman (Harry, that is): He plays a blacklisted amnesiac in director Frank Darabont’s latest feature. This one’s not set in a prison (his other credits include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile). See related story in this issue. (Warner Bros.)

DECEMBER 25

Ali Will Michael Mann’s big boxing biopic burn like an ember in December? Can Will Smith win the day as Cassius Clay? Only one way to know: Go see the show. See related story in this issue. (Columbia)

A Beautiful Mind Sure, women say they love Russell Crowe for his mind — now here’s their chance to prove it. The Gladiator star trades swords and sandals for sums and slide rules to play troubled Princeton mathematician (and eventual Nobel laureate) John Forbes Nash Jr. See related story in this issue. (Universal)

Impostor After a long evolution and many delays, this sci-fi suspenser — adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story about a scientist suspected of being an alien — finally falls to earth. Directed by Gary Fleder (Don’t Say a Word) and starring Gary Sinise. (Dimension)

The Shipping News Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) directs; Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore, and Dame Judi Dench star; and the whole shebang is based on Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1994 novel about a luckless family man who retreats to his ancestral Newfoundland home. Leaving aside, for a moment, the film’s bumpy history (in development since ’93, it was once a John Travolta-Kelly Preston vehicle), it seems the only question left for Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein is what color cummerbund he’ll wear to the ceremony. Meanwhile, here’s Moore on Newfoundland: ”People feel very connected and supported here, and that’s really what the story is about.” And you wondered why it wasn’t set in L.A. (Miramax)

DECEMBER 26

Gosford Park The set of Robert Altman’s murder mystery was, to hear Emily Watson tell it, ”very democratic.” Which is impressive, considering the cast: ”We had Dame Maggie Smith, a couple of Knights of the Round, all of these Oscar nominees — 48 actors, most of them pretty distinguished.” In other words, the bluest blood in the biz, including Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, and Alan Bates. But it wasn’t all tea and crumpets. ”There was a lot of folding towels in the background,” says twice-nominated Watson, who plays a servant on a lush estate. ”[Altman] uses two cameras, and they’re always moving. You never know if you’re on camera or not.” Any intimidation Watson might have felt from her costars evaporated on the day a cast photo was taken: ”It was quite funny — everyone wandering around in their hair nets.” (USA Films)

Monster’s Ball Billy Bob Thornton plays a death-row worker who gets involved with the wife (Halle Berry) of a man he helped kill (Sean ”P. Diddy” Combs). See related story in this issue. (Lions Gate)

DECEMBER 28

Charlotte Gray If Oprah could put her book-club sticker on a movie, she might slap it on this adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ 1999 novel about a courageous Scottish woman (Cate Blanchett) who infiltrates war-torn 1942 France in search of her husband. Also starring Billy Crudup. (Warner Bros.)

Dark Blue World Kolya director Jan Sverak examines the war-strained friendship between two Czech pilots (Ondrej Vetchy and Krystof Hadek) who escape the Nazis, join Britain’s Royal Air Force, and fall in love with the same woman (Tara Fitzgerald). (Sony Pictures Classics)

I Am Sam Writer-director Jessie Nelson’s tale of a mentally challenged man (Sean Penn) fighting for custody of his young daughter is getting a reputation as a tearjerker — even from cast members. Richard Schiff (The West Wing), who plays the lawyer opposing Penn, reports that he broke down after one intense cross-examination: ”The director came running after me and said, You don’t have to do it again. And I said, I’m not doing it again.” Emotions — and improvisations — ran high throughout production; some actors were recruited from a group home in L.A., and the rest of the cast (which includes Michelle Pfeiffer as Penn’s attorney) learned to expect the unexpected. ”In certain scenes, Sean had [to deal with] kids, six dogs on a leash, actors with disabilities, and I thought, What more could I throw him?” recalls Nelson. ”But he loved that. The more spontaneous and unpredictable things get, the happier Sean is.” (New Line)

(Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman, Dan Snierson, Chris Willman, and Josh Wolk)

ALL DATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE; SOME FILMS WILL BE IN LIMITED RELEASE IN SELECTED CITIES

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