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SHOWEST: H & M take on the Sony slate: SPIDER-MAN, HOLLOW MAN, THE PATRIOT, THE SIXTH DAY and much more!!!

I awoke this morning with the knowledge that I'd see... THE HOLLOW MAN footage that I've been dying to see. Showered, dressed... ironed the tie... and then attempted to restart Moriarty's heart as it appeared he died, but with a strange 'Old Mill' sound escaping his wrinkled nostrils.

It took 3 attempts before he finally woke up. Finally grabbed his bedside walker and wheeled his way into the bathroom to God... I don't even want to go there.

Caught a cab and went straight on through to the Paris to take our places in the Press Lines again.

I understand the function of a Press Line now. It is the place where reporters go that can not gather a story in any other manner. And sadder still are the reporters that don't have a place in line and stare at people like me and Moriarty and wish they had that spot.

Moriarty and I got tired of the ass kissing questions that those around us were asking. Reporters asking questions without knowing the name of the movie they are inquiring about.

Like Robin Tunney... the question wasn't... "What was it like working on VERTICAL LIMIT?" the question was, "What film do you have here today?"

Sigh. Journalists? I don't think so.

Meanwhile you would see the little sharp teethed lizard people attacking one another to get a microphone under Kim Basinger's mouth, while she sung the praises of Africa, but instead of following up with her experiences of filming there, they'd ask about Alec Baldwin. Sigh.

Moriarty and I left to get our seats for the Sony Product Reel.

Upon arriving at the round table... pretty darn close to not only the stage, but the screen too, Moriarty and I were pleased. A bag of swag was sitting in our seat... some sort of weird vest thing that would fit an anorexic twelve year old midget. Perhaps my sister's kid can wear it.

We sat down and prepared for the show.

Jeff Blake took the stage, and basically introduced the world of Sony suits... and then said that they were so excited by their product reel, that rather than making the exhibitors wait... they were showing the reel first... then lunch.... then the stars.

So the lights dimmed and the world of SONY entertainment began.

First up was 28 DAYS directed by Betty Thomas (PRIVATE PARTS and THE BRADY BUNCH) and starring Sandra Bullock as a recovering alcoholic that goes to rehab where she meets Steve Buscemi and Viggo Mortenson and has a turning moment in her life. I wasn't impressed by the film, but did like the tag line which was, "This Is The First 28 Days Of The Rest Of Her Life." I was happy to see it wasn't one of those overly emotional weep fest coming to grips with your disease of the week films... but I still don't know if I'll see this one.

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with a little counterpoint on Harry's comments. I actually like this trailer. I think Sandra Bullock is an enormously talented actress who seems to drift a bit, never really hooking up with the right material. There's some real grace notes here, both comic and dramatic, and I'd love it if she pulled off something truly memorable. Yes, it's CUCKOO'S NEST and GIRL, INTERRUPTED in shape, but there's plenty of rich material to be mined if done honestly.

Next was BLACK & WHITE directed by James Toback. The trailer hinted at the footage that was placed on their website ages ago. The film is just... interesting looking, and I have to say that watching Mike Tyson in a drama is just... weird.

I thought this was a provocative trailer, and I'm interested even after hearing such mixed buzz from the festival circuit last year. Toback is one of those great crazy old rascals who I'd love to see pull off one great last glorious picture, something to remind people about FINGERS or his wonderful early script work. The improvisational nature of this film is the draw for me, and that explosive moment when Robert Downey Jr. tries to pick up on Mike Tyson only to get bitchslapped looks too real for comfort. Between this and the Cameron Crowe picture DreamWorks is releasing, it looks like we'll finally get a chance to make our minds up about Bijou Phillips as an actress. I wonder if Elijah Wood got culture shock going from a loose crazy set like this to something as majestic as LORD OF THE RINGS.

Then came CENTER STAGE directed by Nicholas Hytner. At first I began thinking that this film was one of those bitchy ballet movies, but the more of it I saw... I began to wonder. The ballet work was quite nice and I didn't recognize any of the actors... which is a good sign as perhaps this means that they have talented dancers instead of wire removal teams and primadonnas. Hytner is a fantastic director (MADNESS OF KING GEORGE) and there was nothing in the trailer to make this film look one way or another. But his hand is a firm and honest hand to be at the helm of any film. Pay attention to buzz on this one.

"I'm gonna live forever..." and so will this genre. It's FAME all over again, baby, but with a guy like Hytner at the wheel, it might be a good ride for fans of this type of film. The dancers all all beautiful, and the energy looks like it's through the roof. It's been a while since we've seen this many people dancing in any film, and this year, there's a lot of it coming. This will have to be special to stand out.

TIME CODE: Directed by Mike "Leaving Las Vegas" Figgis. Apparently we're going to be debuting this trailer on the site in the next day or so, but right now... Man, this is a bold bold film here. Four screens running in real time following four different characters or events, and I believe that at some point it probably all comes together. Could be crap.... Could be brilliant... but stylistically it's the boldest film around right now. Will they call it 'quadrovision'?

I thought this looked ballsy and bold and wild. The idea of running the four screens simultaneously, all of them running in real time, some of them occasionally crossing and interplaying, is enough to make Brian De Palma leave a wet spot on his seat. Figgis is one of those guys who seems to be trying to shatter the conventional notion of what you can or can't do with film, and I'm all for that.

I DREAMED OF AFRICA: Directed by Hugh "CHARIOTS OF FIRE" Hudson. At first glance I thought... Hmmm.... OUT OF AFRICA minus Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and with the amazing talents of Kim Basinger? But ya know what. This is beautiful. Images of a hacked apart rhino and other dead animals... the chasing and brutality of poachers... a stunning shot of a cobra throwing it's venom... a windmill collapsing on the African tundra. Has anyone seen or heard anything on this one?

I was surprised by how much I loved this trailer. A big part of it was the appeal of Kim Basinger as she gets older. I've always thought she seemed nervous, skittish onscreen. This is her first major role since winning the Oscar, though, and maybe that finally calmed her down. There's a poise to her here, a lived-in beauty that is far more deeply affecting than the surface sexuality of her youth. The film looks magnificent, and the idea of poaching remains just as powerfully upsetting as ever. I know Basinger's a rabid defender of animal rights, so it makes sense for her to be in the film, and maybe that passion will help her create a truly special piece of work.

LOSER directed by Amy (CLUELESS) Heckerling comes another movie with Jason Biggs where he plays... the loser. And suddenly I'm having flashes of Jon Cryer from that John Hughes era. It had a couple of really funny lines like, "EX-girlfriend... She lost some weight so she's dating more." AND... "If you could kill only one Back Street Boy, which one would you kill?" "That one with the strange facial growth."

I think Harry's selling this film short by saying it's just another Jason Biggs film. The difference between this and the miserable BOYS AND GIRLS trailer Miramax showed is night and day. Heckerling's CLUELESS was one of those effortless little pictures that had no right to be as good as it was, and a big part of that was the particular chemistry of her young cast, caught on film at that particular moment. Biggs has lost the baby fat from AMERICAN PIE, and his comic chops seem even sharper now. Mena Suvari continues in her quest to be the strangest sexy young thing working. Greg Kinnear is the professor who affects both their lives, and I hope it's a good supporting role for him. If the elements all work, this could be a real winner.

THE PATRIOT directed by Roland Emmerich. I don't believe that this is.. 'the full trailer' I believe that this was a special for SHOWEST... but I don't know. The film is gorgeous... the scenes of Gibson watching horrible things happen to his home, family and friends.... Watching the performance in Heath Ledger as Gibson's son standing up for his rights vs the wizened pacifism of an experienced warrior was touching and very good. And the piece ellicited applause from Moriarty... a notable non-fan of Emmerich and Devlin. We'll see...

Stupendous. I can't believe how interested I am in the film now. It's just breathtaking. Mel Gibson's face is starting to look like a long stretch of rough road, all of his years showing on it, and his exeriences as a father really seem to have informed the passion he brings to this role. There's one great line here, when Heath Ledger tells Mel that he's going to enlist in the army whether Mel likes it or not. "I'm not a child." Mel's anguished cry of "You're my child" is just wrenching. If Emmerich and Devlin have actually pulled off the film that this trailer (and I'm almost positive this is the full trailer you'll see in theaters soon), then I will be able to forgive them any and all past sins.

THE HOLLOW MAN. Verhoeven. Waaaay fucking cool. Begins with a scene of a camera steadicamming it's way behind a woman as she enters her house... Elegant swooping-like... "YOU TRUST YOUR EYES" crosses the screen in wispy ghost like letters... Camera moves around the house at will.... "YOU RELY ON YOUR SENSES" wisps away as we come upon the girl in a room with no lights on and we see the covers on her slowly move off of her... "BUT JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU ARE ALONE" suddenly a violent commotion and "DOESN'T MEAN YOU ARE!" Then a whole series of shots from the film including the fantastic image of Kevin Bacon strapped to a table while being injected with a fluid... violent images of.... a skinless man at the same table... muscles disappearing, close up on face... jaw stretched screaming. A skeleton strapped to the same table that seems to just be eaten away. Then there was a shot of a bathroom mirror... the water being picked up from the basin and being splashed on the face of an invisible Kevin Bacon... and as it runs off we hear his voice say... creepy as hell I might add.... "It's Amazing What You Can Do When You Don't Have to Look At Yourself In the Mirror Anymore." Great damn tease. Wow. Perfect tone for the script. Exciting movie folks.

It's just as Harry describes, everyone. This trailer is aggressive and sleazy and sinister as shit. I so desperately want Verhoeven to finally put it all together again. The tone of this piece is perfect for him. Kevin Bacon is just barely seen onscreen. In fact, very few of the actors are featured. The emphasis is on the effects work, and that's certainly going to be what we all go back to see again and again. Mark your calendars.

VERTICAL LIMIT directed by Martin Campbell (GOLDENEYE and THE MARK OF ZORRO) While in the press line I got an excellent look at Robin Tunney's beautiful pert breasts through this gorgeous see through patterned crepe like material. Completely see through and every male reporter except Moriarty had the ol tenting cloth problem again. Never knew she had an accent before. Anyway, this film stars her, Chris O'Donnell, Scott Glenn and if memory serves (and it might not) I think Bill Paxton. Anyway the trailer's high point involves a guy sliding down a sleet of ice and snow as various members of the climbing team try to catch him. As he is set to go over the edge of the cliff and fall to his death we hear a female voice scream out 'Use your axe' and suddenly he's stopped on the precipice. The lady (Robin?) is moving to help him, but as she gets about six feet away, the cliff begins to crack and fall as she throws a bit of nylon strap at him which he catches as both she and he go over the edge of the cliff as her axe dives into the rock and ice. She begins trying to swing him so he can get to rock to climb and then help her. Suddenly he's climbing, her axe is losing it's hold, and she suddenly falls. And if this is the trailer I won't spoil the rest, but damn this actually looked good. Cool.

Imagine if CLIFFHANGER had all been as exciting as that great first 15 minutes. Imagine if it hadn't had the shitty DIE HARD ripoff storyline, but had focused instead on the destructive power of nature itself. That's what VERTICAL LIMIT looks like, and the trailer is a monster, aggressive and violent and terrifying. There are some remarkable sights here, and if the film plays this well all the way through, it's going to be something we've never seen onscreen before.

GIRLFIGHT... This was a film that many were impressed by at SUNDANCE and I have to say that the trailer about this woman that enters the world of boxing looks as good as the buzz has been. Worlds better looking than the boxing movie yesterday that's name escapes me.

There's a real low-key charm to the way this trailer is put together, and the emphasis is exactly where it belongs -- on Michelle Rodriguez, who I couldn't tear my eyes away from. She looks like a star in the making, as does the director, Karyn Kunama. I am jealous of the people who have already seen the movie. I hope it lives up to the building hype.

GODZILLA 2000... A TOHO Production. It's so funny. This trailer begins with Godzilla kicking ass and a Japanese man terrified and pointing up at Godzilla and screaming out... 'GODJIRA!!!!!' and that's when Moriarty and I started crying with joy as the big G just let loose with flame breath all over the place. Digital effects all over the place, but GUY IN SUIT for the big guy! This looks like so much fun and I hope to hell this does great in theaters! The tagline? "IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT" as Godzilla's mouth begins to fill with energy/fire "RUN!"

Here's the real deal, baby. A guy in a suit. How can you begin to compete with this? I couldn't stop howling in delight as this trailer unspooled, and I look forward to sitting in a theater and seeing the big G with an appreciative audience later this summer. It should be fun in the way GODZILLA films are supposed to be.

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT, the trailer looks like a completely different movie from the first film. And actually looks... dare I say it? Pretty darn good. Apparently it seems to be about some film students that are attempting to make a movie where the killer kills people based on old Urban Legends, and ya know... I don't think it looks like the old killer is back or anything. Not real sure how this fits together, but John Ottman is a genius editor (APT PUPIL and THE USUAL SUSPECTS) and editors generally make good filmmakers... ex... Robert Wise... so we'll have to wait and see what we hear. I hope it's good.

Unreal. This actually looks like a kick-ass comment on horror films, suspense films, and the reasons they play on our fears the way they do. Could it be that someone has finally made the film that SCREAM always professed to be? I'm rooting for Ottman to pull it off.

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES: Directed by Billy Bob Thornton. Early test screenings left some so-so word, but damn this trailer was great. Damon and Cruz look great as does Henry Thomas. Picturesque and noble. Hypnotic. I'm there.

Why is it that Miramax keeps giving all their pictures away as co-productions these days? This is a striking lyrical trailer that seems to have perfectly captured the aching heart of Cormac McCarthy's brilliant novel. The cast is beautiful, especially Penelope Cruz, who may finally have found the film that will break her through to American audiences. If the film's ending is half as shattering as the book's conclusion, then this will be one of the more emotionally demanding experiences of the year.

Ok A.B. Here ya go...

THE SIXTH DAY: directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Arnold is back in this futuristic movie about cloning. The piece starts off with a commercial for RePET, a company that clones your family pet so that your children never need experience that painful loss again. Sigh... Very ROBOCOP-esque. An announcer comes on talking about how the world of the future is a place filled with genetic engineering. We see product names like REPET, NuORGAN.... phrases like 'Cloning is Life' and 'Where Love Means Never Having To Lose The One You Love'. We're informed that it's still illegal to clone people... except that this evil pet company is doing... gasp... just that. And we know this because our hero has... mistakenly been... CLONED. There are these cool ray guns that shoot these beams... they're cool. There's a car chase with what looked like a 53 chevy Belair with Arnold driving. Michael Rappaport seems to be in the Tom Arnold role here, and when the Arnie clone is hugging and kissing his wife, he says, "He's grabbing her ass!" And as the action steps up, we hear Arnold project... "THEYVE CLOOOONED THE WRONG MAHN!" Feeling? Could go either way. Didn't do anything spectacular for me, but I can say that it also didn't have the WhisperCraft that we've seen...and I've heard that's the big cool thing in the movie.

I don't know. It looks like vintage Arnold, but that's sort of the problem. There's nothing particularly new here. In fact, this trailer and Miramax's IMPOSTOR are basically the same, just with different budgets. There's one nice shot of Arnold watching himself celebrate his birthday through the window of his house, but there's not a single image here that was gripping or particularly memorable. I thought the punchline of the thing was particularly lame, and it seemed to fall flat after all the gripping material we'd already seen.

Then a trailer for CHARLIE'S ANGELS popped up. It starts with a DANGER DIABOLIK style corridor and a shadowy man... Charlie... walking towards us, who we never see. I believe the voice over says something like, "In this day and age when trouble hits the world, the world calls this man, and he calls his angels" I probably just mangled that. But it's kinda close. When it says, "And he calls..." the shadowy figure bursts into the shadowy figures of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. Very very neat transition. I hope this becomes the teaser as it not only emoted CHARLIE'S ANGELS, but also the aforementioned DANGER DIABOLIK and BOND films. No film footage... just shots of the gals doing kung fu kicks and split kicks and ending in the infamous CHARLIE'S ANGELS logo. Oh... and Bill Murray is back as Bosley and not gone like we thought. Yippee!

"This fall, GET SOME ACTION!" How can you be mad at a film with such a willingness to please? The girls all look preposterously hot. I only wish we'd actually seen Bill Murray in there with them as they did their MATRIX-style high kicks and splits. If this is fun, that's all that matters. The style is definitely already there.

Then there was a quick... just title and star shots for THE TAILOR OF PANAMA starring Pierce Brosnan and directed by John Boorman and FINDING FORRESTER directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Connery.

Not much to be said about these. They were more announcements than trailers.

Then came the FINAL FANTASY Showest reel... which is not what went up online yesterday. This is some hard core coolness. It went so fast and was so filled with beautiful perfect images and cool techno-suave-shit... that my eyes just glazed over. The audience reacted very well to this. As they did to most of the product at Sony's ShoWest Luncheon.

This footage is indeed striking. I don't think the point is whether this stuff looks photoreal or not. There's a heightened sense of reality to the whole thing that couldn't be pulled off on any live-action budget. Great tag line, too: "The fantasy becomes reality in 2001." Hope SquareSoft is ready to become an industry leader, 'cos they're about to.

Then there was a series of basically announcements about productions to start this year like: THE WEDDING PLANNER with Jennifer Lopez, THE ADVENTURES OF JOE DIRT with that dweeb, THE GLASS HOUSE with Leelee Sobieski, A KNIGHT'S TALE directed by Brian Helgeland, ALL THAT GLITTERS featuring Mariah Carey, Penny Marshall's RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS starring Drew Barrymore, SHANGHAI can't remember anything and GHOSTS OF MARS by John Carpenter

Then there was an announcement about films for 2001 and beyond....

A trailer for ALI directed by Michael Mann and to star Will Smith. It was basically made up of images from the life and times of Muhammid Ali... and when they announced the producer... Jon Peters and star Will Smith... I began to see some people around me... specifically some of the other entertainment writers shrug a bit. The tagline is, "THE STORY OF A MAN THAT SHOOK THE WORLD!"

I've spouted off about this film before. Ali's story is one of the most important of the 20th Century, and Michael Mann seems to be a great choice. Will Smith has his work cut out for him, though. The reaction to the documentary footage that made up this trailer was so strong that it's a reminder of just how much love there is out there for this towering figure. I wouldn't want to be the one to fuck this film up.

This next trailer shook me completely.

HELL, yeah.

Suddenly the screen goes BLACK.... and a silver strand darts across the screen. Then another crosses it... We pull back as a dynamic whoosh of sound and fury and webbing begins mapping out... and as this glimmery silver web glitters a voice is talking about how great SPIDER-MAN is and stuff... but man... this complete teaser just rocked. SONY SHOULD PUT IT UP RIGHT NOW!!!!! PLEASE!!! IN Quicktime 3... big and clear with perfect sound!

It's a great piece of teaser advertising. "There is a thin line between a normal man and a hero, a line that one young man is about to cross." Sony knows that this is a major picture, a major franchise, and the fact that they're teasing it this early gives me some confidence that they're treating it with the proper respect. "In the summer of 2001, let Sony take you for the ultimate spin." It's wild, and it took all my self-restraint to not leap from my seat and freak out.

Then came the Spielberg teaser trailer for MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA.... just a white screen... the info on the book and a pair of red lips. Hmmm... will this movie be made?

Then a JUMANJI 2 trailer cut from the first trailer and film. I wonder who the new director will be?

And lastly... though I would have saved SPIDER-MAN for last... they chose MEN IN BLACK II which featured exclusively footage from the original trailer for the first film, recut with new dialogue... "They're Back In Black.... MEN IN BLACK II"

Both of these films made me say the exact same thing... "So what?" It was like New Line's RUSH HOUR 2 trailer yesterday that I forgot to mention. All footage from the original, nothing new to say. It really does position these films as just more of the same, the wrong message to send if you ask me.

That was the show. Moriarty and I felt that instead of sitting around for the star-humper period of the Sony luncheon that we better high tail it back to our room to finish our work and get these stories up! This luncheon is exactly the way a studio should develop and present a slate. Excellent product reel with a wonderful 'looking' slate. We'll see... won't we? Heh. Now it's time to go see WHERE THE HEART IS... Bye...

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