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Fall season hard to predict, but it's got to be better than summer

I'm getting very nervous about the upcoming movie season -- the fall, when usually we can count on something decent coming out of Hollywood. This summer has been the worst in memory for movies -- X-Men gets my vote as the best film of the season -- and previews of what's upcoming don't exactly inspire confidence.

Sure to be most hyped? Tom Hanks as a workaholic Fed Ex executive whose charter flight crashes into the the South Pacific, leaving him stranded, Robinson Crusoe style. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), Castaway is sure to be a crowd pleaser, but will it be a good movie? We'll see. (Opening in December.)

Grabbing the lion's share of press is Proof of Life, director Taylor Hackford's venture into the suspenseful, intriguing world of the hostage negotiation business. Sounds dry, but hey, stars Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe were so swept away by their fictional pairing that they carried the romance over into real life, hence Ryan's separation from long-time hubby Dennis Quaid, and the media hype. (Opening in December.)

I'm laying odds on a few films that have either funny, original, good director or great cast written all over them. Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, a semi-autobiographical take on the director's days as a teenage rock journalist writing for Rolling Stone in the drugged out early '70s looks interesting (September). Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller as gruff, militaristic, disapproving father-in-law-to-be and hapless son-in-law-to-be in Meet the Parents looks hilarious. The director is Austin Powers' Jay Roach. (Opening in October.) Moulin Rouge, the Baz Luhrmann (William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet) musical with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor promises at least a spectacular visual treat, and the Coen brothers' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the story of three escaped convicts in backwoods Mississippi, starring George Clooney and John Turturro, will be either so bizarre we can't relate or so brilliant we'll celebrate.

My favorite big screen romantic match-up of the upcoming season? Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp in Lasse Hallstrom's film adaptation of Joanne Harris' sensuous 1999 novel, Chocolat.

Knock on wood and look at the fall season of 2000 this way -- things can't possibly get worse.

  • The fall season's hard to predict, but its got to be better than summer

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