Byline: Dann Gire Daily Herald Film Critic
Dust off those old and moldy nautical puns, because James Cameron's epic romantic adventure "Titanic" soon will be cruising into a theater near you, heading a tidal wave of admiralble holiday features.
"Titanic" had been scheduled to open last summer, but the complexity of the arduous shoot combined with Cameron's infamous obsesssion for detail sank any chances the mammoth movie would be ready by the Fourth of July.
So, Cameron will launch his $200 million vessel on its maiden voyage Dec. 19, and it will serve as an impressive flagship for a fleet of films helmed by such captains of industry as Spielberg, Coppola, Eastwood and Brooks.
In fact, the Hollywood buzz factor says this upcoming holiday movie season will be the best in recent memory. It should earn huge box office booty as well as high-water marks for quality, which will be welcome respite from an autumn filled with poop-deck quality pictures.
Even though the following release dates will be much more stable than those during the stormy summer season, the rambunctious first mates in charge of studio marketing can always change course at a moment's notice.
So, sit back, order some popcorn, bring that snugly significant other, find a comfy seat away from annoying patrons, yachta-yachta-yachta.
Titans of the screen
This holiday season boasts works by some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, including these Oscar-winning directors:
Woody Allen ("Annie Hall") - "Deconstructing Harry"
James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment") - "As Good As It Gets"
Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather: Part II") - "Rainmaker"
Kevin Costner ("Dances With Wolves") - "The Postman"
Clint Eastwood ("Unforgiven") - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
Steven Spielberg ("Schindler's List") - "Amistad"
"Anastasia" - Twentieth Century-Fox invades Disney's animation turf with former Mouse animator Don Bluth at the helm. Meg Ryan supplies her pipes as the famed lost Russian princess who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and encounters the villainous Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) and his batty albino sidekick Bartock (Hank Azaria). John Cusack, Angela Lansbury, Kelsey Grammar and Bernadette Peters round out the voice cast.
"Kiss or Kill" - Jean-Luc Godard get back! Australian director/writer Bill Bennett turns Godard's famed innovation the jump-cut edit (an abrupt movement of a subject on a screen so that it creates a sharp break in the visual continuity) into a stylized foundation for this off-beat crime tale about a couple of blackmail artists who begin to suspect each other of being a serial killer. Quirky, daffy, unpredictable and an inspiration for goose pimples. Even the cops have personality-plus. Matt Day and Frances O'Connor star.
"Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" - Oh, boy, a Christmas movie! At least it takes place at Christmas time in Savannah, Ga. There, a writer for Town and Country magazine, John Kelso (John Cusack, playing a character not even in John Berendt's fact-based bestseller) tackles a story on Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey), a wealthy antiques dealer and local prominent citizen. When Williams shoots to death his live-in lover (Jude Law of "Gattaca"), Kelso's story goes from fluff to hard news, complete with voodoo, violence, wealth and seduction. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Also starring his daughter Alison as Kelso's girlfriend, another character not in Berendt's book.
"Mortal Kombat II" - Once more, a group of courageous heroes must survive a series of spectacular video-game inspired challenges to stop another one of those ruthless warlords from taking over planet Earth! Robin Shou, Talisa Soto and Dero McBee star.
"Rainmaker" - Legendary Francis Ford Coppola scripts and directs John Grisham's sixth story to be made into a movie, and it ranks as the best. …