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Year of the Woman

The big-screen dames of cinema 2003 will keep you watching

The aforementioned smack-talkin' and skull-crackin' may seem mild when compared to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Christopher Walken in Peter Berg's Helldorado (September), or Quentin Tarantino's return with Kill Bill (October), based loosely upon his forthcoming first novel of the same name. The highly anticipated Bill, lensed in Hong Kong, will feature Uma Thurman as an annoyed assassin and Lucy Liu as a Yakuza queen, with music by RZA (Ghost Dog) and stunt work choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping -- who also happens to be stunt-meister on a couple of little movies coming out this year called The Matrix: Reloaded (May) and The Matrix: Revolutions (November). Virtually everyone on the planet will be dropping their cash into the buckets of directors Andy and Larry Wachowski and producer Joel Silver, but rather than being a mindless joiner, you can tell people you're there to do a comparative analysis on the annual action output of Laurence Fishburne.

Summoning moderate doubt in '03, the Coen brothers' October release, Intolerable Cruelty (as opposed to...?), has a stupid title and July's When Harry Met Lloyd: Dumb and Dumberer would be more inventive if it were called Dumb and Dumbledore (incidentally, welcome aboard, Michael Gambon), but from this early vantage point the year looks compelling. There may be some dreck (Like Hell: Jeepers Creepers 2 and American Wedding, a.k.a. American Pie 3 in August; William Friedkin's The Hunted, a.k.a. Slumbo, in February) but, thankfully, no more than average.

I'm keen to catch Liam Neeson in Paul Schrader's Exorcist: The Beginning (July), creepy Suspect Zero (October), from E. Elias Merhige Shadow of the Vampire, and the single-shot art film Russian Ark (both rolling out slowly). Let's not forget Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's Terry Gilliam disaster documentary, Lost in La Mancha (February), the obvious hoot of Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler in Anger Management (April) and maybe even Steven Norrington's Alan Moore comic adaptation The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (July), during the shooting of which Sean Connery was rumored to have cheerfully threatened the infamously irritating director's life.

This fall Jennifer Connelly will star as an alcoholic who loses her husband and her home in House of Sand and Fog.
Bruce Birmelin/DreamWorks Pictures
This fall Jennifer Connelly will star as an alcoholic who loses her husband and her home in House of Sand and Fog.

Men. They talk smack, they crack skulls, and they still run the movies. But something's shifting. Every time I see the faces of great actresses like Shirley Henderson (24 Hour Party People, American Cousins) or Rachel Griffiths (Amy, The Kelly Gang), or catch the work of Ann Lu (Dreamers), or reflect upon Hulkproducer Gale Anne Hurd, a sharp grin appears. Considering current and upcoming cinema, I get the feeling that we've all come a long way, baby, with a vast expanse yet to chart.

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