Sneak peak at this year's buzz Cannes titles


(Fortissimo Films)
Some 12 years after Asian master Wong Kar-Wai's martial arts epic "Ashes of Time" was first released, Fortissimo is reteaming with the director on a new version of the film, tentatively titled "Ashes of Time -- Redux." The revised version, which Wong was still working on at press time, features a host of Hong Kong and Chinese stars including Jacky Cheung, Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tony Leung Ka Fai and Brigitte Lin. Set in ancient China, the story centers on a fallen swordsman driven by greed and the bounty hunters who work with him.

(Focus Features International)
Daniel Craig and Julianne Moore star in this latest film (now in preproduction) from director Fernando Meirelles. The dark thriller centers on a doctor's wife who finds herself the only sighted person in a town where everyone is blind and who is quarantined with her compatriots in a mental asylum. The Japan/Brazil/Canada co-production is based on Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago's book of the same name. The movie starts shooting this summer and reteams Meirelles with Simon Channing Williams, who produced the director's 2005 feature "The Constant Gardener" and line produces here.

(Fortissimo Films)
Rose McGowan, a rising star thanks to her roles in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's "Grindhouse" (distributed in the U.S. by the Weinstein Co.), will play real-life starlet Susan Cabot in a new film from director Stephan Elliott (1994's "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"). The movie, which Elliott also wrote, is based on John H. Richardson's article in Premiere magazine about the actress, a favorite of B-movie king Roger Corman. Cabot's life ended at the age of 59 when her son bludgeoned her to death with a barbell. Rodrigo Santoro will co-star as Cabot's husband.

(Focus Features International)
George Clooney reunites with actor pal Brad Pitt and behind-the-camera collaborators Joel and Ethan Coen in this dark comedy about a CIA agent who, while writing a book, loses a critically important computer disc. Frances McDormand and Amy Adams also star in the film, currently in preproduction. Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produce; the project will go before cameras this summer.

(H20 Motion Pictures)
Hotter-than-hot Daniel Craig leaves James Bond behind to play a Hollywood movie star -- driven to a career precipice by his addiction to wine, women and drugs -- who is forced to reconsider his life when an old friend dies. As Craig's character wrestles with his modern-day problems, his early days in England and his sexual awakening there unfold in flashback. Music-video helmer Baillie Walsh -- who drew acclaim for his 1996 production "Mirror, Mirror," a documentary about a transsexual with AIDS -- directs. The movie is scheduled to begin shooting at the end of May.

(New Line Cinema)
Brendan Fraser returns to the action genre with this adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel "Journey to the Center of the Earth," which New Line is touting as the first in the new wave of films conceived of and shot in 3-D. In the movie, a joint venture between New Line and Walden Media, Fraser plays an unconventional science professor who travels to Iceland with his nephew and stumbles upon a major discovery that leads him to venture deep below the planet's surface. Visual effects maestro Eric Brevig directs.

(Nu Image/Millennium Films)
Director/co-writer Callie Khouri (who won an Oscar for her script for 1991's "Thelma & Louise") returns to the director's chair with this reality-based tale about three ordinary women who team up to rob a bank. Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes star in the comedy, which started shooting in Shreveport, Louisiana, in April. The movie is, in fact, based on the tale of three English women who made headlines when they became bank robbers. This is Khouri's sophomore directorial effort (her feature debut was 2002's "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood").

Sienna Miller joins Jon Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Nick Nolte and Mena Suvari in this dramedy based on the acclaimed novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay." Set in the early 1980s, the film -- currently in postproduction -- centers on the final summer in the youth of a man (Foster) who gets involved with a beautiful debutante (Miller) and her hoodlum boyfriend (Sarsgaard), who show him a side of Pittsburgh he never knew existed. Rawson Marshall Thurber (2004's "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story") writes and directs the film, produced by Michael London and Jason Ajax Mercer and executive produced by Pete Chiarelli.

(Greenestreet Films International)
A-list writer John August (2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") makes his directing debut with this series of three interlinked short films starring Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, Melissa McCarthy and Elle Fanning that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. "Nines" features the same performers in three different and overlapping roles -- as a troubled actor, a TV showrunner and an acclaimed video game designer who find their lives intertwining in mysterious ways. Oscar winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen (1999's "American Beauty") produce with Dan Etheridge.

(Summit Entertainment)
Action helmer John Woo returns to Asia for his first film there since 1993's "Hard-Boiled" with the $70 million "Red Cliff," the most expensive movie shot in China to date. The Chinese-language film follows the events leading to an epic battle in that country in 208 A.D., which culminated with the burning of 2,000 ships. Tony Leung plays a general in one of several warring kingdoms -- a role that originally had gone to Chow Yun-Fat but was recast after the actor pulled out on the first day of shooting last month. The movie, currently filming just outside Beijing, also stars Chang Che and Takeshi Kaneshiro and is produced by Woo and his longtime producer Terence Chang. It will be released in Asia as a two-parter but as one feature film in the rest of the world.

(QED International)
Rachel McAdams and Tim Robbins team up for this new film from the director of 2006's "The Illusionist," Neil Burger. A contemporary drama, it follows three very different soldiers returning from Iraq -- a middle-aged man, a younger man and a young woman -- who meet in a hospital while recuperating from their wounds and set out together on an unexpected road trip to Las Vegas. Michael Pena also stars in the movie, which Burger co-wrote with Dirk Wittenborn. The project starts shooting this month in Illinois, with Lionsgate set to handle the U.S. release.

(Myriad Pictures)
Josh Lucas and Lena Headey co-star in this heist movie based on a real-life incident that took place in 1972 in New York, where a group of robbers walked into the Pierre Hotel on New Year's Eve, tied up the employees, put on their uniforms and proceeded to fleece the unwitting customers -- reportedly netting more than $10 million. Lucas plays the criminal mastermind in this latest film from director Stephen T. Kay (2000's "Get Carter"). At press time, the movie was expected to begin shooting just before the Festival de Cannes got underway.

(Lakeshore International)
A year after being named best actress at Cannes (along with her female co-stars in 2006's "Volver"), Penelope Cruz returns to the Croisette, in the spirit if not the flesh, as the star of this adaptation of Philip Roth's celebrated novel "The Dying Animal." Cruz plays a sophisticated student who becomes involved with her hedonistic professor (Ben Kingsley) then returns to see him years later with some devastating news. The movie, which, at press time, was expected to start shooting in Vancouver at the end of April, also stars Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard and will be directed by Isabel Coixet (2003's "My Life Without Me"), a protegee of Cruz's longtime mentor Pedro Almodovar.