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Hollywood Hopes Fall Films will Lure Audiences Back to Theaters - 2003-09-18

The summer movie season in North America was full of action "event" films and sequels, many of which were box office disappointments. Now Hollywood shifts into its Fall season with an assortment designed to lure audiences back into movie theaters. Alan Silverman previews some of the films coming out from September through November.

September brings back the guitar-strumming gunslinger that writer/director Robert Rodriguez introduced a decade ago in his first film, El Mariachi. He brought him back for Desperado in 1995 and now completes the story with Once Upon A Time In Mexico, coming out on the heels of his summer season hit - also a third film of a series Spy Kids 3D.

"There was something very fun about these movies. They're fun to make and fun to watch and I wouldn't have done it again if I thought I was just repeating what we had done before. It really felt like it was going to be a fun experience and different," he says.

Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek reprise their Desperado characters in the action-fantasy that also features Johnny Depp and Willem Dafoe.

Big city advertising executive Cuba Gooding Jr. finds love and redemption when he reluctantly returns to his small town roots in The Fighting Temptations.

"Musical beauty Beyonce Knowles co-stars in a role very different from the comic action character she played in last year's Austin Powers In Goldmember.

"I told my agent that in the next movie I don't want to have on makeup. I just want to be regular and have real issues," says Beyonce. "I don't want to be 'goody-two-shoes' perfect or whatever. I want to have problems like every woman. So she gave me this script and it just seemed great. Also, I wasn't the star, so I was able to not have so much pressure on myself and I was able to grow."

There's another kind of redemption in Secondhand Lions with timid teenager Haley Joel Osment coming of age thanks to his slightly off-kilter uncles played by Oscar winners Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.

"I liked it very much and one of the reasons I liked it, apart from everything else, is it is something absolutely different from anything I've ever done and it's so positive," says Caine. "I've done a lot of tough pictures and complicated pictures. This is very honest and positive."

In October, Oscar-winner Denzel Washington plays a small town Florida cop whose romantic entanglements spiral into a film noir nightmare in the mystery Out Of Time. Sanaa Lathan and Eva Mendes co-star.

The Coen brothers bring their slyly twisted humor to romance with Intolerable Cruelty. George Clooney plays a high profile divorce lawyer who falls in love with a client's wife, played by sultry Oscar-winner Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Writer-director Quentin Tarantino is back, trying to recapture his Pulp Fiction spark with an edgy story of martial arts assassins on a mission to Kill Bill.

Uma Thurman stars in Kill Bill Volume 1 Tarantino split his film in half and volume two comes out next year.

The Motion Picture Academy has moved the Oscars a month earlier and this year's serious contenders arrive by mid-October. Director Clint Eastwood tackles the controversial topic of abused children in Mystic River. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer abandons his trademark pyrotechnics for the drama Veronica Guerin, with Cate Blanchett in the true story of an Irish journalist murdered by a drug baron.

Angelina Jolie trades her Tomb Raider gymnastics for the rugged life of a relief worker trying to help refugees against a backdrop of war and disaster in Beyond Borders.

"I am very fortunate as an actress and as a person I am able to do different sides of myself," she says. "I think with Beyond Borders, if there was ever a film that said something I believe in and I am proud of, it's this one. I think it's a film really appropriate for today and I hope people do see it."

November brings the final chapter of The Matrix, The Matrix Revolutions. There is swashbuckling adventure on the high seas with Russell Crowe in Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World.

For family fare, Disney had a summertime hit with Pirates Of The Caribbean and now turns another theme park ride into a movie. Eddie Murphy stars in The Haunted Mansion.

And Universal, which hit box office gold a couple of years ago with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, brings another Dr. Seuss character to the screen.

Mike Myers stars as Dr. Seuss's The Cat In The Hat, wrapping up the Fall movie season around the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November.