The Summer Movie Preview was written by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Jess Cagle, Jeff Gordinier, A.J. Jacobs, Heather Keets, Albert Kim, Gregg Kilday, Chris Nashawaty, Beth Pinsker, Jessica Shaw, Benjamin Svetkey, and Anne Thompson.
The Bridges of Madison County
Starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.
Directed By Clint Eastwood.
I have the distinct feeling I’m lost,” says the shaggy-haired, blue-jeaned traveler to the middle-aged Iowa woman in a housedress. Thus begins the love story of farmwife Francesca Johnson and National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid, not to mention the most anticipated screen adaptation of a best-selling romance since 1970’s Love Story. The big questions: Will those who read the 5.6 million copies of Robert James Waller’s novel flock to see the Hollywood version? And will those who weren’t enraptured by Waller’s prose follow suit?
Bridges will try to win both camps by jettisoning the book’s overripe style to concentrate on the ill-starred romance at its core. ”The basic line of the book is very good,” says Eastwood, who was initially wooed by producers Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg to star but not to direct. ”These two outsiders with set lifestyles converge and are faced with turmoil over the fact that they are not free to say, ‘Let’s hang out together.”’
But Eastwood and the producers differed over casting with director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy). ”I asked him: ‘What about casting a woman 45 to 50, as written? Some of the best actresses in the world are in that league.”’
Though Anjelica Huston, Isabella Rossellini, Jessica Lange, and Susan Sarandon were all rumored contenders to play Francesca, Eastwood had someone else in mind. When Beresford dropped out, he took over as director and promptly sent Streep the script. She committed the next day. The book’s ”fervid descriptive stuff is gone,” says the actress, who plays Francesca with brown hair, virtually no makeup, and a slight Italian accent. ”All that’s left is what they say to each other and what you can imagine of their behavior. Also, I cried. Anything that makes me cry, I go, ‘Hmm…that might be good.”’
What’s at stake For Eastwood, the chance to extend his life as a romantic leading man. For Streep, her first real shot at a blockbuster since 1985’s Out of Africa (and maybe a third Oscar, too). But if they blow it, fans of the book may storm the gates of Warner Bros. with torches.
Starring Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris O’Donnell.
Directed By Joel Schumacher.
Batman fans who missed Robin — alias Dick Grayson — in the first two installments of the movie series will be happy to know that he’s a dynamic part of this sequel. Whether they’ll recognize him is another story. Played by 24-year-old hunk O’Donnell (Circle of Friends), this brooding-rebel-type Robin dons a slinky black suit with rippling abs, Davidian shoulders, and, well…Holy codpiece!