Notes from the Back Row 

A clean slate

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You know how after a good snowfall the world looks so fresh and so clean?

As if all the crap from the day/week/year before has just disappeared? Well the beginning of a new year is sort of the same from a movie perspective. What will 2007 bring us? People are already forgetting the You, Me, and Dupree ’s of ’06 and salivating over what we can expect from ’07. (Of course, Hollywood usually dumps its lousiest movies in the early months of a new year so don’t hold your breath until after the Oscars.) But here’s a look at some hot movies to look for in 2007.

Pirates are hot these days (still) and all you Johnny Depp fans already know that Pirates of the Caribbean – At   World’s End is coming out May 25 th . The flick was shot the same time as Pirates 2 so expect more of the same visual and similar light comedy and stunt-heavy action sequences. Pirates are cool though — ask any five year old — so this will be a good time.

I’m not sure about five year olds but every 30-year-old man I know is getting psyched for the Transformers movie due to drop July 4 th . Michael Bay, who has a reputation for glossy-but-kinda-crappy action flicks like The Island, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbour, helms this one, which appears to be about what happens when the Autobots and the Decepticons battle for the earth. Surely, this film is aimed at people like me who remember the toys and cartoons, but initial glimpses of this flick look pretty sharp. Digital effects have come a long way and finally something as awesome as watching a red rig, a VW bug, and a Volvo beat the hell out of a jet fighter, a gun, and a ghetto blaster is actually possible. This will probably be the most anti-chick flick of the year, and don’t expect too much story or character development, Michael Bay has a hard enough time when he’s directing people, not kick-ass machines from the ’80s.

Proof that Hollywood is the world’s best recycling system comes in the number of sequels and comic adaptations. The best might be Spielberg’s return to the teat with Indiana Jones 4 which will star old-man Harrison Ford (64) and possibly even older man Sean Connery (76) in one last adventure. Wanna bet the love interest is in her late 20s? Whatever though, Indy ruled and this will be worth it. The guy who wrote Spider-Man and War of the Worlds is penning the script. Hopefully this one will come out late in ’07. As well, comic fans can look for Iron Man, Fantastic 4 Part 2, and Ghost Rider starring Nic Cage.

Speaking of Spider-Man, he’s back. Director Sam Raimi is back, all the stars are back and it looks like Spidey’s got three bad guys to scrap here. The Sandman, The Green Goblin (or rather his son) and, if my eyes didn’t deceive me, I’m pretty sure I saw Venom in the trailer (or the alien black costume at the very least). If you’re unfamiliar with the Spider-Man comics this might all be gibberish to you, so take it from me, Spider-Man 3 will be killer, including a love-triangle with Spidey, Mary Jane, and new arrival Gwen Stacey. Swinging into theatres in early May.

What about movies for people who aren’t comic geeks and don’t care about the latest Harry Potter (July), Shrek (May), or Die Hard (June)? Well all I can say is the best movies of the year are always the ones that sneak up on you. Of course my job is to give you the heads up on these hidden gems so let’s start with AlphaDog , the Justin Timeberlake flick you’ve been waiting for — Jan. 12.

AT VILLAGE 8 Jan. 5-11: Blood Diamond, Happy Feet, Holiday, Casino Royale, Charlotte's Web, Eragon, Borat, Rocky Balboa, Good Shepherd, Night at the Museum and Pursuit of Happyness. Next week: Primeval and Arthur and the Invisibles .

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