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Bigger and Better? 

Flick Chick

Published June 16, 2004 at 4:00 p.m.

Action-packed epics are back. These historical tales of bloody conquest seem to rely on contemporary hunk-and-babe acting talent. Troy has Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and German supermodel Diane Kruger. Oliver Stone's upcoming Alexander boasts Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie. King Arthur features Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. David Franzoni, a 1971 University of Vermont grad, wrote the new take on medieval Camelot's conflict with the Romans.

The Rutland native told The New York Times last month that the script, penned in 2000, was intended as an allegory for the Vietnam War, which he opposed. Disney is releasing it in July, when Iraq will most likely still be a battleground.

Next up for Franzoni? Hannibal, slated for 2005 with Vin Diesel as the Carthaginian general who vanquished France, Spain and most of Italy. The babe has yet to be cast.

Super Size Me is a new documentary about filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's month-long experiment of eating only McDonald's fare. On its June 18 opening day at the Roxy in Burlington, his Double Quarter Pounder orgy will benefit FEED (Food Education Every Day), which links locally grown edibles with Vermont schools. The film is also at the Savoy in Montpelier through June 24, to be immediately followed by Fahrenheit 9/11. Michael Moore's controversial anti-Bush administration documentary also comes to the Roxy.

The remake of Around the World in 80 Days opens this week, but at Middlebury College a summer cinematic sweep of several foreign lands is already underway. Free screenings for the Language Schools' International Film Festival take place in Dana Auditorium at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on successive Saturday nights. Each selection is subtitled in English, and discussions follow.

June 19 -- Rana's Wedding (2002, Arabic), which concerns a young Palestinian woman who must choose a husband from an approved list, or leave East Jerusalem for an extended stay in Egypt.

June 26 -- Happy Times (2001, Mandarin), about an aging Chinese bachelor trying to find a job for his bossy fiancee's teenage stepdaughter, a blind masseuse.

July 3 -- Dolls (2002, Japanese), which focuses on three couples both driven and doomed by overpowering love. The production values are inspired by traditional Bunraku puppet theater.

July 10 -- Man on the Train (2002, French), about a bank robber and a retired poetry teacher who develop an unlikely friendship.

July 17 -- The Longing (2002, German), which centers on the unhappy wife of a tyrannical minister who falls for a mechanic possibly implicated in a murder.

July 24 -- Kamchatka (2002, Spanish and Swahili), about two children left behind with relatives when their dissident parents flee Argentina after the 1976 coup d'etat.

July 31-- Respiro (2002, Italian), a Sicilian fable about a free-spirited young mother on a small island who outrages fellow villagers with her erratic behavior.

August 7 -- Tycoon (2002, Russian), the examination of primitive dog-eat-dog capitalism in the former Soviet Union. The director, Pavel Lungin, was a visiting artist at the Middlebury College Russian School in the summer of 2002.

The flicks tend to be classics at the 2nd Annual Richmond Green Film Fest, billed this year as solar-powered. These Friday gatherings begin at 7 p.m. with live performances by area musicians; the movies start at dusk.

To help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, both the projector and the sound system will run on battery cells charged by solar panels. Call 434-7447 for more details about the event, which is organized by Richmond's all-DVD video-rental store Film Buzz. Here's the schedule:

July 2 -- The Princess Bride (1987), an updated fairytale set in a mythical kingdom.

July 9 -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), which assaults the Arthurian legends with wacky comedy.

July 16 -- Rushmore (1998), about a prep-school teen with one too many extracurricular activities.

July 23 -- Young Frankenstein (1974), the Mel Brooks spoof of the mad scientist and his rampaging monster.

July 30 -- Life Is Beautiful (1997, Italian, German and English), Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning story of an Italian father protecting his young son at a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust.

August 6 -- Jaws (1975), Steven Spielberg's saga about a gigantic shark terrorizing a resort town.

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