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LEADING MEN ON M-NET (article first published : 2003-08-15)

This month M-Net will delight viewers as it showcases Tinseltownís A-list actors, hunks and heroes in some of their best movies to date.

Charismatic and engaging in his teen roles of the early 1980s, the athletic and boyishly handsome Tom Cruise rapidly graduated to adult superstar status. By the mid-90s, he was the most powerful movie star of his generation, only bested by the relatively grizzled Harrison Ford as the world box-office champ.

On August 3 at 20h00, catch him in the thriller Vanilla Sky, a remake of the Spanish film Open Your Eyes (1997). Directed by Oscar winner Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous), Tom Cruise stars as David Ames, a womanising playboy who finds romantic redemption when he falls in love with his best friend's girlfriend Sofia (Penelope Cruz, reprising her role from the original film). Before that relationship can begin, however, David is coaxed into a car driven by an ex-lover, Julie (Cameron Diaz), who turns out to be suicidal. Driving her car off a bridge, Julie kills herself and horribly disfigures David. Reconstructive surgery and the loving support of Sofia seem to reverse David's luck but eerie incidents are soon making him question the reality of his existence and his control over his life, even while he is suspected of Julie's death.

On August 8 at 00h35, donít miss Cruise in what some critics describes as one of his best performances to date in the courtroom drama A Few Good Men. With a stellar cast comprising of Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon and Jack Nicholson, the film received rave reviews and numerous awards and nominations. Already a veteran of 18 films with a cumulative gross of more than $4 billion, the still young Cruise still has to achieve much more. Already he has begun work as a producer and has numerous projects in various stages of development.

Considered the best actor of his generation, 60-year-old Robert De Niro has built a durable star career out of his formidable ability to disappear into a character, whether tempering his charisma to become a believable everyman or instilling his renowned gallery of mobsters and psychopaths with a compelling, frightening authority. One such role in which De Niro proved to critics his versatility as an actor was when he appeared as an ex convict in Martin Scorseseís 1991 thriller Cape Fear (August 13 at 00h20). In this film, De Niro plays Max Cady, who after serving a lengthy prison sentence calls on the man who served as his public defender, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte). Max begins a campaign of harassment against the man and his family because Bowden buried a report that would have in all likelihood acquitted Cady of the charges against him.

From a man seeking vengeance to an arson investigator, De Niro once again showcased what years of acting experience can result in when he starred opposite Kurt Russel and Wiliam Baldwin in Backdraft (August 15 at 20h00). With a well-spun script and the use of special effects, the veteran actor will have viewers glued to the screen with superb acting as the intriguing fire detective story unfolds.

On August 17 at 20h00, De Niro unites with two other generations of acting giants, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton in the action packed The Score. De Niro stars as Nick Wells, an aging thief who is on the verge of retiring to a life of ease - running his jazz club and romancing his girlfriend Diane (Angela Bassett). But before he can ride off into the sunset, Nick is pressured to do one last job by his mentor and business partner, a flamboyant and extravagant upscale conman named Max (Marlon Brando). With a mysterious other partner (Norton), Max is plotting the heist of the Montreal Customs House. With three master actors, viewers can expect nothing less than fantastic results.

Seal a month long of De Niro movies with some laughter in Flawless (August 21at 03h00). Can a homophobic former rent-a-cop find happiness learning to sing with a man in a dress? That's the big question in this comedy-drama. De Niro stars a deeply conservative retired security guard, who falls victim to a debilitating stroke. For his recovery, his doctors prescribe an extensive program of physical therapy which includes singing lessons with a flamboyant drag queen (Philip Seymour Hoffman), awaiting a sex-change operation.

Major star, successful producer and member of one of Hollywood's most prominent families to boot; Michael Douglas is one of moviedom's biggest movers and shakers. On August 31 DStv viewers will get to round up the month with a double dose of his movies.

Having done psychological thrillers such as Basic Instinct, Douglas alongside Famke Jansen will keep viewers captivated in Donít Say A Word (August 31 at 20h00). He portrayed a respected adolescent therapist faced with a nightmarish scenario when his young daughter (Skye McCole Bartusiak), was snatched by a criminal with a talent for high-tech surveillance. Conrad learns that the kidnapper is desperate for a critical piece of information known only to Elisabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy), one of his catatonic pro bono patients. While his wife Aggie (Famke Janssen) remains at home, bedridden due to a broken leg, Conrad races to unlock the secret stored in Elisabeth's fractured mind, while a New York City detective (Jennifer Esposito) inches closer to discovering the Conrads' dilemma.

Lastly, catch Michael Douglas in Romancing Stone on August 31 at 23h00. Now married to Hollywood beauty, Catherine Zeta Jones and a father of two, Michael Douglas continues to shine.




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