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Big screens bring in big duds

(l to r) Kristin Davis stars as "Charlotte York-Goldenblatt", Sarah Jessica Parker stars as "Carrie Bradshaw", Cynthia Nixon stars as "Miranda Hobbes" and Kim Cattrall stars as "Samantha Jones" in New Line Cinema's upcoming release of SEX AND THE CITY: THE MOVIE. (Craig Blankenhorn / New Line Cinema)
(l to r) Kristin Davis stars as "Charlotte York-Goldenblatt", Sarah Jessica Parker stars as "Carrie Bradshaw", Cynthia Nixon stars as "Miranda Hobbes" and Kim Cattrall stars as "Samantha Jones" in New Line Cinema's upcoming release of SEX AND THE CITY: THE MOVIE. (Craig Blankenhorn / New Line Cinema)

Hey, good movies, where'd you go?

Three months have come and gone in 2008, and a good movie has yet to emerge. I realize the beginning of the year is a dead zone when it comes to prestige pictures, but this is ridiculous. Ninety-five days and nothing but yawners and stinkers. Make it stop, make it stop now.

I find it particularly telling that this week's release of the kiddie flick "Nim's Island " is the most excited I've been about a movie since I changed calendars. Clearly, things have to start looking up or my Blockbuster card may explode.

By this time last year, I had already seen one of the films that would eventually make my year-end Top 10 list. "Zodiac" opened in March last year. But this year, a couple of high-potential, low-result flops already have come and bombed at the box office. Yes, that means you, "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "Stop-Loss."

What else do we have to look forward to as the temperatures keep rising this spring?

Next weekend, the smart-looking dramedy "Smart People" brings comedy for grown-ups starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church and Ellen Page.

April 25 comes another comedy for adults and the people who love them: "Baby Mama." The reteaming of former "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update co-anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as an odd couple who team up when the former hires the later to be her surrogate.

But if you're looking for big names, you'll have to wait until May, when famous faces and franchises make their way to the big screen.

First up May 2, "Iron Man." A comic-book movie with big names and bigger hype? Unheard of.

Then May 9, the Wachowski Brothers return to bring their "Matrix" magic to a live-action rendition of the cartoon "Speed Racer." Go, Speed Racer, go.

Then the blockbusters start coming faster and more furious as "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (May 16), "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (May 23) and "Sex and the City: The Movie" (May 30) all open on consecutive weeks.

Now, who knows if any of these films will live up to their hype. But at this rate, just finding a movie I feel compelled to get off the couch and into the theaters for is a small victory.

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Come to the 34th annual and final Musicians Flea Market on Saturday at Barker's Music in Modesto.

The long-running swap, sell and schmooze fest has booths for artists to market their wares, as well as store merchandise for purchase. This year, the event will include performances by DAM and store owner Kyle Barker.

Open since 1974, the Modesto music store is closing its doors after serving as a staple for area artists for decades. The flea market is free to browse. Space is still available for artists to rent. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 526-0347. ...

Slam on Rye is rolling out the dough.

Modesto's monthly poetry slam will host themed events with big prize money. Both this month's and next month's slams will challenge poets to write about a specific theme.

Wednesday, in honor of both National Poetry and Sexual Assault Awareness months, spoken-word artists will go word-for-word on the topics of women, domestic violence and sexual assault. Haven Women's Center of Stanislaus will sponsor the event. Prizes will be $100 for first and $50 for second place.

Then on May 14, the topic will be politics, with an emphasis on social injustice, freedom, poverty, citizens' rights, democracy and more. The event is hosted by the Central Valley Democratic Club. Prizes will be $150 first and $50 second place.

The slams are limited to 12 poets, the first seven to sign in and then five drawn at random.

Slam on Rye is held the second Wednesday of each month at Prospect Theater Project. Doors open to the public and for poets sign-ins at 6:30 p.m. Slam starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

Visit www.slamonrye.com. ...

And finally, pick your poison Thursday night as two distinct styles of music are showcased at area venues.

Check out the best acoustic singer/songwriters at the Songwriters Showcase at Deva Cafe on Thursday. Hear Chris Doud, Breanna Paletta, Scott Bartenhagen, Karli Fairbanks and Not an Airplane showcase their talents. Show starts at 8 p.m. Cover is $5.

Then hear ska-reggae rockers Pepper and Redeye Empire on Thursday at the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge.

The popular Hawaiian group Pepper has played X-Fest and the club to big crowds. Redeye Empire hails from Vancouver. Show starts at 7 p.m. Cover is $15. Call 524-1400.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284. Read her blog SceneIt at thehive.modbee.com/sceneit.

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