PG-13, 2005, 105 minutes, Columbia Tristar Home Video. Contains sex and drug language, obscenity and partial nudity.

Nicole Kidman is engaging as a sweet-natured but very real witch who finds herself playing a fake one in a television redo of the classic TV series "Bewitched." But Kidman's power smile is just one of very few flickers in a dismal movie. The other flickers come from Kidman's co-star, Will Ferrell. But when a comedy feels this forced, it's as good as over.

* Extra: Commentary with director Nora Ephron.

-- Desson Thomson


R, 2004, 87 minutes, ThinkFilm. Contains sex scenes, nudity, discussion of sexuality, drug use and obscenity. In French with subtitles.

This is the story, told in five chapters, of a marriage. It begins in the offices of a divorce lawyer and works its way backward, ending with the couple first getting together. In between, we see glimpses of Gilles (Stephane Freiss) and Marion's (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) life: their wedding night, the birth of their son and an emotionally fraught dinner party. It's fascinating, like watching the collapse of a building in reverse.

* Extra: Director's audio commentary.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

Herbie: Fully Loaded

G, 2005, 101 minutes, Buena Vista Home Video. Contains the barest smidgen of mildly crude humor.

A reconditioned lemon by any other name is still a lemon, and this sequel to the "Love Bug" movies of the '60s and '70s, about a magical VW Beetle that thinks it's a race car, is still a clunker under the hood. That's even despite the souped-up star power of Lindsay Lohan, who brings a modicum of pick-up to the story of a young woman who finds a friend (and racing success) when she rescues a beat-up car from the junkyard.

* Extra: "A Day at the Races" with racer Deborah Renshaw.

-- Michael O'Sullivan

House of Wax

R, 2005, 105 minutes, Warner Home Video. Contains graphic violence and sexual situations.

In this update of the 1953 Vincent Price horror film, a group of friends, including Paige (Paris Hilton), Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and Nick (Chad Michael Murray), drive south for a college football game. Like most horror movie characters, they do their best to place themselves in the jaws of danger. In this case, that's a wax museum in a sleepy town where you can check in but you can't check out, at least not without a nice wax finish to your skin.

* Extra: The filmmakers discuss the production design.

-- Desson Thomson

Gus Van Sant's Last Days

R, 2005, 97 minutes, Warner Home Video. Contains obscenity and sexual situations.

One thing's for sure: This is definitely not a conventional biopic about Kurt Cobain. It's an elliptical, fictionalized meditation about the ill-fated rock superstar who stoked up a generation and, not long after his surge of fame and artistry, was found dead of a gunshot wound. For many fans, Cobain was something of a secular messiah. And as Blake, a reclusive musician with tousled, dirty hair and an enigmatic manner, Michael Pitt fulfills the loaded archetype: Cobain as Christlike rock star.

* Extra: Exclusive music video of "Happy Song" by Pagoda.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} King of the Corner

R, 2004, 93 minutes, Ardustry Home Entertainment. Contains profanity and sexual references.

Peter Riegert's 1983 "Local Hero" still holds up as a classic of the fish-out-of-water genre. Riegert is playing an alien again, this time a middle-aged man adrift in his own life. Leo Spivak is a marketing consultant who has made a living staging focus groups; now in his fifties, he divides his time between his beautiful but distant wife (Isabella Rossellini), his increasingly secretive teenage daughter (Ashley Johnson) and his elderly father, Sol (Eli Wallach). "King of the Corner," which Riegert co-wrote and directed, is an unexpectedly moving portrait.

-- Ann Hornaday

Melinda and Melinda

PG-13, 2004, 99 minutes, Fox Home Entertainment. Contains adult material, sexual situations and substance use.

Two playwrights, Sy (Wallace Shawn) and Max (Larry Pine), discuss the differences between tragedy and humor. We get to see them tell the same story in both genres, starring Radha Mitchell as Melinda. Unfortunately, Mitchell's performances aren't distinctive enough to help you keep track.

* Extra: Wide-screen and full-screen versions.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Mysterious Skin

Unrated, 2004, 99 minutes, TLA. Contains intense thematic material, pedophilia, rape, obscenity and sexual scenes.

Gregg Araki's psychodrama makes an ingenious, dark metaphor out of extraterrestrial visitation. The story has two characters: 18-year-old Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet), who believes he may have been the victim of an alien encounter, and Neil McCormick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a gay hustler. Why these two men's histories are in the same drama becomes apparent later. But until that time, we watch -- fascinated, appalled and moved.

* Extra: Interview with novelist Scott Heim.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Rize

PG-13, 2005, 85 minutes, Lions Gate. Contains suggestive content, drug references, profanity and brief nudity.

David LaChapelle's film documents the South Central Los Angeles-rooted subcultures of clowning and krumping, hyperkinetic styles of hip-hop dance far more athletic, and aggressive, than break dancing. The stars are the dancers. Their common resolve in the toughest of circumstances is impressive.

* Extra: Dance moves.

-- Richard Harrington