{sstar} Apres Vous

R, 2005, 110 minutes, Paramount Home Video. Contains sexual situations and some obscenity.

In this French romantic comedy, Daniel Auteuil plays sweet, hapless Antoine, a headwaiter who can't say no to anyone. When he saves Louis (Jose Garcia) from hanging himself, he realizes he also has to solve the man's life problems. This means helping Louis get a job and reunite with Blanche (Sandrine Kiberlain), the florist-girlfriend who dumped him. There isn't much to the movie, and you can see where it's going from kilometers away. But Auteuil is delightful. And Garcia makes a nice partner, too, a comically depressed mope who steadfastly refuses to accept happiness.

-- Desson Thomson

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

PG, 2005, 115 minutes, Warner Home Video. Contains offbeat humor and situations, and some mild obscenity.

People enamored with Gene Wilder's manic, sweet performance in the 1971 "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" may be disappointed in Johnny Depp's oddball eccentricity as this Wonka. But there are other watchable delights: Director Tim Burton takes us on a ride of over-the-top proportions, entertaining us while tacitly scolding our mass consumptiveness. There are some hilarious routines performed by the diminutive Oompa Loompas. Freddie Highmore is a charmer as Charlie, a poor kid who wins a ticket to tour Wonka's factory.

* Extra: Learn how they trained live squirrels to perform in the movie.

-- Desson Thomson

Christmas With the Kranks

PG, 2004, 94 minutes, Columbia Tristar Home Video. Contains some slapstick and one mildly suggestive bit.

This sour, cheaply sentimental comedy about a neighborhood of Christmas-crazy bullies who turn on a couple (Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, sporting the world's most unflattering haircut) who decide to take a vacation cruise instead of celebrating the joys of the season might have been a satirical take on the assaultive nature of this most commercialized and debased of holidays. Instead it's a glorification of all things Xmas-y. Its climax, which attempts to channel "It's a Wonderful Life," feels as phony as snow that comes out of a can.

-- Michael O'Sullivan


R, 2005, 108 minutes, UMVD/Visual Entertainment. Profanity, nudity, violence, strong adult themes. In Spanish with English subtitles.

This is an ambitious social-commentary melodrama that works about half the time, until it engages in the very behavior it sets out to condemn. Structured as a thriller, the film stars John Leguizamo as a Miami-based tabloid TV reporter who, in the course of reporting on a string of child murders in Ecuador, begins to influence the story in ways he never could have anticipated. Events swirl into an increasingly hysterical media circus, and it becomes clear that filmmaker Sebastian Cordero is less interested in the story's suspense than in making points about the corrupting power of fame, the dangerous intersection of entertainment and news, and the shifting line between journalistic freedom and arrogance.

* Extra: Commentary by the director.

-- Ann Hornaday

The Devil's Rejects

R, 2005, 101 minutes, Lions Gate. Contains gruesome violence, pervasive obscenity, drug use and nudity.

Meet the Firefly family, a southern fried version of Charles Manson's murderous clan that includes Mother Firefly (Leslie Easterbrook), Otis Firefly (Bill Moseley) and his sister Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie). They kill innocents with giddy abandon as they trade endless, graphic obscenities. In Rob Zombie's follow-up to the gruesome "House of 1,000 Corpses," the psychos are on the run from Sheriff Wydell (William Forsythe), who wants to avenge his brother's death. The movie's a return to the cold-slab murderousness of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the anything-goes mayhem of midnight movies in general.

* Extra: Commentary by the actors.

-- Desson Thomson

{sstar} Yes

R, 2005, 100 minutes, Columbia Tristar Home Video. Contains obscenity and sexual content.

In Sally Potter's boldly original film, a passionate liaison between an Irish American married woman (Joan Allen) and a Lebanese surgeon (Simon Abkarian), who are both living in London, is something more than an extramarital fling. Their relationship becomes the jagged interface between two clashing worlds, cultures, genders and personalities in the post-9/11 universe. Their running arguments have another significant element: They're recited in verse. In fact, everyone in the movie speaks in rhymed couplets, mostly in iambic pentameter. Thanks to the wit and inventiveness of Potter's language, a risky venture stays vital and alive. And the movie is very sensual, thanks to the note-perfect partnership between Allen and Abkarian.

* Extra: Photo gallery.

-- Desson Thomson