By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Sofia Coppola's third feature grabs you by your frilly lapels from the jump, with Gang of Four's "Natural's Not in It" showering guitar chords all over the credits as Kirsten Dunst nods to the audience, as if to say, Hang tight--this thing's gonna be a gas. Only it never is: This tale of Marie's ascension from Austrian blue blood to French rock-star royalty feels as though it was shot in a bank vault and encased in amber; there's little life to the movie, about a woman living it to the fullest once she ditches her disinterested hubbie for a new-wave score, champagne cocktails, couture gowns, and a lover on the side. Sadly, Coppola doesn't offer a commentary track; there's only a so-what making-of, a few deleted scenes, and a "Cribs With Louis XVI" featurette. Now that's a gas. Gaseous too, just a little. --Robert Wilonsky
Mutual Appreciation (Image)
Here's a choppy hyperrealist black-and-white talkfest about artsy 20-somethings--hey, come back! Sure, Mutual Appreciation could have been a horrible film, and it undoubtedly will inspire some real clunkers. But writer-director (and co-star) Andrew Bujalski simply has the touch--the skills that allow him to waltz through this minefield of pretension unscathed. That same touch has fooled a lot of critics into making this a dangerously overhyped movie; it's smart, funny, and far more entertaining than it has a right to be, but there's no need to drag Godard and Cassavetes into it. Some people simply can't see blank spaces in cinema without filling them with brilliance. Then again, if you're the type who uses the term "hipster" as an insult, you may spend the entire film muttering "get a job" under your breath. --Jordan Harper
American Idol Unauthorized (Crystal Entertainment)
If you already figured reality TV like American Idol was pop-culture junk food at its unhealthiest, have a bite of this: a shoddily produced pseudo-salacious exposé of Idol--the TV equivalent of Moon Pie knockoffs. The big secret, revealed in the awkward style of VH1 talking-head shows, is this: American Idol is a television show put on the air to make money for its producers. Oh, they allude (without proof) to vote-fixing schemes, and it's sort of interesting to hear about how the producers assign the best stylists and vocal coaches to their favorites. But there's also a lot of time spent complaining about the contracts the singers have to sign--as if the expressway to fame and fortune shouldn't have any tolls along the way. Mostly, the former contestants just seem unwilling to relinquish their 15 minutes-- especially that guy from season two who claims to havepoured the pork to Paula Abdul. Move on, buddy, move on. --J.H.
The Infernal Affairs Trilogy: Special Collector's Edition (Genius)
If you enjoyed the boiling mass of crime-movie fun that was The Departed (which is also out on DVD this week), you'll want to check out its Hong Kong source material. Though Martin Scorsese's version benefited from the brilliant comic relief of Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg, the original was even better when it came to stunning visuals and bloody theatrics. But today's question is, should a fan of The Departed invest in the entire Infernal Affairs trilogy? Short answer: Nope. Much like their Hollywood counterparts, Hong Kong producers are perfectly willing to slaughter golden geese while they can, and this goose got minced beyond recognition. For Hong Kong junkies only. --J.H.