Calling the battle for Donkey Kong supremacy a tempest in a teapot is putting it mildly, but within that world, the riveting documentary The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters (HBO) discovers a classic story of an outsider trying to beat the establishment. The outsider here is Steve Wiebe, a West Coast science teacher and family man who tries to get his high score recognized by Twin Galaxies, the central authority on arcade gaming. But it's hard getting past record-holder Billy Mitchell, who emerges as one of 2007's most diabolical villains…

The independent-film world is so awash with Wes Anderson-inspired quirkfests that it isn't always easy to extract the ones that stake out unique territory. Spellbound director Jeffrey Blitz could stand to be less derivative with his debut feature, Rocket Science (HBO), which coasts too much on standard weird-side-of-suburbia gags, but its story of a stutterer who joins the high-school debate team is genuine and deeply felt. If nothing else, the film has an unforgettable performance by Anna Kendrick as the high-strung debate champion who puts her poor recruit through the ringer…

Gregg Araki's goofy comedy Smiley Face (First Look) is both under- and overachieving. For a dumb stoner comedy, it's surprisingly sharp, funny, and well-acted by a cast loaded with ringers. But shouldn't Araki, a guy coming off a revelatory masterpiece (Mysterious Skin) have better things to do with his time than make a thinking man's Dude, Where's My Car?, especially given a phenomenal cast that includes Adam Brody, John Krasinski, Brian Posehn, John Cho, Jane Lynch, and best of all, Anna Faris in a fearlessly undignified performance as a sloppy stoner having one seriously mixed-up, no-good, very bad day?† Discuss…

Advertisement

Given his booming voice and supreme self-assurance, it's hard to imagine Michael Douglas playing anyone but a leader, which may be why his performance in the underrated indie King Of California (First Look) is so infectiously zany. He's a leader here, too, but he's also a half-crazy Don Quixote-type who ropes his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) into a ridiculous treasure hunt that involves digging beneath the concrete at a local superstore. Douglas probably hoped his showy performance would bring him another Oscar, but he'll just have to settle for doing good work.