Largely shrugged off by critics in its theatrical run, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan's The Prestige (Buena Vista) has already built a sizable cult following, as people watch and re-watch its story of dueling magicians and discover new clues to its possible meaning. Is it about faith vs. science? The dangers of single-minded obsession? The origins of cinema? Or is it just one big magic show, with a couple of sleight-of-hand tricks so subtle that even people who are sure they "got" it later admit that they didn't get all they thought they did…

Following Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Babel (Paramount) is the third collaboration between director Alejandro González Iñárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga, and reportedly the duo's last for a while, which is good news. Their once-dazzling gift for intersecting storylines has devolved into a stale formula all its own, and if not for a few bravura wordless sequences, the film would be as high-toned and heavy-handed as last year's Oscar-winning Crash

Flushed Away (Paramount) was considered a box-office flop, but its inability to make up its staggering $143 million cost is understandable, and doesn't detract from its wonky, winning charm—singing slugs, ninja frogs, nonstop gags and all. Pity that the first CGI feature from Wallace & Gromit house Aardman Animations might have to be its last…

Advertisement

Though it isn't a mockumentary like Waiting For Guffman or Best In Show, For Your Consideration (Warner Bros.) is of a piece with Christopher Guest's filmography in that its skewering of an earnest indie-film production is sour and cynical, and filled with showbiz types that don't really exist. Guest continues to think it's funny to put people in goofy wigs, or give them stupid names, or make them extra-Jewish. And he's right, sometimes. But while FYC contains a few good laughs, its satire is largely toothless, since it's jabbing at comedy stereotypes more than the real beasts of the business…

Barbara Kopple's cameras were present before, when, and after Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made a withering remark about President Bush on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The band's courage in overcoming a serious backlash from the conservative country-music establishment is exalted by Kopple's documentary Shut Up & Sing (Weinstein), but more interesting is its candid look at how corporate acts can become victims of their own success.

Advertisement