Just as Punch-Drunk Love was an Adam Sandler movie for non-Sandler fans, Stranger Than Fiction (Sony) is a Will Ferrell film for people who don't like Ferrell's usual mode. As a blank-faced accountant who learns he's a character in a story that's about to end with his death, Ferrell is surprisingly soulful, though Zach Helm's hilariously mannered, postmodern script, which freely mixes reality and meta-reality in a style worthy of Charlie Kaufman, earns most of the credit. I Heart Huckabees fans, this should be your next cinematic obsession…

The first 10 minutes of Tenacious D In The Pick Of Destiny (New Line)—a mighty origin story in song, featuring the likes of Meat Loaf and Dio—suggests the brilliant rock opera that might have been, but there's a reason the D's original HBO shorts were only around 10 minutes long. That inspired opening sequence expends a good 90 percent of the film's creative energy, leaving the other 10 percent to cover an ambling stoner comedy about Jack Black and Kyle Gass' search for the devil's guitar pick. The film bombed in theaters, but doubtless a cult audience awaits the DVD…

Author Peter Mayle has carved a pleasant little niche for himself with his Provençe books, which tell tales of great meals and wine, and the loveable eccentrics that live in the country. But A Good Year (Fox), his misbegotten collaboration with director Ridley Scott, lacks the same delicate slightness, and calls too much attention to the privilege that allows such charming estates in wine country…

Advertisement

Jodelle Ferland stars in Terry Gilliam's Tideland (ThinkFilm) as a junkie's pre-teen daughter who ends up living alone in an abandoned house, where her only company is her collection of severed doll-heads and her childlike, brain-damaged adult neighbor. The film's multiple fairy-tale plots are about a dozen times more imaginative and deeply felt than Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, but one dissonant note after another makes their individual force harder to discern. Tideland is just a nightmare, from start to finish…

Though it never approaches the depth of Hoop Dreams—still the gold standard of documentaries on high-school basketball—The Heart Of The Game (Buena Vista) thrives on the strength of two strong personalities: Bill Resler, a quirky tax professor who introduces crazed aggression to a floundering girls' basketball program, and Darnellia Russell, the supremely gifted, temperamental star who leads her team to glory.