Recently reviewed films now playing in metro area theaters.

· The Class (PG-13) This obtuse and overly artsy French drama focuses on a language teacher and his inability to control a handful of Parisian dead-end kids disrupting his class. Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar this year, it's everything mainstream audiences hate. 1 star - Michael Clark

· Phoebe in Wonderland (PG-13) In her first lead performance, Dakota Fanning's little sister Elle proves she's just as talented as her more famous sibling. Unfortunately, the movie is a hit-or-miss examination of Tourette syndrome that never addresses the nature of the disease. 2 stars - MC

· Watchmen (R) Director Zack Snyder ("300") adheres strictly to the landmark graphic novel and keeps the faithful happy, yet in the process leaves the uninitiated in the dark. Masked vigilantes in an alternate 1985 America investigate the mysterious murder of one of their own. 2 stars - MC

· Two Lovers (R) In what he's calling his last film, leading man Joaquin Phoenix plays Leonard, a love-sick, bipolar New Yorker who ignores the affections of a nice Jewish girl (Vinessa Shaw) and instead chases a waif-like troubled blond (Gwyneth Paltrow). The stirring performances go far in making the downbeat Woody Allen-ish story look better than it actually is. 3 stars - MC

· Confessions of a Shopaholic (PG) In addition to being unfunny and woefully ill-timed, this garish chick-flick celebration of fashion excess and fiscal irresponsibility insults and offends its audience at every turn. Never before has one film made so many talented performers look so stupid. 0 stars - MC

· Coraline (PG) In its best moments (and they are few), this artistically impressive yet emotionally brittle stop-action animation fantasy recalls "Alice in Wonderland" and director Henry Selick's more-fleshed-out "Nightmare Before Christmas." Unfortunately, it's too dark, cerebral, scary and downbeat for impressionable children. 2 stars - MC