1. Garden State - Zach Braff (TV's Scrubs) makes an auspicious debut as writer, director and star of an eccentrically charming film. Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard co-star in a "dramedy" evoking memories of The Graduate.
2. Maria Full of Grace - A pregnant teen in Colombia works as a heroin transporter in an impressive debut by writer-director Joshua Marston.
3. Hero - Zhang Yimou's epic martial arts adventure stars Jet Li as a warrior recalling for a king how a trio of assassins was defeated. Comparisons to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are inevitable and favorable.
4. Festival Express - Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and the Band lead a 1970 train excursion across Canada, and fans rebel against a $14 ticket price to see them in concert.
5. The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi - Holding out for another Hero? This ultraviolent saga of a sightless warrior (played by director Takeshi Kitano) should satisfy martial arts aficionados.