Daily Archives: November 7, 2007

Alpha Dog (2007)

One part navel-gazing, one part slow-moving train wreck, director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) long-in-the-works true-life saga about a bunch of suburban wannabe gangsters is something of a chore because you want to punch every character in the face at multiple times. The tale revolves around a kidnapping that spirals into the brilliant notion that the best way to avoid jail time is to kill the kidnapee, never mind the fact that dozens of eyewitnesses can place kidnappe to kidnappers/eventual murderers. These kids are dumb and caught up in their machismo. Alpha Dog resembles, in many ways, Bully, but that film felt more authentic in its lascivious lifestyle. Justin Timberlake proves that he can be a decent actor, which is more than what can be said about Sharon Stone, who in one highly regrettably but unmissable moment, dons a fat suit, overacts like hell, and breaks down altogether. It’s stupefying to watch and simultaneously the high/low point of the flick.

Nate’s Grade: C

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

Much less a Narnia knock-off and more of a coming-of-age tale. It’s a simple story with loads of familiar elements (the strict tough love father, the bully who just needs a friend, the free-spirit kid that goes against conventions) but it plays every moment with a satisfying level of integrity. When a late revelation occurs that shakes up everything, the impact stings and we realize all the steady groundwork that has stealthily been going on. Not everything works, particularly Zooey Deschanel as a music teacher that strums her guitar and does little else, but this is a family movie that has much more on its mind than most.

Nate’s Grade: B

Crazy Love (2007)

A fine documentary subject and intriguing characters, but this film doesn’t feel like it has any reason for being as long as it is or even existing outside the realm of a TV special. Constructed mostly from interviews, there’s not much in the way of visual representation, and after a while the subject (boy meets girl, boy must have girl, boy hires man to toss acid in girl’s face, girl eventually goes back to boy?) starts to peter out of material. There’s definite shock and puzzlement to this bizarre tale of so-called love, and a whole lot of psychological disorders and dependencies, but there isn’t too much of a full-blown movie here. The material could have been adequately covered as a special on the History Channel of some other cable outlet.

Nate’s Grade: B-

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