Daily Archives: January 12, 2007

Alpha Dog

Teenage drug dealers in swank southern California, determined to collect from a stubborn client, kidnap his 15-year-old brother (Anton Yelchin), but the kid has the time of his life being a hostage. Apart from the grim forebodings of tragedy, writer-director Nick Cassavetes seems to have modeled this ambitious, fictionalized account of a true story on Larry Clark’s kiddie-porn shockers, but he doesn’t know what to leave out, and the movie becomes excessively complicated with ancillary agendas. The actorsincluding Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, and Harry Dean Stantonham it up even as Cassavetes keeps swerving away from them for new distractions. With Justin Timberlake. R, 117 min. (JR)… Read more »

Letters From Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood’s powerful companion film to Flags of Our Fathers looks at the fighting on Iwo Jima in World War II from the viewpoint of the Japanese soldiers. I prefer it to Flags because the story is less familiar, even if it’s told more conventionally, and because an American war film in which Americans become the enemy, emotionally if not intellectually, is a nervy undertaking. Inspired by letters written to his family by the pro-American general Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), who was sent to Iwo Jima as punishment for his views, Iris Yamashita’s screenplay sketches out as many impossible moral dilemmas as Flags did. Eastwood is boldly implying in both films that distinguishing between meaningful and senseless wars may be a civilian luxury. In Japanese with subtitles. R, 142 min. (JR)… Read more »

Arthur And The Invisibles

An enterprising ten-year-old (Freddie Highmore), hoping to save his granny (Mia Farrow) from a foreclosure on her house, shrinks himself and enters the land of the tiny Minimoys in her backyard to recover some rubies buried by his grandfather. Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element) has never been one of my favorite filmmakers, but he seems to have found his metier in children’s fantasy, and this semianimated adventure is enjoyable and imaginative despite its formulaic qualities. U.S. distributor Harvey Weinstein, who mistrusts anything that lacks his fingerprints, had already cut 18 minutes from the French original when this was screened for the press, and since then he’s added some music cues and narration. Among the voice talents in this English version are Madonna, Robert De Niro, and Harvey Keitel. PG, 94 min. (JR)… Read more »