Alpha Dog

How does Nick Cassavetes do it? There was more emotional connection in this sordid tale than in all 130+ minutes of "Public Enemies!" This 2006 release is based on the true story of Jesse James Hollywood, a young drug dealer who ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted List, so we get to see a wrap-up for the main characters during the final credits. I always appreciate that.

Cassavetes assembled a notable cast of familiar faces:
  • Bruce Willis ("Die Hard" franchise) is the arrogant father of the drug dealer
  • Sharon Stone ("Streets of Blood") is the suffocating mother of the kidnapped boy
  • Emile Hersch ("Milk") is Jesse James Hollywood, the young drug dealer
  • Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek") is the baby-faced kidnapped boy
  • Ben Foster ("3:10 to Yuma" 2007) is an out-of-control brother of the kidnapped boy
  • Justin Timberlake ("Shrek the Third") is a member of the gang that does the kidnapping
  • Harry Dean Stanton ("Inland Empire") is the grandfather of the drug dealer
  • Shawn Hatosy ("Nobel Son") is the drug dealer's whipping boy
  • Amanda Seyfried ("Mamma Mia") is a party girl who entertains the kidnapped boy.
There are many more, but despite the size of the cast, you never lose track of what is at stake: a teenage boy's life. You see the ridiculous posturing and one-upmanship that is so central to some young men's lives, the peer pressure which that entails, rampant drug use, AND you hear more "F" words than you can count.

I nominate Nick Cassavetes to direct the next big budget blockbuster. He's proven he can direct anything: "The Notebook" - which he hates by the way - and "My Sister's Keeper" from the sodden-hanky school of cinema, to this violent drug-riddled thriller. I obtained this DVD from the city library as a result of a recommendation from one of you JayFlix folks...ahem...you KNOW who you are....
Post Script: In early July, 2009, Jesse James Hollywood was convicted and could receive the death sentence. He had been extradited from Brazil.