Who you callin' tabby?
Who you callin' tabby?

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There are no recommendations this week—other than to call your dad on Father's Day.

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A toxic combination of obvious bromides and talentless filmmaking, writer-director Ted Fukuda's schmaltzy, tone-deaf romantic drama sets your teeth on edge from the outset and doesn't let up for 103 minutes. Jesse Berns plays Jerry, the world's least-believable white gang member, who, after getting arrested, becomes the pet project of do-gooding defense attorney Tom (Maxwell Caulfield). Jerry doesn't want to be anyone's charity case, but when he lays eyes on Tom's pretty daughter Susan (Alaina Kalanj), who works as a dog trainer, he decides that maybe turning over a new leaf might not be such a bad idea. While Jerry trains adorable pooch Toby and simultaneously courts Susan, we're cruelly water-tortured by the film's anemic production value, Fukuda's incompetent direction and the dim-bulb cast's awkward, snicker-worthy line readings. Is this whole meager endeavor in fact some sort of put-on? A deadpan parody of a Hollywood boy-meets-girl fantasy? Nope. Symphony's life lessons about the importance of listening to your heart—and its pathetic use of hankie-grabbing plot devices, including car accidents and the return of long-lost deadbeat dads—are unrelenting and stone-faced serious. Early on, you start to feel enormous sympathy for the film's dog performers, who don't have any idea what an extraordinarily awful movie they're in. Their human counterparts have no such excuse. (Tim Grierson) (Galaxy Cinemas, Anaheim)

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The first fully narrative feature by director James Marsh, who previously made the striking fact/fiction hybrid Wisconsin Death Trip, is a lurid, overheated Southern Gothic that wallows in its own unpleasantness like a pig in shit, then tries to pass itself off as a high-minded treatise about guilt and redemption. Gael Garca Bernal plays Elvis (not Presley), newly discharged from the Navy and making his way back to his Texas hometown, where he hopes to locate the father (William Hurt) who bore him illegitimately and who's now a respected Baptist preacher complete with picture-perfect wife (Laura Harring), Christian rocker son (Paul Dano) and lissome teenage daughter (Pell James). As played by Bernal, Elvis couldn't be a more obvious snake in this latter-day Eden if he hissed and stuck out his tongue, yet Marsh (who also co-wrote the script with Monster's Ball scribe Milo Addica) almost seems to prefer him to the rest of the characters, who are uniformly held in contempt by the director for their Bible-banging ways. Incest and patricidal impulses are not far at hand, along with the guarantee that everyone will behave in a manner sure to cause the maximum possible suffering for themselves and their loved ones. At one point, Bernal stabs someone in the gut and asks "How does it feel?"—which is more or less what The King does to the audience for the entire two hours it's onscreen. (Scott Foundas) (Edwards South Coast Village, Santa Ana)

After being treated for four days for a blood disorder, Korn lead singer Jonathan Davis was just released from a London hospital, but the band still canceled the remainder of its European tour dates. So all you 14-year-old misfits and your black Korn shirts can march into a cineplex and help Seor Scream-o offset his mounting medical bills by watching this taped (despite the title), over-produced show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where the nü-metalists tear through all their hits as well as a few by Metallica and Pink Floyd. (6 p.m. Mon. at Edwards "Big One" Megaplex, Spectrum, Irvine)

See Film feature. (Countywide)

See Film feature. (Countywide)


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