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New Movie Friday: Stompin', Suburban Gangsters, Crocodiles and Mariachis

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Stomp the Yard - I'm a sucker for movies that end in dance-offs. DJ, a troubled street-dancer from Los Angeles, avoids jail by enrolling in a black college in Atlanta where two rival fraternities both want a piece of his talent, so they can win a national step show competition. Meagan Good (Brick, D.E.B.S.) plays his love interest.

Alpha Dog - Directed by Nick Cassavetes, this fictionalized account of a small-time Southern California pot dealer who kidnaps the little brother of a rival dealer has been getting a lot of hype as a suburban gangster movie. But it's actually a much slower, character-driven film about masculinity and its expression through violence. The plot of the film is dull and almost tangential (the screening I saw felt too long by nearly a half hour). But where the film shines is the way it teases out the relationships among the boys: Emile Hirsch as the cowardly pack leader, Shawn Hatosy as the pack's desperate bitch boy, and Anton Yelchin as the kid who's thrilled to be kidnapped because it confers on him a status and popularity he's never experienced. The cast is full of big names like Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis and Harry Dean Stanton in supporting roles, but the film's best performance easily belongs to Ben Foster (who played Claire's mewling spineless boyfriend for a few seasons on Six Feet Under) as a muscled sociopathic drug dealer.

Arthur and the Invisibles - Luc Besson directs this combination of CGI and live-action about a 10-year-old boy who discovers that his garden is populated by tiny creatures called Minimoys. To save his grandfather's house from destruction, Arthur (Freddie Highmore) must find the hidden treasure in the land of the Minimoys.

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Primeval - This is the movie about the really smart crocodile. It's like Congo meets Anaconda but set in South Africa. As with Jurassic Park, I'm rooting for the reptile. In films like this I always want the animal and to rip from limb to limb the dimwit humans who have been sent to capture him.

Miss Potter - Renée Zellweger stars in this biopic about children's author Beatrix Potter.

Romantico - A tale of reverse immigration, this documentary follows Mexican musician Carmelo Muñiz Sánchez as he returns home to Mexico after struggling to make it for years as a musician in San Francisco.