Tuesday Releases: The Last Stand & Side Effects

MAY 21ST, 2013

THE ABCs OF DEATH // “The ABCs of Death” continues the multiple director, horror anthology trend that is developing and presents 26 shorts directed by 26 different filmmakers, depicting a death for each letter of the alphabet. The fun of the shorts is trying to determine what the death will be, knowing the letter but nothing else until the end, when the title of the piece is revealed. Most of the shorts are gruesome and bordering on torture porn (“P is for Pressure”), while some are just baffling and incoherent (“W is for WTF”). But there are a few shorts that rank very highly on both a horror and film-making playing field, with “D is for Dogfight” remaining one of the most well made shorts of the bunch. Containing a mixture of comedic, animated, otherworldly, and overal artistic representations, “The ABCs of Death” is still a positive step in bringing unknown filmmakers to a higher level while also bringing in (now) well knowns like Ti West (whose short is rather simple).

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THE LAST STAND // For starters, “The Last Stand” has a great cast. For what it’s worth, Johnny Knoxville is perfectly cast as the gunning collecting, bumbling idiot. Peter Stormare and Eduardo Noriega are both great villains, built up effectively to face the protagonists of the film, played completely convincingly by Jaimie Alexander, Forest Whitaker, Luis Guzman, and of course, the star of the show, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The action scenes sell the film better than anything else, with plenty of car chases, close calls, and showdowns to rival Kim Jee-Woon’s previous feature “The Good, The Bad, and The Weird”. With a nicely paced plot progression and with the impending final battle looming over the characters most of the film, the payoff is everything you’d hope it to be, with no expense (or bloodshed, thanks to the R rating) spared. Had “The Last Stand” not embraced its humorous nature, this would be a completely different review. But with a comical, redneck town mentality, and Schwarzenegger’s self-assessed aging, this is one of the best mixed action-comedies in recent memory.

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SIDE EFFECTS // Finally the vague marketing makes sense, as “Side Effects” relies heavily on messing with one’s perceptions. Never heavy-handed, Soderbergh smartly moves pieces on a chessboard with ease, innovation, and mostly without the viewer even noticing, all while entertaining and breaking Hollywood story stereotypes. Filled with powerful performances, especially from Jude Law and Rooney Mara, who equally steal the show, both present levels of expertise in their roles yet unseen in their careers. With the Soderbergh touch, of slightly close and tilted camera angles and a freshness to the thriller genre that only this versatile director could deliver, if this truly is his final film, he will be sorely missed. Yet “Side Effects” is a fantastic note to leave on and definitely lands in the category of some of his best work.

New Releases
The ABCs of Death
Beautiful Creatures
The Last Stand
Parker (2013)
Side Effects
Stand Up Guys
Struck by Lightning


TV Box Set

  • Call the Midwife: Season Two
  • The Gene Autry Show: Season Five
  • Laverne & Shirley: Season Six
  • Perception: Season One
  • Saving Hope: Season One
  • Teen Wolf: Season Two
  • True Blood: Season Five

Special Editions/Other Releases

  • Medium Cool: Criterion

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