Luke Skywalker’s epic journey from moisture farmer to cave hermit continues this Friday with Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

Wait, a movie with ‘The Last‘ in its title? Turns out we’ve seen that one before, prompting this week’s gallery of 24 best and worst Last movies.

This week on home video, we’ve got an Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner, Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller, and the latest Young Adult novel adaptation. Then, we’ve also got a comedy featuring some screen legends and a crime thriller starring Jason Statham, as well as some reissues that include a couple of Hayao Miyazaki films, an American comedy classic, and a couple of gangster flick collections. See below for the full list.

The Last Stand

61%

For those who nostalgic for the 1980s heyday of action movie stars, The Last Stand provided somewhat of a throwback thrill, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the center of a boisterous shoot-’em-up. The English language debut of South Korean genre auteur Kim Ji-woon (The Good, the Bad, the Weird, I Saw the Devil), The Last Stand failed to reach the critical highs of his previous work but proved Arnie could still handle a firearm with some panache. Schwarzenegger stars as Ray Owens, the sheriff of a small border town who, along with his ragtag crew of deputies, fortifies the local streets and hunkers down in hopes of stopping a dangerous drug lord from racing through the town and into Mexico. There’s little nuance to be found here, and it’s all mostly an excuse to see Arnold blow stuff up and beat down some bad guys, but if that’s all you ask or expect of the film, you probably won’t be disappointed, say critics. At 59% on the Tomatometer, The Last Stand isn’t going to change any lives, but it might offer a satisfactory diversion.

Side Effects

81%

Steven Soderbergh’s reportedly penultimate directorial effort, Side Effects continues his impressive streak of Fresh films (currently at eight, beginning with 2008’s Che). Rooney Mara plays Emily Taylor, who attempts suicide shortly after her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) returns from a prison stint for insider trading. Emily comes under the supervision of psychiatrist Jonathan (Jude Law), who prescribes a controversial antidepressant with some adverse side effects — side effects which lead to a tragedy and a possible murder conspiracy. Critics found the film to be an effectively unsettling thriller that employs some clever twists and turns to keep audiences on their toes. Certified Fresh at 85%, Side Effects is another example of Steven Soderbergh’s steady directorial hand and his ability to draw engaging performances from his cast.

Beautiful Creatures

47%

Young Adult (YA) novel adaptations are all the rage these days, and if you were to write a new series, why not sort of combine elements from the two biggest of the past decade? Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl did just that when they wrote Beautiful Creatures, which takes the witchcraft from Harry Potter and fuses it with the star-crossed romance of The Twilight Saga. The story centers around Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a mysterious, outcast new high school student, and Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreigh), the local boy who falls for Lena before discovering that she comes from a long line of “casters” and will soon be faced with a choice that may spell disastrous consequences for those closest to her. Beautiful Creatures features supporting work from such folks as Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Emmy Rossum, and more, and its two leads are charming enough, but a lot of critics just didn’t quite feel they had enough meat to chew on here and stuck it with a 45% Tomatometer. It’s still too early to say whether or not the later novels in the “Caster Chronicles” series will also be adapted, but Beautiful Creatures failed to draw the audience it was hoping for.

Parker

41%

The critics haven’t been particularly kind to Jason Statham’s starring vehicles, but that hasn’t stopped the action star from churning out thrillers. In Parker, Statham teams up with Jennifer Lopez and director Taylor Hackford (Ray, The Devil’s Advocate) in a revenge story about an “honorable” thief (Statham) who is double-crossed and left for dead. When he travels to Palm Beach in search of his targets, he joins with a real-estate agent (Lopez) to track and take down his betrayers. Statham has charisma to spare, but sometimes that’s just not enough; such is the case with Parker, which only earned a 40% Tomatometer score from the critics. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, and if anything, the film’s narrative is probably more convoluted than it needs to be. Parker is based on a series of crime novels by Donald Westlake, but it doesn’t look like this will pan out as the next Jason Statham franchise.

Stand Up Guys

36%

When you cast Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, and Christopher Walken as the three leads in your film and it still flops, both commercially and critically, who can you blame? The writer, maybe, whose script plods along aimlessly for too long before getting to the point? The director (in this case, Fisher Stevens, whose only other feature film was 2002’s poorly received Just A Kiss), who can’t seem to decide on the proper tone for the film and settles for an ambiguous combination of old-timer humor and forced schmaltz? Certainly not the cast, who at least imbue this story — about old friends with crooked pasts reuniting for a night of revelry and reminiscing, until one of them reveals an ulterior motive — with the hefty screen presence they’re each known for. Whatever it was, Stand Up Guys did not, in fact, stand up to scrutiny, and at 37% on the Tomatometer, it’s simply a missed opportunity for all involved.

Also available this week:

  • The Criterion Collection’s release of Haskell Wexler’s inventive 1968 political drama Medium Cool (94%) is available on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • A new 30th Anniversary Blu-ray of National Lampoon’s Vacation (94%) is available.
  • Two Hayao Miyazaki movies are available on Blu-ray for the first time: My Neighbor Totoro (91%) and Howl’s Moving Castle (86%), both with a combination of new HD extras and some content ported over from previous releases.
  • Warner Bros. releases two Ultimate Gangsters Collections on Blu-ray: The Classics collection includes Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, The Petrified Forest, and White Heat, while the Contemporary collection includes Mean Streets, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Heat, and The Departed. Both collections include extras for each film, plus an extra disc of bonus features.

We’ve got a little something for everyone this week in streaming movies, from shoot-’em-up action to 80s romance, from classic Hitchcock to a horror comedy hit. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.

The Last Stand

61%

The Governator stars as the sheriff of a small border town who becomes the last line of defense when a notorious cartel leader and his heavily-armed henchmen attempt to escape into Mexico.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Side Effects

81%

Rooney Mara stars as a young woman suffering from depression after her husband (Channing Tatum) is released from prison. She turns to a psychiatrist (Jude Law) who prescribes her an antidepressant that he’s being paid to pitch, but soon she’s reeling from the drug’s adverse effects.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

The Cabin in the Woods

92%

As the title implies, the movie tells the tale of a group of teens who abscond to a rural retreat, whereby scary things happen. To say any more would ruin the surprise.

Available now on: Netflix

Battle Royale

88%

If you can’t wait for the forthcoming Hunger Games sequel, check out this 2000 Japanese feature about a group of schoolkids forced to fight to the death on a remote island.

Available now on: Netflix

Chinatown

99%

Roman Polanski’s incendiary neo-noir stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in the dark tale of a private eye who stumbles upon a conspiracy to manipulate Los Angeles’ municipal water supply.

Available now on: Netflix

The Closet

85%

French superstars Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, and Thierry Lhermitte star in this comedy about a nondescript straight man who pretends to be gay in an unorthodox bid to hold onto his job.

Available now on: Netflix

Dirty Dancing

70%

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey star in this dance-tastic drama that ushered several mini-generations of teen girls into adulthood.

Available now on: Netflix

Gigante

94%

This Uruguayan comedy is the story of a security guard who becomes obsessed with a woman he sees at the supermarket where he works.

Available now on: Netflix

Hoosiers

91%

Gene Hackman stars in the definitive sports underdog movie, the oft-referenced tale of a small-town Indiana hoops squad that plays for the state championship against all odds.

Available now on: Netflix

The Lady Vanishes

98%

Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave star in Alfred Hitchcock’s early masterpiece about a woman who vanishes from a train without a trace.

Available now on: Netflix

Lagaan – Once Upon a Time in India

95%

Is this the greatest Bollywood epic about a cricket match that strikes a blow against unfair taxation during the British Raj? We’re going with yes.

Available now on: Netflix

This week at the movies, we’ve got a border skirmish (The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville), haunted children (Mama, starring Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and a shady election (Broken City, starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe). What do the critics have to say?

The Last Stand

61%

It’s been a decade since Arnold Schwarzenegger toplined a movie. And though the former governor of California shows signs of age in The Last Stand, critics say the movie is a reasonably satisfying meat-and-potatoes action flick that harkens back to Schwarzenegger’s 1980s heyday. The Governator stars as the sheriff of a small border town who becomes the last line of defense when a notorious cartel leader and his heavily-armed henchmen attempt to escape into Mexico. The pundits say The Last Stand is a formulaic action flick, but one that’s elevated by Schwarzenegger’s assured presence, and the result is violent, exuberant fun. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames, in which we present a pictoral history of Schwarzenegger’s films.)

Mama

63%

Mama is a ghost story with a strong pedigree: it stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and was executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro. But while some critics say the movie is chilling and atmospheric, others find it clichéd and unable to fulfill its potential. Two sisters disappeared the day their mother was murdered, and after years of searching, their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend Annabel (Chastain) find the girls and bring them home. But soon, the sisters seem to be communicating with a spectral entity. The pundits say Mama is elegant and spooky, but it chills more than it scares and some feel it doesn’t fully develop its intriguing setup.

Broken City

28%

Broken City is an ambitious political thriller with neo-noir crime elements. Unfortunately, critics say a fine cast can’t save the film’s overstuffed and implausible script. Mark Wahlberg stars as Billy Taggart, an ex-cop-turned-private eye who’s hired by New York City Mayor Nicolas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to investigate his philandering wife; soon, Taggart has uncovered evidence of a far-reaching conspiracy. The pundits say Broken City has its moments, but it’s too familiar and contrived to work as a whole.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Birders: The Central Park Effect, a documentary about the folks who observe our feathered friends in the heart of New York City, is at 100 percent.

  • Hors Satan, a drama about a teenage girl who befriends a mysterious hermit, is at 78 percent.

  • Here and There, a drama about a migrant worker reuniting with his family in Mexico, is at 50 percent.

  • LUV, starring Common and Dennis Haysbert in a coming-of-age drama about an 11-year-old who spends a day with his ex-con uncle, is at 33 percent.

Finally, props to Bentley Lyles for coming the closest to guessing A Haunted House‘s eight percent Tomatometer.>

The Last Stand dislodges all winter icicles hanging from your soul with plenty of fast cars, action, and good guys vs. bad guys fun.

Grae Drake talks to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johny Knoxville, Jaimie Alexander, Forest Whitaker, and Rodrigo Santoro about horsepower and The Law.

Click here to watch more video interviews

In the odd chance that you happened to be watching Mexican telenovelas sometime in the last five or six years, you may have locked eyes upon Genesis Rodriguez, a young actress who was a regular cast member on several shows before moving to Los Angeles for an arc on Entourage. You’re also likely to enjoy her performance as Will Ferrell’s absurdly radiant paramour in this week’s Casa de mi Padre, a movie that riffs heavily on the telenovelas of Rodriguez’s past. The actress’ training in those deadly serious, unintentionally cheesy melodramas proved a perfect fit for the film, which calls for a steely straight face while delivering ripe dialogue and acting against kitsch sets — not to mention Ferrell’s weirdly intoned Spanish.

We sat down with Rodriguez for a chat last week, in which she reflected on working with Ferrell and his intentions behind playing a Mexican. Plus, she talked a little about working with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the forthcoming Last Stand. First, though — before we ran out of time — she ran through her all-time five favorite comedies…

Step Brothers (Adam McKay; 2008; 55% Tomatometer)

It’s such a tough question. It could be five favorite comedies?

It can be. If you insist.

Okay. Well, Step Brothers, because it’s an innocent, funny movie and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly just kill me. I just die of laughter.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Adam McKay, 2004; 66% Tomatometer)

I’m sorry, I’m gonna go there — Anchorman is another one. [Laughs] Sorry. It’s just genius. That type of humor is just genius.

It is genius, but… you do look like you’re being paid by the Ferrell corporation.

Too bad! I was a huge fan.

National Lampoon’s Vacation, European Vacation, and Christmas Vacation (Harold Ramis, Amy Heckerling, Jeremiah Chechik; 1983, 1985, 1989; 94%, 38%, 63% Tomatometers)

I was a huge fan of Chevy Chase, so I’ll have to just condense them and put Vacation, European Vacaction, and Christmas Vacation all under one.

Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks; 1974; 94% Tomatometer)

Young Frankenstein. Mel Brooks. It’s a classic.

Zoolander (Ben Stiller; 2001; 64% Tomatometer)

I’m gonna make an obvious choice: Zoolander. And that’s that. Very funny movie.

Next, Rodriguez on how her telenovela background prepped her for Casa de mi Padre, what she thinks of Will Ferrell’s Spanish, and working with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Last Stand.

 

This was your first major feature, but you were previously acting in the kind of telenovelas it parodies — was that how you got involved?

Genesis Rodriguez: I moved out [to Los Angeles] after finishing a six-year contract. I was getting out on certain things on TV. I did a little part on Entourage. And this was like my first real film audition. It was kind of wonderful how it worked out, because what I had done was so fresh, you know — and I knew exactly what to do. Telenovelas and, you know, Mexican movies — old Mexican movies, for example — they’re so serious and they just look a little bit off and wacky. So I felt like I had to be extremely serious to make it work. And I knew I wasn’t the funny guy — Will’s the funny guy. Gael [Garcia Bernal] and Diego [Luna], obviously, they kind of blew us out of the water too.

They’re actually very funny here.

Who knew? They’re exceptional actors. They were amazing. But I was kind of like the anchor in the movie, with kind of a “real” character in all the ridiculousness. I got to play around, too, don’t get me wrong.

But being so straight makes things funny.

It does. Being so serious… in real life, when people are so serious and so intense, it kind of makes me laugh because I think, “Why are you so serious?”

Telenovelas are notoriously melodramatic. Did you find them funny when you were working in them, when you were meant to be serious?

Oh absolutely! I mean, I’ve had ridiculous situations, if you put it in the context of the characters I’ve played. A lot of them were just like, “What? I really did that? That’s totally unbelievable.” Just ridiculous plot twists. And it was also because we were two days off air, so the audience kind of controlled what they wanted to see. So one day I would hate the person, and two days later I’d just be making out with him, in just the most random emotional moment.

They’d poll the audience to see what they wanted?

Yes. Tomorrow I might be just crying the whole time. Or I’m gonna be blind. And then I come out, and I see again. [Laughs] Just weird stuff.

You were invaluable to this film, then.

[Laughs] I guess.

The director likened you to a young Lana Turner — that’s some compliment.

I don’t know what to say. He’s amazing. I can’t… that really touches me. I mean, somebody validates you like that and, honestly, these guys — if something ever really takes off and I should have a really long career, then they should take a percentage, because they’re the ones who said, “This girl.”

Don’t say that on record. When Will Ferrell’s bankrupt he’s gonna come after your money.

He should! He totally should have a percentage of Genesis Rodriguez. [Laughs]

 

Tell me what it was like working with him. He’s not a native Spanish speaker, so did you guys play tricks on him?

Well Diego and Gael improvised a lot, and sometimes you would just see like a blank stare [laughs], so you did not know what was going on — with the director as well. Diego and Gael just really went for it, just improvised.

Did much of that end up on film?

Yeah, a lot of it. I wouldn’t say all of it because it was written out for us, the dialogue; it was just so well done — so ridiculous. But they added so much to their characters, with little details. That’s how they improvised. To see Will speaking Spanish, it was pretty incredible for me because he’s honoring our culture — and the fact that he wasn’t playing the American guy trying to speak Spanish. He wanted to be as authentic as possible. He wanted to be Mexican. And he did. He learned the cadence of how the Mexican accent is, and that’s what I find so surprising, because that’s not something that you learn in a month. It really isn’t. That tone and just the sing-songiness is just really impressive. And this is coming from a Cuban-Venezuelan who has another accent and has to sometimes have a Mexican accent in other things.

So you could tell whether his accent was really bad or not.

I could tell. And I know from experience how hard it is to grab that intonation. It was just ridiculous sometimes, the intensity in Will’s eyes — just the intensity mixed with the Mexican Spanish. I couldn’t believe what I was watching.

He was kind of immersed in that character.

Yeah, he was awesome, He really was.

The way I saw it, he wasn’t making fun of these movies — it was more of a gentle homage.

Absolutely — that’s how I saw it.

He really dedicated himself.

He did. He was so worried. He was so worried about his Spanish, and his authenticity. And I think he really did it. He really did it, but like you said, for an homage. I mean, we know what telenovelas are: I come from them, I used to watch them. I love them, you know. But he just made it incredible that he shone a light on it. It’s wonderful, for our culture, that they’re just doing this. And it’s Will, you know — that’s one guy that can just do this and bring his type of humor into another language. It’s him.

What was your favorite part of the shoot?

I mean every part was incredible, to work with him, but there’s so many epic scenes — it’s so passionate and so over the top. One of my favorite moments was when he was trying to get me on a horse and he offers me, you know, a hand. We didn’t plan any of that out. I just hung over the horse and the horse decides he wants to participate in the scene — and this is not a part of the movie — but he just starts walking off. And nobody yells “cut” so I didn’t get off of it, I just dangled there like a dead body for a very long time. Will left the scene and there was just me slowly getting off it. I was like, “Is anybody gonna yell ‘cut’ out here, because what if this guy takes off?” [Laughs]

Do you have any acting inspirations? Apart from Lana Turner, of course, to whom you’re now heiress.

Oh that is too much! [Laughs] Let’s keep it more down to earth, please. I just hope to do more movies that continue to entertain people, although I would love a super-challenging and thought-provoking movie…

But you’re so good at comedy.

I love it. I just love it. It’s something that I’ve never done before and I never thought that I could do. I have acted a fool for, like, 12 hours and I wish I could pay someone to have me continue doing it. It’s the best job ever.

You’ve got Jee-woon Kim’s Last Stand coming up, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Where are you at with that? I assume you’re not acting the fool in it.

[Laughs] I just finished it. We just finished at the end of January. I can’t say much about my character but I can tell you about the movie. It’s exactly what you’d expect of an Arnold comeback film. It’s Arnold doing what he does.

Did you get to trade any one-liners with him?

I don’t personally because he’s a cop and I’m an FBI agent, so we have two storylines, but what I did see — and I was there the days of [his shooting] — there’s a lot of chase sequences and what not. You really appreciate a different side of Arnold. You can see the seasoned side, and you can see a vulnerability and a humanity to him; as opposed to, you know, this other person, this action god-like thing who was Conan and Terminator and all these epic characters that weren’t, you know, real. This is real. This is real Arnold. This is him.

Is he enjoying being back at work?

He was wonderful. And it was wonderful to have him back. I’m such a super fan. It’s crazy.


Casa de mi Padre is in theaters now.