Last Now Playing on the Left

By: Jeffrey Ford
By: Jeffrey Ford

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Dredd, House at the End of the Street, End of Watch, Trouble with the Curve, The Master and Unconditional

 There are six new releases this week.  SIX!?!  Come on Hollywood, spread these out more.  Well, let’s get started.  First up is…




In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.


The Good – From the rumblings I’ve heard, this movie is actually good.  As of this writing, Dredd is currently sitting at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 50 plus reviews.  As their review summary states, “Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd is a rare example of a remake that actually works.”  Count me impressed.


The Bad – The current controversy with this film has to do with an independent foreign film released earlier this year.  The Raid: Redemption’s plot is eerily similar to the basics of Dredd.  A lot of jeers have been tossed towards Dredd simply because it is coming out later.   However, Dredd was in production before The Raid: Redemption finished its scripting phase.  Either The Raid: Redemption ripped off Dredd or, more than likely, it’s just a weird coincidence.


The Ugly – Sylvester Stallone’s take on this material in the 1990’s. 


Dredd is rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content.




A mother and daughter move to a new town and find themselves living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. When the daughter befriends the surviving son, she learns the story is far from over.


The Good – Kentucky native Jennifer Lawrence (The Poker House) continues her rise to the elite as she attempts to carry this horror movie on her back.  She earned an Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone and earned rave reviews for her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in this year’s The Hunger Games


The Bad – This movie was actually shot it late summer 2010, before Ms. Lawrence’s turn as Mystique in last summer’s X-Men – First Class.  The film has sat on the shelf for two years and is only being released because of Jennifer’s growing name recognition.  This doesn’t give me confidence in the production.


The Ugly – The fact that the title reminds me of Last House on the Left.  That was a disturbing film.


House at the End of the Street is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, thematic elements, language, some teen partying and brief drug material.




Two young officers are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel, during a routine traffic stop.


The Good – The other action film this week comes from the writer of Training Day.  Jake Gyllenhaal (Bubble Boy) is a usually reliable lead actor.  The action appears frantic and, just like Dredd, it’s notching up a great rating on Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at 94% as of this writing.  The movie still needs to open up Friday, at which point I’d expect the rating to go down, but it’s at a good solid number.


The Bad – The overuse of extreme shaky cam is quite a bit disorienting from the trailer.  It also tries to present itself in the found footage, with Jake carrying around a camera in front of his face throughout, a genre that has run its course. 


The Ugly – My lunch on the floor after watching the trailer for this one too many times.  I don’t remember eating that.


End of Watch is rated R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use.




An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.


The Good – Clint Eastwood (The Rookie) returns to acting since his last outing in 2008’s Gran Torino.  Despite his recent “performance” at the Republican Convention, I’ve actually been looking forward to this answer to last year’s Moneyball.  While that film was about the joys of statistics, this is all about the old school method of baseball scouting.  Amy Adams is not a bad reason to check this out, either.


The Bad – This may be coming out at the wrong time of year.  Situated more for the Oscar season, the majority of sports fans have already switched to NFL mode, with just a glance towards the baseball playoffs.  This movie would have done better in the spring when baseball is fresh on our collective minds.


The Ugly – As long as there are no chairs with invisible President’s in it, I think the movie will do all right.


 Trouble with the Curve is rated PG-13 for language, sexual references, some thematic material and smoking.




A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.


The Good – Last week brought us Paul W. S. Anderson’s schlock with last week’s Resident Evil.  This week brings us the much more talented Paul Thomas Anderson’s thinly veiled Scientology movie.  Joaquin Phoenix is earning rave marks as the naval veteran who becomes tainted by Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Master.  It was released last week in only 5 theaters, but brought in $729,745 for a record setting per screen average of $145,949.  In contrast, last week’s number one film only earned $6,989 per theater.  Amy Adams is not a bad reason to check this out, either.


The Bad – As much critical acclaim as Paul Thomas Anderson has, his method don’t translate to box office performance.  His highest grossing film was There Will be Blood which only could muster up $40 Million.  In fact, one of his lowest grossing movies was Adam Sandler’s Punch-Drunk Love.  That was during the period when Adam Sandler was enjoying his biggest popularity splurge.  I want his movies to make more, but the audience struggles to find them.


The Ugly – Scientologist’s in general.  They frighten me.  I’m always scared that Tom Cruise is hiding in my closet, waiting to spring out and convert me to his ways.  Stop Hounding Me, Tom Cruise!


The Master is rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language.




A woman's idyllic life is shattered when her husband is killed in a senseless act of violence. As she prepares to take matters into her own hands, two unexpected encounters begin to change everything.


The Good – I’ve heard nothing of this movie until I sat down for this article, and that is a problem with the marketing team.  While not going to be a blockbuster, the trailer is actually very effective, at least for me.  There are the usual downer drama moments, including prison and a surgery scene, but the interactions between the two leads felt real.  At least it feels more like a movie than Last Ounce of Courage.


The Bad – With at least 5 films opening this weekend, and little to no publicity, I can’t imagine this will make anything.  It’s a shame.   This film does look interesting if not overly manipulative.


The Ugly – There’s no Amy Adams.


Unconditional is rated PG-13 for some violent content and mature thematic elements.


That will do for this week.  Stay tuned next time when we travel back in time to beat the crud out of our past self.  Until then, “I am the LAWL!!!”

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