Flick Picks - Avengers: Age of Ultron, Pitch Perfect 2, Spy, Furious 7


Summer is not over just yet, even if fall jackets have made an appearance this past week. Several summer blockbusters have arrived in DVD, along with one overlooked independent film worth a look.

Feature Films

AVENGERS, AGE OF ULTRON

 

The Marvel gang is back to save the world. Again. As thundering summer fare goes, one can at least count on the Avengers films for relative intelligence and even the occasional moment of wit. The cast of heavy hitters includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel Jackson. We have Avengers: Age of Ultron in both regular DVD and Blu-ray.


PITCH PERFECT 2

Also back, the equally (if not more) fierce singing competitors from Pitch Perfect. Pitch Perfect 2 picks up three years after the original, when the a capella singing group The Bellas are trying to regain their lost glory. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Hailee Steinfeld head the large and very vocal cast.


SPY

It's not all martinis and formal wear: Melissa McCarthy in Spy.


Melissa McCarthy plays a desk-bound CIA agent drawn into the world of international intrigue, burdened with aliases each more frowzy than the one before. No, this is not exactly Shakespeare, but as with Avengers: Age of Ultron, we have well-made entertainment. Among the relatively all-star cast is Jason Statham, sending up all those serious tough guys he's played in films past, Like the best of spoofs, McCarthy and everyone else play it admirably straight. Unlike most such action films, serious or tongue in cheek, Spy is more than a testosterone fest.

FURIOUS 7

Do not try this at home...or on the road.

Yes, we're up to number seven for those keeping score at home. And did someone say testosterone? We've got your Vin Diesel, your Rock and yes, Mr. Statham. Furious 7 is the latest entry in the Fast & Furious franchise, the last for the late and likable Paul Walker. Gentlemen (and a couple of token ladies), start your engines. 

RESULTS

 

Need an antidote to all that frenetic summer mayhem? Andrew Bujalski is an independent filmmaker who has been flying well below the mainstream radar for years. With his fifth, Results, he works for the first time with name actors, Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother). Fortunately, a bigger budget budget has done nothing to dull Mr. Bujalski's unique point of view. Pearce and Smulders play fitness instructors and would-be romantic partners, brought together by an unlikely agent, an irreverent and decidedly out of shape man played by the wonderful Kevin Corrigan. What looks like a lightweight romantic comedy is invested with considerable insight, wit and off-kilter style.

Series

JANE THE VIRGIN, SEASON ONE

Chicago's own Gina Rodriguez plays the title character in this popular and much-lauded series. 
 
 

Foreign Film

BLIND CHANCE

The late Polish master Krzystof Kieslowski is best known for his "Three-Color" trilogy (Blue, White, Red), as well as The Double Life of Veronique and The Decalogue. If you're familiar with any or all of those films, you'll recognize similar elements in Blind Chance: a great lead performance; a gift for storytelling that plays out in three versions of a a story, each determined by whether a man does or does not catch a train for which he runs as it departs a station; the repetition of exact, seemingly innocuous actions from one story to the next (very much like "Three Colors"). As ever, Kieslowski considers not only the effects of chance, but the ramifications of the choices we make. We have Blind Chance in a new Criterion Collection edition. 

 
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