Picks of the week
(R, 106 minutes, Sony): In “Whiplash,” the promising feature debut of writer-director Damien Chazelle, J.K. Simmons plays a music professor named Fletcher, a tightly coiled martinet who joins a long line of cinematic drill sergeants, football coaches, prison bulls and dysfunctional fathers as a patriarchal figure who breaks down an impressionable young man, the better to build him back up.
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The Sundance favorite, which also stars Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”) as the impressionable drummer, earned a Golden Globe for Simmons and five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.
Contains strong profanity, including some sexual references. Extras: Commentary with Simmons and Chazelle and a Toronto International Film Festival Q&A.
‘Big Hero 6’
(PG, 108 minutes, Disney): This animated tale of the friendship between a boy and his robot features a plus-size health care droid named Baymax who resembles a socially awkward Pillsbury Dough Boy. With a plot built around the formation of a team of misfit heroes, it’s like an “Avengers” origin story for the Saturday morning cartoon crowd.
Contains mature thematic material, mild action and peril. Extras: A “Feast” theatrical short, deleted scenes and featurettes “The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: Hiro’s Journey” and “The Characters Behind the Characters.”
‘Horrible Bosses 2’
(R, 108 minutes, Warner): Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day once again play three amateur miscreants who find themselves resorting to crime to strike back at the authority figures who have messed them over.
They keep a saggy snore of a plot afloat through their improvisatory chemistry, infusing their characters’ arguments, cross talk and scheming banter with a contagiously stupid-funny fizz that the surrounding movie doesn’t deserve. But “Horrible Bosses 2” goes for the laziest gambits – like restaging one of the most notorious gross-out jokes from the first film – or the most objectionable ones, such as an ill-advised date-rape joke. Taste may be abandoned, but the joys, embarrassments and self-satisfactions of bro-hood are not.
Contains crude sexual content and language.
(Unrated, 82 minutes, Music Box Films): Though set in the busy emergency room of Los Angeles County General Hospital, where the frenetic drama is at times reminiscent of the television series “ER,” this documentary is less about saving lives than it is about saving the American health care system. This fascinating tale follows a group of idealistic residents in emergency medicine being trained in the hospital that, according to the film, gave birth to the modern E.R.
“Code Black’s” first-time director is one of those young trainees, physician Ryan McGarry, who interviewed his classmates and watched them work. Taking its title from the hospital’s in-house euphemism for “overwhelmed,” “Code Black” starts in 2008, before McGarry and his colleagues relocated to a new, state-of-the-art building.
Contains obscenity, nudity, bloody surgery and drug references. Extras: interview with McGarry and “#Reconnection,” a short film by McGarry.