Picks of the week
‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’
(R, 130 minutes, Fox): Colin Firth plays a dapper, James Bond-like super-agent in this spy thriller based on a graphic novel series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. It’s both a sharp send-up of spy movies and a silly celebration of action movie cliches in the Quentin Tarantino mold. It even boasts Samuel L. Jackson as the villain Richmond Valentine, a billionaire Internet entrepreneur with a diabolical plan. The plot is at once ridiculous and smart. Though Valentine is intent on human annihilation, he means to achieve this goal not with a doomsday weapon, but with the cellphone. How this unfolds is one of the film’s several pleasures. Contains violence, obscenity, brief nudity and suggestive dialogue. Extras: Commentary track and a 90-minute making-of that includes a panel-to-screen look at the education of a 21st century spy, gadgets, fight scenes and comic book origins.
(PG, 85 minutes, in Russian with subtitles, Sony): In this swift, smart, often very funny documentary, Gabe Polsky takes an unprecedented look at the legendary Soviet-era hockey program and its life after glasnost, exposing an athletic system that became a crucial symbol of Communist history and politics, but also discipline, grace and brooding, melancholy soul. All of those qualities abound in Slava Fetisov, the storied Soviet who serves as the documentary’s charismatic protagonist and Polsky’s occasionally irascible foil and goad. Their sometimes testy relationship is established early in the film, when the soft-spoken filmmaker is seen trying to interview the still-imposing former athlete. Fetisov finally deigns to acknowledge the director’s presence, a dynamic that will continue to propel “Red Army” through a story that is almost unbelievably dramatic but – thanks to Fetisov’s deadpan delivery and Polsky’s willingness to play the bumbling naif – also caustically amusing. Extras: Commentary with Polsky and executive producer Werner Herzog, deleted scenes, an interview with legendary Canadian hockey coach Scotty Bowman, a Q&A with Polsky and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and a Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Polsky.
(R, 109 minutes, Magnolia Home Entertainment): Susanne Bier’s dark drama, an adaptation of Ron Rash’s 2008 novel, is set during the Great Depression around the Smoky Mountains, where George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) runs a timber enterprise with hopes of expanding his business to South America. But first he has to sort though some complications. In the midst of them, George weds the spitfire Serena (Jennifer Lawrence), whose late father also was a logging man. Cooper and Lawrence do their best, but the material consistently works against them, from the overwrought dialogue to the never-ending plot twists. Contains violence and sexual situations. Extras: An interview with Bier and screenwriter Christopher Kyle and interviews with Cooper and Lawrence.
(PG-13, 104 minutes, Lionsgate): Based on Kody Keplinger’s young adult novel, this high school rom-com is tricked out in rhetoric of independence and self-discovery that give it a pseudo-feminist sheen. But, between its grating heroine, strident speechifying, derivative plot and draggy tone and tempo, it’s like the redheaded stepchild of “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday.” Bianca, a Designated Ugly Fat Friend, isn’t fat or ugly, but she isn’t terribly kind or sympathetic, either. Played with less warmth than brisk efficiency by Mae Whitman, she makes a dubious protagonist, especially when all of her energies seem geared toward making herself more “super-hot and popular.” Contains crude and sexual material throughout, profanity and teen partying. Extras: Gag reel, a red carpet report and featurettes “Bringing the Book to Life,” “Teen Comedies and The DUFF” and “I Am the DUFF.”
“Beautiful and Twisted”
“Cas & Dylan”
“Free the Nipple”
“The Beginners Bible, Volume 2”
“The Golden Year Collection”
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”
“Gone With the Wind”
“The Last Ship: Season 1”
“Teen Wolf Season 4”
“Transporter: The Series – The Complete Second Season”
“Forsyte Saga: The Complete Series”
“Power Rangers Super Megaforce: Sky Strike”
“Hart To Hart: The Final Season”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: NYC Showdown”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Search for Splinter”