Picks of the week
(R, 115 minutes, Universal): “Chef” is comfort food. It’s not great art, but it’s wholly, deeply satisfying, down to the soul. The feel-good story of a Los Angeles chef who opens a food truck after he loses his job in a high-end restaurant marks the return of writer, director and star Jon Favreau to the kind of character-driven indie he was once known for. Since 2008, the writer and co-star of “Swingers,” his 1996 breakout, has been better known as the director of the first two “Iron Man” movies. Contains obscenity and sexual humor. Extras: Commentary with Favreau and chef/co-producer Roy Choi, deleted scenes.
Age of Extinction’
(PG-13, 165 minutes, Paramount): It’s only natural to get a little excited about the film’s title, and not because it means another installment of talking machines battling to the death. It’s the word “extinction.” Could this mean that Michael Bay is throwing in the towel on his loud and lumbering franchise after this fourth chapter? But, no, a fifth movie is reportedly in the works. The extinction in the title refers to the fact that some loathsome Transformers were responsible for the annihilation of dinosaurs, and they may have a similar plan for humans. This “Transformers” is technically a reboot, with a new cast of characters led by Mark Wahlberg and T.J. Miller. Contains intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, strong language and brief innuendo. Blu-ray extras: An in-depth interview with Bay; a seven-part behind-the-scenes documentary; five other featurettes including “T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie” and “The Angry Birds Transformers: Origin Story.” Available in 3-D.
(R, 137 minutes, Sony): Director Paul Haggis’ film of interlocking stories of love, passion, trust and betrayal is filmed on location in some of the world’s handsomest getaway destinations, but, as is true with so much of Haggis’ work, it suffers from an airless, too-neat lack of connection with organic life. The performances are consistently impressive, especially Olivia Wilde’s spiky, unpredictable mistress, Liam Neeson’s moody author and Mila Kunis’ strung-out young mom, who, due to her own flaws and a conspiracy of outside forces, emerges as the omnibus’ most genuinely tragic figure. Contains profanity, some sexuality and brief nudity. Extras: Filmmaker commentary, a Q&A with Haggis and a making-of featurette.