What to watch the week of Friday, October 2

Avengers Assemble in Marvel's 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' directed by Joss Whedon and starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner

Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand

Joss Whedon had his work cut out for him in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a superhero epic that crams in more heroes and villains and narrative complications to the Marvel Universe than any film before it by design. The sense of humor, drama, and coherence is testament to his success, though it is an awfully overstuffed production. For the record, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner are all here and James Spader is the evil genius robot villain Ultron. PG-13 for sci-fi action, violence and destruction, but Captain America keeps watch over the language.

See at via Movies on Demand, also on Blu-ray and DVD.

Melissa McCarthy goes from secret agent support staff to full-fledged Spy in the secret agent comedy co-starring Jude Law, Rose Byrne, and a hilarious Jason Statham as a rogue agent with a terrible sense of direction. Rated R for language, violence, and brief nudity, plus there’s a longer “unrated” version. Also on Blu-ray and DVD.

Also new: the big screen sequel to the HBO series Entourage (R); the remake of eighties horror classic Poltergeist with Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt (PG-13); the touchy-feely healing drama Aloft with Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy (R); and the French crime drama The Connection starring Jean Dujardin (R, in French with subtitles).

Available On Demand same day as select theaters nationwide is the oddball documentary Finders Keepers about the legal battle over a severed human leg (R).


Idris Elba stars in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), which charts the life and transformation of the inspirational activist from his youth through his years in prison to becoming the first democratically elected president under universal suffrage in South Africa. PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, sexual content, and language. Queue it up!

Clint Eastwood earned his second Oscar double-play for Best Director and Best Picture with Million Dollar Baby (2004) and directed co-stars Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman to Oscars as well. PG-13. Queue it up!

Batman Begins (2005), the first of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, rebooted the Batman mythos for the big screen and in many set the tone for the new superhero movie style. PG-13. Read my review or just queue it up!

A couple of classics new this month are for adult audiences only: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) with Malcolm McDowell (queue it up) and Sam Peckinpah’s brutal yet poetic western The Wild Bunch (1969) (queue it up), both rated R for violence.

Also new this month: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) (R) (queue it up); Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity (2002) (queue it up) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004) (PG-13) (queue it up); The Canyons (2013) with Lindsay Lohan and a script by Brett Easton Ellis (R) (queue it up); and Hal Hartley’s indie drama Ned Rifle (2014) with Aubrey Plaza (unrated) (queue it up).

The Walking Dead: Season 5 arrives more than week before the sixth season premieres on AMC, and it opens on a doozy of an episode: fighting the cold-blooded human cannibals of Terminus. Read my review or just queue it up!

More streaming TV: the lighthearted procedural Bones: Season 10 (queue it up), royal soap opera Reign: Season 2 (queue it up), supernatural soap opera The Vampire Diaries: Season 6 (queue it up), sci-fi thriller Dark Matter: Season 1 (queue it up), and period mystery imports Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Series 12 from Britain (queue it up) and Murdoch Mysteries: Seasons 4-7 from Canada (queue it up).

Frank Sinatra is celebrated with six classics: the musicals On the Town (1949) (queue it up) and Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) with Gene Kelly (queue it up), High Society (1956) with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly (queue it up), and Pal Joey (1957) with Kim Novak (queue it up), the drama Some Came Running (1958) with Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine (queue it up), and the adventure The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961) with Spencer Tracey, a volcano, and an island of orphans (queue it up).

Amazon Prime Video

The complete Back to the Future trilogy is available to Prime subscribers through the month on October in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the original Back to the Future. Details here.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and features the least affected performance of Jim Carrey’s career. R for language and drug and sexual references. Read my review or simply add to watchlist.

Perfect for family viewing is the Oscar-winning March of the Penguins (2005), a nature documentary from France with Morgan Freeman narrating the American version. Add to watchlist. It’s rated G, as is the 1993 version of The Secret Garden (1993), an American film from Polish director Agnieszka Holland, is still considered the best adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic. Add to watchlist.

Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), starring Paul Reubens as the giggly child-man, is for kids of all ages and has a PG rating. Add to watchlist.

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) stars James Woods as a vampire hunter working the southwest. It’s a western horror movie like only Carpenter can do. Add to watchlist.

Tyrone Power picks up the sword in the 1940 version of the swashbuckling adventure The Mark of Zorro. Add to watchlist.

More new classics for Amazon Prime subscribers: Bird of Paradise (1932) with Joel McCrea and Dolores Del Rio (add to watchlist) and A Farewell to Arms (1932) with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes (add to watchlist), both from Kino’s recently remastered editions (the other versions aren’t worth the viewing), and The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) with Charles Laughton (add to watchlist), from the Criterion Collection.

Streaming TV: Grimm: Season 4 makes Portland, Oregon, the battleground for a supernatural royal child, plus monster-hunter Nick takes on a protégé named Trouble. It’s available a month before the new season begins on NBC. Add to watchlist.


Hulu is picking up many of the films that Netflix lost this month when they picked up the EPIX contract that Netflix let lapse, among them these recent hits: All Is Lost (2013) with Robert Redford, Dear White People (2014), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2013), Much Ado About Nothing (2013), Nebraska (2013), Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and World War Z (2013). Check out these and other new arrivals at Hulu. They’re also available on Amazon Prime.

HBO Now:

Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (2014) is the new movie this week. More here. On Saturday night, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper debuts.

Showtime Anytime:

With the third season finale of Masters of Sex, the cable drama about the Masters and Johnson studies starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, the entire season is now available for streaming and cable subscribers. More here.

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Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.