DVD Releases for the week of May 2, 2021

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“Judas and the Black Messiah”

“JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH”: One of the most praised releases in what has been a rather limited film market lately, this fact-based drama was a recent nominee for six Oscars including best picture and best supporting actor for both Daniel Kaluuya (who won) and Lakeith Stanfield, who worked together previously in “Get Out.” Director Shaka King also was Oscar-nominated for co-writing the screenplay about Black Panther chapter leader Fred Hampton (played by Kaluuya, a winner of a Golden Globe Award for the performance), who was targeted by a novice undercover agent for the FBI (Stanfield) as the 1960s were drawing to a close. Eventually, the new operative is conflicted about his assignment as his own status within the Panther organization rises. Martin Sheen plays FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover in a cast that also includes Jesse Plemons (“Friday Night Lights”), Ashton Sanders (“Moonlight”) and Lil Rel Howery. DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.

“THE LITTLE THINGS”: True acting heft is on display with this uniting of three Oscar winners — Denzel Washiongtn, Rami Malek and Jared Leto — under the direction of John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”), who also wrote the script that passed through the hands of other filmmakers including Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood over 25 years. During a fact-finding trip to Los Angeles in 1980, a deputy sheriff (Washington) ends up assisting a local lawman (Malek) in the pursuit of a killer. The visitor’s professional instincts turn out to be related to tragic circumstances in his past, which could raise the dangerous stakes of the current case. Co-stars include Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales and Glenn Morshower (“The Resident”). DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“HEMINGWAY: A FILM BY KEN BURNS & LYNN NOVICK”: After its recent three-part, six-hour telecast on PBS, this documentary about iconic author Ernest Hemingway comes to home video, with Jeff Daniels as the voice of the writer whose works strongly reflected his unconventional takes on the human condition. The star power continues with the vocals supplied by the actresses cast as Hemingway’s four wives — Meryl Streep, Keri Russell (“The Americans”), Mary-Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson. Testimonials are supplied by other writers who reflect on the unique place Hemingway has in the history of literature, and also by the late Sen. John McCain, whose comments explain the particular impact that Hemingway’s ”For Whom the Bell Tolls” had on him. The program draws on a wealth of material from Hemingway’s personal archives, which now reside at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. **** (Not rated: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

“SPEED”: The popular 1994 action hit that cemented Keanu Reeves’ place in the genre becomes one of the latest titles to join the ever-expanding 4K Ultra HD catalog. The actor plays a Los Angeles police detective taunted by an extortionist (Dennis Hopper) he and his partner (Jeff Daniels) foiled — with a bomb placed aboard a commuter-packed bus and set to explode if the vehicle’s speed drops under 50 mph. Sandra Bullock has a star-making role as a plucky passenger whose disregard for traffic laws proves handy, but just as much stars here are the members of the stunt team, who definitely earned their paychecks (as one of the included “making-of” documentaries details). Cinematographer turned director Jan de Bont’s cast also includes Joe Morton (“Scandal”) and Alan Ruck (“Succession”). **** (R: P, V)

“MASTERPIECE: ATLANTIC CROSSING”: As its weekly broadcasts continue on PBS — during the anthology series’ 50th-anniversary season — this drama is timed for a DVD release that enables early buyers to see the last several episodes before they’re televised. In the fact-inspired story from the World War II era, President Franklin D. Roosevelt –,played, with a notable assist from the makeup department, by Kyle MacLachlan (“Twin Peaks,” “Sex and the City”) — offers safe harbor to Crown Princess Martha of Norway (Sofia Helin, “The Bridge”) and her children at the White House after her country is invaded by the Nazis, generating a variety of opinions from other politicians and the two leaders’ respective constituents. Concern about the optics of the situation also is expressed by Roosevelt’s inner circle of political advisers. *** (Not rated: AS)

“SENIOR MOMENT”: In the same week he celebrated his 90th birthday in March, “Star Trek” icon William Shatner saw the release of his latest movie. He plays a retired NASA veteran who still feels the need for speed in his classic car, but that ultimately ends up with his license being revoked, and his having to take public transportation to get around. The result is a romance with a new acquaintance (Jean Smart), giving him extra fuel to pursue getting his license back. Christopher Lloyd — who knows something about fast-moving cars from his role in the “Back to the Future” franchise — co-stars, as do Esai Morales, Katrina Bowden and veteran actress Ruta Lee. *** (Not rated: AS, P) (Also on On Demand)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“The Mauritanian”






“SUPERNOVA” (May 18)

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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