Los Angeles Times
James Baldwin’s words remain powerful force
New on Blu-ray I Am Not Your Negro Magnolia DVD, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; also available on VOD
One of the most popular documentaries to hit arthouse theaters in years, Raoul Peck’s provocative, probing work turns an abandoned James Baldwin writing project into a far-reaching essay about the history of American race relations.
With Samuel L. Jackson narrating the late author’s essays and letters, the film jumps around from Balwin’s thoughts on the deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to his memories of growing up in — and eventually fleeing — a country with which he had a complicated, love-hate relationship.
Foot-age from ’60s civil rights marches and modern Black Lives Matter protests help illustrate both Baldwin’s and Peck’s ideas, in a movie that’s experimental and accessible — entertaining and challenging.
VOD Loev Available May 1 on Netflix
First-time feature filmmaker Sudhanshu Saria takes a couple of fresh approaches to a gay romantic drama with this movie about two old friends — and occasional lovers — who reunite for an awkward rendezvous, in both a mountain resort and an upscale urban hotel.
Set mostly in India, where homosexuality isn’t exactly widely accepted, the film stars Shiv Pandit as an ambitious young businessman who lives in New York City and Dhruv Ganesh as a Mumbai musician who spurns his boyfriend to reconnect with his now-distant pal.
The pacing is too choppy, and the dynamic between the workaholic yuppie and the flighty artist is a little stock, but the scenery is beautiful, and Saria has a nuanced understanding of how our oldest relationships are sometimes the hardest to sustain.
TV set of the week Bob Hope Salutes the Troops Time-Life DVD, $29.95
For decades, comedian Bob Hope starred in periodic TV specials for NBC, including near-annual Christmas shows where he’d bring celebrities and USO performers to entertain American fighting men and women overseas.
The three-DVD set “Bob Hope Salutes the Troops” compiles six of those holiday extravaganzas, originally broadcast in the ’60, ’70s and ’90s, spanning wars both popular and unpopular. Guests range from AnnMargret to Ann Jillian, with popular athletes like Roman Gabriel and Vida Blue dropping by to lift morale.