Top Film Picks on DVD/Blu-Ray: Shaka King’s Oscar-Nominated ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’; Plus Dramatizations of a Guantánamo Memoir and the Border Crisis

LJ’s film columnist picks the month’s top indie, foreign, and classic films, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Judas and the Black Messiah. 126+ min. Warner. 2021. DVD UPC 883929714865. $17.99; Blu-ray UPC 883929714872. $19.99. Rated: R.
To avoid jail, car thief William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) is induced by the FBI to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and snitch on the activities of its Chi-town leader Fred Hampton (Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya), in a dangerous game of divided loyalty. Writer-director Shaka King offers a riveting, fact-based drama about J. Edgar Hoover’s (Martin Sheen) plot to eliminate a community revolutionary by any means necessary. VERDICT This Oscar-nominated docudrama deserves its place in popular collections.
The Mauritanian. 129+ min. Universal. 2021. DVD 191329162187. $29.99; Blu-ray/DVD UPC 191329162170. $34.99. Rated: R.
Based on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s best-selling memoir Guantánamo Diary, Kevin Macdonald’s thrilling dramatization of the long-held prisoner’s alleged role in recruiting 9/11 terrorists boasts a trio of fine performances. At the center, Tahir Rahim captures the real-life detainee’s hopeful spirit in spite of his egregious torture; Jodie Foster embodies the determined defense attorney who became Slahi’s friend; and Benedict Cumberbatch notches another distinct performance as the principled military prosecutor. VERDICT Public libraries, especially where the memoir circulated well, should consider.
No Man’s Land. 115+ min. Universal. 2021. DVD UPC 826663218459. $15.49; Blu-ray UPC 826663218466. $17.99. Rated: PG-13.
Texas rancher and would-be border enforcer Bill Greer (Frank Grillo) futilely tries to take the fall when his son Jackson (Jake Allyn) accidentally kills Fernando (Alessio Valentini), a Mexican teenager crossing the border. Pursued by a Texas Ranger (George Lopez), guilt-ridden Jackson crosses the Rio Grande on horseback to seek forgiveness from Fernando’s bitter father (Jorge Jimenez). VERDICT Director Conor Allyn tackles racism, remorse, and redemption in a sometimes too obvious but nonetheless heartfelt film.
Preparations To Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time. 95+ min. In Hungarian w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 2020. UPC DVD 738329253196. $19.99.
Forty-year-old neurosurgeon Márta (Natasa Stork) forgoes her established practice in the United States to pursue love with a fellow professional, János (Viktor Bodó), whom she met at a medical forum. Yet when Márta meets up with him a month later in her native Budapest, János claims he doesn’t know her. Did she imagine their connection, or is he pretending? Writer-director Lili Horvát’s tantalizingly ambiguous psychological drama keeps the mystery going until late in the game. VERDICT Viewers should consider this film an art-house Fatal Attraction.
Tous les matins du monde. (All the Mornings in the World.) 113+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 1991. DVD UPC 738329254513. $19.99; Blu-ray UPC 738329254421. $29.99.
In an inspired bit of casting, Gérard Depardieu and his son Guillaume both portray 17th-century violist Marin Marais as he apprentices under Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle), a reclusive widower whose viola da gamba has become a means to express his undying sadness. Narrated by the aged Marais as a regretful court composer at the end of his life, this beautiful film from director Alain Corneau offers an emotional tribute to the salutary and inspirational power of music. VERDICT The winner of seven César Awards, including Best Picture, this work is a must.
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