Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Its first act, featuring a bunch of hoo-ha involving a moustache-twirling genetics lab, a mother ape bursting through a window and, well, lots of James Franco dialogue, may have jettisoned its Oscar chances (save for Andy Serkis’ deserving performance as Cesar the chimp), but the fact that the word “Oscar” isn’t entirely out of place in the sixth sequel to the 1968 Planet of the Apes says volumes about Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver’s elegant scripting. From the vertical aesthetics of the San Francisco setting to the chill-inducing reveal of Cesar’s advanced development, Apes recovers and unfolds into a wildly original, sturdy vehicle.
Special Features: Audio commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes
One of the year’s best films, director Maryam Keshavarz’s Sapphic tale of a wealthy Iranian girl chaffing against the “morality police” of modern-day life in her country is endlessly rewarding for its willingness to dive deep into the fading luster of Muslim suburbia and not only scoff at the puritan expectations put upon its kids, but to examine its effects on moderate patriarchs who thought they were doing everything right. Although Keshavarz has faced death threats for the subject matter, her tender honesty should be celebrated everywhere.
Special Features: Audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurette, interviews
The Black Power Mixtape
One of the keys to understanding the Civil Rights Movement in America – and this is something the Swedish broadcasters who captured the wealth of archival footage shown here understood well – is the value of animated opinion, sometimes at the price of factual dogma. Working from long-forgotten interviews with the movement’s prime players, director Goran Olsson presents the footage with commentary and contextualization from Erykah Badu, Robin Kelley, the Last Poets’ Abiodun Oyewole (whose unifying theory of the era hinges on glaring inaccuracies) and more, all of whom paint a portrait of the mindset that escalated into mutual paranoia between the government and its people. It’s tough stuff, but Olsson’s passionate narrative and soundtrack keep things moving.
Special Features: Documentary short, featurette, interviews