‘Dear White People’ takes a funny, frank, provocative look at race

Tyler James Williams and the cast of "Dear White People."
(Ashley Nguyen / Roadside Attractions)

Dear White People

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray. $24.99

Available on VOD Feb. 3

Writer-director Justin Simien’s campus comedy is one of the most provocative films about race since Spike Lee’s early films. Simien doesn’t have Lee’s talent as a filmmaker (yet), but he does share a gift for attacking issues from multiple angles. In “Dear White People,” he looks at race relations at a fictional Ivy League school from the perspectives of a disillusioned radical, a wannabe reality TV star, a future politician, an anti-PC white comedian and a gay wallflower who doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere. There are a more than a few clumsy moments, but for the most part Simien’s feature debut is funny and frank in all the right ways. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes, commentary tracks, featurettes and some of the innovative teasers that Simien devised to market the film.


John Wick

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

For action fans, there’s nothing like a stripped-down, unpretentious shoot-em-up. “John Wick” definitely fills the bill. Keanu Reeves stars as an ex-hitman who gets drawn back into his former life when thugs kill his dog. From that one incident springs a world of hurt as directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch make use of Reeves’ steely monotone to anchor one of the most enjoyably rough-and-tumble B-movies in years. This is a film that keeps building out the character and his backstory, one fight scene at a time. The DVD and Blu-ray include a commentary track and featurettes.

The Overnighters

Drafthouse, $24.99; Blu-ray, $29.93

Jesse Moss’ documentary starts as a simple social-problem film, about the surge in homelessness that’s followed the recent North Dakota oil boom. But it develops into a rich, riveting character sketch about a local pastor who tests his congregation’s commitment to Christian charity when he turns the church into a shelter for some rough-looking oilmen with shady pasts. A few surprising plot twists follow, but the core of “The Overnighters” is its inquiry into what happens when people of faith are challenged to consider where their ultimate obligation lies: to their religion or to keeping their families safe. The DVD and Blu-ray continue the discussion via deleted scenes and a follow-up interview.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Starz/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.99


A noble experiment that doesn’t quite pan out, writer-director Ned Benson’s film tells the story of a broken marriage from the perspective of the ex-husband (played by James McAvoy) and the ex-wife (Jessica Chastain), employing different lighting and staging depending on who’s at the center of any given scene. Originally Benson made separate films — both of which are available on the DVD and Blu-ray — which were later combined into one picture. The blended “Disappearance” loses a lot of the intended nuance, although Chastain does give one of her best performances, playing a woman trying to regain the trust of her family after a pattern of erratic behavior. Her side of the movie is quite good.


The Best of Me

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99


Dracula Untold

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Every Man for Himself

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95



Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98