Black Box

Digital Week – May 3

7 shares, 70 points

This week’s roundup features a terrifically taut new French thriller, “Black Box,” about a plane crash that becomes an obsession for a truth-seeking investigator. Also worth seeing are a pair of documentaries: “Dear Mr. Brody” and “Hello Bookstore.”

Streaming/In-Theater Releases of the Week

Black Box (Distrib Films US)

Black Box (Distrib Films US)This exciting French thriller follows a genius black-box investigator who begins probing the reasons behind a puzzling plane crash that killed 300 people, soon upsetting his boss, his girlfriend, and seemingly everybody else as his search for the truth becomes ever more singleminded and obsessive. From the word go, director Yann Gozlan makes this relentlessly, even crazily entertaining, and his actors—Pierre Niney as the investigator, Lou de Laage as his girlfriend, the great Andre Dussolier as his boss, and Olivier Rabourdin as his mentor—give the kind of performances that ground the movie in the reality it needs to keep viewers on the edge of their seats for two hours.

Dear Mr. Brody (Greenwich Entertainment)

Dear Mr. Brody (Greenwich Entertainment)In 1970, a 21-year-old margarine heir, Michael Brody Jr., impulsively married a drug dealer named Renee and even more impulsively publicized that he would give away the bulk of his money—tens of millions of dollars, according to sources—to anyone who needed it, whatever the reason. Director Keith Maitland’s documentary digs into this improbable but true story, as each revelation reveals the true reality of Brody’s personal life and his money; through interviews with Renee and several others connected to him or his story, we sadly discover his final answer to the heartfelt letters so many wrote to him in desperation (some of whom appear in the film).

Hello, Bookstore (Greenwich Entertainment)

Hello, Bookstore (Greenwich Entertainment)At the Bookstore (its actual name) in the heart of the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts, proprietor Matt Tannenbaum—who answers the store’s phone with the film’s title—holds forth as not only the last of a dying breed of physical, independent bookstores but someone put into a nearly impossible position by the pandemic, which basically blocked his ability to make a profit. But as A.B. Zax’s revealing documentary shows, Tannenbaum keeps going, trying to survive the most difficult time in his store’s existence—at one point it’s said that the store is only making as much in a week as it used to take in daily before the lockdown—while keeping the faith about the importance of real, physical, actual books.

Blu-ray Release of the Week

V/H/S 94 (RLJE)

V/H/S 94 (RLJE)The third in the “VHS” series, this latest horror contraption has the same minimal strengths and maximal weaknesses of the entire found-footage genre, namely that the ground has been trod so many times in so many ways that it’s tough coming up with something original and scary. The consortium of creators tries, however, and a couple of the entries—Simon Barrett’s “The Empty Wake” and Ryan prows’ “Terror”—are downright disturbing, which partly compensates for the fact that the rest is rather routine. It all looks believably pre-digital on Blu-ray; extras include interviews with the filmmakers, behind the scenes featurettes, deleted and extended scenes and an audio commentary.

DVD Release of the Week

The Good Fight—Complete 5th Season (CBS/Paramount)

The Good Fight—Complete 5th Season (CBS/Paramount)This sturdy courtroom series tackled the pandemic, the January 6 attack on the Capitol and the ascendance of Slack, among other topical subjects, in its latest season, as its 10 episodes were packed not only with compelling drama in and out of the courtrooms but also—as usual—superb acting. There’s always the engaged if sometimes enraged Christine Baranski in the lead, along with superlative support from Mandy Patinkin, Wallace Shawn, Stephen Lang, Audra McDonald and Cush Jumbo. Extras are deleted scenes and a gag reel.