Preston Barta, Cole Clay & Gwen Reyes // Film Critics

This week for home viewing we’ve got Keanu Reeves creating knuckle sandwiches, a James McAvoy starring romance-mystery told from multiple perspectives, and a welcoming new voice to cinema on racism. Here are three films worth picking up today at your local RedBox or video store.

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE | 1o8 min. | Rated R
Director: Justin Simien
Stars: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson and Kyle Gallner

DEAR WHITE PEOPLE isn’t nearly as abrasive as the title suggests. To his credit, writer-director Justin Simien is far more interested in satirizing our increasingly integrated culture than outright condemning it. But with an ensemble cast that gives a poignant perspective on American universities, this experience was too crystallizing not to recognize at the end of 2014. – Cole Clay

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • “The Making of Dear White People” featurette
  • “Get Your Life” Music Video (Extended Version) by Caught a Ghost
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Racism Insurance Skits
  • The More You Know About Black People (a PSA Web Series)
  • DVRS App: Black Friends When You Need Them
  • LEAKED: Banned Winchester U Diversity
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Simien, and Cast Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Teyonah Parris and Brandon Bell (Blu-ray/DVD Exclusive)
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Simien (Blu-ray/DVD Exclusive)

Director: Ned Benson
Stars: James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bill Hader and William Hurt

If done right, romantic films tend to fall in one of two categories: heartwarming or wrenching. The best ones can balance that delicate line and leave the audience hopeful and gutted, just how I like to feel when walking out a theater and into the warm embrace of a Hershey’s bar with almonds. THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY is just that type of romantic film. Based entirely around the slow demise of a young couple’s marriage, Ned Benson’s film touches a place deep in the soul of anyone who has ever suffered a tragedy so great that even the ones you love cannot help put you back together. – Gwen Reyes

Read Gwen’s Full Review here.

Blu-ray Extras Include:

Bonus extended version films THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HIM and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY: HER, giving the consumer the complete picture of the story as it was intended to be seen.

JOHN WICK | 101 min. | Rated R
Director: Chad Stahelski and David Leitch
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and Willem Dafoe

Sometimes we watch films for the art of it— for the performances, the emotional connection and all that jazz. While other times we just need to have a kick-ass, fun experience. We don’t need any plot twists, crazy special effects or complicated narrative structures— just a strong, brisk and wildly entertaining ride, and JOHN WICK is just that.

Yeah. Although at first glance this film sounds terrible on paper (one of those “ex badass comes out of retirement to take on other badasses” type of films), with the quiet believability of Keanu Reeves’ performance as our titular hero and the sheer brilliance in its action sequences, JOHN WICK marks one of the best action films in years. Trust me. It’s smart filmmaking. – Preston Barta

Read our interview with Keanu Reeves on JOHN WICK here.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack will include:

  • English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late-Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio
  • English SDH, English, and Spanish Subtitles
  • Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Chad Stahelski and David Leitch
  • Don’t F*#% With John Wick
  • Calling in the Cavalry
  • Destiny of a Collective
  • Assassin’s Code
  • Red Circle
  • NYC Noir

Also available today:

DRACULA UNTOLD (mildly entertaining but still crap), OUIJA (forgettable), THE BEST OF ME (also forgettable), HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (even more forgettable), STARRED UP (Film Critic Chase Whale highly recommends it), and ABCS OF DEATH 2 (just OK)

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.