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New video: 'I Am Not Your Negro' a showcase of James Baldwin’s challenge to America

New on Blu-ray

“I Am Not Your Negro” (Magnolia DVD, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98; also available on VOD)

One of the most popular documentaries to hit art-house theaters in years, Raoul Peck’s provocative, probing “I Am Not Your Negro” turns an abandoned James Baldwin writing project into a far-reaching essay about the history of American race relations. With Samuel L. Jackson narrating the late author’s essays and letters, the film jumps around from Balwin’s thoughts on the deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to his memories of growing up in — and eventually fleeing — a country with which he had a complicated, love-hate relationship. Footage from ’60s civil rights marches and modern Black Lives Matter protests help illustrate both Baldwin’s and Peck’s ideas, in a movie that’s experimental and accessible — entertaining and challenging.

VOD

“Loev” (available May 1 on Netflix)

First-time feature filmmaker Sudhanshu Saria takes a couple of fresh approaches to a gay romantic drama with “Loev,” a movie about two old friends — and occasional lovers — who reunite for an awkward rendezvous, in both a mountain resort and an upscale urban hotel. Set mostly in India, where homosexuality isn’t exactly widely accepted, the film stars Shiv Pandit as as an ambitious young businessman who lives in New York City, and Dhruv Ganesh as a Mumbai musician who spurns his boyfriend to reconnect with his now-distant pal. The pacing’s too choppy and the dynamic between the workaholic yuppie and the flighty artist is a little stock, but the scenery’s beautiful, and Saria has a nuanced understanding of how our oldest relationships are sometimes the hardest to sustain.

TV set of the week

“Bob Hope Salutes the Troops” (Time-Life DVD, $29.95)

For decades, comedian Bob Hope starred in periodic TV specials for NBC, including near-annual Christmas shows where he’d bring celebrities and USO performers to entertain American fighting men and women overseas. The three-DVD set “Bob Hope Salutes the Troops” compiles six of those holiday extravaganzas, originally broadcast in the ’60, ‘70s and ‘90s, spanning wars both popular and unpopular. Guests range from Ann-Margret to Ann Jillian, with popular athletes like Roman Gabriel and Vida Blue dropping by to lift morale.

Special features: A short documentary about Hope’s USO service during WWII

From the archives

“Saturday Night Fever: 40th Anniversary Edition” (Paramount Blu-ray, $16.99)

The 1977 cultural phenomenon “Saturday Night Fever” is so associated with the disco explosion and its garish fashions that it has a reputation today as a lightweight, teen-friendly exploitation film. Don’t believe it. It’s actually an earthy, funny, often melancholy slice of life, with John Travolta giving one of his best performances as a working-class Brooklyn mook who turns into an artist on the dance floor. Director John Badham captures both the grime of late ’70s New York and the ersatz glamour that dance clubs made available to everyone. The plot is driven by one big dance contest, but the story is more about how social expectations trap people, even in one of America’s most diverse city.

Special features: A Badham commentary track, deleted scenes, retrospective featurettes and two different cuts of the film

Three more to see

“The Age of Shadows” (Sony DVD/Blu-ray combo, $19.99); “Right Now, Wrong Then” (Grasshopper DVD, $29.95; Blu-ray, $34.95); “The Salesman” (Sony DVD, $30.99; Blu-ray, $34.99; also available on VOD)

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