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On Demand: 'MLK/FBI' is a terrifying look at racist paranoia

Matt Shiverdecker
Special to the American-Statesman
A new documentary, "MLK/FBI," shows how FBI director J. Edgar Hoover used the full force of his federal law enforcement agency to attack Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his progressive, nonviolent cause.

Here are some new releases available through digital and cable providers, as well as some titles available for streaming later this week. 

Video on demand

"MLK/FBI": Longtime Spike Lee collaborator Sam Pollard's latest documentary examines what former FBI director James Comey has called "the darkest chapter in the bureau's history." Using newly unclassified documents and recordings, Pollard gives viewers a chilling look at the repeated harassment and government surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the time, a paranoid J. Edgar Hoover was hellbent on discrediting King in any way possible. By tapping phone lines and following him around the country while he was a key figure in the civil rights movement, the FBI was able to gather material that they could use to cause harm to his reputation. It's frightening to see what they were willing to do because he was seen as such a threat.

Many within the intelligence community at the time felt threatened by Dr. King's message of equality, and there are distinct parallels between what happened then and what has happened in recent years with the way some demonize Black Lives Matter protestors. Even more shocking? What we get in this documentary is only part of the story. Some of the FBI's surveillance recordings were sealed by a federal judge in 1977 and will not be made public until 2027. (Cable and digital VOD, 4K Ultra HD available)

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"Promising Young Woman": Fresh off a limited theatrical release, the feature directorial debut from "Killing Eve" showrunner Emerald Fennell is a boldly ambitious thriller about a young woman named Cassie (Carey Mulligan) who is determined to avenge the death of her best friend, whose life was torn apart after being sexually assaulted at a college party. The first two-thirds of the storyline are among the most perfect of any film in recent memory, but the polarizing final act is where you will either celebrate or possibly become just as distraught as Cassie. (Premium VOD rental, 4K Ultra HD available) 

Also on streaming services

"The White Tiger": Acclaimed filmmaker Ramin Bahrani ("99 Homes") has masterfully adapted Aravind Adiga's award-winning 2008 novel about Balram (Adarsh Gouray), a young man from a village in India who works to lift himself out of poverty. Even if you don't know much about the caste system, it's easy to understand the power dynamics at play once Balram begins working as a personal driver for Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife, Pinky (Priyanka Chopra-Jonas). Filled with pitch-black humor and captivating cinematography from Paolo Carnera, this is a compelling rags-to-riches tale. (Netflix on Jan. 22, 4K Ultra HD available) 

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