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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Home Movies/Out on Digital: June 5

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 â–  “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley”

In her directorial debut, Whoopi Goldberg explores an African American comedian who influenced her greatly, Moms Mabley. Looking toothless, wearing jarringly colored outfits and speaking in Deep South black cadences, Mabley was a startling sight when she surfaced on network TV in the ’60s. One of the HBO special’s celebrity guests, Arsenio Hall, identifies surprise as Mabley’s secret: her punch lines were left hooks. Bill Cosby, Kathy Griffin and other stars also speak to her importance.

â–  Mirage Men

Based on the book by Mark Pilkington, director John Lundberg’s oddly interesting Mirage Men is yet another avenue into the conspiratorial American mindset: flying saucer division. Pilkington and Lundberg have found some purported ex-government agents claiming they were part of a top-level disinformation campaign that planted UFO hoaxes among true believers in the ’70s and ’80s—possibly to distract attention from stealth bombers, drones and other secret aerial projects. The truth is out there.

■ “Arthur Hailey’s The Moneychangers”

The 1976 mini-series had all the usual flaws of the genre, including cut-and-dry production and screenwriting, yet had the advantage of two fine actors in the lead roles. Kirk Douglas brought suave self-confidence and Christopher Plummer priggish arrogance to their characters, a pair of bank VPs in a boardroom struggle for power (and the future of lending). “The Moneychangers” racked up several Emmy nominations and deserved the one it did win—Plummer’s trophy for acting.