‘Transformers,’ ‘Chef’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

In recent years, Michael Bay has focused nearly all his directorial energy on the “Transformers” franchise, reinforcing his reputation as the go-to guy for effects-driven spectacles. Bay may not be Hollywood’s best storyteller, but he knows how to blow things up, and he has an uncanny knack for seamlessly blending practical footage with breathtaking digital imagery. These skills are put to good use in “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth film in a series that’s made oodles of money despite an astonishing lack of imagination. 

Reflecting on Obama’s Vow to Fix Immigration Policy

Ed Kissam

Immigration reform advocates will need to overcome their frustration and work hard to get pro-immigrant voters to the polls in November for what will, essentially, be a vote of confidence in Obama’s commitment to (very soon) take practical steps toward (substantially) better immigration policy. Of course, the challenge in getting demoralized pro-immigrant voters to turn out is, indeed, formidable. 

Crime Does Pay: Global mafias’ $2 trillion bonanza

Mark Goebel

Transnational organized crime generates $2 trillion in revenue per year globally, roughly the size of Britain’s economy, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Wonder how much money those fake Luis Vuitton handbags and DVDs of the latest Hollywood hits bring in? At $654 billion annually, counterfeiting and intellectual property piracy tops the global list of most lucrative illicit activities. 

Breathtaking Images Capture the Imagination in ‘Mysteries of the Unseen World”

Gabriella Tutino

Imagine being able to see light waves bouncing off objects, microscopic creatures in pond water, or watching a nano-machine destroy a cancer cell as if you could see your own hand. What could you study and learn from that observation? That’s the focus of ‘Mysteries of the Unseen World,’ a new documentary short by National Geographic. Narrated by Forest Whitaker and clocking in around 40 minutes, ‘Mysteries’ is like a refresher science class, covering just enough information to educate viewers and pique their interest.

Will Ferguson Be a Tipping Point for Black Youth Voter Turnout?

Khalil Abdullah

Civil rights leaders  hope to increase African American youth voter turnout by citing the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., a city where only 12 percent of registered voters turned out to vote in the last city council elections. Community organizers in New Orleans and Houston -- two cities with a long history of confrontations between African Americans and the police -- have mixed views on whether outrage over Ferguson will translate into voter participation. 

Manhattan’s Chinatown Struggles for Survival

Beth Kaiserman

Despite the seemingly endless array of purse, jewelry and clothing salesmen in Manhattan’s Chinatown, longtime businesses are struggling to make it with increasing rents and lack of loyal clientele. With other Chinatowns in Brooklyn and Queens, Chinatown’s survival in Manhattan is in question. Many Fouzhon immigrants are living in places like Sunset Park and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn and Jackson Heights and Flushing in Queens, where they can have a taste of home and pay a lot less rent. 

How the Ebola Virus Continues to Weaken Already Fragile African Nations

Barrington M. Salmon

Since March, the tiny West African country has emerged as ground zero for Ebola, with the vast majority of cases and fatalities occurring there. According to the World Health Organization, the outbreak has infected more than 4,900 West Africans and killed 2,400. Over the last several days, WHO senior officials have warned that the virus will continue to spread exponentially in Liberia, as thousands of new cases are expected to come to light over the next three weeks.

‘Neighbors,’ ‘The Rover’ Arrive on Home Video

Forrest Hartman

Nicholas Stoller’s work as a director has been on a steady decline since he helmed the surprising and wonderful 2008 comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” That film, written by star Jason Segel, was funny, original and anchored by great performances. For “Neighbors,” Stoller assembled another terrific cast, but the players are saddled with a schizophrenic screenplay that wants to be edgy yet refuses to take risks. 

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