— Michael O'Sullivan
The unsettling documentary “Blood on the Wall” bites into a huge mouthful of story: How the immigrant crisis in Central America and Mexico is interconnected with illegal drug trafficking by Mexican cartels and the associated violence — as well as the role of the United States in all of it. Co- directors Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested chew on these legal, social, political and economic themes by framing the film within a simple context. “Blood” begins with stories about two migrants: 17-year Ludy from Honduras, and Sara, the matriarch of a family from Guatemala, both of whom are shown traveling via caravan toward the U.S. border. The rest of the film grapples with the violent work of narco-traffickers, and the failure of all concerned parties — chiefly the Mexican and U.S. authorities — to see the interrelatedness of poverty, drugs, immigration and violence. As one of the subjects notes, the problems are neither Mexican nor American, but “regional.” At times in this film, these problems seem greater than any one documentary can fully or finally digest. Unrated. Available on National Geographic. Contains violent, bloody images. In English and Spanish with subtitles. 93 minutes.
Filmfest DC, which was scheduled for April, has moved online and begins streaming Oct. 2 with the Italian comedy “Ordinary Happiness.” The festival, in its 34th year, features 52 films from 35 countries, in two series, through Oct. 11. Tickets per film are $9. Available at filmfestdc.org.
The documentary “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” looks at both the career of the 93-year-old natural historian — known for hosting educational TV programs — and the life of the planet Earth. The film is personal and political, according to the Guardian, which writes that, “Attenborough is here to deliver a stark warning that time is ticking for the planet.” PG. Available on Netflix. Contains mature thematic material. 83 minutes.
“Herb Alpert Is . . .” paints a documentary portrait of the trumpeter, bandleader and philanthropist. Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com. 111 minutes.
“The Keeper” tells the true story of Bert Trautmann, a German soldier who, after World War II, played soccer for Manchester City in England. The Guardian calls the film, which deals with prejudice among Manchester’s Jewish community, a “heartfelt blend of romance and football.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com, themiracletheatre.com and virtualavalon.org. In English and German with subtitles. 113 minutes.
A Native American teenager sets out in search of her estranged mother in “Once Upon a River.” Film Threat calls the 1970s-set tale, based on the best-selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell, a “very sweet story.” Unrated. Available at afisilver.afi.com and virtualavalon.org. 92 minutes.
In the feminist horror comedy “Scare Me,” a successful novelist (Aya Cash) trades spooky stories with a struggling copywriter (Josh Ruben). They are aided in this battle of wits by the pizza delivery guy, played by Chris Redd of “Saturday Night Live.” Unrated. Available at shudder.com. 105 minutes.
A group of New York teenagers battle undead bloodsuckers in the horror comedy “Vampires vs. the Bronx.” PG-13. Available on Netflix. Contains violence, strong language and some suggestive references. 82 minutes.