New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Reminiscence,’ ‘Paw Patrol: The Movie,’ ‘Demonic’

Summer movie season is upon us — though the release schedule has never been more confusing, with some blockbusters heading directly to streaming, and various independent films insisting on the pre-pandemic model of opening exclusively in theaters.

Let Variety help you find that next well-earned bit of escapism, whether it’s a sci-fli flick (like “Reminiscence”) or an animated animal film (such as “Paw Patrol: The Movie”).

Here’s a rundown of the films opening this week that Variety has covered, along with information on where you can watch them. Find more movies and TV shows to stream here.

New Releases for the Week of Aug. 13

Only in theaters

Reminiscence (Lisa Joy)
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
No one could accuse “Reminiscence” of being an incompetent movie. It’s well-crafted, shot with expert gradations of filtered gloss, and every piece of its story falls into place just so. Yet here’s one case where that feeling of clockwork precision is actually part of what’s numbing about the film. “Reminiscence” plays like a perfectly calibrated two-hour mirage of things we’ve seen before. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Demonic (Neill Blomkamp)
Distributor: Videoville Showtime
Where to Find It: In theaters
Communing with her mother’s spirit, our heroine wanders through a squiggly landscape where nothing is as it seems (so nothing is quite at stake either), and for a few scenes we feel like we’re in one of those VR movies from the ’90s, or a no-budget knockoff of “Inception,” or maybe some old David Cronenberg brain-in-a-drawer thriller. Then the bird creature shows up, at which point we think, “It is okay to react to this monster as if we were 12 years old?” “Demonic” encourages you to feel that if you did, you might be undercutting the film’s importance. — Owen Gleiberman
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Under the Volcano (Gracie Otto)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
The music documentary “Under the Volcano” is essentially a travelogue — not so much for its setting, the island of Monserrat in the West Indies, although there are luscious drone shots aplenty, as for the trip it takes back to the pop world of the 1980s. The subject is super-producer George Martin’s short-lived AIR Studio on the Caribbean island, a magnet for big stars and even bigger recording budgets back in the boom time of the early MTV era, a time when “welcome to the jungle” meant you should put the record company on the hook for untold amounts of money to go record, as luxuriously as anyone ever has, in an actual jungle. — Chris Willman
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Paw Patrol: The Movie (Cal Brunker)
Distributor: Paramount Pictures Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters
Writer-director Cal Brunker, along with co-writers Billy Frolick and Bob Barlen, add further depth and dimension to these beloved puppy protagonists, embracing cinematic spectacle and character-driven emotions to deliver a surprisingly potent feature. Any crass consumerism is eclipsed by disarming, demonstrable themes and meaningful sentiments woven throughout the film’s textured fabric. — Courtney Howard
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Cryptozoo (Dash Shaw)
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Cryptozoo,” despite its occasional utopianism versus pragmatism college-debate-style dialogue, is mostly as thematically straightforward and morally binary as any kids’ film… But even the most simplistic sentiment can be made resonant when rendered in such labor-of-love artwork, when the grandiose and grotesque characters are drawn and voiced with such individuality, and when the lavishly textured backgrounds fill every frame to bursting with eccentric detail. In this zoo, the story may be tame, but the images, and the imagination that releases them, run wild. — Jessica Kiang
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In the Same Breath (Nanfu Wang)
Distributor: HBO
Where to Find It: In theaters and on HBO Max
“In the Same Breath” contains heartbreaking stories, many having to do with how people in Wuhan experienced the death of their family members. We see a man who’s brought his mother to the hospital in an ambulance, only to be told that there’s no room for her. He stands there with the ambulance door open, forced to decide whether to take her back home (where she’ll likely die). We hear numerous stories like one from Runzhen Chen, the owner of that clinic, who weeps in recalling how her husband was taken to the hospital, and that’s the last she ever saw of him. — Owen Gleiberman
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Ma Belle, My Beauty (Marion Hill)
Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Ma Belle, My Beauty” is lovely, not least because it was filmed in and around the book-me-a-flight village of Anduze near the Cévennes mountains. Hill and cinematographer Lauren Guiteras seize the light in ways that suggest the unfolding dramas — while ouchy — are part and parcel of a life worth grabbing hold of. With its sun-dappled days, attractive farmhouse, fetching characters and at-the-ready bottles of red wine, the movie hints at Luca Guadagnino’s vexed idylls. Composer Mahmoud Chouki’s score — North African notes with shades of New Orleans jazz — buoys the overall mood without discounting the emotional stakes. — Lisa Kennedy
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The Night House (David Bruckner)
Distributor: Searchlight Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
A knack for creepy atmospherics and individual scares goes a long way in the horror genre, and it takes “The Night House” pretty far. Though this tale of a new widow’s apparent haunting gets progressively lost in a narrative maze that’s complicated without being particularly rewarding, director David Bruckner suffuses the action with enough dread and unpleasant goosings to make this an above-average genre exercise. — Dennis Harvey
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Habit (Janell Shirtcliff)
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Where to Find It: In theaters

Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac (Nick Broomfield)
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Where to Find It: In theaters

Rare Beasts (Billie Piper)
Distributor: Western Edge Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters

Exclusive to Apple TV

The Seer and the Unseen (Sara Dosa)
Where to Find It: Apple TV
Without trivializing the matters at hand, “The Seer and the Unseen” tempers complex national interests with droll human ones: Indeed, it’s easy to imagine scenes of the protest itself, complete with lyrically modified Elvis Presley singalongs and stubborn we-shall-not-be-moved faceoffs with exasperated police forces, fitting right into an oddball fictionalized telling of the same story. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Exclusive to Amazon Prime Video

Wildland (Jeanette Nordahl)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video
Crisply shaped and cut at 88 minutes, “Wildland” could stand to be more emphatic and expansive on certain points: The possibility of a deeper connection between Ida and David’s mistreated girlfriend Anna (Carla Philip Røder), in particular, hovers teasingly in the script’s margins. Nordahl’s promising debut is most generic when centered on criminal fraternity; it’s when two or more female perspectives come to the fore that the film carves out its place in the wild. — Guy Lodge
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New Releases for the Week of Aug. 13

Only in theaters

Free Guy (Shawn Levy)
Distributor: 20th Century Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Free Guy” is a lot of fun, despite the fact that Levy and the screenwriters seem to be changing the rules as they go. Reynolds might be a little too charismatic to be believable as a personality-devoid NPC (the way that Jim Carrey always seemed too chirpily self-aware as the ostensibly naive star of “The Truman Show”), but it’s a thrill to watch the character come into his own, as “Blue Shirt Guy” (as the fans following his exploits in the game call him) levels up in a hurry. — Peter Debruge
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Don’t Breathe 2 (Rodo Sayagues)
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
Lang, thin and muscular in his white hair and beard and grimy sleeveless T-shirt, remains the best thing about the movie. He’s 69 now, and he plays Nordstrom as a raspy, broken figure whose anguish lends him a singular strength. He keeps getting pummeled and stabbed, but he keeps coming back. It’s the rare action turn I would describe as a performance of real feeling; Lang makes you experience every slice of his flesh as a small wound to the soul.  — Owen Gleiberman
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Respect (Liesl Tommy)
Distributor: United Artists, Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
Aretha Franklin was as important a female vocalist as America ever produced, and while “Respect” affords a glimpse of the vulnerable, uncertain woman she once was, audiences fully expect her to appear iconic. Hudson has the pipes as well as the presence, and that, plus the film’s two-and-a-half-hour running time, make the film feel more definitive than it is. — Peter Debruge
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Not Going Quietly
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters
Along with his editor Kent Bassett, Bruckman weaves these events together rather conventionally yet thoughtfully, making plenty of room for Barkan’s home life and appealingly chipper character that he somehow manages to maintain through all his battles. But that doesn’t mean the taxing demands of fighting for justice don’t take their toll on Barkan. On one hand, we witness the joyous growth of his family with a new baby. On the other, we watch as Barkan rapidly and soul-crushingly loses his voice and bodily functions, generating speech through a machine that recognizes his eye movements. — Tomris Laffly
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CODA Seacia Pavao

Exclusive to Apple Plus

CODA (Siân Heder) CRITIC’S PICK
Where to Find It: Netflix
“CODA,” which features three remarkable deaf actors, is most assuredly a crowd-pleaser, though in this case I want to be specific about what that means. In many ways, it’s a highly conventional film, with tailored story arcs that crest and resolve just so, and emotional peaks and valleys that touch big fat rounded chords of inspiration. Yet the movie brings this all off with such sincerity and precision, and the film is so enthrallingly well-acted, that you may come away feeling grateful that this kind of mainstream dramatic craftsmanship still exists. — Owen Gleiberman
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Exclusive to Netflix

Beckett (Ferdinando Cito Filomarino)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Much of Beckett’s behavior feels clumsy and improvised early on, as when he tries to steal a motorcycle and fails miserably. By the end, however, he has evolved from a guy we can identify with to someone we respect. Will Netflix viewers get that far in the movie, or will they flip over to something more conventional when this one lags? Hard to say, but it’s intriguing to see Filomarino experiment with the formula and exciting to imagine where his career might go from here. — Peter Debruge
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The Kissing Booth 3
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of Aug. 6

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

The Suicide Squad (James Gunn)
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: In theaters and on HBO Max
“The Suicide Squad” gets it right, honing that rogue attitude to a much sleeker edge of outrage. It’s a team-of-scruffy-cutthroats origin story that feels honestly dunked in the grunge underworld, and shot for shot it’s made with a slicing ingenuity that honors the genre of “The Dirty Dozen” (and also, in a funny way, “Ghostbusters”). The movie is, among other things, a splatter comedy of depraved sensationalism, with heads and bodies getting torn up, lopped off, and reduced to the flesh equivalent of lattice work. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

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Annette Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Only in theaters

Annette (Leos Carax)
Distributor: Amazon Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters; then on Prime Video Aug. 20
Carax was never shy about plumbing the dark, self-destructive aspects of romance but lacked the songwriting collaborators to send past projects into the stratosphere. And yet, in this particular cocktail, Carax is boiling lead to Sparks’ soda-pop fizz. What does go well with the French auteur’s honesty-insisting earnestness is Adam Driver’s over-committed lead turn. It’s the kind of performance directors tend to get only from the likes of Robert De Niro or Daniel Day-Lewis: a raging creature that consumes everything in sight. — Peter Debruge
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Build Your Own Brigade (Lucy Walker)
Distributor: CBSN Films
Where to Find It: In theaters
With a cast composed of wildfire survivors, firefighters, scientists, and indigenous thinkers, “Bring Your Own Brigade” is intelligent, harrowing, and poignant. Lucy Walker’s willingness to have her certainties upended makes the documentary a welcome addition to the climate-change genre even as it challenges assumptions about wildfires and the warming of the planet. — Lisa Kennedy
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Ema (Pablo Larraín)
Distributor: Music Box Films
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Ema” settles down into what it really is: a crystallized portrait of a new feminine attitude, one that treats men as irrelevant and unnecessary, but only because it’s about a yearning of the feminine to celebrate, and totally know, itself. “Ema” is channeling that consciousness, holding it up to the light, and the scenes with Ema and her girlfriends from the dance troupe are the best in the film. They’re intimate snapshots of a defiant sisterhood, one that glides in and out of the erotic. — Owen Gleiberman
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John and the Hole (Pascual Sisto) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It: In theaters
But “John and the Hole” is not quirky. It’s calculated and precise and meticulously constructed in a way that will be of considerable interest to audiences who appreciate stories that unsettle, and those who recognize the precision of Sisto’s approach. Both in style and psychology, this arm’s-length, deliberately paced film resists sensationalism, even as it relates a potentially freaky situation: John has been coddled by his family to such a degree that he feels compelled to banish them from the picture, but the way he goes about it is unpredictable (or at least inscrutable) enough that we start to fear for the lives of everyone involved. — Peter Debruge
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Available on Netflix

Vivo (Kirk DeMicco)
Where to Find It: Netflix
What Lin-Manuel Miranda does brilliantly here is introduce seemingly conflicting musical themes that will end up working together later in the film — so even though audiences can anticipate that Vivo and Gabi will bond eventually, it’s tough to predict exactly how their clashing sounds will manage to create harmony for the big finale. — Peter Debruge
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Pray Away
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of July 30

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The Green Knight Eric Zachanowich

Only in theaters

The Green Knight (David Lowery)
Distributor: A24
Where to Find It: In theaters
The wizards of A24, the hipster distribution company, have cut a bedazzling trailer out of “The Green Knight,” to the point that a friend asked me if she should take a bunch of 10-year-olds to it for a birthday party. My thought was: In a better world, perhaps — but I seriously wonder what a child seeking out a fantasy ride would make of this ravishing and enigmatic movie. It immerses us in the stoned danger and ardor of Gawain’s journey, especially when he’s attacked by scavengers and left for dead (the image of a skeleton in this sequence will make your heart stop), or when he encounters the petulant enchantress Winifred (Erin Kellyman). — Owen Gleiberman
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Jungle Cruise
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters and on Disney Plus with Premier Access
“Jungle Cruise” is a movie that implicitly asks: What’s wrong with a little good old-fashioned escapism? The answer is: Absolutely nothing, and “Jungle Cruise” is old-fashioned, expect that it pelts the audience with entertainment in such a lively yet bumptious way that at times you may wish you were wearing protective gear. — Owen Gleiberman
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Stillwater (Tom McCarthy)
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: In theaters
McCarthy has more on his mind, using Damon’s character to “make hole” (as roughnecks do) in various assumptions Americans hold about themselves. Bill serves as a mirror of what foreigners see when a certain kind of cowboy barrels through the saloon doors of another country, hands on his holster, and it’s not necessarily flattering. On the surface, that may not satisfy everyone, but then, to coin a phrase, “Stillwater” runs deep. — Peter Debruge
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Nine Days (Edison Ota)
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Where to Find It: In theaters
At the risk of overselling Edson Oda’s ultra-original, meaning-of-life directorial debut, there’s a big difference between “Nine Days” and pretty much every other film ever made. You see, most movies are about characters, real or imagined, and the stuff that happens to them, whereas “Nine Days” is about character itself — as in, the moral dimension that constitutes who a person is, how he or she treats others, and the choices that define us as humans. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Available on Netflix

The Last Mercenary
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of July 23

In theaters

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (Robert Schwentke)
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Snake Eyes” has style and verve, with a diabolical family plot that creates a reasonable quota of actual drama. The movie is also a synthetic but exuberantly skillful big-studio hodgepodge of ninja films, wuxia films, Yakuza films, and international revenge films. The fight scenes are staged with a slashing precision, and the whole movie, as shot by the cinematographer Bojan Bazelli, has an enveloping night-bloom look to it. For a kids’ franchise movie, it’s pretty good, but the main headline is this: Henry Golding has to be seriously considered for the role of James Bond. “Snake Eyes” makes it clear that he’s got the beauty, the cool, the glamour, the danger, the magnetism, and that essential Bond quality — the ability to telegraph the most lethal thoughts to an audience without saying a word. — Owen Gleiberman
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Old (M. Night Shyamalan)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Old,” like most Shyamalan movies, has a catchy hook along with some elegant filmmaking gambits. But instead of developing his premise in an insidious and powerful way, the writer-director just keeps throwing a lot of things at you. — Owen Gleiberman
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Settlers
Distributor: IFC
Where to Find It: In theaters
There’s more than a hint of the frontier western to Rockefeller’s brooding outer-space drama, beginning with the way cinematographer Willie Nel’s camera languidly surveys the parched, clay-baked vacancy of Mars’ surface, with its plains and mesas and rolling horizons — for which the arid sandstone expanses of Vioolsdrif, a village near the South African-Namibian border, serve as an evocative substitute. — Guy Lodge
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Mandibles (Quentin Dupieux)
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
All the while, Dupieux’s skippy, carefree storytelling blithely defies analysis like, well, a fly escaping a swatter. There’s no moral or metaphor to be drawn from these hijinks, though the film’s unexpected humanity is the ace up its sleeve: It’s a testament to the wonderfully synched, spacy performances of Ludig and Marsais that we feel as much for these useless bros, with their dorky secret handshake and genuine care for each other, as one can possibly feel for characters essentially drawn as stick figures with bad hair. Even the fly, perfectly named Dominique, is adorable against all odds: a marvelous feat of puppetry that turns out to have the eager temperament of a family dog, as well as its size. You leave “Mandibles” briefly thinking a trained pet fly mightn’t be a bad idea: Such is the power of Dupieux’s infectious idiocy. — Guy Lodge
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Ailey
Distributor: Neon
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Ailey” takes jagged leaps and leaves things out. And it uses the fact that Alvin Ailey was intensely private, a charismatic but elliptical figure who was famously hard to get to know, as a reason to respect and preserve his enigma rather than yearning to discover the man behind it. A film of impressionistic nonfiction like “Ailey” can cast a spell (at times, this one does); it can also leave you with a lot of questions. Yet “Ailey” creates a feeling about Alvin Ailey: how grace and eloquence, fire and obsession merged within him. We see clips of him in rehearsal, a lion of a man but with a teddy-bear side. He demanded perfection (of course) without turning into that cliché of the dance maestro as sadistic taskmaster. — Owen Gleiberman
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Val (Ting Poo, Leo Scott)
Distributor: Amazon Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters, then on Amazon Prime Video starting Aug. 6
For most of the 40 years covered in “Val,” Kilmer comes off as a creature of obsession, one who could be his own worst enemy. At his height, there was something entitled about him. Yet he now has the aura of a man who was dealt his cosmic comeuppance and came through it. He fell from stardom, maybe from grace, but he did it his way. And he’s still here, suggesting that grace is something you can climb back to. — Owen Gleiberman
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