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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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
Read the full review

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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Charlatan
Distributor: CinemArt
Where to Find It: In theaters
This amusing disconnect between base content and burnished treatment somewhat echoes the conflicted perspective of Agnieszka Holland’s handsome, intelligently questioning but slightly dry biopic. Caught between a respectful tribute to Mikolášek’s medical achievements and a more salacious examination of his moral transgressions — with a tender if speculative gay romance propped somewhere in between — it’s an ambitious portrait of human imperfection that doesn’t strain to arouse much affection for its subject in the audience. — Guy Lodge
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How It Ends
Distributor: United Artists
Where to Find It: In theaters
“How It Ends” is perhaps the first one of those fiercely independent, low-budget pandemic-centric movies most of us suspected to see at Sundance in a couple of years’ time. Beating everyone to the punch, Lister-Jones and Wein perhaps don’t take Covid-19 head-on or inhabit 2020’s skin-crawling misery with their sometimes monotonously whimsical tone and atmosphere, accompanied by Ryan Miller’s fanciful score. But to their credit, they do acutely hit on the comedic nihilism this universally-shared experience brought about, even though their film falls short on laughs. — Tomris Laffly
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Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: GDN Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters
Chuko Esiri’s languid novelistic approach to the material makes “Eyimofe” feel both intimate and sprawling. There’s a patience to the pacing here where these labyrinthian (and even melodramatic) sounding plot twists and turns unravel with such unhurried care that you can see why the twins would cite the New Taiwan Cinema as an obvious point of comparison and influence. Much of that is owed to the work of DP Arseni Khachaturan. Shot on 16mm, Khachaturan’s long takes encourage our wandering eyes to sit with the textures and rhythms of the Erisis’s world-building. — Manuel Betancourt
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Joe Bell
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Where to Find It: In theaters
Here, without dialing down his trademark breathlessness one bit, Mark Wahlberg plays a man who commits to walking from his hometown of La Grange, Ore., to New York City, where his teenage son Jadin (Reid Miller) dreamed of living one day. Jadin’s there every step of the way, cheering him on and challenging his dad to do a better job of convincing people to be more accepting. — Peter Debruge
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All the Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding (1987-1997)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters

Midnight in the Switchgrass
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: In theaters

Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Distributor: Shout! Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters

Available on Amazon Prime Video

Jolt
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video
Beckinsale is fun to watch in both the real and fantasy fight sequences that take up much of the briskly paced “Jolt.” But wait, there’s more: She neatly balances aggressive snark and emotional vulnerability in a performance that makes her character, if not entirely believable, then persuasive enough to encourage a rooting interest as Lindy makes life miserable for anyone she suspects played a role in Justin’s murder. — Joe Leydon
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Animosity
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video

Available on HBO Max

Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage
Where to Find It: HBO Max

Available on Netflix

The Last Letter From Your Lover
Where to Find It: Netflix
In the first of this lushly mounted pair of love stories, Shailene Woodley and Callum Turner fall hard for each other in a 1960s-set romance of chance encounters, missed connections and moist-eyed rendezvous on railway platforms, channeling the vintage Hollywood melodrama of “An Affair to Remember.” In the second, Felicity Jones is a cut-glass hybrid of Carrie Bradshaw and Bridget Jones, falling only incidentally for the awkward archivist who assists her in piecing together the former story, before the narratives merge in a more British, neatly calligraphed rewrite of “The Notebook.” — Guy Lodge
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Bankrolled
Where to Find It: Netflix

Blood Red Sky
Where to Find It: Netflix

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans
Where to Find It: Netflix

Available on Disney Plus

Playing With Sharks
Where to Find It: Disney Plus
“Playing With Sharks” slots neatly and uncontroversially into the widening niche for environmentalist documentaries, and in its accessible, friendly construction, will flourish on the small screen despite the grandeur of much of its classic footage. But more specifically, it sits alongside recent doc hits like “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” and Oscar nominee “My Octopus Teacher” in being not just about endangered ecosystems, but the deeply rewarding interactions that human beings can have with them over time. — Jessica Kiang
Read the full review

Stuntman
Where to Find It: Disney Plus

Available on VOD

The Nest
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play

Meat Me Halfway
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV

New Releases for the Week of July 16

In theaters

Space Jam: A New Legacy
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: In theaters and on HBO Max
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is chaotic, rainbow sprinkle-colored nonsense that, unlike the original, manages to hold together as a movie. Once again, an NBA legend slips into a netherworld populated by fictional characters who must help him win a basketball game to escape. As Bugs Bunny might say, “Eh, you were expecting maybe the Easter Bunny?” Instead, Bugs simply cracks, “Sounds awfully familiar.” — Amy Nicholson
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Pig CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Neon
Where to Find It: In theaters
What first impresses about “Pig” is the way it manages to feel both out there and grounded, often at the same time. Aside from the obviously far-fetched nature of its premise, it includes everything from an underground fight club for restaurant workers to chapter titles like “Rustic Mushroom Tart” and “Mom’s French Toast and Deconstructed Scallops.” But it never slips into absurdity. That’s also why it’s impossible to imagine anyone but Cage in the lead role: No one else can simultaneously embrace and elevate inherently ridiculous plot developments like he can while finding something close to the profound in it all. — Michael Nordine
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Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Adam Robitel)
Distributor: Sony
Where to Find It: In theaters
This follow-up immediately announces itself as aiming no higher than strict franchise “more of the same”-ness, beginning with a recap of prior events and ending with a de facto kickoff for No. 3. Audiences seeking disposable summertime entertainment will find it certainly meets basic expectations, further amping up the unoriginal original’s hectic, video game-like PG-13 thrills. — Dennis Harvey
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Roadrunner (Morgan Neville)
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: In theaters
The film presents a psychological, almost novelistic portrait of how Bourdain evolved as a person during the years of his celebrity. What was unique in Bourdain’s case is that he was a high-flying personality ­— an addict, a sensation-seeker, a reckless rebel who craved experience — who had found a way to ground himself in the nightly demands of working in restaurant kitchens. The kitchen was his home. It gave him structure and purpose, a place to play out his obsessive nature. And once he became a TV star, his life as a chef got left behind. The home was gone. — Owen Gleiberman
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Available on Netflix

Fear Street Part 3: 1666(Leigh Janiak)
Where to Find It: Netflix
“Fear Street Part 3: 1666” isn’t just the best of the Netflix horror trilogy; it also recasts the prior two entries, “1994” and “1978,” in a more favorable light by deepening the mythology and underscoring just how crucial it is to watch all three chapters consecutively. Taken on their own, any one of these films loosely based on R.L. Stine’s novels would be an above-average genre throwback. Together, they amount to one of the more involving horror series in recent memory.
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Gunpowder Milkshake (Navot Papushado)
Where to find it: Netflix
“Gunpowder Milkshake” unfolds in a candy-colored action dreamscape that feels like the Netflix version of a Tarantino theme park. It’s a rogue-assassin-hunting-down-the-assassins-who-are-hunting-her thriller, starring a charismatically affectless Karen Gillan as Sam, the rogue in question (though, in fact, she has done nothing wrong). — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

New Releases for the Week of July 9

Available in Theaters and on Disney Plus

Black Widow (Cate Shortland)
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Where to Find It: In theaters and on Disney Plus
It’s Scarlett Johansson who holds the film together and gives it its touch of soul. Natasha’s desire for vengeance is pulsating, but so are her inner wounds, and Johansson, unusual for the comic-book genre, makes the most vulnerable emotions part of the humanity of her strength… “Black Widow,” which kicks off Phase Four of the MCU, doesn’t feel like the first stand-alone “Black Widow” film. It feels more like the second, lost-in-the-wilderness “Black Widow” film. But I’m here to say that’s a good thing. Most of us have seen enough superpowers to last a lifetime. “Black Widow” spins on the powers that come from within. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Available on Netflix

Fear Street Part 2: 1978 (Leigh Janiak)
Where to Find It: Netflix
“Part 2” makes a number of explicit references to Stephen King and takes on a vaguely “It”-like quality at times, as though the very concept of evil lays not-quite-dormant in a moss-covered grave and periodically brings violent misfortune upon those in its vicinity. Though never quite rising to the level of its most overt influences, the film is lent a certain gravitas by the sense that all of this has happened before and will undoubtedly happen again. — Michael Nordine
Read the full review

The 8th Night (Tae-Hyung Kim)
Where to Find It: Netflix

How I Became a Superhero (Douglas Attal)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Available in Theaters

The Loneliest Whale (Josh Zeman)
Distributor: Bleecker Street
Where to Find It: In theaters now and on VOD starting July 16
Zeman educates us about different types of whales while assembling a standard-issue nonfiction film, mostly comprising flat talking-head interviews conducted with an array of scientific experts. Also in the mix are simple, well-defined graphics and rich archival footage about the historical plight of the oceanic titans that were once brutally and commonly murdered in hordes for their precious blubber. — Tomris Laffly
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Dachra (Abdelhamid Bouchnak)
Distributor: Dekanalog
Where to Find It: In theaters
Despite the screenplay’s various shortcomings and clichés, however, “Dachra” never feels silly in the moment. It’s got menacing atmosphere to spare, its aesthetically refined exploitation of stock genre elements (a sinister child, ominous hooded figures, etc.) all the more impressive because this very good-looking enterprise purportedly cost a total equivalent to $80,000. Without being yet another overt homage to yesteryear’s Euro grindhouse fare, Bouchnak’s movie often recalls the deeply unsettling vibe of such cult classics as the Spanish “Who Can Kill a Child?” and Lucio Fulci’s Italian “House by the Cemetery,” efforts whose memorable qualities had little to do with their flimsy scripts. — Dennis Harvey
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Scales (Shahad Ameen)
Distributor: Variance Films
Where to Find It: In theaters
The position of Saudi women as second-class citizens receives a potent metaphoric visualization in Saudi helmer-writer Shahad Ameen’s parable-like debut drama, “Scales.” Revealing more through imagery than dialogue, the tale unfolds on a barren island where tradition dictates that each family sacrifice a daughter to the sea maidens to ensure the local fishermen a good catch. With its glittering black-and-white cinematography, immersive sound design, eerie score and creepy reveal, the film taps into something primal and chilling, with the taut first third particularly strong. — Alissa Simon
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American 965 (Tristan Loraine)
Distributor: BossaNova
Where to Find It: In theaters

Available on VOD

Marathon (Keith Strausbaugh, Anthony Guidubaldi)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Fandango Now

Meander (Mathieu Turi)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play

Son (Ivan Kavanaugh)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, YouTube

New Releases for the Week of July 2

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

No Sudden Move (Steven Soderbergh)
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters and on HBO Max
Soderbergh has a prankish side, but the truth is he would have been right at home in the ’40s or ’50 churning out moody black-and-white thrillers like Robert Siodmak or Joseph H. Lewis. His latest makes that connection all the more explicit. It’s a down-and-dirty, multi-tentacled crime thriller set in the racially polarized Detroit of 1954, and Soderbergh revels in the period trappings: the rounded cars and stylish baggy clothes, the elegant brick-based architecture, the surface ’50s “innocence” that now looks like it was designed to conceal corruption. He has also made a movie in which everyone is double-crossing everyone. — Owen Gleiberman
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Available in Theaters and on Peacock

The Boss Baby: Family Business (Tom McGrath)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters and on Peacock
Well, they made a sequel to “The Boss Baby.” The 2017 DreamWorks film, extremely loosely based on Marla Frazee’s children’s book series, bet big on the appeal of a dyspeptic, super-intelligent, black-suited infant speaking with the voice of Alec Baldwin while doing un-babylike things. “The Boss Baby: Family Business” is making a similarly big bet that family audiences are ready to return to theaters. The film itself, unfortunately, is generally less interesting than the business matters behind it, a thoroughly competent affair that tosses in just enough off-the-wall elements to liven up a fairly basic retread of the original’s formula. — Andrew Barker
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Only in Theaters

The Forever Purge (Everardo Valerio Gout)
Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Where to Find It:
In theaters
“The Forever Purge” is set in Texas, a place that likes to think of itself as having invented the idea that the law should consist of a man, his firearms, and not much else. Until now, the series has encouraged us to think of the Purge as a city thing: all those residents of highly populated epicenters with their pent-up rage. But the notion of a “Purge” film done as a demented Western action movie strikes a chord, especially when you toss in the topical Molotov cocktail that “The Forever Purge” is built around. In this movie, the Purge has become so addictive to the people taking advantage of its lawless catharsis that they have no desire — or intention — to stop. — Owen Gleiberman
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The Neutral Ground (CJ Hunt)
Where to Find It: Exclusively at Laemmle Glendale Theatres, followed by PBS’ “POV” on July 5
Hunt’s alternately amusing and enraging essay film goes beyond the surface debates to examine why some Southerners are so attached to their Civil War heroes. The answer, complicated though it may be, is tied up in the pernicious propaganda campaign known as the Lost Cause. Hunt initiated the project in 2015 when New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu started making rumblings about taking down the city’s Confederate monuments, somewhat clumsily lifting the snarky man-on-the-street bits and irreverent interview style from “The Daily Show” (where Hunt now works as a field producer). — Peter Debruge
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Zola (Janicza Bravo)
Distributor: A24
Where to Find It: In theaters
Rowdier than “Hustlers” and “The Florida Project” put together, but hailing from a similar place of for-hire female empowerment, “Zola” is an irreverent, sensibility-offending trip for audiences — a good many of whom may be shocked to their core — and a showcase for leading ladies Taylour Paige and Riley Keough, playing the stripper who tries to lead her astray. Inspired by an epic tweetstorm that became a viral sensation that became a Rolling Stone story that somehow got optioned for the big screen, “Zola” lays waste to good taste as it recounts a crazy road trip in which two gals head from Detroit to Florida and shit goes south. — Peter Debruge
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

First Date (Manuel Crosby, Darren Knapp)
Distributor:
Magnet Releasing
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
More concerned with paying homage to ’90s-era Quentin Tarantino than telling a contemporary coming-of-age tale with believable stakes, “First Date” saddles a young couple not with a romantic night out, but with a haphazard all-nighter crime-comedy that’s mostly unfunny and free of convincing suspense. Instead, we get a blood-soaked comedy of errors, full of wisecracking criminals, missed connections and shoot-’em-up set pieces. Perhaps the most frustrating facet of “First Date,” other than how little time Mike and Kelsey spend together, is Mike’s ongoing passivity in such situations. — Tomris Laffly
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The God Committee (Austin Stark)
Distributor:
Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
Kelsey Grammer and Julia Stiles do not make a natural romantic couple, and their awkward pairing is the largest misstep made by this adaptation of Mark St. Germain’s play about a group of doctors tasked with deciding which of three patients should receive a heart transplant. Often resembling a schematic variation on “Twelve Angry Men” by way of “Grey’s Anatomy,” this earnest drama is a largely understated affair whose creakier elements are offset by a nuanced look at its various entangled issues. That won’t be enough to garner it much box-office traction, but it does make it a solid option for adult VOD viewers. — Nick Schager
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The Phantom (Patrick Forbes)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It:
In theaters and on demand
“If you’re poor and have no money, and can’t get yourself a lawyer who really gives a shit about your case, you’re going to die,” a defense attorney ruefully notes at one point in this fascinating and ultimately infuriating documentary. This isn’t an entirely fitting description of what befell Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in 1989 for a brutal 1983 murder that he almost certainly did not commit. Indeed, the skillfully and compellingly directed film indicates that DeLuna’s defenders were not indifferent, or incompetent, but grievously (and maybe deliberately) misinformed about mitigating evidence. — Joe Leydon
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Till Death (S.K. Dale)
Distributor: Screen Media
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
“I’m gonna cut myself free of you even if it’s the last thing I do.” The line, uttered by Emma (Megan Fox) to her husband the morning after celebrating their 10th anniversary at their remote lake house, is the kind of on-the-nose dialogue that sums up the bluntness of this wintry-set thriller. But by the time Emma explodes in anger at Mark, she’s bathed in his blood, handcuffed to his limp, lifeless body in an empty house with nary a sharp tool (or a working phone) to be found. What was once a psychological plight has become a nightmarish reality in Jason Carvey’s all-too-literal screenplay. — Manuel Betancourt
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The Tomorrow War Courtesy of Amazon

Exclusive to Amazon

The Tomorrow War (Chris McKay)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime
“The Tomorrow War” is a big, dumb, sometimes tedious, sometimes fun civilization-vs.-aliens showdown that sends a bunch of ordinary people through a wormhole into the future to save the human race. The creatures they’re fighting are odd-looking beasts. Imagine the big-jawed monsters from the “Alien” films crossed with Velociraptors crossed with rapidly galloping chickens, with skin that looks like it’s been rolled in egg wash and dipped in white flower. It’s an alien-combat time-warp movie that makes you long for the nuance of “Starship Troopers.” It’s the definition of rousingly adequate. — Owen Gleiberman
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Fear Street Part 1: 1994 Courtesy of Netflix

Exclusive to Netflix

America: The Motion Picture (Matt Thompson)
Where to Find It: Netflix
America’s creation myths may not be entirely rooted in fact — few of us still believe the story about George Washington chopping down that cherry tree — but they’re considerably less outlandish than “America: The Motion Picture,” an animated comedy in which our first president is a chainsaw-wielding freedom fighter who founds America to avenge the murder of his best friend, Abraham Lincoln. If that timeline seems impossible, that’s because it is — not that this “Adult Swim”-esque cartoon cares, bringing an anarchic energy to the story of how many become one. — Michael Nordine
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Fear Street Part 1: 1994 (Leigh Janiak)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Debuting July 2 and rolling out a fresh installment every Friday for three weeks, Netflix’s new “Fear Street” trilogy slices and dices “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine’s other book series into three feature-length horror movies, each one detailing a different bloodbath in small-town Shadyside. “Part 1” takes a page from “Stranger Things” as director Leigh Janiak appeals to audiences’ near-past nostalgia, evoking a time when landlines and shopping malls were still a thing. The strategy supplies an intriguing retro veneer to an otherwise generic showdown between several misfit teens and their waking nightmares. — Peter Debruge
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Prime Time (Jakub Piatek)
Where to Find It: Netflix
After roiling a Polish village as an impostor priest in Oscar-nominated “Corpus Christi,” star Bartosz Bielenia tries to rattle the entire nation in “Prime Time.” His character here is another malcontent, this one armed and ready to take over a TV studio on New Year’s Eve with a special message for the world. But he’s a bit too literally a rebel without a cause: We never discover just what this protagonist’s protesting gripe is. That lack makes director Piatek and co-writer Lukasz Czapski’s first feature a familiar hostage drama whose anticipated narrative raison d’etre is strangely MIA. — Dennis Harvey
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New Releases for the Week of June 25

Only in Theaters

F9 (Justin Lin)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It:
In wide release
The movie keeps looking back over its shoulder — at all the spy-team-as-family relationships the series has established, and at one key character we thought was deceased. You could say that when a blockbuster film series is 10 movies — and two decades — old, it has more than earned the right to look back. But the way franchises generally work is that good sequels look forward, or at least fixate on the present. “F9” is directed, once again, by Justin Lin, who put his extravagant stamp on “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and made the next three entries in the series, but considering that “F9” is Lin’s fifth “F and F” film and his first one in eight years, it goes through the motions with more energy than intoxication. — Owen Gleiberman
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God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya (Teona Strugar Mitevska)
Distributor: 1844 Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Watching a woman take control of her destiny after being told she’s worthless can make for one of cinema’s more empowering moments, but how satisfying is it really when her struggle for self-esteem takes a back seat to the happiness of being validated by a handsome man? “God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya” positions itself as a feminist cry against a patriarchal Macedonia in the grips of bullying machismo and hidebound religion, yet the genial rushed ending undercuts its gender-equality thrust. Mitevska delivers her most focused film to date, with a concentrated plot mined for opportunities reinforcing the ways ignorant tradition traps women in subservient roles. — Jay Weissberg
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I Carry You With Me (Heidi Ewing)
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Where to Find It: In select theaters
“I Carry You With Me” tells the true story of an undocumented gay couple from Mexico who risk their lives for love, liberty and the American Dream. Making her first foray into narrative filmmaking, documentary helmer Heidi Ewing began the project as a vérité portrait of her real-life subjects, Ivan and Gerardo, but cast actors to play the two men in reenactments of their early life — both as children and later, at the moment they met and fell in love. The narrative scenes are shot in a way that makes it hard to stay committed throughout, and the actors don’t seem to be playing the same two people we’re allowed to observe in the present. — Valerie Complex
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Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor:
Searchlight Pictures
Where to Find It: In select New York and Los Angeles theaters, followed by Hulu on July 2
A great many things happened in 1969 that marked the year as a turning point: Altamont, Chappaquiddick, the moon landing, the Manson murders, Woodstock. But one momentous thing happened that very few people know about (and that the larger culture has totally forgotten), and that was the astonishing series of concerts that took place over six weekends in Mount Morris Park in Harlem. The artist who has now, for the first time, shined a precious light on that footage is Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in a music documentary like no other, because while it’s a joyful, cataclysmic, and soulfully seductive concert movie, what it’s really about is a key turning point in Black life in America. — Owen Gleiberman
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Sun Children (Majid Majidi
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Where to Find It: In select New York and Los Angeles theaters
Watching Iranian director Majid Majidi’s “Sun Children,” I was reminded of “The Florida Project.” One of the best films about children of the 21st century, “The Florida Project” takes place within a stone’s throw of Walt Disney World, where it seems a dream too much for its neglected kid characters to visit until they enter the park. “Sun Children” presents this scenario in reverse. It opens with two boys, 12-year-old Ali (Rouhollah Zamani) and young Afghan friend/accomplice Abolfazl (Abolfazl Shirzad), running through the poshest place they can think of: a Tehran shopping mall where they’ve been stealing tires from the luxury cars in the parking garage. — Peter Debruge
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Werewolves Within (Josh Ruben)
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It: In theaters
“Trespass and die,” reads an unneighborly sign glimpsed early in Josh Ruben’s agile, niftily directed whodunit “Werewolves Within.” While the placard specifically refers to some local’s private property, one could safely apply the warning to the whole snow-clad Vermont village that surrounds it. Welcome to Beaverfield, a sleepy town chock-full of secrets, lies and ideological disparities you should only enter at your own peril. But know that it’s a risk well worth taking, especially if Rian Johnson’s delectable caper “Knives Out” has recently scratched your itch for cozily inviting, steadily funny murder mysteries where the identity of the killer is anyone’s guess until the end. — Tomris Laffly
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Lansky (Eytan Rockaway)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It:
In select theaters and on demand
This indie drama is yet another interpretation of real-life events previously recounted, with varying degrees of accuracy, in features and TV movies as diverse as 1974 TV movie “Virginia Hill,” the 1999 HBO production “Lansky” and Barry Levinson’s “Bugsy” (1991). Truth to tell, however, comparisons to those predecessors don’t always work in Rockaway’s favor. But never mind: Keitel infuses his performance here with more than enough lion-in-winter gravitas to dominate every moment he is on screen, and quite a few when he isn’t, which in turn is sufficient to propel “Lansky” through stretches when the passing of time is felt, and the budgetary limitations are obvious. — Joe Leydon
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My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To (Jonathan Cuartas)
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
Placing more emphasis on dysfunctional domestic drama than thrills, Jonathan Cuartas’ Utah-shot first feature may be too low-key for mainstream horror fans. But the film’s conviction and strong performances should appeal to those who appreciated such prior understated, “realistic” spins on vampire cinema as “The Hamiltons,” George A. Romero’s “Martin,” the original “Let the Right One In,” or more recent “The Transmigration.” Returning to screen at the 2021 Tribeca Fest, “Heart” officially premiered at last year’s severely COVID-compromised edition, and has toured the international festival circuit in between. — Dennis Harvey
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Exclusive to Amazon Prime

Mary J. Blige’s My Life (Vanessa Roth)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime
Tracing the dark genesis of Blige’s 1994 album “My Life,” exploring its legacy with fans and featuring brief (perhaps too brief) performance clips from a pair of 2019 concerts Blige staged to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Roth’s doc has no shortage of cooperation from the subject herself (also an executive producer). But there’s a valedictory glossiness to the film that sometimes underserves the warts-and-all power of the work in question — as a fan-centric retrospective, it hits plenty of the right notes; but as a chance to more thoroughly explore a complicated, still-influential landmark, it never digs quite deeply enough. — Andrew Barker
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Exclusive to Discovery Plus

Rebel Hearts (Pedro Kos)
Where to Find It: Discovery Plus
By 1968, life had got complicated for misfit sisters, while a conflicted Catholic church struggled to contend with a decade of seismic social unrest. As civil rights and gender politics evolved, many brides of Christ found themselves torn between the advances of the outside world and the rigid patriarchy of the their church. Tracing the story of one particularly independent-minded group of Los Angeles nuns, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pedro Kos’ accessible, moist-eyed doc “Rebel Hearts” neatly threads a global feminist awakening through the very specific experience of a few defiant, no-longer-cloistered women. — Guy Lodge
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Exclusive to Disney Plus

Wolfgang (David Gelb)
Where to Find It: Disney Plus
Wolfgang Puck made great food fun, not just tasty and classy and healthy but popping with succulence in a way that appealed to the child within. People went to Spago because they wanted to be seen, but also because it was a nightly culinary party. It was Puck who took the stuffiness out of high-end restaurant bravado, and that spirit swept through New York and other food meccas and spilled into the hinterlands. The former Spago cook Evan Funke says in the movie, “He’s the founding father of the way we eat in this country.” If Puck had done nothing but that, he’d be a giant. But as “Wolfgang” entertainingly captures, Puck tumbled into innovations that became more influential than anyone, including him, might have expected. — Owen Gleiberman
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Exclusive to HBO Max

LFG (Andrea Nix Fine, Sean Fine)
Where to Find It: HBO Max
This factually compelling, unapologetically smitten film follows the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team after they file a lawsuit against their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, for equal pay. Along the way (and it’s a long way to pay equity for professional female athletes), the team kicks some balls and some butt on the field, then weathers the coronavirus pandemic, as they press their claim for fair compensation. The documentary makes a strong case for just how remarkable a team they are. While “LFG” doesn’t divulge the elusive recipe, it ladles what one teammate called the group’s “special sauce.” — Lisa Kennedy
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The Ice Road Allen Fraser/Netflix

Exclusive to Netflix

Good on Paper (Kimmy Gatewood)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Skilled comedian Iliza Shlesinger is proving to be quite the formidable force for Netflix. Loosely based on her real-life experiences as well as the standup routine that’s innovatively integrated throughout, her self-penned feature “Good on Paper” is centered on a woman who begrudgingly decides to let down her guard when it comes to relationships, only to be confronted with a problematic guy who’s more slippery than safe. Containing razor-sharp witticisms about feminine intuition, gendered sexual politics and relationships (both platonic and romantic), it excels beyond its self-deprecating title. — Courtney Howard
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The House of Flowers: The Movie (Manolo Caro)
Where to Find It: Netflix

The Ice Road (Jonathan Hensleigh)
Where to Find It: Netflix
As if the Frozen North hadn’t already given him enough grief in “The Grey” and “Cold Pursuit,” Liam Neeson is back for more chilly punishment with “The Ice Road.” Jonathan Hensleigh’s first feature as writer-director since “Kill the Irishman” a decade ago has the star as one of three drivers making a dangerous journey to deliver equipment needed to rescue trapped miners in Northern Manitoba. Just about every possible peril turns up to thwart their mission en route, making for an increasingly implausible action movie that will entertain most viewers, but also perhaps make them feel a bit played for fools. — Dennis Harvey
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Sisters on Track (Corinne van der Borch & Tone Grøttjord-Glenne)
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of June 18

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Luca Pixar

Exclusive to Disney Plus

Luca (Enrico Casarosa)
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Where to Find It: Included with Disney Plus subscription
“Luca,” set in Italy in the ’50s, is modest to a fault, and at times it feels generic enough to be an animated feature from almost any studio. But it’s a visually beguiling small-town nostalgia trip, as well as a perfectly pleasant fish-out-of-water fable — literally, since it’s about a boy sea monster who longs to go ashore. The early parts are set under the sea, and if you’re thinking “The Little Mermaid” meets “Finding Nemo,” you wouldn’t be too far off. “Luca” is a film for kiddies that unabashedly recycles old formulas. In this movie, when a sea monster like Luca (Jacob Tremblay) leaves the water, he instantly converts to human form; when he goes back into the water, he reverts. — Owen Gleiberman
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The Sparks Brothers

Only in Theaters

12 Mighty Orphans (Ty Roberts)
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Where to Find It: In theaters
It’s hard to imagine a football coach starting off with less than real-life hero Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson) does when he arrives at Fort Worth’s Masonic Home in “12 Mighty Orphans”: No shoes for his team, no field for his team and no team. Russell took those shortcomings and revolutionized the game. He motivated just enough players to form a team and then innovated the so-called spread offense to take on bigger squads from stronger schools. The “Mighty Mites” embody practically everything that underdog sports movies are made of, and director Ty Roberts’ treatment hits nearly all the feel-good notes we’ve come to expect from the genre, with one extra: It signals a comeback of sorts for Luke Wilson. — Peter Debruge
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A Crime on the Bayou (Nancy Buirski)
Distributor: Shout! Studios
Where to Find It: In select theaters
With several major participants still alive to be interviewed, the documentary pays vivid testimony to the long-term impact this case had in forcing Southern states out of a Jim Crow era they’d clung to despite new federal laws. But in some ways, the film’s biggest strength is its use of archival materials. They’re woven together to provide an unusually palpable sense of just how much deeply-ingrained institutional and cultural bias needed to be overcome for the civil rights movement to make real headway. It’s a colorful story whose central figure, Gary Duncan, makes a contrastingly quiet, stoic impression. — Dennis Harvey
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Gaia (Jaco Bouwer)
Distributor: Decal
Where to Find It: In theaters
Mother Nature might be predator, prey or another supernatural being altogether in “Gaia,” infiltrating her targets with unfurling shoots and roots and sudden fungal outcrops, until she’s eventually growing from within them. Or so it seems in this cool, taciturn ecological horror, which isn’t in any kind of hurry to show us exactly what dark forces are at play in the woods that encircle a tensely matched trio of human characters. We do, however, see their effects, manifested as the film’s own. “Gaia’s” resourceful visuals, however, aren’t matched by equivalent nimbleness in the writing; after a time, the storytelling feels more anemic than enigmatic. — Guy Lodge
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Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Patrick Hughe)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: In theaters
It isn’t just the ultraviolent action that assaults you in a frenzy of debauched thriller hyperbole. So does the plot, which has something to do with Antonio Banderas as a pompadoured psycho in a smoking jacket who’s out to destroy Europe with a computer virus. What the story really has to do with, though, is the three title characters — the sociopathic hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), his seethingly ferocious con-artist wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), and the ace bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), an ironically sensitive bespoke pussycat who’s along for the ride — pelting each other with every conceivable variation of threat, taunt, and insult. — Owen Gleiberman
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Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It (Mariem Pérez Riera)
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Where to Find It: In theaters
This documentary from the theatrical wing of “American Masters” cheerfully jumps from one heartening career reinvention to the next, with sobering lulls to ponder what an even more prolific filmography she might have had without profligate racism and sexism standing in her path. The pride that infuses the movie — the admiration that comes from her costars, and the admiration of her Latinx acolytes and mentees, as well as her own self-belief — comes at just the right length. Not many potential subjects for docs of this sort really justify being put in a character arc that involves so many micro-rises and falls before such an extended and graceful plateau. — Chris Willman
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The Sparks Brothers (Edgar Wright) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: In theaters
After the 140 minutes zip by like a tight half-hour, even the previously uninitiated may well feel like they’ve known Sparks all along — or at least that they should have. In its unbombastic way, with its exhaustive archival footage deep-dive, monochromatic morsels of admiration from more than 80 celebrity interviewees and the brothers interjecting deadpan wit throughout, the film makes a persuasive case that there’s a universe running on a very close parallel to ours where Sparks are the biggest band in the world. Every now and then a particular song hit big, and that universe almost merged with our own infinitely less interesting one. — Jessica Kiang
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Summer of 85 (François Ozon)
Distributor: Music Box Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters, with nationwide expansion to follow
Not since the summer of 2003, when Ozon unveiled Sapphic sizzler “Swimming Pool” at the Cannes Film Festival, has the French director seduced audiences quite as brazenly as he does in “Summer of 85.” A breezy first-love flashback to more innocent times, Ozon’s latest recalls life not just before COVID-19 but, more importantly, before AIDS overshadowed what it meant to come out. The nostalgia here is undercut by tragedy, though no virus is to blame in what feels like Ozon’s response to “Call Me by Your Name” — his own effervescent account of two souls who found one another for a single season, and how that shaped a young man’s sexual identity going forward. — Peter Debruge
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Sweat (Magnus van Horn)
Distributor: Mubi
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Swedish writer-director Magnus van Horn’s aggressively accomplished sophomore feature takes as its subject an outwardly easy target for satirical character study — young, sexy, relentlessly self-promoting Polish fitness guru Sylwia, who has approximately 600,000 followers and precisely zero friends — and follows her across a draining three-day whirl of professional engagements, personal crises and social media updates that fall somewhere in between. At first, the result yields the exact damning insights you’d expect from a portrait of this performative, image-oriented lifestyle, before some welcome conflict seeps in via Magdalena Koleśnik’s tricky, tightrope-walking tour de force in the lead. — Guy Lodge
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Les Nôtres (Our Own) (Jeanne Leblanc)
Distributor:
Oscilloscope Laboratories
Where to Find It:
In select theaters and on demand
A moody, clenched drama that works its tension so deep you may find your palms marked with the indentations of your fingernails by the end, “Les Nôtres” is the deeply uneasy but compelling second film from director Jeanne Leblanc (“Isla Blanca”). Illuminated by a powerfully self-possessed performance by Émilie Bierre as the 13-year-old whose pregnancy will have dire consequences for all except the pedophile responsible, this is an enraging film astringent enough to peel the paint from the façade of virtue propped up by the small-town Quebecois community in which it takes place. — Jessica Kiang
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Siberia (Abel Ferrara)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: In very limited release, on demand and digital
“Siberia” is the sixth film Abel Ferrara has made with Willem Dafoe, and by the end of it, were it not for vivid memories of past collaborations with Harvey Keitel and Christopher Walken, it would be hard to conceive of him ever having cast anyone else. “Siberia” represents a beautiful, unhinged, sometimes hilarious trek into geographical and psychological wilderness that will delight some and mystify many others. As a study of a rugged individualist looking back on long-withered connections — to others, to the mainstream world, and indeed to himself — it feels personally invested both as a star vehicle and an auteur piece. If it isn’t, the joke’s on us, and still pretty funny. — Guy Lodge
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Sweet Thing (Alexandre Rockwell)
Distributor: Film Movement
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
Time tugs strangely on the sleeve of “Sweet Thing,” a heartfelt, hopeful yet slightly hollow black-and-white coming-of-ager. A lively, bittersweet meditation on an impoverished childhood that is still rich in innocence and imagination, it feels old-fashioned in a way that does not quite gel with its bid for contemporary grit. In form too, it feels more like a quaint reminder of Rockwell’s early-’90s heyday than a product of our modern times. With verve and vitality it pays a dreamy-eyed retrospective debt to films past, and largely due to the beguiling performance from Rockwell’s own daughter Lana, ultimately delivers a moving, tousled journey of discovery. — Jessica Kiang
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Exclusive to Hulu and Nat Geo

Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer (Dawn Porter)
Where to Find It: Hulu and Nat Geo
“Rise Again” is a hard but welcome addition to a growing collection of movies and television series — fiction and nonfiction — that insists viewers reckon with the nation’s violent, anti-Black past, a past that has carried over into our present. That it begins streaming on Juneteenth — a complicated, powerful holiday — is no small matter. It seems that for the foreseeable future, jubilation is necessarily entwined with jarring evidence of pathological racism. “Rise Again” builds a case that after the Civil War, Black achievement was often met with brutality, even carnage. Among Porter’s skills is her ability to ask questions of institutions while hewing to the human subjects driving her narratives. — Lisa Kennedy
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Fatherhood Philippe Bosse /Netflix

Exclusive to Netflix

Ali & Ratu Ratu Queens (Lucky Kuswandi)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Fatherhood (Paul Weitz)
Where to Find It: Netflix
It used to be that when you called a movie a glorified sitcom, it was an insult. But when you watch “Fatherhood,” an unabashedly formulaic, undeniably sweet Netflix dramedy in which Kevin Hart offers up a benign variation on his trademark irascibility in the role of a devoted but desperate single dad, it’s easy to imagine the sitcom version as richer, deeper, more layered. That said, on its own terms the movie accomplishes what it sets out to do. It transitions Hart from playfully scowling cutup to earnest heartfelt actor, and it does so in a way that, at times, is genuinely touching, even as the audience can see every sanded-down conflict and market-tested beat falling into place. — Owen Gleiberman
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Jagame Thandhiram (Karthik Subbaraj)
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of June 11

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In the Heights Courtesy of Warner Bros./Everett Collection

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

In the Heights (Jon M. Chu) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: In theaters and HBO Max
“Crazy Rich Asians” director Chu helms this eye-popping big-screen adaptation of the revolutionary Tony-winning hip-hop musical that put Lin-Manuel Miranda on the map. “In the Heights” was always an upbeat and joyful show, as well as an inspiration in the representation department: It featured Latinos playing Latinos, singing in intricate, rapid-fire rhymes peppered with Spanish expressions and references to Caribbean culture — the food, the fashion and above all, the music. Like its source, the movie is a blast, one that benefits enormously from being shot on the streets of Washington Heights, from the bodega belonging to Dominican American narrator Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) to parks, pools and other public spaces. — Peter Debruge
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Only in Theaters

Asia (Ruthy Pribar)
Distributor:
Menemsha Films
Where to Find It:
In select theaters
“Arthouse ‘Gilmore Girls’ meets ‘The Fault in Our Stars’” would be one way to describe the array of familiar elements in “Asia,” while erasing any hint of the rare delicacy and emotional acuity with which Israeli writer-director Pribar assembles them. In her unassumingly lovely debut feature, Pribar tackles thorny mother-daughter relations, terminal disease anguish and two generations of frustrated sexual yearning in a trim 85 minutes, without once shortcutting to easy sentimentality or high-pitched melodrama. She’s not alone on that balance beam, of course: A pair of exquisitely pitched, mutually reflective performances by Alena Yiv and Shira Haas help this low-key, grownup family drama stick fast in the head and heart. — Guy Lodge
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Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond)
Distributor: 
Magnet Releasing
Where to Find It: In theaters, followed by on demand on June 18
The premise of “Censor” is so strong that it’s little wonder the film can’t quite live up — or perhaps down — to it: In a Thatcher’s Britain riven by tabloid-fueled “video nasty” hysteria, a young woman working for the national censorship board is assessing a horror flick, when it triggers sudden flashbacks to a traumatic, amnesiac episode in her own life. Given the ongoing debates around censorship and the relationship between screen violence and its real-life counterpart, not to mention the grungy exploitation aesthetic of the no-budget films it references, “Censor” dangles the prospect of topical, ticklish provocation that will prove offensive to some sensibilities. — Jessica Kiang
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The Misfits (Renny Harlin)
Distributor:
The Avenue
Where to Find It:
In theaters, followed by on demand and digital on June 15
Had “The Misfits” been made 22 years earlier — say, in the sweet spot between James Bond globe-trotter “The World Is Not Enough” and the release of Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch” — chances are, audiences would’ve had a pretty good time watching “Die Hard 2” director Harlin’s idea of a cutting-edge heist movie. “The Misfits” stars Pierce Brosnan as one of half a dozen not-so-petty criminals who team up to knock off a for-profit prison in Abu Dhabi, where the guy who built it (Tim Roth) has been stockpiling blood money for terrorists in the form of well-secured gold bars. But this is 2021, and Harlin is still making movies for ’90s sensibilities. — Peter Debruge
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Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (Will Gluck)
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
Beatrix Potter’s beloved literary character Peter Rabbit suffered from a bit of an identity crisis in his contemporized big-screen debut. In 2018’s “Peter Rabbit,” his headstrong, mischievous spirit didn’t bear more than a passing resemblance to the fundamental virtues the author had fused into her expansive children’s book series. The sequel reunites with a far more remorseful, practically rehabilitated rabble-rouser, who’s struggling to rectify how the world sees him versus how he sees himself. How fitting. His journey from selfish to selfless will lead him into interesting introspection, but also redemption in the eyes of those who didn’t take a shine to the earlier film. — Courtney Howard
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Sublet (Eytan Fox)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters
A middle-aged gay American travel writer rents an apartment in Tel Aviv from a laid-back film student in Fox’s formulaic audience-pleaser. Venturing ever so discreetly into the kind of darker ruminations that marked his best-known films (“Yossi & Jagger,” “Walk on Water”), Fox offers no surprises in this too-neatly packaged midlife-crisis story carefully designed to cater to an older gay demographic. Newcomer Niv Nissem provides a freshness that papers over the conventionality of it all. John Benjamin Hickey rarely gets the chance to head a film’s cast, which is a shame as he’s a subtle actor who fills in Michael’s troubled melancholy with deeper shades than the script accords. — Jay Weissberg
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Holler (Nicole Riegel)
Distributor:
IFC Films
Where to Find It: In select theater, on demand and digital
There’s a distracting practice in American cinema of casting actors who are already well into their 20s to play teens, although “Holler” contains one of the few examples in recent memory where an age difference of nearly a decade, while noticeable, works to the film’s advantage. Ruth, the resourceful Ohio high school student at the heart of Riegel’s open-wound debut, has been forced to grow up too soon. Life isn’t fair, and it shows on the face of British actor Jessica Barden, whose remarkable performance illuminates this unvarnished dive into tough, small-town survival … and escape. Ruth represents a huge swath of the American public rarely seen on-screen: young people without iPhones and Instagram accounts, just struggling to get by. — Peter Debruge
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La Dosis (Michael Haussman)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
The line between mercy killing and plain old murder is uncomfortably drawn in Argentine “La Dosis.” Writer-director Martin Kraut’s debut feature sets up an intriguing cat-and-mouse conflict between one male hospital nurse whose early-terminus interventions are of the compassionate kind, while a new staffer’s seem motivated by pure malice. Not quite as suspenseful or twisty as that premise might lead one to expect, this ends up falling somewhere between thriller and character-study terrain. Nonetheless, it occupies that not-entirely-satisfying middle ground capably enough to keep viewers interested, and to suggest its maker has the chops for less-modestly-scaled future projects. — Dennis Harvey
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Exclusive to Netflix

Awake (Mark Raso)
Where to Find It: Netflix
With second-rate “Bird Box” knock-off “Awake,” Netflix just may have found the cure for insomnia. In this occasionally engaging but mostly frustrating sci-fi thriller, an unexplained event causes a massive electromagnetic pulse that fries most electronics and leaves nearly all of humanity incapable of sleep. From the mysterious incident onward, the characters slowly slide toward insanity as fatigue takes its toll, although it’s not clear how everyone on earth immediately recognizes (or believes) that the resulting restlessness is permanent. If the recent real-world pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that early in a health crisis, nobody knows anything, and the resulting confusion tends to be more exhausting than engaging. — Peter Debruge
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Skater Girl (Manjari Makijany)
Where to Find It: Netflix
First-time director Makijany intentionally built a set that would live after she called cut: the first skatepark in Rajasthan, India, where rural children can find freedom and confidence on four wheels, and even mingle beyond their caste. Her gentle drama is a promotional piece for the project from need to execution to totally tubular climactic skateboarding championship, timed, of course, to coincide with the day her teenage heroine Prerna (Rachel Saanchita Gupta) is to be married. There will be no kick-flipping of clichés here. What’s novel are simply her images of Prerna zipping through her village’s curved alleyways and dusty marketplace.— Amy Nicholson
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Tragic Jungle (Yulene Olaizola)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Under the rhythmic hacking of machetes, the zig-zag gashes in the trees look like wounds, exposing the bark’s red flesh and the raw, bone-white wood within. The men clinging to the trunks with rope slings and crude crampons are chicleros, collecting the bright white sap that oozes from the trees to boil into chicle, a rubbery substance that, back in 1920 when Olaizola’s bewitching “Tragic Jungle” is set, was used to make chewing gum. As far in the past as those events may be, the strange, slow currents of this darkly lyrical drama seem older still — as ancient as the jungle itself, which acts, more than any of the human characters, as the film’s impervious, omniscient protagonist. — Jessica Kiang
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Wish Dragon (Chris Appelhans)
Where to Find It: Netflix

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Infinite Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Exclusive to Paramount Plus

Infinite (Antoine Fuqua)
Where to Find It: Paramount Plus
Derivative as they come, this “The Matrix”-meets-“The Old Guard” wannabe mind-blower offers such a familiar premise — that one man’s neurodiversity may actually be a window into the species’ untapped potential — as to be almost banal. That doesn’t stop excess expert Fuqua from packing a fair amount of big-screen spectacle into its relatively tight running time. “Infinite” kicks off with a chase scene and blazes its way toward a final showdown between two rival groups of hasta-la-vista souls who’ve been waging war across the centuries. These lucky souls could be writing symphonies or curing cancer, but it’s more exciting to watch Mark Wahlberg ride a motorcycle off a cliff and land on the wing of a low-flying cargo plane. — Peter Debruge
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The Amusement Park (George A. Romero)
Where to Find It: Shudder
It’s only fitting that George A. Romero, who created the zombie movie as we know it, would release a film from beyond the grave. Nearly 50 years after it was completed, shelved and thought to be lost, “The Amusement Park” has returned to the land of the living — and, just as important, proven worth the wait. The project was commissioned as a kind of anti-ageist PSA by the Lutheran Society, who were so displeased with the dizzying final result that they shelved it. Shot on delightfully grainy 16mm and featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors, the film is so alluringly disorienting that, by its end, some viewers will find themselves struggling to remember how this fever dream started. — Michael Nordine
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New Releases for the Week of June 4

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Michael Chaves)
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Where to Find It: In theaters and HBO Max
It’s 1981, and Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are taking part in an exorcism intended to purge the body and soul of David (Julian Hilliard), a mild bespectacled 8-year-old boy. They’ve been through this before. The first “Conjuring” film was set in 1971, the second in 1977, and though this is the technically the seventh film in the “Conjuring” universe (which now includes three “Annabelle” movies and “The Nun”), it’s the third to center directly on the Warrens, the real-life Christian paranormal investigators who were instrumental, in the ’60s and ’70s, in lending the spooky legends of the Amityville era their aura of tabloid credibility. — Owen Gleiberman
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Only in Theaters

All Light, Everywhere (Theo Anthony)
Distributor:
Super LTD
Where to Find It: In select theaters
A highly persuasive film about how we should be wary of film’s power to persuade, “All Light, Everywhere” is a superb if sinister example of how the outwardly modest essay format can deploy arguments that challenge us to unpick our most basic assumptions. Here, it’s the idea that a thing and its recorded image can never have a 1:1 relationship: It’s not just that our eyes deceive us, it’s that we’re conditioned to accept the representations of those deceptions as the truth. It’s a rewarding if slightly frustrating project, but then it would be a betrayal of the premise if it supplied us with anything more than a tiny, ephemeral, vertiginous glimpse of all the things we cannot see. — Jessica Kiang
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Bad Tales (Favolacce) (D’Innocenzo Brothers)
Distributor:
Strand Releasing
Where to Find It:
In select theaters, followed by virtual cinemas and PVOD on June 11
Innocence is not a concept to be found in the D’Innocenzo Brothers’ cinematic oeuvre, which consists of two films so far: “Boys Cry” and “Bad Tales,” both of which forgo the notion of childhood as a state of uncorrupted naivete. Rather, in the Italian siblings’ deeply cynically, Todd Solondz-ian worldview, humans are animals — an untamed snarl of impulses, emotions and predatory self-interest — and children are perhaps the least predictable of all, lacking an innate moral center and therefore susceptible to the influence of others. It’s a grim view that’s passed like a case of head lice to the white-picket sanctuary in their sun-crisped sophomore feature. — Peter Debruge
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Gully (Nabil Elderkin)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by on demand and digital on June 8
“Gully” is the first dramatic feature directed by Elderkin, the Australian-American director — usually credited simply as “Nabil” — who has made videos for Kanye West, Dua Lipa, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, Frank Ocean, the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, Diddy, Shrillex, and Antony and the Johnsons. You can glimpse his talent in “Gully” — not because it’s a film of showoff imagery (it’s actually got a rather unvarnished low-budget aesthetic), but because the movie looks, for a while, like it’s trying to be “Boyz n the Hood” meets “A Clockwork Orange,” and you get curious to follow that down. The movie is set in South Central L.A. and features a trio of very good young actors. — Owen Gleiberman
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Hero Mode (A.J. Tesler)
Distributor: Blue Fox Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by VOD on June 11
No one says “teamwork makes the dream work” in “Hero Mode,” but that maxim’s corny sentiment nonetheless aptly applies to A.J. Tesler’s video game-themed teen comedy, which follows a formula that dates back to at least the era of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. A lively saga about a young coding wizard who’s charged with saving his family’s gaming business, this celebration of old- and new-school creativity doesn’t break novel ground in any respect. Fortunately, though, its good humor, spry pacing and likable performances should appeal to its pre-high-school target audience. — Nick Schager
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Spirit Untamed (Elaine Bogan)
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters
A kid named Lucky loses her mother, moves to the frontier with her father and befriends a wild mustang in “Spirit Untamed.” While experienced professionals fail to break the strong-willed stallion, Lucky (who has never ridden a horse) feeds it a few apples, and before long, the youngster has tamed the obstinate animal — which is inconsistent with this cheap and all-around lazy animated movie’s title, but chalk that up to marketing. It’s not clear whether this latest — and least appealing — incarnation of DreamWorks’ “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” is a reboot, a remake or just a running-on-fumes grab at some easy cash, but this benign (read: bland) movie exists, and kids know the property, so it will get seen. — Peter Debruge
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Tove (Zaida Bergroth)
Distributor: Juno Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters
The Moomins, with their hippo-like silhouettes, are beloved cartoon characters familiar to readers around the globe. But less is known about their creator, the bisexual, Swedish-speaking, Finnish visual artist and author Tove Jansson and her surprisingly unconventional life. The engaging biopic goes a long way toward remedying that knowledge gap. Featuring a mesmerizing lead performance by Alma Pöysti, the sensuously textured film, shot on 16mm, concentrates on a formative decade in Tove’s life (from the mid-1940s to mid-’50s) and explores her artistic and personal passions, and the challenges they entail. With multiple hooks, sales and festival interest should be strong. — Alissa Simon
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

The Carnivores (Caleb Michael Johnson)
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
Dim echoes of David Lynch and early Roman Polanski abound throughout “The Carnivores,” a fitfully fascinating mix of teasing narrative opacity and stylized psycho-thriller atmospherics. Director Johnson walks a tricky tightrope here, and occasionally seems perilously close to toppling into absurdity. Indeed, there are moments when he inadvertently cues memories of the hilarious remark by Janeane Garofalo’s veterinarian talk show host in “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”: “You can love your dog. Just don’t love your dog.” And it doesn’t help much that Tallie Medel, one of his two lead players, actually bears a slight physical resemblance to Garofalo. — Joe Leydon
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Edge of the World (Michael Haussman)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
With its winsome narration, frequent cutaways to nature and focus on discovery, “Edge of the World” resembles nothing so much as Terrence Malick’s similarly titled “The New World.” In yet another similarity, “Edge of the World” follows an English explorer who finds more than he was expecting upon arriving in a foreign land. Here it’s Sir James Brooke (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), who arrives in Borneo in 1839 and quickly meets two princes vying for power; that they’re cousins only adds to the intrigue — and tension. This kind of adventurer is a well-worn archetype, but Meyers plays him well. The script isn’t always on the same level as his performance, however.  — Michael Nordine
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Grace and Grit (Sebastian Siegel)
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
For a metaphysical love-conquers-all tale, “Grace and Grit” offers very little substance around such lofty concepts as existence, spirituality and romantic harmony. An adaptation of famous philosopher Ken Wilber’s much admired book, the film unfortunately anchors itself in an exploitative mode, insincerely using terminal illness as inspirational fodder. The real-life saga of a doting couple and their demanding, gradually more harrowing experience with cancer, “Grace and Grit” isn’t the viscerally rousing picture that it thinks it is. Through an overstretched running time, this amateurish exercise falls short of even selling the essentials of the immensely accessible melodrama at its heart. — Tomris Laffly
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Monuments (Jack C. Newell)
Distributor:
Row House Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters and virtual cinemas
It’s oddly appropriate that grief-stricken widower Ted (David Sullivan) spends most of “Monuments” schlepping his wife’s ashes around the geographical midpoint of the continental U.S.A. This dippily surreal existential comedy — imagine Quentin Dupieux engineering a head-on collision between “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” and “Little Miss Sunshine” — feels like it’s born of the exact middle ground between the big-budget escapist mainstream and the hardcore arthouse “coasts” of American cinematic output. It’s in a flyover state of mind. — Jessica Kiang
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My Tender Matador (Rodrigo Sepúlveda)
Distributor:
Freestyle Digital Media
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
Among the many praiseworthy qualities of “My Tender Matador,” the most notable is its honesty. It would have been so easy for the film, about a transgender woman in Pinochet’s Chile and her relationship with a straight political activist, to have overplayed its hand with ill-judged sentiment or sensationalism, but instead director Rodrigo Sepúlveda Urzúa guides everything just right, from the refusal to treat anyone with less than full respect to the superb ensemble, and from Sergio Armstrong’s carefully calibrated camerawork to the thoughtful understanding of how daylight changes a person who’s lived fullest under the protection of the night. — Jay Weissberg
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Super Frenchie (Chase Ogden)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
“Super Frenchie” shares some DNA with Oscar-winner “Free Solo.” The documentary isn’t as elegant or as fraught as that spectacular look-ma-no-tethers tale, but it’s nervous-making enough to impress. There’s reckoning about risk and reward, compulsion and choice, pleasure and loss. But Ogden wanted to augment a story of physical pyrotechnics with one of familial insight. A feat he often, gently achieves with the help of his ridiculously upbeat, uniquely wired subject who drudges up mountains — Mt. Hood, the Matterhorn, the Eiger — and floats down from their ledges. — Lisa Kennedy
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Under the Stadium Lights (Todd Randall)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
The road to hell is paved with movies like “Under the Stadium Lights,” a well-intentioned but wearyingly ponderous and curiously disjointed faith-based drama about football players and their dedicated chaplain at a high school in Abilene, Texas. It doesn’t help much that, with its bumpy pacing, gaping plot holes, and supporting characters who grab attention and then inexplicably disappear, the movie plays like a miniseries that has been ruthlessly cut down to feature length. And it helps even less that the sluggish narrative is repeatedly and interminably padded with local TV footage of actual 2009 football games emblazoned with on-screen signage for local advertisers. — Joe Leydon
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Undine (Christian Petzold)
Distributor: IFC Films
Where to Find It:
In select theaters, on demand and digital
Christian Petzold’s “Undine” begins with a breakup. Framed tightly on the face of lead actor Paula Beer, we absorb the news as she does. But this is no ordinary separation, and as jilted lovers go, Undine’s far from typical. Her name betrays what sets her apart, although in the vast realm of mythological entities, undines are hardly the well-understood creatures that Petzold’s revisionist contemporary fable assumes (not in America, at least). As a result, this overripe romantic tragedy won’t have the same impact abroad as the three critical darlings that preceded it, “Barbara,” “Phoenix” and “Transit.” — Peter Debruge
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Exclusive to Hulu

Changing the Game (Michael Barnett)
Where to Find It: Hulu
Mack is a practically undefeated transgender wrestler who won the girls’ title in the state of Texas even though he wanted to contest in the boys division as per the gender he identifies with. He is the first subject we meet in “Changing the Game,” a compassionate documentary that follows three teenage transgender athletes as they brave numerous societal biases to practice their chosen field of sports with the respect they deserve. Unadventurous in its design, the film admittedly benefits from a traditional approach that slowly familiarizes the audience both with the subjects and the layers of an ongoing discriminatory debate around fairness. — Tomris Laffly
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Exclusive to Netflix

Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet (Jon Clay)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Carnaval (Leandro Neri)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Netflix’s party-minded “Carnaval” has a lot on its plate, tackling everything from influencers, the toxic nature of their business and the complexities of making and maintaining female friendships in that industry. Set against the revelry and pageantry of Brazil’s Carnival celebration, the lighthearted romantic comedy delivers hijinks and a few sweet sentiments about having the courage to embrace destiny. Nevertheless, its broad comedy and thoughtful themes aren’t completely cogent, due to a lack of properly motivated character developments and questionable scenarios. With its glaring faults, “Carnaval” hews closer to the abysmal annoyances prevalent in “Desperados” than the remarkable wit of “Ibiza. ”— Courtney Howard
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Dancing Queens (Helena Bergström)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Actor-turned-filmmaker Bergström brings sequined cheer and free-to-be-you-and-me spirit to this story of a young, cisgender female dancer who gets an unlikely break by concealing her gender identity to perform in an ailing Gothenburg drag club, and it should duly find a sizable global audience when it premieres on Netflix at the outset of Pride month. In its eagerness to please, however, the film winds up pushing its own queer characters and narratives to the sidelines — a paradox that it never quite resolves. The director’s daughter Molly Nutley assumes leading lady duties here, and her fresh, quietly controlled screen presence saves many a scene from outright schmaltz. — Guy Lodge
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Xtreme (Daniel Benmayor)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Exclusive to Shudder

Caveat (Damian Mc Carthy)
Where to Find It: Shudder
Mc Carthy serves up a generically foreboding premise and pulls off several efficiently traditional jump scares in this variation on a haunted-house formula, but it’s the shape-shifting mind games of his own narrative that most unnerve the viewer, as seemingly fixed plot points of who is under threat — and when, and why, and so on — keep darting out of sight. The result is finally more intriguing than it is rewarding: It’s hard to keep an audience invested in your story as you steadily strip them of their bearings. If all this snaky evasion and elaboration does eventually eat away at the film’s anxious tension, the scuzzy niftiness of its construction continues to impress. — Guy Lodge
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New Releases for the Week of May 28

Available in Theaters and on Disney Plus

Cruella (Craig Gillespie) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Where to Find It: In select theaters and Disney Plus
Starring Oscar winner Emma Stone as the monochrome-coiffed fashionista with a soft spot for puppy fur, “Cruella” takes its cues from the “Wicked” playbook — or more recently, Warner Bros.’ “Joker” — to deliver a dark yet sympathetic portrait of a cult-favorite character whom audiences only thought they knew. That character, of course, is “101 Dalmatians” dognapper Cruella de Vil (previously embodied by Glenn Close for one of the studio’s first live-action adaptations), who turns out to be more fierce than cruel in a franchise offering with an identity of its own. What “Cruella” is not — to the immense relief of many — is another “Maleficent.” — Peter Debruge
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Only in Theaters

A Quiet Place Part II (John Krasinski)
Distributor: Paramount
Where to Find It: In theaters
If you’re vaccinated and feeling safe enough to step foot outside your home, Krasinski has crafted a follow-up that justifies the trip. It can be hard to believe that both the sequel and the instant-classic 2018 original were produced by Michael Bay, a filmmaker who has pushed the moviegoing experience to ear-splitting extremes, since Krasinski so effectively embraces the opposite strategy: Less is more, suggestion can be scarier than showing everything, and few things are more unnerving than silence. … Instead of addressing the gaping plot holes, the new film wagers if you’re on board for the ride, logic shouldn’t matter. — Peter Debruge
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Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog (Lynn Roth)
Distributor: Glass Half Full Media
Where to Find It: In limited theaters
Writer-director Roth instinctively knows how to pluck the heartstrings with her heartrending historical drama, “Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog.” Her adaptation retains the wit and wisdom found within the pages of Asher Kravitz’s novel “The Jewish Dog,” whose unconventional conceit chronicling the Holocaust through the perspective of a German Shepherd lends itself to plenty of poetic and fantastical realism on screen. Yet the family-friendly feature all too frequently falls into conventional trappings that it unwittingly sets up for itself, particularly when it strays from the pup’s point of view. — Courtney Howard
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Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue (Jia Zhang-ke)
Distributor: Cinema Guild
Where to Find It: In New York and Los Angeles theaters
Following his films “Dong” (2006) and “Useless” (2007) — studies of painter Liu Xiaodong and fashion designer Ma Ke, respectively — Jia’s latest belatedly completes a loose nonfiction trilogy on Chinese artists, this one taking four authors as its focus as a number of them congregate at a Shanxi literary festival. “Dong” and “Useless” were short, illuminating works; the two-hour “Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue,” as signified by its lolling, poetic title, is rather more of a sprawl, seeking to address a hefty chunk of modern Chinese cultural history through the lives and legacies of its chosen quartet of writers. — Guy Lodge
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally (Michael Polish)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment, Redbox Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
Clumsy, campy and kitsch, but also deadeningly dull for long stretches, “American Traitor” is based on the true story of radio star Mildred Gillars (Meadow Williams), aka Axis Sally, an American wannabe actress who found notoriety as the English-language voice of the Third Reich’s propaganda machine. It’s a portrait that aims for movingly enigmatic but ends up mystifyingly immobile. Williams is so carefully primped, so artfully posed in shafts of slatted light and so gauzily fawned over by Jayson Crothers’ scrupulously steam-ironed digital photography, that she ends up more costumed mannequin than conflicted heroine. — Jessica Kiang
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Endangered Species (MJ Bassett)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital, then home video June 1
The other family-imperiled-by-rampaging-beasts movie this weekend, “Endangered Species” is different from “A Quiet Place Part II” in many ways, particularly in that its characters cannot stop yakking — with corresponding diminished viewer concern for their survival under extreme duress. The thriller has a vacationing American clan doing all the wrong things in a Kenyan wildlife preserve. Needless to say, the local fauna quickly notice there are some fresh snacks on the savanna, to our protagonists’ grief. The squabbling human dynamics make this outdoor suspense exercise one in which too soon we start rooting for the four-legged cast members. — Dennis Harvey
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Moby Doc (Rob Gordon Bralver)
Distributor:
Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters and on digital platforms
Moby co-wrote this documentary which is like a self-portrait, an acid flashback, a therapy session, a rumination, and a surrealist music-video package all rolled into one. In the opening moments, we see Moby, the avatar of hooky rhapsodic EDM, still quizzical and lean in his mid-50s, wearing black glasses, a brown-and-white beard, and a red flannel shirt as he sits in his rather modest-looking home studio and speaks into the camera. He says he’s had a “strange life” that could have resulted in “just another biopic about a weird musician.” But he says that “what’s more interesting, at least to me, is the why of it. The why of everything.” — Owen Gleiberman
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Port Authority (Danielle Lessowitz)
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters now, then on demand and digital June 1
Selling realness. That’s the essence of Harlem’s tight-knit drag ball scene, where dazzling kiki competitions celebrate the art of passing as something other than whatever labels society has given you: man as woman, gay as straight, street kid as supermodel. This likable debut arrives decades late to the party, spinning a simple but effective romance in which that same goal of self-transformation is what separates two star-crossed lovers whose worlds collide on the steps of New York’s busiest bus terminal. While it may feel too obvious for some, Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” serves as a clever model for a movie set in the world of ballroom “houses.” — Peter Debruge
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Exclusive to HBO and HBO Max

Oslo (Barlett Sher)
Where to Find It: HBO
Perhaps it’s time for another meeting between officials from Israel and Palestine, like the series of off-the-books negotiations that took place in Oslo, Norway, back in 1993. The discussions were brokered by a non-partisan Norwegian couple, which provides a uniquely neutral framing device for an in-depth look at the issues concerning both sides. Now, as a recent outbreak of violence in the region reminds how precarious any peace agreement has been, it’s no wonder that HBO has scheduled its made-for-TV adaptation to air sooner than later, when its historical perspective might prove most relevant. — Peter Debruge
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Exclusive to Hulu

Plan B (Natalie Morales)
Where to Find It: Hulu
“Plan B” is a girls-behaving-badly all-night-long road-trip comedy that’s built on a formula chassis, but it’s fast and funny, with a scandalous spirit, and it’s got a couple of lead performances that, if there’s any justice, should have the town talking. The film made me realize that almost every time a movie like this one comes along that has young women at the center of it, it’s been an independent film. In the randy teens + binge party = escalating trainwreck genre of high delinquent comedy, that’s a crucial distinction, because it means that the films bypass a certain mainstream blandification. — Owen Gleiberman
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Exclusive to Netflix

Blue Miracle (Julio Quintana)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Many a chef will tell you that fish and cheese don’t go together, but “Blue Miracle” says otherwise. Based on the true story of an amateur Mexican team who won the world’s richest fishing tournament in 2014, this likable family film misses nary a cornball trick in Hollywood’s underdog-drama playbook. Viewers can see precisely where Quintana and co-writer Chris Dowling have embellished the saga of a Cabo orphanage proprietor (Jimmy Gonzales) who led a handful of his teenage wards to that unlikely victory: “Blue Miracle” is awash with eleventh-hour peril and contrivance, reducing characters to stock figures to make plain sailing of its crowd-pleasing narrative. — Guy Lodge
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Dog Gone Trouble (Kevin Johnson)
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of May 21

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Army of the Dead Courtesy of Netflix/Everett Collection

Exclusive to Netflix

Army of the Dead (Zack Snyder)
Where to Find It:
Netflix
If you go to see just one movie this year, Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” might be the ticket because it’s a stylishly grandiose, muscular but conventional popcorn pageant that’s got something for just about everyone. It’s a zombie movie. It’s a heist thriller. It’s a sentimental father-daughter reconciliation story. It’s set in Las Vegas (albeit it the bombed-out dystopian ruins of Vegas). It’s got a gifted cast of diverse actors playing plucky renegades. It’s got a spectacular climax featuring a dropped nuclear bomb. It’s two hours and 28 minutes of packed-to-the-gills fun, all staged by Snyder with a jaunty spirit of gung-ho classicism. A viewer might be tempted to ask: What’s not to like? — Owen Gleiberman
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Exclusive to Amazon Prime

P!NK: All I Know So Far (Michael Gracey)
Where to Find It: Amazon Prime
Offstage, Gracey’s concert doc reveals Pink to be just about the most grounded rock star you have ever seen. The film was shot during three weeks of her Beautiful Trauma World Tour, when she was traveling through Europe, and she’s got her husband of 15 years with her, the former freestyle motocross champion Carey Hart, along with their daughter, Willow, who’s eight, and their son, Jameson, who’s two. A behind-the-music doc will occasionally introduce us to a pop star’s children, but in this one they’re the main event. “All I Know So Far” is a singular portrait of the larger-than-life rock rebel as life-size mom. — Owen Gleiberman
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Only in Theaters

Dream Horse (Euros Lyn)
Distributor:
Bleecker Street, Topic Studios
Where to Find It:
In theaters
Louise Osmond’s 2015 Sundance audience winner “Dark Horse” was one of those documentaries that played like a crowdpleasing fiction, its real-life tale of underdog triumph had such a conventionally satisfying narrative arc. And indeed, the new “Dream Horse” proves that same material is indeed ready-made for dramatization. Likely to have broad appeal, Lyn’s feature springs few true surprises within its familiar genre, one that U.K. filmmakers have specialized in at least since “The Full Monty.” Still, this is a well-cast, artfully handled effort that exercises sufficient restraint to really earn its requisite laughter and tears. — Dennis Harvey
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Final Account (Luke Holland)
Distributor:
Focus Features
Where to Find It: In select theaters
“Final Account” is the first product of an ambitious undertaking to interview the now elderly helpers and handmaidens whose tacit acceptance of the Nazi regime enabled the Final Solution. The film is a distillation of roughly 300 interviews with men and women, some of whom were literally cogs in the machine, like the governess of a Nazi family, while others, such as SS men, were directly involved. Their willingness to appear before the camera is surprising, but not the range of responses, varying from unconvincing ignorance to pride and, just occasionally, a recognition that atrocities took place literally under their noses. — Jay Weissberg
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New Order (Michel Franco)
Distributor: Neon
Where to Find It: In select theaters
In Franco’s sixth feature, the director demands the public’s attention, launching a full-on assault on our collective comfort zone while doubling down on the very thing that makes his films unwatchable for so many. Moviegoing is, by its nature, an act of empathy, as we invest in the lives of fictional strangers, trusting the narrative to repay our emotional commitment — and yet, in film after film, Franco challenges that assumption. Perversely, for those who’ve now come to expect that from him, “New Order” doesn’t disappoint. Inspired by waves of civil unrest sweeping the globe, this ambitious exercise imagines how such a people’s revolution might manifest if it hit Mexico City. — Peter Debruge
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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Caroline Link)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Judith Kerr wrote her semi-autobiographical children’s novel as a response to her own son’s misconception of her childhood. After watching “The Sound of Music,” he observed that her own escape must have been similar; amused, she proceeded to pen perhaps the most piercing child’s-eye view of Hitler’s rise to power and the Jewish refugee experience ever published. In adapting Kerr’s novel for the screen, writer-director Caroline Link splits the difference somewhat: In this bright, engaging film, Kerr’s story is faithfully and lovingly preserved, though its tougher, quirkier details are mollified by a layer of palatable movie gloss. — Guy Lodge
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Blast Beat (Esteban Arango)
Distributor:
Vertical Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Where to Find It:
In select theaters and on demand and digital
This earnest dual coming-of-age drama monitors two teen brothers’ misfit adventures when their upper-middle-class family is forced to move from Colombia to the outskirts of Atlanta. Arango, a Colombian himself, emigrated to the states in the late ’90s, when the film is less-than-convincingly set. The film’s sincerity nearly balances its wonky plotting. Arango observes that America divides people into stereotypes of “good” and “bad” immigrants. Good immigrants, like Carly, are bright scholars who can contribute to the country. (Carly dreams of becoming a NASA engineer.) Bad immigrants, like aimless, artistic Mateo, are less welcome. — Amy Nicholson
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Seance (Simon Barrett)
Distributor: Grindstone
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand and digital
You might expect Barrett’s own belated feature directorial debut to expand upon the clever, blackly humorous genre mayhem of his best Wingard projects like “The Guest” and “You’re Next.” But “Seance” proves a disappointingly boilerplate retro slasher that’s pedestrian on every level from concept to execution. It’s not terrible, only so devoid of imagination, wit or novelty (as well as scares) that it seems a perversely generic choice with which to launch a new career phase. RLJE Films is releasing to U.S. and Canadian theaters, VOD and digital May 21, with co-distributor Shudder expected to add it to its own streaming platform sometime later in the year. — Dennis Harvey
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Sequin in a Blue Room (Samuel Van Grinsven)
Distributor:
Pecadillo Pictures
Where to Find It: On demand and digital
A redheaded twink (newcomer Conor Leach) who meets his trysts in a sparkling silver club top, Sequin is just 16, but he knows what he wants — or at least he thinks he does. Such confidence can be disarming, since most kids haven’t figured themselves out yet at that age, which makes them easy prey for more experienced partners. Van Grinsven opts not to dwell on the cautionary side of his striking 21st-century coming-out/coming-of-age fable. The risks are self-evident, but there’s no room for judgment in a film that nimbly blends elements of fantasy and thriller, delivered with the heightened attitude of New Queer Cinema auteur Gregg Araki. — Peter Debruge
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Sound of Violence (Alex Noyer)
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand
With its themes of creative obsession and trauma recycled as psychopathy, not to mention Alexis’ synesthesia giving license for lurid, semi-abstract, technicolor visual sequences, “Sound of Violence” boasts perhaps the greatest giallo premise that Dario Argento never dreamed up. It’s just a shame that Noyer decides that it isn’t enough. The spectacularly gruesome and grotesquely elaborate murder scenes do ample justice to even the most revered of its slasher forebears, but the procedural elements feel stilted, and despite a lead performance that oozes empathy as much as her hapless victims ooze blood, the emotional impact is barely discernible: an ebbing heartbeat. — Jessica Kiang
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Two Gods (Zeshawn Ali)
Distributor: 8 Above
Where to Find It: In select theaters and virtual cinemas
Islam and Christianity are the dual faiths referred to in the title of “Two Gods,” but they aren’t pitted against each other, or even compared at all. Ali’s quiet, sternly compassionate documentary may be centered on a hard-up Black Muslim community in Newark, but it presents a tough, adaptable world in which people will take whatever fragments of faith and grace they can find. Hanif works as a menial employee at a Muslim funeral home, but it’s the ebb and flow of his influence on, and connection with, these kids that gives Ali’s artful doc — shot over the course of several years, but concentrated to a tight 82 minutes — its subtle narrative thrust. — Guy Lodge
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New Releases for the Week of May 14

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

Those Who Wish Me Dead (Taylor Sheridan)
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Where to Find It: In select theaters and HBO Max
A pair of killers hunt 12-year-old Connor, and they’re ruthless enough to start a forest fire to cover their tracks. Playing mama bear to Connor’s endangered cub, Angelina Jolie is as committed to keeping Connor alive as those two hired guns are to wishing him dead. The heated survival extravaganza offers a much bigger sandbox for gifted actor-turned-action maven Taylor Sheridan, whose scripts for “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water” have launched him to the front of a genre dominated by CG robots and superheroes once associated with Saturday-morning cartoons. This one marks a welcome departure without shortchanging audiences when it comes to spectacle or sound. — Peter Debruge
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Only in Theaters

Finding You (Brian Baugh)
Distributor:
Roadside Attractions
Where to Find It:
In theaters
Don’t be fooled by the empowerment-sounding title of “Finding You”: The romantic comedy’s engine isn’t driven by the woman herself, but by the men who are continually placed in power positions that directly inform her arc. Where it would have been nice to see the heroine unlocking her own potential, the film instead focuses on her finding an intercontinental romance with a dashing young man, life coaching from an unlikely male ally and a mysterious message from her deceased older brother. Even so, effervescent performances from an ebullient ensemble make “Finding You” a palatable and compelling female coming-of-age tale. — Courtney Howard
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Georgetown (C. Waltz)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: In select theaters
Written by “Proof” playwright David Auburn, “Georgetown” was based on a juicy 2012 New York Times story about a D.C. social climber (Christoph Waltz) arrested for strangling his 91-year-old wife (Vanessa Redgrave), through whom he had gained access to many powerful people, hosting soirees for journalists, ambassadors, and such political heavy-hitters as Antonin Scalia and Dick Cheney. A disingenuous end-credits disclaimer suggests that Waltz’s character, Ulrich Mott, is “not to be confused with” Albrecht Muth — who had affairs with men throughout their marriage — though the feint is clearly intended to underscore the connection. — Peter Debruge
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The Perfect Candidate (Haifaa Al Mansour)
Distributor: Music Box Films
Where to Find It: In theaters
Even more than in her debut hit “Wadjda”, Saudi director Al Mansour’s latest is clearly designed to demythologize the Kingdom, taking a host of cultural signifiers and parading them out in the cinematic equivalent of billboard-sized letters to show that Saudi society is heterogeneous and mutable. The script is so simplistic in how it runs through a checklist of cultural practices — women’s dress, gendered spaces, the role of music — that it reduces the people themselves to unsophisticated representatives of change, and yet its welcome message of female empowerment will be embraced by Western audiences. — Jay Weissberg
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Profile (Timur Bekmambetov)
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: In theaters
Unlike the Bekmambetov-produced tension exercises “Unfriended” and “Search,” this fast, lurid online-terror thriller (presented all in one computer screen) aims for ripped-from-the-headlines social import, as it follows an intrepid but increasingly ill-advised London journalist in her quest to bait and expose an ISIS recruiter through Skype and social media. Loosely drawn from the experiences of French reporter Anna Erelle, this is an undeniably engrossing but almost entirely specious affair: Any factual grounding gives way beneath the film as it devolves into shrill heart-versus-head melodrama. — Guy Lodge
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Riders of Justice (Anders Thomas Jensen) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Magnet
Where to Find It: In select theaters, expanding to on demand May 21
Deliriously wry and so perfectly balanced it should become a case study in script classes, “Riders of Justice” may be the film that finally gives Anders Thomas Jensen international recognition beyond his usual spotlight as a sought-after screenwriter. Comparisons with the Coen brothers will be inevitable given oddball characters whose fixations and genuine heart contrast with moments of extreme violence, yet the roots of this black revenge comedy go back even further, bringing an asocial spin to classic screwballers where a group of quirky misfits are balanced out by a lone woman who’s the most put-together and in touch of the bunch. — Jay Weissberg
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Spiral: From the Book of Saw (Darren Lynn Bousman)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Where to Find It: In theaters
In its “How can we make the old sick trash new again?” way, the ninth film in the series isn’t just another attempt to squeeze this bloody lemon dry. It takes an actual stab at reimagining the “Saw” franchise. The movie features a new faceless torture maniac — though he’s really just a Jigsaw copycat. The big change is that while “Spiral” features a handful of the series’ dungeon-nightmare set pieces, the movie is framed as a conventional police-corruption thriller. With his seething, embattled performance as Zeke Banks, Chris Rock completes his transformation from comedian to actor who lacks even a whisper of his former cheeky ebullience. — Owen Gleiberman
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On Demand and in Select Theaters

The Djinn (David Charbonier, Justin Powell)
Distributor:
IFC Films
Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital
Woe betide the grade-school-age lad who finds himself in a movie by writing-directing duo Charbonier and Powell: He may survive their plotlines, but it won’t be pretty. Their official first feature, “The Boy Behind the Door,” found two such kids fighting for their lives after being abducted by a stranger. In “The Djinn,” they’ve crafted another effective suspense exercise from the same basic premise, trapping a juvenile protagonist in a home with a malevolent nemesis. With even less dialogue than “Door,” in an even more constricted space, this lean thriller doesn’t provide much food for thought, but it delivers a compact dose of extreme jeopardy. — Dennis Harvey
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The Killing of Two Lovers (Robert Machoian) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: 
Neon
Where to Find it: In select theaters and on demand
Opening on what appears to be the verge of its titular act, “The Killing of Two Lovers” then steadily pulls back from what sounds like a noirish potboiler of marital infidelity and rage. Instead, his economical drama is really about the pain of marital separation, particularly when one party is pulling toward divorce and the other toward reconciliation, as is so often the case. Stark as the surrounding Western Utah landscapes its characters seem dwarfed by, this first solo feature (Machoian co-directed three prior ones with Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck) is an arresting auteurist miniature. — Dennis Harvey
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RK/RKAY (Rajat Kapoor)
Distributor: Outsider Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters and virtual cinemas
Pirandello definitely would have approved of the spirit behind this small-scale identity comedy set in the film world about a writer-director-actor, embodied by Kapoor, whose lead character walks out of his new picture and into the real world. Complicating matters is that the character is also personified by the director, leading to a pleasing play on selfhood that ever-so-lightly toys with notions of free will and agency. More modestly budgeted than most of Kapoor’s other works (“Mithya,” “Kadakh”), this crowdfunded labor of love is unlikely to generate much buzz but will be appreciated by audiences looking for congenial entertainment. — Jay Weissberg
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There Is No Evil (Mohammad Rasoulof) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand via Kino Marquee
When Rasoulof returned from Cannes in 2017, he was banned from filmmaking for life and sentenced to a year in prison. But the director could not stop. His latest film premiered in competition at the Berlin Film Festival, where instead of being silenced, Rasoulof launched his most openly critical statement yet, a series of Kafkaesque moral parables about Iran’s death penalty and its perpetrators. The resulting feat of artistic dissidence … comes across as four films for the price of one, none of its segments anemic, and each contributing fresh insights to the paradoxes of capital punishment in Iran. — Peter Debruge
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Exclusive to Netflix

Ahaan (Nikhil Pherwani)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Dance of the 41 (David Pablos)
Where to Find It:
Netflix
November 1901. Mexico City. A police raid on a high-society private party leads to the arrest of 42 men. Nineteen are found wearing lavish ball gowns that matched the opulence of the (very much illicit) affair. Pablos’ handsome period film traces the real-life story of the one whose presence is promptly erased from the record: the then-son-in-law of Mexican president Porfirio Díaz. Monika Revilla’s screenplay doesn’t begin with the political scandal that gives the film its title. Instead, it uses it as its climax, an impactful punctuation mark on a tender love story played against the backdrop of the patriarchal power structures of Mexico’s turn-of-the-century gentry. — Manuel Betancourt
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Ferry (Cecilia Verheyden)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Oxygen (Alexandre Aja)
Where to Find It: Netflix
A clever example of creativity thriving within the strict protocols of the coronavirus pandemic, tense confinement thriller “Oxygen” plays like “Buried” in outer space: a ticking-clock sci-fi survival drama centered on a single character (“Inglourious Basterds” star Mélanie Laurent) trapped in a spiffy, coffin-like cryochamber with critically low reserves of breathable air. The blank-brained “bioform” awakens ahead of schedule, sealed in some kind of futuristic membrane, with only a helpful HAL 9000-like talking computer called MILO (short for Medical Interface Liaison Operator, voiced by Mathieu Amalric) to assist her. — Peter Debruge
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The Woman in the Window (Joe Wright)
Where to Find It: Netflix
Real-estate porn can work for a thriller — or against it. Sometimes, it’s part of a movi