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