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New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Free Guy,’ ‘Respect,’ ‘Don’t Breathe 2’

Variety logo Variety 8/13/2021 Peter Debruge
a man standing on a city street © Courtesy of 20th Century Studios/Everett Collection

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 gaming-inspired blockbuster (like “Free Guy”) or a musical biopic (such as “Respect”).

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

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

Read the full review

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

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

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

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John and the Hole (Pascual Sisto) CRITIC’S PICK

Distributor: IFC Films

Where to Find It: In theaters

But “John and the Hole” is not quirky. It’s calculated and precise and meticulously constructed in a way that will be of considerable interest to audiences who appreciate stories that unsettle, and those who recognize the precision of Sisto’s approach. Both in style and psychology, this arm’s-length, deliberately paced film resists sensationalism, even as it relates a potentially freaky situation: John has been coddled by his family to such a degree that he feels compelled to banish them from the picture, but the way he goes about it is unpredictable (or at least inscrutable) enough that we start to fear for the lives of everyone involved. — Peter Debruge

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Available on Netflix

Vivo (Kirk DeMicco)

Where to Find It: Netflix

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

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Pray Away

Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of July 30

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

Read the full review

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

Read the full review

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

Read the full review

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

Read the full review

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

Read the full review

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.

Read the full review

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

Read the full review

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 Read the full review

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 Read the full review

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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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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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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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

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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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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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

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

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 Read the full review

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

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 Read the full review

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 Read the full review

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 movie’s mystery and allure: the luxe nooks and crannies where bad vibes can hide. (See “Rosemary’s Baby” or “What Lies Beneath.”) But in “The Woman in the Window,” a movie that takes place entirely in one old dark house, the stately Harlem brownstone in which Anna Fox (Amy Adams) resides is a movie set of such gloomy palatial grandeur that the place threatens to overwhelm everything that happens inside it. — Owen Gleiberman

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New Releases for the Week of May 7

Only in Theaters

Benny Loves You (Karl Holt)

Distributor: Dread

Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by on demand May 11

Whether it be actual toys or movies about them coming to life and killing people, they don’t make ’em like they used to. While the “Child’s Play” and “Puppet Master” franchises aren’t exactly rife with masterpieces, their pleasures are less guilty than those afforded by the genre’s latest installment: “Benny Loves You,” an English horror comedy liable to make audiences laugh far more than it scares them. Mostly, though, it just borders on boring. Aside from the murderous Benny himself, the film doesn’t add much to its gory genre. — Michael Nordine

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Equal Standard (Brendan Kyle Cochrane) Distributor: Mutiny Pictures Where to Find It: In more than 75 theaters

Aiming to be “The Wire” of the Black Lives Matter era with a multi-pronged yarn penned by first-time feature writer Taheim Bryan, “Equal Standard” sadly exhibits a consistent lack of restraint while the story widens its scope and stakes, falling notably short of its well-intentioned ambitions to honor multiple viewpoints amid rising racial tensions. A considerable part of the problem is Bryan’s on-the-nose writing that over-explains the film’s ideas at every turn. In his overcrowded ecosystem, there isn’t really much new to harvest other than the most obvious fact: Racism is an evil vicious circle. — Tomris Laffly

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Fatima (Marco Pontecorvo) Distributor: Picturehouse Where to Find It: Re-released exclusively in AMC theaters Director Pontecorvo revisits the miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, wherein three Portuguese shepherd children experienced several visits by the Virgin Mary, in this superficially suspicious, yet ultimately accepting historical drama which arrives at a moment when faith and facts find themselves in direct opposition, when claims of “fake news” render the very notion of “a true story” all but meaningless. While not especially artful, “Fatima” honors those who stand by their convictions. That its role models are children makes the message all the more remarkable. — Peter Debruge Read the full review

Here Today (Billy Crystal)

Distributor: Stage 6 Films

Where to Find It: In theaters

“Here Today,” starring Billy Crystal as a venerable TV comedy writer and Tiffany Haddish as the saintly, rough-around-the-edges street singer who becomes his unlikely pal, is a movie that feels like it could have been made 30 years ago: a friendly, adult-skewing, tart-witted but never nasty character study that’s just ’90s enough to be comfortably old-fashioned, like an old pair of tasseled loafers. What’s good about the movie is that Crystal, who co-wrote and directed it, has an inside knowledge of the showbiz comedy world, and the prickly vivacity with which he portrays it roots the movie in something real. — Owen Gleiberman

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The Water Man (David Oyelowo) Distributor: RLJE Films Where to Find It: In theaters

An engaging for-kids ghost story whose fantasy elements are thoughtfully grounded by real-world concerns, “The Water Man” ends with a blazing wildfire that is far scarier than the supernatural elements that precede it — especially now, as so much of the Pacific Northwest burns. Fans of David Oyelowo’s acting work might be surprised he chose such a “Goosebumps”-y project as his directorial debut, although it’s pretty cool for younger audiences that the “Selma” star put his clout (with a boost from exec producer Oprah Winfrey) behind a family film. — Peter Debruge

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Wrath of Man (Guy Ritchie)

Distributor: Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Where to Find It: In theaters

Ritchie’s RocknRolla-coaster style has plenty of imitators, but here, it’s refreshing to see him calm down and deliver something that’s intricate without being addled. Settling into the tense but relatively restrained mode of Christopher Nolan, the production adopts an elegant, almost monochromatic color palette, while the double-bassy score steadily saws away at our nerves, keeping audiences just this side of a heart attack for the better part of two hours. Like Jason Statham’s character, “Wrath of Man” walks into the room confident and secure in its abilities, professional, efficient and potentially lethal. — Peter Debruge

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Exclusive to Amazon Prime

The Boy From Médellin (Matthew Heineman)

Where to Find It: Amazon Prime

Last November, a personally triumphant hometown stadium show happened to coincide with Latin superstar J Balvin’s native Colombia reaching a flashpoint of historic turmoil. “The Boy From Médellin” shows the reggaeton singer being forced to develop a political conscience, whether he wants one or not. The problem is that, if Balvin actually has a conversion experience, we never see it, so it remains uncertain at the end whether he’s really experienced any kind of enlightenment about the need to address what’s going on in his country or finally does so because it’s actually the career path of least resistance.— Chris Willman

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Exclusive to Netflix

And Tomorrow the Entire World (Julia von Heinz) Where to Find It: Netflix

“And Tomorrow the Entire World” is a taut, headlong dive into a student Antifa commune in Mannheim, Germany, whose residents gradually splinter over how to fight a rising tide of white supremacy. It finds room for the perspective of both fervent Generation Z activists and their jaded elders, who may support the cause but are aggrieved that the fight hasn’t changed since their day, and fear it never will. Politically resonant but also solidly effective as straightforward youth-in-revolt drama, this Venice competition entry could make the international impression that von Heinz’s previous features have not. — Guy Lodge

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Monster (Anthony Mandler)

Where to Find It: Netflix

The New York City courtroom in which, 17-year-old honors student Steve Harmon stands accused of felony murder, isn’t the customary dark wood and tan walls affair. “Monster” there’s a reason beyond stylish production design for the palette of grays. For the involving, nuanced drama — a Sundance 2018 competition title starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. — explores the gray areas of guilt, innocence and criminal justice, especially as they pertain to young Black men, who are too often seen as guilty till proven not guilty. Innocent is likely too much to ask of a system in which young men like Steve are seen as the beasts, as the monsters of the movie’s title. — Lisa Kennedy

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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Above Suspicion (Phillip Noyce)

Distributor: Lionsgate

Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and digital

The 1989 murder of Susan Smith is a despairingly grim Southern Gothic story, shot through with reckless sex, institutional corruption and Kentucky-fried local scandal. At least “Above Suspicion,” a steamed-up, sweat-soaked film adaptation of the material, mercifully rakes over its unsavory details in two hours rather than several. It’s quick, dirty and perhaps more tawdry than it needs to be. Chris Gerolmo’s script isn’t at great pains to find the human factor here, and Phillip Noyce’s direction coats the whole unhappy affair in cold blue steel. — Guy Lodge

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Locked In (Carlos V. Gutierrez)

Distributor: Saban Films

Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand

A thriller about a woman’s efforts to thwart a pair of criminals who come looking for their loot, it’s a rote and chintzy affair undone by clunky writing and inane character behavior that prolongs what should have been a relatively brief incident.

Save for a few brief scenes, almost all of “Locked In” takes place in a steely, nondescript storage facility run by Lee (Bruno Bichir) and his sole employee Maggie (Mena Suvari). Gutierrez repeatedly gives his heroine a chance for escape, only to then sabotage it by having her (or Tarin) behave in a monumentally knuckleheaded manner. — Nick Schager

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Mainstream (Gia Coppola)

Distributor: IFC Films

Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital

Seven years after “Palo Alto,” Coppola returns with “Mainstream,” packing a far smaller store of compassion and a lot less insight into the next micro-life-stage of telegenic wasted youth. A brittle, exasperated satire on social media celebrity, her sophomore film, like the tacky messiah it creates in Andrew Garfield’s YouTube sensation, soon becomes the very thing it sets out to expose: a glittery, jangly image machine that manufactures little of actual substance, except the conclusion that social media = bad. Sure, it’s a platitude [shrug emoticon] but hey, it’s delivered with attitude. — Jessica Kiang

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The Paper Tigers (Tran Quoc Bao)

Distributor: Well Go USA Entertainment

Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand

With only a couple of clicks of the dial and a little dash of hybrid vigor, the hackneyed can be made fresh again, a point proven by Tran Quoc Bao’s silly and special little kung fu comedy. Balancing the naive structure of an old Shaw Brothers movie (a vengeance mission with an escalating series of fights en route to the Big Boss showdown) with the kind of male-midlife-comedy schtick that bought Judd Apatow a house or six, Tran’s irresistibly good-humored debut is a diverting blend of Hong Kong and Hollywood that delivers, on a slender, Kickstarter-enhanced budget, a rousing roundhouse hug to both traditions. — Jessica Kiang

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Queen Marie (Alexis Sweet Cahill) Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films Where to Find It: On demand and digital Queen Marie of Romania expresses her frustration that the press coverage is focused not on her efforts at diplomacy, but her extravagant wardrobe and packed social diary. “I suppose if I wish to be heard, I must first allow myself to be seen,” she sighs. This carefully ironed biopic fancies itself a corrective to such misogyny, offering the British-born monarch belated recognition of her contributions towards the eventual unification of Romania. Played with exacting decorum but little mirth or fervor by Roxana Lupu, she’s never quite a character, but a critical figure in a well-constructed historical diorama. — Guy Lodge Read the full review

Stealing Chaplin (Paul Tanter)

Distributor: High Octane Pictures

Where to Find It: On demand and DVD

In this parallel universe, the Little Tramp was buried not in Switzerland but in an undistinguished plot in a Las Vegas cemetery. His body is taken, meanwhile, not in the 1970s but in the present day — by a bumbling fraternal duo of British conmen. What Tranter’s cheap and cheerful film does have going for it is some genuinely sparky comic chemistry between stars Simon Phillips and Doug Phillips — not related, yet well-matched as a hopeless pair of Tweedledum-and-Tweedledumber siblings whose banter is quicker than their combined wits. — Guy Lodge

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The Unthinkable (Crazy Pictures)

Distributor: Magnet

Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand

If there were Oscars for chutzpah, “The Unthinkable” would be a cinch: The first feature for a Swedish collective who’ve been making short films together since childhood, Crazy Pictures’ disaster movie/thriller/romance/dysfunctional family drama is more laudable for its ambitious resourcefulness on limited means than for actual achievement or impact. Despite some strikingly accomplished elements, the awkward whole never quite gels, sewn-together parts from “Red Dawn,” “Independence Day,” et al., failing to cohere amid major logic gaps. — Dennis Harvey

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Coming to MTV

Pink Skies Ahead (Kelly Oxford) CRITIC’S PICK Distributor: MTV Entertainment Studios Where to Find It: Premieres May 8 on MTV with a simulcast on Pop TV

With her radioactive coif and precocious repartee, Winona (Jessica Barden) quit her college writing program not because she couldn’t hack it, but because the whole thing felt like a waste of time to her. Now her doctor (Henry Winkler) worries that she might have an anxiety disorder. In adapting her personal essay, “No Real Danger,” Oxford is not overly precious in adapting her essay, and for all we know, there’s actually more of the author in this stylized retelling. “Pink Skies Ahead” aims to destigmatize Winona’s diagnosis, while giving audiences living with anxiety issues a positive point of reference. — Peter Debruge

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New Releases for the Week of April 30

Only in Theaters

Four Good Days (Rodrigo García)

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

Where to Find It: In select theaters

A Sundance drama of addiction that’s sensitively written and staged (by Garcia) and performed with lacerating honesty by its two leads, Glenn Close and Mila Kunis, “Four Good Days” tells the story of an addict, Molly (Kunis), who shows no signs of recovering. She’s been in and out of detox 14 times, but she always goes back to getting high. What’s going to make this time different? It’s a question at once valid and vaguely annoying, since the only answer is that what’s going to be different this time is that the movie needs a different outcome. Or we wouldn’t have a movie. — Owen Gleiberman

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Limbo (Ben Sharrock)

Distributor: Focus Features

Where to Find It: In theaters

The Uist Islands would be a disorienting place for most outsiders to find themselves stranded for an indefinite amount of time — and that’s without the additional, time-stretching uncertainty of a pending application for political asylum. For the Syrian protagonist of “Limbo,” a refugee stationed in a bleak safe house on the island while he awaits the mercy of the British government, it amounts to a kind of physical and spiritual quarantine in Scottish director Sharrock’s thoughtful, gentle-natured sophomore film, which dramatizes the refugees’ plight through deadpan comedy rather than issue-movie hand-wringing. — Guy Lodge

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Separation (William Brent Bell)

Distributor: Open Road Films, Briarcliff Entertainment

Where to Find It: In theaters

Arriving on the heels of his “The Boy” and “Brahms: The Boy II,” Bell’s “Separation” reconfirms the director’s belief that nothing is scarier than creepy killer dolls. His latest, alas, fails to successfully prove that case, and worse, its story about a recently widowed single father struggling with supernatural phenomena is a dull and misogynistic affair that imagines multiple types of women as malevolent fiends who terrorize supposedly sympathetic men. “Separation” lacks both basic logic and formal polish, with certain sequences looking as chintzy and graceless as they are nonsensical. — Nick Schager

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Exclusive to Amazon Prime

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse (Stefano Sollima)

Where to Find It: Amazon Prime

“Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” is a lively formulaic action-hero origin story, dunked in combat grunge, that demonstrates how a resourceful lead actor (in this case, Michael B. Jordan) can bend and heighten the meaning of a commercial thriller. The plot is sometimes murky, but more than that the Cold War tension is now a nostalgic shadow of its former self. Compared to a good “Bourne” film, “Without Remorse” feels generic; compared to the best of the Jack Ryan films, like “Patriot Games,” it will look right at home on the streaming venue of Amazon. — Owen Gleiberman

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Exclusive to Netflix

The Disciple (Chaitanya Tamhane) CRITIC’S PICK Where to Find It: Netflix

After Tamhane’s extraordinary debut “Court,” his second feature is more ambitious in scope and also more personal, though the Indian director’s approach, abounding in establishing shots, could distance viewers intimidated by their unfamiliarity with north Indian classical music. For those able to set aside potentially daunting feelings of ignorance, this rich, multi-layered story of a young man’s dedication to mastering the spiritual and technical elements of “raga” singing offers much to ponder on teacher-pupil relations, the nature of performance and the consuming character of an artistic calling. — Jay Weissberg

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The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Michael Rianda) CRITIC’S PICK

Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by Netflix on April 30

Writing partners Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe are children of the pre-iPhone era, and together — aided by a small army of animators at Sony Pictures Animation — they’ve hatched a subversive delight that should appeal to Gen Y adults and tech-savvy kiddos alike. That’s because the tongue-in-cheek, “Terminator”-esque machine uprising isn’t really the hook here. If the sky-is-falling zaniness that surrounds the Mitchells’ road trip feels slightly familiar, that’s almost certainly because the movie was produced by “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. — Peter Debruge

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Things Heard & Seen (Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini)

Where to Find It: Netflix

[The “American Splendor” directors’] latest offers their usual tease of look-we’re-honest-commercial-filmmakers-trying-to-aim-high. It’s a ghost story, set in 1980, starring Amanda Seyfried and James Norton as Catherine and George Claire, a couple with a young daughter who move from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where George has just gotten his Ph.D in art history from Columbia, to the Hudson Valley, where he lands a job as a professor at a small private college. The film’s most interesting aspect is its scenes from a marriage that’s falling apart in slow motion. — Owen Gleiberman

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On Demand and in Select Theaters

About Endlessness (Roy Andersson)

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand

Whether by accident or design, it is most characteristically droll of Swedish auteur Andersson to title his sixth fiction feature “About Endlessness,” only to have it clock in at just 76 minutes. Barely have you settled into its cockeyed cosmic view of human existence in all its infinite, cyclical tragicomedy than the credits are already rolling. With Andersson appearing to view our societal foibles as simple, consistent and doomed (or perhaps blessed) to eternal repetition, what might seem a vast topic ends up with rather a succinct essay from the 76-year-old veteran. — Guy Lodge Read the full review

Berlin Alexanderplatz (Burhan Qurbani)

Distributor: Kino Lorber

Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas via Kino Marquee

The twin pillars of Alfred Döblin’s 1929 novel and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15-hour miniseries together create an overarching shadow from which Qurbani’s relatively svelte three-hour contemporary reworking of “Berlin Alexanderplatz” struggles to escape. Although promising a deep-cut dash of contemporary topicality by reimagining the main character as an undocumented African immigrant, there is the sense that the unimpeachable craft and performances — especially from rivetingly charismatic lead Welket Bungué — ultimately add up to just too slick a package. — Jessica Kiang

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Best Summer Ever (Michael Parks Randa, Lauren Smitelli)

Distributor: Freestyle Digital Media

Where to Find It: Available on demand and DVD

A smart and sweet riff through “Grease,” “Footloose,” “High School Musical” and scads of other upbeat, teen-skewing entertainments, “Best Summer Ever” greatly impress with its deft balance of affectionate homage and exuberant inclusivity. The co-directors keep the mood so beguilingly light and bright, even during brief romantic setbacks, that it’s remarkably easy to suspend disbelief and gratefully delight in a world where racial divides and ableist prejudices are nonexistent, and just about the only negative stereotype on view is a mean-girl cheerleader. — Joe Leydon

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The County (Grímur Hákonarson)

Distributor: Dekanalog

Where to Find It: In theaters and virtual cinemas

After the death of her dairy farmer husband, a middle-aged woman courageously sacrifices her livelihood to speak out against the corruption and injustice at work in her community in this audience-pleasing, humanist drama. Like Hákonarson’s previous film “Rams,” it probes a deeply rooted rural culture that is closely connected to the Icelandic national spirit, while championing traditional Icelandic values over the exploitive underside of capitalism. The yin to that film’s yang, “The County” is full of feisty female energy and imagery, and sprinkled with rousing “you go girl!” comic moments. — Alissa Simon

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Eat Wheaties! (Scott Abramovitch)

Distributor: Screen Media

Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand

More like a mayonnaise sandwich on Wonder Bread than the at-least-mildly-crunchy breakfast cereal of its title, “Eat Wheaties!” is a movie whose blandness ultimately triumphs over its annoyance — but only by a hair. This is the kind of underdog comedy in which you soon want to kick the dog. Starring Tony Hale as a middle-aged dweeb whose claim of a past celebrity friendship improbably snowballs to ruin his life, Abramovitch’s debut aims for the tenor of something like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” minus the raunch. — Dennis Harvey

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Marighella (Wagner Moura)

Distributor: Artmattan Prods. Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of the film’s merits as an adrenaline-filled shoot-‘em-up hagiographic biopic of a resistance-fighter/terrorist, the penultimate scene, in which a woman picks up a machine gun and looks directly at the camera, is unambiguous in its deeply troubling message. — Jay Weissberg Read the full review

The Outside Story (Casimir Koznowski)

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Where to Find It: On demand and digital

An actor who can magic personality and purpose from the most inconsequential of bit parts, Brian Tyree Henry s given welcome room to play in a film for once built entirely around his spry, thoughtful presence. Without his sly line readings and knack for shambling physical comedy, “The Outside Story” wouldn’t be nearly so watchable. Even with them, it plays as an agreeably extended sitcom pilot, with a slender premise — cranky homebody gets locked out of his apartment, hijinks ensue — that never leans into its most farcical possibilities. For Henry, though, you’d tune in again. — Guy Lodge

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Percy vs Goliath (Clark Johnson)

Distributor: Paramount Pictures, Saban Films

Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and digital

While well cast and plenty compelling (including feisty turns from Christopher Walken and Christina Ricci), this reductive farmer drama deals in emotions more than explanations as it seeks to convey what it means for a little-guy grower like Percy Schmeiser to go up against Big Agro. Director Clark Johnson clearly had such stirring anti-corporate environmental crusades as “Erin Brockovich” and “Promised Land” in mind, portraying Monsanto as a greedy near-monopoly (which isn’t necessarily false) without properly explaining what Percy is being accused of. — Peter Debruge

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The Virtuoso (Nick Stagliano)

Distributor: Lionsgate

Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and digital

Fresh off his second Oscar win, Anthony Hopkins isn’t awful in “The Virtuoso,” but the movie that surrounds him is. It’s a cut-rate thriller about a nameless hit man (Anson Mount) so busy telling audiences how professional he is — via such affirmational observations as, “You’re a professional, an expert dedicated to timing and precision” — that he doesn’t seem to notice his latest assignment is a setup. The one glimmer of originality in James C. Wolf’s script comes from the idea that the virtuoso’s mentor (Hopkins) sees this suicide mission as an act of mercy. — Peter Debruge

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New Releases for the Week of April 23

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

Mortal Kombat (Simon McQuoid)

Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema

Where to Find It: In select theaters and HBO Max

Now, “Mortal Kombat” gets the R-rated reboot its fans feel the property deserves, which entails being as graphic as the game was when it comes time for the pugilists to eliminate their opponents, whether that means ripping out their hearts or buzz-sawing them in twain with a razor-sharp hat. Such ruthless finishing moves may be the selling point here, but it’s the more nuts-and-bolts backstory that matters if the studio hopes to build a fresh film franchise around the property. True to the game, the violence is both ghoulishly creative and gratuitously extreme. — Peter Debruge

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Only in Theaters

Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (Haruo Sotozaki)

Distributor: Aniplex of America, Funimation

Where to Find It: In theaters

You’re either already on the “Demon Slayer” train or you’re not, and the hit Japanese feature — arriving stateside having surpassed “Spirited Away” as the highest-grossing anime movie of all time — is hardly the vehicle for the popular franchise to pick up new passengers. That doesn’t mean the action-packed toon won’t appeal to those curious to check out the sensation that has earned more than $415 million internationally. But it will be hard for newbies to follow a fan-service sequel that relies heavily on the complex mythology established by the 26-episode show. — Peter Debruge

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My Wonderful Wanda (Bettina Oberli)

Distributor: Zeitgeist Films, Kino Lorber

Where to Find It: In select theaters

Money can buy outside help, opportunity and material possessions, but not happiness in this punchy satire from “Late Bloomers” director Oberli. Taking a wry but empathetic approach to the phenomenon of care migration, Oberli and her co-writer Cooky Ziesche focus on the changing relationship between one privileged Swiss family and their financially fragile Polish home-care worker over nine months. Naturalistically shot and structured as three chapters and an epilogue, it’s an engaging, mostly well-acted tale, full of surprising twists, even if some seem a bit too on the nose. — Alissa Simon

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Paris Calligrammes (Ulrike Ottinger)

Distributor: Icarus Films

Where to Find It: In Film Forum virtual cinema, then wide on April 30

It would be a great mistake, sight unseen, to pigeonhole “Paris Calligrammes” as just another nostalgia-filled personal documentary about how amazing life was in Paris in the 1960s. Ottinger takes us through this formative time of her life in a way that deftly balances past and present to paint a picture of a threshold era of both positives and negatives. Largely composed of found footage, film clips and home movies, the film reflects the director’s generosity of spirit as well as the period’s bubbling cauldron of syncretic and opposing movements. — Jay Weissberg

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Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street (Marilyn Agrelo)

Distributor: Screen Media Where to Find It: In theaters now, then on demand on May 7

“Street Gang” has the good fortune to be arriving with about a hundred more built-in advantages than most documentaries. Offering up vintage backstage footage of Jim Henson and Frank Oz operating the Muppets feels a little like Henry Houdini coming back to reveal all his secrets. For parts of a nostalgically inclined audience, almost everything beyond that might be gravy. Yet that’s almost the least of the pleasures in a highly satisfying documentary that wisely places roughly equal emphasis on how the sausage was made and how the culture was changed. — Chris Willman Read the full review

Tiny Tim: King for a Day (Johan von Sydow) CRITIC’S PICK

Distributor: Juno Films

Where to Find It: In select theaters

This enticing documentary captures the delightful insanity of how Tiny Tim, the kind of elfin novelty act you could imagine getting booed off the stage at an open-mic night, became, for a while, the biggest star on the planet. Was he a fluke? In a way. Yet he didn’t happen out of nowhere. As the documentary captures … he possessed a singular charisma. Watching him now, 50 years later, you can scarcely take your eyes off him. One of the strange things the documentary captures is that Tiny Tim was one of those people who always knew he was going to be a star. — Owen Gleiberman

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Together Together (Nikole Beckwith)

Distributor: Bleecker Street

Where to Find it: In theaters, followed by digital on May 11

What if, Beckwith’s delightful if imperfect film asks, all this fuss about a biological clock isn’t exclusive to women? What if a single, aging heterosexual male can realize he has an internal timer of sorts, too? An awkwardly endearing tech developer, Matt (Ed Helms) has decided not to wait for the right partner to come along, but to make his fatherhood dreams come true via surrogate pregnancy instead. Enter the poker-faced Anna (Patti Harrison), a lonesome, cynical 20-something in need of the surrogacy funds to get her life back on track by pursuing an accelerated college degree. — Tomris Laffly

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Wet Season (Anthony Chen)

Distributor: Strand Releasing

Where to Find It: Opening in New York, then expanding to other theaters, virtual cinemas and PVOD on April 30th

Singapore writer-director Chen again proves himself a perceptive observer of life and social class in his tropical nation-state and a sensitive chronicler of issues confronting women. Set during monsoon season, Chen’s delicate, nuanced portrait of the heartbreaks afflicting a dedicated schoolteacher and dutiful wife is suffused with love and humor, and directed with striking maturity and restraint. Like his 2013 debut, “Ilo Ilo,” this bittersweet sophomore feature draws on details from his personal life and further benefits from the casting of two of that film’s leading players. — Alissa Simon

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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Bloodthirsty (Amelia Moses)

Distributor: Brainstorm Media

Where to Find It: On demand and digital

After putting a youthful, female-centric spin on vampiredom in “Bleed With Me,” Canadian director Moses does the same favor for werewolves. The script is by producer Wendy Hill-Tout and her daughter, singer-songwriter Lowell, who make the pressures of the music industry integral to the story. To a degree, that emphasis may disappoint horror fans who want more of the fanged action that takes its time arriving here. But within its modest boundaries, “Bloodthirsty” does a creditable enough job balancing supernatural suspense with the drama of a young artist’s insecurities at a key early career juncture. — Dennis Harvey

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The Dry (Robert Connolly)

Distributor: IFC Films

Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand The barren earth surrounding a drought-stricken Aussie town provides fertile ground for mystery, suspense and punchy emotional drama in “The Dry.” This enthralling adaptation of Jane Harper’s international bestseller stars a spot-on Eric Bana as a city detective whose investigation of an apparent murder-suicide in his hometown triggers renewed suspicion about his involvement in a mysterious death that’s haunted the community for two decades. Expertly directed, “The Dry” has all the character intrigue, clever plot twists and red herrings to keep viewers guessing. — Richard Kuipers

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I’m Going to Break Your Heart (Annie Bradley, Jim Morrison)

Distributor: Crave

Where to Find It: On demand and digital

Songwriting collaborations are so often portrayed as mystical unions that those of us who aren’t in the room where it happens have to wonder if there aren’t just as many instances where oil and water refuse to mesh. At last, the testiness that can result when writing sessions go south is portrayed on screen in this documentary about Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk, who comprise the duo Moon Vs Sun. The two escape from L.A. for a songwriting retreat on the French island of Saint Pierre, only to be constantly rubbing each other the wrong way in the collaborative process. — Chris Willman

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The Marijuana Conspiracy (Craig Pryce) Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Where to Find It: On demand and digital

For moviegoers accustomed to stoner-dude protagonists, “The Marijuana Conspiracy” offers a nice change. The Canadian drama, set in 1972, is full of Mary Janes. Okay, really just one Mary and one Jane. But they’re joined by other young women who answer a call to participate in a research project. For 98 days, Mary, Janice, Jane, Mourinda and Marissa will be able — more like required — to smoke dope. And they get to imbibe without fear of the fuzz. The movie also tussles with research malfeasance, the stuff of “The Experimenter” and “The Stanford Prison Project.” — Lisa Kennedy

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Exclusive to Netflix

Stowaway (Joe Penna)

Where to Find It: Netflix

Director Joe Penna is a natural. “Stowaway” is only his second feature, and like the first, “Arctic” (2018), which starred Mads Mikkelsen as an explorer stranded in the frozen wilderness, it’s a tale of survival in extreme circumstances. This one is an outer-space adventure, which these days makes you think that it must be a spectacle film. But Penna takes a mission to Mars and unfurls it on a direct and intimate emotional level. He avoids the traps of making a fanciful piece of gleaming sci-fi like “Ad Astra” or the recent “Voyagers.” “Stowaway” is a modest genre film that stays tethered to flesh-and-blood concerns. — Owen Gleiberman

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New Releases for the Week of April 16

Only in Theaters

Beast Beast (Danny Madden) Distributor: Vanishing Angle

Where to Find It: In theaters and Alamo On Demand

“Beast Beast” clatters to life with organic percussion: a stick rat-a-tatting against an iron fence, a skateboard scraping on concrete, a rifle pinging bullets against a defenseless tin plate. Together, these sounds combine into jazz, despite the discordance of the three teens making such a ruckus: Krista (Shirley Chen), Nito (Jose Angeles) and recently graduated gun-nut Adam (Will Madden). When the trio eventually – finally – intersect, it’s a fluke. “Beast Beast’s” plot twist is a swing at gravitas that disrupts the balance of Madden’s naturalistic character study. Suddenly the film accelerates from reality to sensationalism, and trades humanity for pulp. — Amy Nicholson

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Gunda (Victor Kossakovsky)

Distributor: Neon

Where to Find It: In theaters

What we didn’t know on Oscar night was how neatly Joaquin Phoenix’s speech would dovetail into his next screen credit: as an executive producer on Kossakovsky’s simple but entirely astonishing documentary “Gunda.” It’s not hard to imagine his words as the unspoken subtext to this wholly dialogue-free animal character study, in which an enormous sow on a Norwegian farmyard embarks on an emotive arc of motherhood without any need for human voiceover or twee anthropomorphism: just the still, searching power of an attentive camera. — Guy Lodge

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In the Earth (Ben Wheatley) Distributor: Neon

Where to Find It: In theaters

Wheatley started off making micro-budget short-film goofs, and that can-do attitude — to rattle us without resources — compelled him to get creative amid the constraints. This quickie was conceived, shot, cut and now delivered during the same viral outbreak that has ground so many other productions to a halt, as Wheatley finds a way to fold the anxieties of the moment into deeper, more primitive fears of nature turning on humankind. Many a horror movie has taken place in the wake of a pandemic, but this is one of the first to fold a real-world outbreak into its own near-future vision of a world where no one talks about a return to normal. — Peter Debruge

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We Broke Up (Jeff Rosenberg)

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by VOD release on April 23

“We Broke Up” catches a rom-com ripple and rides it toward sweet laughs and some authentic insights. It even surprises — an increasingly hard thing to pull off in the genre. Plying emotionally attuned dialogue and deft delivery, director Jeff Rosenberg and co-writer Laura Jacqmin know their way around a laugh or two. He spent time on “The Good Place” and “Veep”; she wrote for “Get Shorty” and “Grace and Frankie.” The movie is one of those rare outings that really does prick any smugness about its characters, but also has zero interest in creating baddies in order to keep a couple apart. — Lisa Kenendy

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Exclusive to Netflix

Arlo the Alligator Boy (Ryan Crego)

Where to Find It: Netflix

Ride or Die (Aly Hardt)

Where to Find It: Netflix

In the spirit of “Thelma and Louise,” a lesbian fugitive and the woman she’d kill for hit the road with three stilettos and a blood-red BMW in “Ride or Die.” A glammed up, erotically-charged cocktail of amour fou and true romance, the Netflix production gives agency to full-blooded female protagonists. That’s a rarity in Japan’s studio-dominated, cookie-cutter entertainment industry, which explains its liberating, inexhaustible energy. Based on the adult-skewing manga “Gunjo” (Ultramarine), the film stars actor-model Kiko Mizuhara and actor-musician Honami Sato, whose graphic sex scenes and full-frontal nudity are bound to be a talking point in Japan. — Maggie Lee

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Why Did You Kill Me? (Fredrick Munk)

Where to Find It: Netflix

On Demand and in Select Theaters

Hope (Maria Sødahl) CRITIC’S PICK Distributor: KimStim Where to Find It: In select theaters and virtual cinemas

Believe the accolades: Maria Sødahl’s perceptive, heartfelt “Hope” richly deserves all the attention it’s gotten at festivals and award ceremonies since premiering in Toronto in 2019. Naturally, any movie with such a title dealing with a terminal cancer diagnosis will have some kind of sting, but “Limbo” director Sødahl, who mined her own brush with cancer when writing the film, teases out the unexpected byways where hope is not just crushed but nurtured. The rewards here are great, not just for the multi-layered screenplay but the impeccable performances by Andrea Bræin Hovig and Stellan Skarsgård. — Jay Weissberg

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Jakob’s Wife (Travis Stevens) Distributor: RLJE Films

Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand

Low-budget necessity is often the mother of low-budget invention, but sadly not so much in “Jakob’s Wife,” a thin, half-hearted reworking of the vampire mythos that can’t quite decide if it’s spoofy or serious, and doesn’t have the smarts to be both. While it’s theoretically promising to attempt a hybrid tone in which schlocky effects and spurting necks are offset by genuine psychological insight into the discontented life of a long-married small-town pastor’s wife, in practice, the impulses just cancel each other out, whittling down the movie’s stakes long before they’re plunged into anyone’s chest. — Jessica Kiang

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Monday (Argyris Papadimitropoulos)

Distributor: IFC Films

Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital

For a while, “Monday” gives you the fizzy sensation that it’s just what an indie romantic comedy should be: buoyant and real, full of the sexiness of smashed boundaries, with two alluring free spirits at its center. In “Monday,” the free-spiritedness of it all keeps getting out of hand, as these two attempt to keep the romantic party going, drink for drink. Yet the real problem is that as soon as they move in together, the director starts to the overload the screen with red flags. “Monday,” shot with a mostly Greek crew, has been made with a certain degree of lively flair, and the two actors have moments where they really fuse. — Owen Gleiberman

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Reefa (Jessica Kavana Dornbusch) Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

Where to Find It: Available on demand

There is an eternal problem with this type of film, which tries to create satisfying drama out of senseless tragedy: There is no sense to be made, out of a day that would not have been so very different from any other in Reefa’s young life, had it not been distinguished by being his last. Like in Ryan Coogler’s more dynamic but no less manipulated “Fruitvale Station,” “Reefa” is flummoxed by what to do with a hero whose story is mostly about all the things he never got to do, and so the understandable but fundamentally unreliable decision is made to treat everything as if it were moving toward that fateful night. — Jessica Kiang

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The Rookies (Alan Yuen)

Distributor: Shout! Studios

Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital

Lame humor and incoherent plotting are among the shortcomings of “The Rookies,” an initially engaging but increasingly tedious Chinese action-comedy-thriller that not even kick-ass movie queen Milla Jovovich can breathe much life into. Undemanding genre fans might go for this Budapest-set hodge-podge about rookie secret agents tackling a deranged billionaire, but there’s not much here for anyone else. If played with a smart sense of humor and crisp comic timing, these colorful ingredients might have produced a zippy tongue-in-cheek action-adventure. Instead, “The Rookies” opts for puerile dialogue and dumb physical comedy. — Richard Kuipers

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Vanquish (George Gallo)

Distributor: Lionsgate

Where to Find It: In select theaters, followed by digital and VOD on April 20

“Vanquish” isn’t bad so much as inert — nothing here is convincing, tense, kinetic, outrageous, or silly enough to give the movie even fleeting life. The script is so by-the-numbers, the performers can hardly hide their disinterest, a feeling soon to be shared by viewers lured by the promise of these stars in a violent revenge tale. Just as Vicky (Ruby Rose) has discovered her daughter requires expensive medical treatments, her employer (Morgan Freeman) announces he’ll pay for them — if she uses “some of your old skills” to collect and/or steal money. Should she refuse, he says she’ll never see her daughter again. — Dennis Harvey

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New Releases for the Week of April 9

Only in Theaters

Voyagers (Neil Burger)

Distributor: Lionsgate

Where to Find It: In select theaters

“Voyagers” isn’t badly made, and a handful of the actors have some flair, yet there’s something rote, schematic, and a bit monotonous about it. With everyone in the cast wearing black T-shirts, the movie suggests Ridley Scott shooting the world’s most expensive and visionary Gap commercial. “Voyagers” is a dutiful thriller about the beast within, but there’s not a lot of surprise to it. Even when the characters let themselves go, the drama remains mostly in lockdown. “Voyagers” hums along, but without much excitement. There are too many tropes you’ve seen too often, like a spacewalk shot through with an undercurrent of doom. — Owen Gleiberman

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Exclusive to Netflix

Thunder Force (Ben Falcone)

Where to Find It: Netflix

“Thunder Force” would like to skewer the genre, but it’s basically a whiffleball action comedy studded with middle-drawer Melissa McCarthy gags. The movie teams McCarthy and Octavia Spencer as estranged high-school pals who get back together after a reunion and turn themselves into a superhero team called Thunder Force. Lydia (McCarthy) has super-strength; Emily (Spencer) can turn invisible. “Thunder Force” is the fifth McCarthy movie that her husband, Ben Falcone, has directed, and it will come as no surprise to consumers of their previous collaborations (“Tammy,” “The Boss,” etc.) that this one, too, is slapped together. — Owen Gleiberman

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On Demand and in Select Theaters

Giants Being Lonely (Grear Patterson)

Distributor: Gravitas Ventures

Where to Find It: On DVD, Blu-ray and on demand

It’s a drama in the unlikely form of a 73-minute slice-of-life tone poem focused on the interior world of teenage jocks. It’s set in the woodsy enclave of an unnamed town in North Carolina, and the two main characters are high-school baseball players — Bobby and Adam, played by Jack Irving and Ben Irving, who are brothers, and who look just enough alike that it takes a few scenes to sort out which one you’re watching. The film gives you a sensation I’ve scarcely encountered outside of a Richard Linklater film — that jocks, even the ones who rule over high-school society, can be pensive and soulful and lost. — Owen Gleiberman

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Looking for a Lady with Fangs and a Moustache (Khyentse Norbu)

Distributor: Abramorama

Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas

Told he’s been cursed and will die within a week, a Kathmandu man desperately seeks the elusive spirit that might save him. Though playing upon Tibetan Buddhist concepts, this latest film from Bhutan-born writer-director Norbu doesn’t use traditional religious mythology as a springboard for horror. Instead, his beguiling and visually beautiful Nepalese feature offers a droll, leisurely, if cryptic journey toward individual enlightenment. As in his prior features, religious teachings are seldom spelled out, but gently sublimated in an anecdotal progress of ingratiating, whimsical appeal. Once again he’s also used nonprofessional actors to good effect. — Dennis Harvey

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Moffie (Oliver Hermanus) CRITIC’S PICK Distributor: IFC Films Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand

Following three fine features of steadily increasing ambition, “Moffie” is Hermanus’ masterpiece in the true sense of the term: the film that consolidates all the promise and preoccupations of his previous work into one quite stunning feat of formal and narrative artistry, establishing him quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker. A piercing, perfectly formed film, “Moffie” examines prejudice from the stunned, stifled perspective of an English-descended soldier as a closeted, terrified teenager is conscripted and sent to war on the Angolan border in 1981. — Guy Lodge

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Slalom (Charlène Favier)

Distributor: Kino Lorber

Where to Find It: In select theaters and virtual cinemas

There is a moment when the uneasy, sinking feeling that Favier’s debut has created to that point becomes an abrupt, stomach-dropping plunge. It’s when you realize that of course this was the story it was going to tell, and almost feel foolish for holding out the hope that its wildly imbalanced central relationship might play out any other way. After that glance, “Slalom” has fewer surprises to pull than fears to confirm, which is not a criticism — that the film remains compelling despite the depressing familiarity of its beats is impressive. It’s also part of the point: We know how this story goes; doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be told. — Jessica Kiang

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The Tunnel (Pål Øie)

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Where to Find It: In select theaters and on demand

Solidly crafted if a bit uninspired, Pål Øie’s thriller is like a horizontal, colder, sootier “Towering Inferno” minus the all-star-cast, though their soap-operatics are intact. While decently paced (frequent Øie collaborator Sjur Aarthun is both editor and cinematographer here), the film also settles into an inevitable eventual rut when there is little real action, just searching and waiting. We’re all too aware, once a late additional peril arrives to endanger nearly-rescued protagonists, that it’s been grafted on to yank the slackened narrative tension taut again. — Dennis Harvey

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New Releases for the Week of April 2

Available in Theaters and on HBO Max

Godzilla vs. Kong (Adam Wingard)

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Where to Find It: In select theaters and HBO Max

The director intends for you to be impressed, but also to care about these non-speaking characters (but especially Kong, the obvious underdog here). Meanwhile, the human ensemble is made up mostly of conspiracy quacks and pseudo-science hacks. Eyes wide, brains off, ears bleeding — that’s how Wingard wants his audience. Whether it’s staging a rumpus on the high seas or a donnybrook in downtown Hong Kong, Wingard has the vision to deliver iconic fight scenes in a movie with multiple surprises up its sleeve (including another classic opponent to unite the rivals), while mercifully clocking in at under two hours. — Peter Debruge

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Only in Theaters

The Unholy (Evan Spiliotopoulos) CRITIC’S PICK

Distributor: Screen Gems

Where to Find It: In select theaters

“The Unholy” is a good tight scary commercial theological horror film. Its spooks and demons unfurl within a pop version of Christianity, which makes it sound no more exotic than last week’s “Exorcist” knockoff or last year’s helping of the “Conjuring” franchise. But “The Unholy” has a religious plot that actually works for it. It stars an unheralded actress named Cricket Brown, who plays a deaf-mute young woman named Alice, who has visions of what she thinks is the Virgin Mary. Absorbing Mary’s spirit, Alice can suddenly hear and speak, and she can heal the sick, which attracts crowds of people to her rural town of Banfield, Mass. — Owen Gleiberman

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On Demand and in Select Theaters

2021 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Animation (various)

Distributor: ShortsTV

Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital

Those who typically scope the Academy Award-nominated shorts programs hoping to win the Oscar pool will have a particularly tough time of it with this year’s animated roster, as the options are wide-ranging but lack a clear frontrunner. A few of the talents have ties to Pixar, though only one short was actually developed at a studio, while the other four are far more personal, independent expressions with little in common, least of all technique. Compared to past editions, this is a relatively weak year, though it’s always a treat to survey the range of offerings, released in theaters and on demand by ShortsTV. — Peter Debruge

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2021 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Live Action (various)

Distributor: ShortsTV

Where to Find It: In select theaters, on demand and digital

Law and order, and the lack thereof, were impossible to ignore amid last year’s “defund the police” protests, and the same tensions are reflected in the Oscar-nominated live-action shorts lineup. Some of the entries predate the George Floyd killing, while another was shot in direct reaction to that tragedy last summer; two more were made abroad, touching on themes that transcend borders. It’s not unusual for finalists in this category to come pushing a political agenda, and yet, this crop doesn’t feel like agitprop, but sincere, activist storytelling, well worth seeking out. — Peter Debruge

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Every Breath You Take (Vaughn Stein)

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Where to Find It: In select theaters and premium VOD

In “Every Breath You Take,” Casey Affleck plays a psychiatrist — or more to the point, he plays a movie psychiatrist, the sort of character who’s been around since Ingrid Bergman peered through wire-rimmed spectacles, offering repressed pensées about repression in Hitchcock’s “Spellbound” (1945). He convinces us that Dr. Philip Clark isn’t a bad guy, but that he has messed up his life just enough to deserve a comeuppance. The movie carries you along, and it’s got some high-tension moments, but there are one too many coincidental running-into-each-other-in-town close encounters. — Owen Gleiberman

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Funny Face (Tim Sutton)

Distributor: Gravitas Ventures

Where to Find It: Available on Amazon, iTunes and digital platforms

As two young outsiders — a Muslim woman shaking off the oppressive minding of her elders, and an unhinged, mask-wearing victim of property redevelopment — meet, fall in love, and rage against the capitalist machine, “Funny Face” goes in for blunt social metaphor, heightened Brechtian allegory and neon-lit nightmare visions: a stew of approaches that is sometimes seductive and often gratingly affected. The script’s banal, minimalist dialogue does little to fuel the flickering chemistry between leads Cosmo Jarvis (“Lady Macbeth”) and appealing newcomer Dela Meskienyar as best it could. — Guy Lodge

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Roe v. Wade (Cathy Allyn, Nick Loeb)

Distributor: Vendian Entertainment

Where to Find It: Available on Amazon, iTunes and premium VOD

Targeting politically simpatico viewers and anyone they can convert on the other side of the aisle — while perhaps taking a page out of the former administration’s playbook — Allyn and Loeb present their own “alternative facts” as a definitive account of the famous court case, asserting that what we have been told about Roe v. Wade is a big lie. Far from impartial, their revisionist telling amounts to a sometimes sexist smear campaign, executed with roughly the competence of a cheaply assembled infomercial as it exploits religious guilt to disgrace a legal medical procedure. — Tomris Laffly

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Shiva Baby (Emma Seligman)

Distributor: Utopia

Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas

In writer-director Seligman’s hilarious, sneakily eruptive debut feature “Shiva Baby,” the acerbic Danielle is many things: an East Coast college senior majoring in gender studies; a young, bisexual Jewish woman; a sugar baby testing out the transactional powers of her sexuality. Think of this late-coming-of-age farce as a funny “Krisha” or the indoor apocalypse that takes place in “Mother!” — but with broken glass objects, a deafeningly screaming baby, a relentlessly suspicious wife and prying relatives instead of blood and guts — and you’ll get some sense of its edge-of-your-seat character. — Tomris Laffly

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This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection (Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese)

Distributor: Dekanalog

Where to Find It: In virtual cinemas

A haunted, unsentimental paean to land and its physical containment of community and ancestry — all endangered by nominally progressive infrastructure — this arresting third feature from Lesotho-born writer-director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese is as classical in theme as it is adventurous in presentation. Toggling between earthy naturalism and suspended dream atmospherics as fluently as its life-weary 80-year-old protagonist (the superb Mary Twala Mhlongo) skims the real and spiritual realms, it’s the kind of myth-rooted, avant-garde Southern African storytelling that rarely cracks the international festival circuit. — Guy Lodge

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Exclusive to Hulu

WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn (Jed Rothstein)

Where to Find It: Hulu

The perfect storm of massive hype, a charismatic figurehead, an attractive-sounding idea and tons of money thrown down a bottomless pit make for a definitive 21st-century high-financial cautionary tale in “WeWork.” This documentary from “The China Hustle” director Rothstein charts the heady, then deadly first decade of an office space-sharing company whose much-promoted “revolutionary” idealism imploded in an old-school morass of hypocrisy, numbers shuffling and mass job/investment losses, making for a very entertaining postmortem. — Dennis Harvey

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Exclusive to Netflix

Concrete Cowboy (Ricky Staub) CRITIC’S PICK

Where to Find It: Netflix

This is one of those rare, reframe-the-conversation films that take a very specific subculture and turn it into something universal and uplifting — only this one isn’t a documentary, despite the many real-world details that bring Staub’s exceptional father-son drama to life (among them, supporting roles for several genuine Fletcher Street cowboys and a range of North Philly locations that include the historic stables). Featuring an unforgettable performance from Idris Elba as Cole’s grizzled but caring father, Harp, this remarkable feature debut is all about giving at-risk young people a future. — Peter Debruge

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Madame Claude (Sylvie Verheyde)

Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases for the Week of March 26

Only in Theaters

Nobody (Ilya Naishuller)

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Where to Find It: In theaters now, followed by PVOD on April 16

You might say that “Nobody” follows every rule of the genre. It’s got a hero (Bob Odenkirk) who starts off as a workaday family man, with a nice wife (Connie Nielsen) and two nice kids. Then he’s attacked by criminals in his own home. After which he starts to play dirty, give into his death wish, and walk tall. “Nobody” is a thoroughly over-the-top and, at times, loony-tunes entry in the live-and-let-die vengeance-is-mine genre. Is it a good movie? Not exactly. But its 90 minutes fly by, and it’s a canny vehicle for Odenkirk, the unlikeliest star of a righteous macho bloodbath since Dustin Hoffman got his bear trap on in “Straw Dogs.” — Owen Gleiberman

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On Demand and in Select Theaters

The Good Traitor (Christina Rosendahl)

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Where to Find It: Available on demand

Fascinating backroom politics circa WWII are undermined by banal marital melodrama, resulting in a so-so period drama that raises more questions than it answers. The film centers on the life of diplomat-gone-rogue Henrik Kauffmann (Ulrich Thomsen), who was posted to Washington, D.C., as Danish Ambassador in 1939. Unfortunately, the details of Kauffmann’s wheeling and dealing are continually undercut by the film’s concentration on his rather unusual personal life, rendered here in trite narrative clichés. The alternation between the personal and political stories rarely allows either to build up a head of steam. — Alissa Simon

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Nina Wu (Midi Z)

Distributor: Film Movement

Where to Find It: Available in virtual cinemas, followed by theaters and VOD April 2

“Nina Wu” was written by its luminous star, inspired by her own experiences as a young actress and by the Harvey Weinstein scandal — much of which happened in plush hotel rooms not far from the Cannes theater where this fascinating, glitchy, stylish, and troublesome title had its debut. And as the first directly #MeToo-related narrative to play in this context, it is a deeply challenging one, perhaps destined to be misinterpreted in some quarters, as it resists, even contradicts the simplification of its central act of violation into an obviously empowering, triumph-over-adversity arc. — Jessica Kiang

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The Seventh Day (Justin P. Lange)

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

Where to Find It: In select theaters and VOD

In “The Seventh Day,” there’s a hint of an innovation to the exorcist movie genre, even if it’s not about the devil. It’s about the figure who’s fighting him. Guy Pearce plays Father Peter, a fabled exorcist whose initiation happened on Oct. 8, 1985, the day Pope John Paul II arrived in the U.S. That day, Father Peter assisted in his first exorcism — and saw his mentor, Father Louis (Keith David), get stabbed in the neck by a flying crucifix, at which point Father Peter took over and watched his boy victim burst into flames and die. That’s about as bad as it gets in demon fighting. And Father Peter has been making up for it ever since.  — Owen Gleiberman

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Six Minutes to Midnight (Andy Goddard)

Distributor: IFC Films

Where to Find It: Available in select theaters and VOD

Inspired by the real history of Bexhill-on-Sea’s Victoria-Augusta-College, a 1930s finishing school for the daughters of the Nazi elite, “Six Minutes to Midnight,” wants to be a Hitchcockian thriller, but merely manages a familiar pastiche peopled with stock characters that should divert less-discriminating viewers. The clunky plot centers on an undercover British agent who infiltrates the school disguised as a new teacher. His assignment is to discover if Deutschland plans on repatriating their young flowers of maidenhood and whether said Mädchen might serve as captive pawns in Britain’s diplomatic chess game. — Alissa Simon

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The Vault (Andy Goddard)

Distributor: Saban Films, Paramount

Where to Find It: Available in theaters, on demand and digital

Spanish heist “The Vault” stubbornly remains one of those movies you know you’ll be forgetting almost as soon as you finish watching it. There’s nothing really wrong with this glossy tale of a “mission impossible” raid on a heavily fortified Madrid bank to retrieve treasure It’s just that a caper of this type needs tense set pieces, surprising twists, idiosyncratic characters or charismatic stars — ideally, all the above — to distinguish itself, and this one falls short in all those departments. Viewers who really love this sort of thing may get caught up in the procedural aspects of the story anyway. — Dennis Harvey

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Available on HBO and HBO Max

Tina (Dan Lindsay, TJ Martin)

Where to Find It: Releases March 27 on HBO

I went into “Tina” feeling like I knew this story in my bones, but the film kept opening my eyes — to new insights, new tremors of empathy, and a new appreciation for what a towering artist Tina Turner is. One of the things that enhances a biography like this one is simply the passage of time, and if you saw Tina Turner live, or watched clips of her in the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s, you may have thought she was awesome (I’d wonder about you if you didn’t), but she blazed trails in such an uncalculated way that you almost need a film like “Tina” to stand back and reveal, with perspective, what a gigantic influence she was. — Owen Gleiberman

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Exclusive to Netflix

Bad Trip (Kitao Sakurai)

Where to Find It: Netflix

A squirm-worthy exercise in vicarious humiliation that welds the rom-com formula to a gross-out prank show, “Bad Trip” hands lovelorn loser Chris (Eric Andre, who co-wrote the film with Sakurai and Dan Curry) a safe word (“popcorn”) and the keys to a hot pink Crown Victoria, and sets the comedian loose to terrorize unsuspecting bystanders along a northbound interstate from Florida to Manhattan, where he intends to profess his love to his middle school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin). Riding shotgun is Lil Rey Howery as Chris’ best friend Bud, and on their trail storms a terrifyingly incognito Tiffany Haddish. — Amy Nicholson

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A Week Away (Chris Smith)

Where to Find It: Netflix

Say you’re a wild, wayward but ultimately gold-hearted teen with a choice of correctional penalty: an extended spell in juvenile hall, or one summer of singing, swimming and mild soul-searching at a Christian youth camp. Which do you choose? If it seems a no-brainer, the achievement of “A Week Away” is to make us collectively wonder, after 90 minutes of aggressively wholesome hijinks, if juvie would be so bad after all. This innocuous but character-free tuner shamelessly copies and crosses the formulae of “High School Musical” and “Camp Rock” down to the last, sequel-prompting detail. — Guy Lodge

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Pagglait (Umesh Bist)

Where to Find It: Netflix

Seaspiracy (Ali Tabrizi)

Where to Find It: Netflix

Secret Magic Control Agency (Aleksey Tsitsilin)

Where to Find It: Netflix

Exclusive to Shudder

Violation (Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli) CRITIC’S PICK

Where to Find It: Shudder

A chamber piece with the existential mood of Lars von Trier, as well as a trope-defying revenge thriller with a mounting sense of terror, the dismembering, blood-draining frights of “Violation” — from tense familial grudges to an awful case of sexual assault and gaslighting that leads to brutal vengeance — aren’t easy to shake or describe. The gruesome details of the film’s deeply unsettling revenge sequence are best left unspoiled. What’s provocative about “Violation” isn’t the presence of these triggers, but the way it handles them, knowing that real-life sexual perils are as likely to crop up within one’s close, trusted circle as they are in the company of strangers. — Tomris Laffly

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