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New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘All My Life,’ ‘Godmothered,’ ‘The Godfather, Coda’

Peter Debruge
·11-min read

Cinemas — the ones that are open — are hurting for new content. With only one wide release this week — that would be Focus Features’ “Half Brothers” opening on approximately 1,200 screens — film fans will likely be staying home and sifting through new releases via streaming instead.

For example, audiences have their choice between Disney fairy-tale sendup “Godmothered” and Francis Ford Coppola’s re-edit of “The Godfather Part III.” The former (which stars Isla Fisher and Jillian Bell) is available to Disney Plus subscribers, while the latter is getting a very limited theatrical run.

Who knows how audiences will react to a story about a romance cut short by medical tragedy in the era of COVID-19, but Universal serves up a well-made version of just that kind of love story with “All My Life,” featuring Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr.

Steve McQueen’s five-film Small Axe series continues on Amazon Prime, while David Fincher’s buzzy, black-and-white Oscar contender “Mank” (starring Gary Oldman as the co-writer of “Citizen Kane”) is available to Netflix subscribers.

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

New Releases in Theaters

All My Life (Marc Meyers) CRITIC’S PICK
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Where to Find It: Now in limited release; coming to Netflix on Dec. 18
In these highly cynical times, it might be hard to process the true-life tale of a young couple’s romance cut short by terminal illness. But the warmth and touching tenderness of “All My Life” melts even the coldest of hearts in its quest to deliver happy and sad tears. Unlike the phony, syrupy, and predictably manipulative devices of a Nicholas Sparks romance, this three-hankie weepie holds a surprising amount of heart and hope to accompany all the cathartic crying. The dramatic underpinnings of this true-life story function effortlessly without tipping the scales into movie-of-the-week melodrama. — Courtney Howard
Read the full review

Half Brothers (Luke Greenfield)
Distributor: Focus Features
Where to Find It: In wide release
Those looking for undemanding entertainment may give it a passing grade, but this formulaic, sometimes maudlin buddy comedy about reunited Mexican and Yankee half-siblings Renato (Luis Gerardo Mendez) and Asher (Connor Del Rio) is not the sort of thing that cries for a public auditorium’s bigger scale or the collective viewing experience. The problem isn’t that Renato needs to loosen up. Asher would exasperate anyone. He quickly burdens them with a stolen baby goat (don’t ask why), then frequently gets them both into other forms of hot water. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

New Releases on Demand and in Select Theaters

76 Days (Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous)
Distributor: MTV Documentary Films
Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support
If the arrival of vaccines offers some hope of the year-consuming COVID-19 pandemic eventually cooling off, the attendant mini-genre of the coronavirus documentary is only getting warmed up. Some are sure to be hasty and opportunistic, others hopefully more penetrating in their application of hindsight. A documentary like “76 Days,” however, can’t be made too soon: It is, by necessity, an entirely in-the-moment affair, seizing its single chance to chronicle the first wave of medical crisis management in the Chinese city of Wuhan, weeks before the world followed it into a state of lockdown. — Guy Lodge
Read the full review

Another Round (Thomas Vinterberg)
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn
Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and via digital platforms
“Another Round” might be described as a tragicomedy about the pleasures and perils of drinking, which sounds tasty, except that the movie turns out to be a frustrating and rather muddled experience, a “socially relevant” trifle that keeps undercutting itself. “Another Round” plays with a teasing idea: drinking all the time … Yet the case the film makes for drinking isn’t so much wrongheaded as it is awesomely banal. “Another Round” expresses nothing, really, beyond the eternal idea that contemporary middle-class life contains pockets of deadness that may, in order to get through them, require some stimulants. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Billie (James Erskine)
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
“I want to know why all the girl singers crack up. They crack up!” That’s Tony Bennett, in voiceover, musing aloud about the fate of the subject of “Billie,” an absorbing new documentary about master jazz singer Billie Holiday. The filmmakers have said they turned a good deal (not all) of that black-and-white into color to help make Holiday feel vital and relevant to a younger audience. There’s a decent argument to be made for a more purist position, too, but here, having Holiday brought closer to life visually might serve the purpose of making her death feel more tragic, too. — Chris Willman
Read the full review

Black Bear (Lawrence Michael Levine)
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and via digital platforms
Levine’s first two directorial features were idiosyncratic indie hipster comedies of a familiar stripe. His third is a much trickier proposition, a kind of narrative puzzle box in which one might be hard-pressed to find a solution, or even determine there is one. Aubrey Plaza plays an actress turned writer-director of “small, unpopular films” whose latest creative drought lands her on the doorstep of Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon. Rebooting midway to completely reframe its prior storytelling in very meta film-within-a-film-about-making-a-film terms, this adventurous seriocomedy has enough surprising elements and off-kilter humor to keep one intrigued, even if the payoff is debatable. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan (Julien Temple)
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
Before Amy Winehouse, there was Shane MacGowan, another, earlier figure who captivated Britannia at first with irreverent songwriting brilliance, then train-wreck levels of unbridled consumption. That MacGowan has, unlike Winehouse, survived decades into a death watch and been able to participate in an A-list documentary feels almost like an eighth wonder of the modern world. MacGowan, now in his early 60s, seems so far removed from being able to make music anymore that the documentary takes on an almost eulogistic tone, amid a lot of nostalgic raucousness to spare. — Chris Willman
Read the full review

The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (Francis Ford Coppola)
Distributor: Paramount
Where to Find It: In select theaters Dec. 4, then Blu-ray and digital on Dec. 8
Here’s the news and the ever-so-slight scandal: It’s the same damn movie. The one impactful change is the new opening scene. The film now begins with the let’s-make-a-deal negotiation between Michael and Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly). Taking that scene, which previously came about half an hour in, and moving it to the front gives the film a kick-start, and it clarifies the underworld-meets-Catholic-Church corporate-business plot that didn’t actually need clarifying. Once that happens, the movie proceeds along in exactly the same way it did before, except that Coppola has made about five minutes’ worth of trims. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Love, Weddings & Other Disasters (Dennis Dugan)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It: In theaters and on demand
The centerpiece is a sweetly engaging story about the improbable autumnal romance between an impossibly demanding celebrity caterer, played by a perfectly cast Jeremy Irons, and the age-appropriate, sight-impaired free spirit (a very winning Diane Keaton) who manages to locate a warm heart beneath his frosty demeanor. Unfortunately — indeed, tragically — this appealing narrative is paid only sporadic attention during the run of Dugan’s haphazard amalgamation of loosely interconnected storylines that run the gamut from blandly predictable to overbearingly unfunny. — Joe Leydon
Read the full review

Mayor (April Mullen)
Distributor: Film Movement
Where to Find It: Pick a virtual cinema to support
Mayor Musa Hadid is a celebrity of sorts in Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital in the central West Bank, situated just a few miles north of Jerusalem. But it’s hard out there for him, and we get to understand why throughout the gripping and surprisingly witty “Mayor,” filmmaker David Osit’s thoughtful study of a spirited man and his burgeoning city, anchored in Hadid’s everyday dilemmas. It’s an acutely observed you-are-there procedural about a modern metropolis that dares to exist, even thrive amid the enduring repercussions of 1967’s Six-Day War, when Israel occupied the region. — Tomris Laffly
Read the full review

Wander (April Mullen)
Distributor: Saban Films
Where to Find It: In theaters, on demand and via digital platforms
A “Jacob’s Ladder”-ish paranoid thriller arriving just in time to find conspiracy theories plunked right in the middle of post-election American politics, “Wander” only muddies the water further. There is some pleasure to be had in watching an atypically frenetic Aaron Eckhart as a PTSD-afflicted loner wading deep into possibly-imagined evildoings in the Southwest, with Tommy Lee Jones and Heather Graham also welcome as two allies. Still, the film’s hyperbolic style and convoluted storytelling makes for a muddle whose too-many twists and turns ultimately seem meaningless as well as implausible. — Dennis Harvey
Read the full review

Exclusive to Amazon Prime

I’m Your Woman (Julia Hart)
Where to Find It: Prime Video
Writer-director Julia Hart (“Fast Color”) has seen more crime films than she can count, and she has concluded that these movies have a bad habit of underutilizing their female characters — the girlfriends and wives who get shunted to the side when the going gets tough. “I’m Your Woman” features Rachel Brosnahan in the other side of a story that has often, but not always, focused on men. Except, the best examples of the genre do make room for the wives and the girlfriends. Any protagonist can be compelling if written and performed as such, but unlike the wives of “Widows,” Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) is much too passive: a sheltered housewife with no practical skills for surviving on her own. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Red, White and Blue (Steve McQueen)
Where to Find It: Prime Video
In the third film of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology, Leroy Logan (John Boyega), a British research scientist, figures that he’s had enough of the lonely work of staring at tissue specimens through a microscope, so he decides to become a member of the London Metropolitan Police Force. At his big job interview, the conversation dances around the issue of race for about a millisecond until Logan puts it right out there, saying that he’s applying for the job “to combat negative attitudes.” The crusty officer in charge looks at him and says “You’re right,” and then adds, “Attempts to interact with your people have fallen quite short.” — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Exclusive to Disney Plus

Godmothered (Sharon Maguire)
Where to Find It: Disney Plus
A glorified TV movie debuting straight to the Disney Plus streaming platform, “Godmothered” isn’t the first time Disney has tweaked its own legacy. The movie has echoes of “Enchanted,” the 2007 live-action princess movie in which a cartoon character crosses over into contemporary New York, but few of its charms. There, it was fun to see Amy Adams’ fish-out-of-water routine, whereas Jillian Bell is mostly obnoxious. The same concept might have worked better at any studio other than Disney, which pulls its punches and plays it safe, winking at its legacy without doing anything that might actually tarnish it. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Exclusive to Netflix

Mank (David Fincher) CRITIC’S PICK
Where to Find It: Netflix
When you watch a biographical movie about an artist, the drama of creativity tends to be front and center. But in “Mank,” Fincher’s raptly intricate and enticing movie about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and how he wrote the script for “Citizen Kane,” the act of creation is just one of many things that flow by. “Mank” is a tale of Old Hollywood that’s more steeped in Old Hollywood — its glamour and sleaze, its layer-cake hierarchies, its corruption and glory — than just about any movie you’ve seen, and the effect is to lend it a dizzying time-machine splendor. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

Exclusive to Showtime

My Psychedelic Love Story (Errol Morris)
Where to Find It: Showtime
The new Errol Morris film, “My Psychedelic Love Story,” tells a ragtag outlaw romantic saga that centers on Leary in the ’70s, when his heyday as a youth-culture celebrity was mostly behind him but his infamy was still front and center. Joining him for this lurching journey of freedom was the much younger girlfriend he’d met only weeks before, Joanna Harcourt-Smith (he was 52, she was 27). Morris, whose voice we hear periodically off camera, treats the film as a true-life thriller with surreal paranoid touches, kicking it off with the suggestion that Harcourt-Smith may have been some sort of CIA plant. — Owen Gleiberman
Read the full review

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