If you're not watching "The Mandalorian," you should be. This week's episode is a quick 30-minute jaunt courtesy of Robert Rodriguez that features some major reveals and a payoff to what was set up in the second season's first episode.
Here's a look at seven titles that are either new to cinemas or streaming services this week.
Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Trent Oliver star as has-been (or never-were) actors who look to revitalize their careers by traveling to small-town Indiana to protest the community's decision to cancel prom when they learn a female student (Jo Ellen Pellman) an intends to bring her girlfriend.
Based on the short-lived Broadway musical, "The Prom" is directed by Ryan Murphy ("Glee," "Pose"). The show struggles through its first half to produce a fairly rewarding ending. The songs aren't bad, they just aren't all that memorable. It would be nice if Corden stopped playing Corden. At lest there is Streep's exaggerated performance to keep us distracted. Pellman is impressive. If you like musicals, there are bits and pieces to enjoy here.
Where to watch: Theaters, coming to Netflix 12/11/20
All My Life
"All My Life" is a by-the-numbers romantic drama. Based on a true story about a couple who sees their wedding plans interrupted when the groom is diagnosed with liver cancer. Fortunately, Jessica Rothe ("Happy Death Day") and Harry Shum Jr. ("Crazy Rich Asians") display a genuine chemistry that keeps the experience from being completely saccharine.
Where to watch: Theaters
Filmmaker Allison (Aubrey Plaza) checks into a retreat in the woods run by couple Blair (Sarah Gadon) and Gabe (Christopher Abbot) in hopes of breaking through her writer's block. Her hosts prove to be something of a distraction.
"Black Bear" played at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year in the NEXT category. Director/writer Lawrence Michael Levine crafts a clever story that golds on top of itself at least one too many times. It's a psychedelic narrative with straightforward visuals. Plaza gives a tremendous performance.
Where to watch: Theaters
The Sound of Metal
Grab your headphones (or test the limits of your home theater) with this drama about Ruben (Riz Ahmed), a drummer in a two-person punk act, who loses his hearing mid-tour. With his lifelong dream of being a successful musician at risk, Ruben slides into a world of denial and insecurity.
The sound design on this film is incredible as it often recreates what Ruben is (and isn't) able to hear. It's a fascinating sensory experience that is backed up by a good story and a great performance from Ahmed.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Gary Oldman stars as Herman J. Mankiewicz, the proficient Hollywood writer who wrote dozens of films including "The Pride of the Yankees" and "It's a Wonderful World." "MANK" explores the the creative process of writing that existed between Mankiewicz and Orson Welles as they "worked together" to create the screenplay for "Citizen Kane." It's a solid biography with good performances (co-stars include Amanda Seyfried and Lily Collins). And yet, it feels a little too pedestrian to have been directed by David Fincher ("Seven," "Gone Girl").
Where to watch: Netflix
The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone
While the first two Godfather films ae considered classics, many found the third instalment to be a disappointment. For "The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone," director/co-writer Francis Ford Coppola has gone back to the original negative and recut the film. He's done this before with "Apocalypse Now Redux," which was vastly different from the original "Apocalypse Now" release. The differences here aren't remotely as dramatic. "The Death of Michael Corleone" benefits from a slightly tighter edit. It doesn't elevate the film to the level of its predecessors.
Where to watch: Theaters, on DVD and Blu-ray 12/8/20
The Holiday Movies That Made Us
From the people who brought you "The Toys That Made Us" and "The Movies That Made Us" comes "The Holiday Movies That Made Us." They're only taking on "Elf" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas," two movies that I love (a "Gremlins" episode would have been on the top of my holiday list). Both episodes offer a variety of behind-the-scenes stories that detail the (often problematic) process of both films making their way to cinemas. Sadly, there's no Jon Favreau, Will Ferrell or Tim Burton involvement.
18 to Party
The wildcard this week is "18 To Party," a film set in 1984 outside a small-town nightclub where a group of 8th graders have gathered. I hope to find the time to take this time machine back to a life I knew firsthand circa 1989.
Where to watch: VOD