New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Redemption Day,’ ‘If Not Now, When?’

New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Redemption Day,’ ‘If Not Now, When?’

Early January is rarely a time for exciting new releases, although this year is slightly different, as the Oscar window has shifted and streaming services offer up their awards contenders. This week, “Herself” and “Pieces of a Woman” make their way from limited theatrical runs to Amazon and Netflix, respectively. And over at Film Movement, Latvian foreign language submission “Blizzard of Souls” kicks off a weekly series of movies competing for the international feature Oscar.

Otherwise, the release calendar reflects the usual January doldrums, made all the more tepid by the lack of schlock horror movies and YA romantic weepies (Don’t worry, those are coming later this month). It won’t surprise many to learn that theatrical releases are slim, although those willing to risk it can watch “CSI” veteran Gary Dourdan play an American war hero tasked with rescuing his pregnant wife from terrorists. By all reports, you don’t need to see this one to guess how it goes.

Actors Meagan Good and Tamara Bass make their directorial debut with “If Not Now, When?” while James Maslow and Ciara Hanna play a Hollywood agent and the actor he convinces to pose as his girlfriend at a high school reunion in “Stars Fell on Alabama.”

There are a few other interesting films available on streaming this week, including the inventive Sundance doc “The Reason I Jump,” which does a remarkable job of shifting audiences’ perspectives of autism. As one of the film’s subjects puts it, “I think we can change the conversation about autism by being part of the conversation,” and the movie attempts to find ways to put neurotypical viewers in the minds of those with autism. And if you look hard enough (the release is so small, it nearly slipped through the cracks), you might enjoy Canadian musical “Stand!”

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

Redemption Day (Hicham Hajji)

Distributor: Saban Films

Where to Find It: In theaters, followed by on demand release Jan. 12


If “Redemption Day” were any more generic, the first thing you’d see on screen would be a bar code in place of the opening credits. The best thing to say to say about it is, it’s certainly no worse than most other run-of-the-mill, run-and-gun action-adventures that used to proliferate on Blockbuster store shelves and which now feed the seemingly insatiable demand for VOD fare. Trouble is, it’s no better, either. A conspicuously large number of scenes are interiors, allowing for recognizable co-stars such as Andy Garcia, Martin Donovan and Ernie Hudson to periodically appear in undemanding cameos and pick up easy paychecks. — Joe Leydon

Read the full review

Stand!
Courtesy of Fathom Events

New Releases on Demand and in Select Theaters

Stand! (Robert Adetuyi)

Distributor: Imagination Worldwide

Where to Find It: Watch via Laemmle virtual cinema


After “Hamilton” made a global phenomenon from the life story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, no chapter of history can be declared too dour for spangly, heart-on-sleeve musical treatment — though the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 is still a pretty unlikely candidate. Based on 2005 Canadian musical, the film adaptation has the air of a patient, resourceful labor of love. Earnest and plainly felt, this grafting of a cross-cultural romance onto the story of a critical turning point in Canadian workers’ rights doesn’t want for incident and emotional commitment, but Robert Adetuyi’s film does fall a little short on showmanship. — Guy Lodge

Read the full review

Blizzard of Souls (Dzintars Dreibergs)

Distributor: Film Movement

Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support


A naïve teenager comes of age amid the carnage of World War I’s Eastern Front in this propulsive adaptation of Aleksandrs Grins’ 1934 patriotic classic. With its muscular direction, atmospheric cinematography and careful attention to period detail, this account of a troop of Latvian Riflemen fighting first for the Russian Imperial Army against invading German forces and then for an independent Latvia should appeal to WWI buffs and fans of Sam Mendes’ “1917.” Latvia’s Oscar submission contains a strong message about the futility of war. — Alissa Simon

Read the full review

If Not Now, When? (Meaghan Good, Tamara Bass)

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

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


This drama owes more to “Waiting to Exhale” than to the women-centric films of Tyler Perry. That’s a good thing, as well as intentional on the part of its first-time feature directors. In Perry’s lessons in female fortitude and resilience — a successful brand of melodrama, or melotrauma — the heroine often tangles with a violent, even malevolent love interest. In this engaging debut, actor-directors Good and Bass and their appealing ensemble aim for something gentler and truer to the ins and outs of day-to-day, year-to-year, joy-and-heartbreak sisterhood. — Lisa Kennedy

Read the full review

The Reason I Jump (Jerry Rothwell)

Distributor: Kino Lorber

Where to Find It: Choose a virtual cinema to support


Written when Naoki Hagashida was just 13 years old, the title tome is a unique account of autistic spectrum disorder from the inside. Translating that perspective-shifting achievement to the screen is a tall order, but Jerry Rothwell’s documentary of the same title does so with imagination and grace: Not so much a direct adaptation of Higashida’s book as an application of its insights to the lives of five other young people diagnosed with ASD, it finds supple visual and sonic language to bring sensory dimension to their experience. — Guy Lodge

Read the full review

Herself
Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios

Exclusive to Amazon Prime

Herself (Kornél Mundruczó) CRITIC’S PICK

Where to Find It: Prime Video


Sandra (co-writer Clare Dunne) has two radiant daughters and a controlling husband who mistakes possession for affection, using force to keep his family together. Men like Gary are a cliché — which isn’t a slight against the screenplay but an acknowledgment that abusive personalities are nothing if not predictable. … But “Herself” believes in fundamental human goodness. Many filmmakers mistakenly think that exploiting tragedy is the way to jerk tears from their audience, when in fact, gestures of spontaneous kindness shown by near-strangers can be most moving. — Peter Debruge

Read the full review

Pieces of a Woman
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Available on Netflix

Pieces of a Woman (Maïwenn) CRITIC’S PICK

Where to Find It: Netflix


One can imagine such respected studio directors as Norman Jewison or Sidney Lumet making a film about the legal battle at the heart of “Pieces of a Woman”: A terrible tragedy has occurred, and an expectant young Boston couple (played by Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf) have taken their midwife to court. But instead of focusing on the trial, Mundruczó concentrates our attention on the couple, both of whom are shattered by the experience — but especially on the wife, who has more to rebuild than just her relationship in this mature, masterfully acted human drama. — Peter Debruge

Read the full review

Stuck Apart (AKA Azizler) (Durul Taylan, Yagmur Taylan)

Where to Find It: Netflix

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