New Movies to Watch This Week: ‘Project Power’ on Netflix, ‘Boys State’ on Apple TV Plus

With theaters open in 44 of the 50 states, cinemas are finding something to show — although turnout is still so modest that distributors are still being hesitant about what to release. That means another week in what’s now going on five months of the industry’s pivot to streaming releases, with a fresh batch of respectable lower-profile offerings.

Netflix continues to lead the pack with options, releasing four new features (that we know of), including the superhero-esque movie “Project Power,” a sci-fi thriller about a drug that gives ordinary folks special abilities … for about five minutes. Apple TV Plus paid top dollar at Sundance for “Boys State,” and as soon as you see it, you’ll understand why: The documentary, about a Texas mock-government program for teens, captures all the rowdiness and idealism of the long-running event — offering a virtual glimpse into what can happen when young minds come together in person to share their ideas, back when that was possible.

In theaters, audiences have their pick of genre movies — like “Murder in the Woods” and “The Silencing” (not reviewed) — while virtual cinemas offer picks such as Euro thriller “The Bay of Silence,” starring Klaes Bang and Olga Kurylenko.

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.

Exclusive to Apple TV Plus

Boys State (Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss) CRITIC’S PICK
Where to Find It: Apple TV Plus
McBaine and Moss distill a rowdy session of the summer program into a series of relatable adolescent dramas, offering an alternately encouraging and terrifying look at tomorrow’s politicians in the process. Like “Spellbound” and “Science Fair,” the film is essentially the feature-length equivalent of an elimination-style reality TV show, whose success depends largely on how well the “Boys State” team were able to scout and “cast” the documentary in advance, coupled with the production’s ability to seemingly have eyes in all places. — Peter Debruge
Read the full review

Exclusive to Netflix

An Easy Girl (Rebecca Zlotowski) CRITIC’S PICK
Where to Find It: Netflix
An intellectually stimulating art-house treasure all too easily overlooked amid the near-constant flood of Netflix content, “An Easy Girl” depicts a transformative summer in the life of a 16-year-old girl, but not the one described in the film’s title. That label — which writer-director Zlotowski employs ironically, calling into question the patriarchal idea that a woman’s worth is tied up in how “hard to get” she plays it — refers to the protagonist’s 22-year-old cousin, no girl at all, but a comely temptress who turns heads and jostles perceptions wherever she goes. — Peter Debruge
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Project Power (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman)
Where to Find It: Netflix
In this hurtling, slapdash fanciful action thriller “Project Power,” people get high by swallowing a tablet that affects different takers in different ways — or maybe it just depends on which piece of visual-effects flimflam the filmmakers feel like unleashing at any given moment. But the effects of the drug only last for five minutes. “Project Power” feels like part of a new trend in Netflix movies, or maybe a new genre: a film that isn’t a traditional superhero movie — it’s more of a jacked-up street thriller ­— but is full of touches that will remind you of superhero movies, so at certain points it kind of counts. — Owen Gleiberman
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[email protected]_ (Cory Edwards)
Where to Find It: Netflix

Octonauts and the Caves of Sac Actun(Blair Simmons)
Where to Find It: Netflix

New Releases on Demand and in Select Theaters

The Bay of Silence (Paula van der Oest)
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Where to Find It: Select a virtual cinema to support
The combination of claustrophobia, darkness, murky water and one big crocodile adds up to a decently scary time in this belated followup to the abyss-less 2007 original. This time, the tasty humans are trapped in an underground cavern during a flash flood, making for a situation that’s unpleasant even before they discover they’ve got reptilian company. While perhaps not as memorable as some of the movies it might remind you of (like “The Descent” and “Pitch Black”), this is still a tense thriller that nicely exploits a formulaic nature it doesn’t quite transcend. — Dennis Harvey
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Endless (Scott Speer)
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Where to Find It: Available via Amazon and video-on-demand services
Young death is tricky business. To do it justice, a movie would have to be awash in grief — and where’s the pleasure in that? The supernatural romance “Endless” tempers its mourning with lessons about mortality delivered by a couple of guys stuck on the other side. It’s a cheat, to be sure. But amiable leads Alexandra Shipp and Nicholas Hamilton — along with a thoughtfully in-sync supporting cast — keep things unfolding in a kind-hearted place when the screenplay could have easily marooned the audience in a copycat purgatory. — Lisa Kennedy
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Martin Margiela: In His Own Words (Reiner Holzemer)
Distributor: Oscilloscope
Where to Find It: Available via various via video-on-demand services
Martin Margiela, whose legacy the film will convince you, is next to unparalleled, has never publicly shown his face. It gives Holzemer’s talking-head-based approach its most inspired creative limitation. We watch his hands as they fiddle with a seam or paint glitter onto a mannequin. And we hear his voice, soft, wry and hesitant, telling the story of his early years and of his creative development, elegantly intercut with animated versions of his sketches, clips from his shows and an admiring Greek-chorus of interviewees, including Jean Paul Gaultier. — Jessica Kiang
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Pearl (Bobby Roth)
Distributor: Shudder
Where to Find It: Available via various via video-on-demand services
Wildly uneven but sporadically affecting, “Pearl” is a curiously disjointed drama that relies on the compelling performances of veteran actor Anthony LaPaglia and promising newcomer Larsen Thompson for most of its emotional impact. A few abrupt narrative transitions indicate that some scenes, for whatever reason, must have been discarded during the editing process. But what remains on screen is enough to hold attention and generate rooting interest, especially if you’re amused by inside-baseball allusions to the film and TV industry. — Joe Leydon
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Spree (Eugene Kotlyarenko)
Distributor: RLJE Films
Where to Find It: Available in select theaters and video-on-demand services
It didn’t seem like there was a large portion of the movie-going population who felt that Todd Phillips’ “Joker” was too subtle, in either its commentary on the modern era of those who are involuntarily celibate, or its homage-like appropriation of classic Martin Scorsese movies. But maybe Kotlyarenko has other information, since that’s the audience most squarely served by his noisily nihilist “Spree,” about a young rideshare driver who turns vacuously murderous in the pursuit of social media celebrity. — Jessica Kiang
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Sputnik (Egor Abramenko)
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Where to Find It: Available in select theaters and via video-on-demand services
A claustrophobic character study with gripping set-pieces, serviceable spatters of gross-out B-movie gore and plenty of red-lit corridors, “Sputnik” doesn’t quite deliver upon the juicy potential of its paranoia-induced Cold War-era backdrop. Still, Abramenko maintains the film’s finite appeal throughout, mostly thanks to a familiar aura [modeled after Ridley Scott’s “Alien”] and a charismatic lead performance by Oksana Akinshina, a fine surrogate for the tough-as-nails heroine Ellen Ripley. — Tomris Laffly
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