The new arrivals are slowing down now. That may be the time of year, and it may be because of the actors strike that's been on for two months now and the writer's strike that's been on for four. Some films wait when celebrities can't come out to promote them.

Meanwhile, Barbie is now slipping. A bit. She's been at the top for six weeks and is now down to #5. She's still amazing though: officially the biggest hit ever for Warner Brothers, in all its 100-year history, which it recently celebrated.

And notice a couple of celebrated films that have just started on the streamers. Elemental, the Pixar animation that kids love, is on Disney+ and Revival '69, that rousing documentary about the Toronto Rock Revival Festival that headlined John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Eric Clapton together in a band, is on CRAVE.

And in theaters we have ...

A Haunting in Venice: 3

Golden Delicious: 3 ½

Fremont: 4

Death of a Whistleblower: 3

A HAUNTING IN VENICE: This is the 3rd time for Kenneth Branagh playing and directing Agatha Christie's super-logical detective Hercule Poirot and while it's better than the last, I got the feeling he could do better. The problem? The solution comes without much of a jolt. It's logical but you want to gasp with surprise when the murderer is revealed. Whether you're right or wrong. There's not enough evidence mustered for us to pick our own suspect. That gets worse when two possibles get knocked off too. Also we don't get enough of Poirot's thinking and he comes up with who did it way too easily.

Courtesy of Disney's 20th Century Studios

He's retired in Venice when the film starts but is convinced by a mystery novelist played by Tina Fey to come to a séance. He doesn't believe in it but since she made him famous he can't refuse. Also she wants to prove the medium (Michelle Yeoh) is a fake. That attracts him.

Kelly Reilly is the the host, an opera singer who hired the psychic because she dreams of hearing again the voice of her daughter who died in a fall. Rightly or wrongly, it's been called a suicide. Among the guests there's a doctor (Jamie Dornan), his son (Jude Hill) (remember them from Branagh's movie Belfast?), Camille Cottin as a housekeeper and others. And ghosts, it is said. The house is full of them because children died there during the great plague and they want revenge. That allows Branagh to add a mildly spooky flavor to the film. It's very good visually and in its acting but not one of the great murder mysteries. It's too careful for that. (In theaters) 3 out of 5

GOLDEN DELICIOUS: Think back to one of those teen romantic comedies from years ago, all sweet and innocent. You'll get the same vibe here with a key difference. This is about a gay teenager, navigating all the same growing-up problems, plus these: Is he really attracted to a guy? What does he tell his girlfriend? And how does he reveal it to his domineering dad? The film by Jason Karman, set in Vancouver, where he and his cast are from, explores the complexities raised by all these questions. And then crowds them with more story than it actually needs.

Courtesy of Vortex Media

Jake played by Cardi Wong is being pressured by his girlfriend (Parmiss Sehat) to have sex (“Girls like sex too,” she says) and by his father (Ryan Mah) to play basketball as he did when he was young. Aggressively, that is. But he senses he has feelings for a boy (Chris Carson) who moves in across the lane. There are some hot scenes between them. There's a homophobic bully at school, as you'd expect in a film like this, but most of the story plays out at home, in the Asian-Canadian family. The father hated working in his parents restaurant (the Golden Delicious of the title) but now runs it. His wife hates working there and his daughter wants to, though he wants her to go to university and into a profession. Fairly normal family stuff. Add in Jake's struggles, two types of cheating, secrets dicovered, recrimination. It's busy, but smoothly directed and nicely-acted. (In theaters) 3 ½ out of 5

FREMONT: This is one of the best representations I've seen of what immigrants go through in their new country. The director's own history may have contributed to that. Babak Jalali was born in Iran, raised in London and now spends his time there and in Rome and Paris. The film accurately and subtly shows the efforts one newcomer has to make. And sets that into an entertaining story.

Donya (Anaita Wali Zada) is from Afghanistan, where she worked for the US military as a translator, and now lives in Fremont, California. There are other Afghans there but she's alone, maybe shunned by them. We see only her own efforts to make a new life. She aggressively gets in to see a psychiatrist (Gregg Turkington) because she wants sleeping pills. Scenes with him are very funny.

Courtesy of Music Box Films

Her key move is at work, a fortune cookie factory, where she is promoted to writing those fortunes. "The best love in life, is to love yourself." That sort of thing. She puts in one with a request for company ("desperate for a dream") and her phone number. That gets her to a lonely car mechanic (Jeremy Allen White) and a warm connection seems possible. This is only a slice-of-life. It doesn't resolve; it shows a bit of her existence. But it's sedate, good-hearted and very engaging. (In theaters) 4 out of 5

DEATH OF A WHISTLEBLOWER: I haven't seen a lot about this true-to-life thriller from South Africa that's had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It should get more attention, though because it delivers a very radical picture of corruption in that country and of journalists daring to report on it. It says it's “a fictional story based on some actual events” and concludes with a list of whistleblowers who were murdered. A story about the film on the site mentioned one killed just five months ago. Director Ian Gabriel and four co-screenwriters are on to something real here.

Courtesy of Known Associates Entertainment

So is South African star Noxolo Dlamini who delivers a magnetic performance as an investigative journalist. She has a one-nighter with an editor, sees him shot to death in his car next morning and is drawn into uncovering exactly what he had been working on. She allies with an army corporal (Irshaad Ally) who had been feeding him information and a friend who is a computer whiz. They uncover a wide conspiracy led by an industrialist who has paid off “everyone in parliament” to look the other way. He's pushing “capitalism in support of Democracy” but it doesn't look that way. At the end there's a comparison to the Wagner Group. The film isn't all that gripping, partly because of some obscure details, but it is engrossing. (There's one more screening at TIFF and watch for it to come back) 3 out of 5