The actors strike is over. It took six months but they seem to have found protections against artificial intelligence and won more money when their films are streaming on Netflix and the others. Production can resume and stars will be out doing promotion again. I guess there was a slowdown. I didn't feel it, too much. There were always new films to see. But open the gates again.

These are new right now:

The Holdovers: 4 stars

The Marvels: 2 ½

Testament: 3 ½

Anything For Fame: 3 ½

You Were My First Boyfriend: 3

THE HOLDOVERS: Here's a good choice for you for the holidays, or anytime. It's got a bit of a bah humbug guy, a difficult student and a lot of that movie staple: people forced to be together for a time and finding ways to overcome their differences. Alexander Payne finds a way to give all this to us with a fresh slant, or is it just splendid story-telling skill? You're bound to enjoy it as he reunites with the star of one of his best films, Paul Giamatti, who played the wine snob in Sideways. Here he's a cranky history teacher at an elite private school where nobody likes him. So, naturally when somebody has to stay around for the holidays to watch the few students who can't go home, he gets the assignment.

Courtesy of Focus Features

There's also a cook (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) still grieving the loss of her son in the Viet Nam war (the film is decidedly 1970s both in setting and in tone) and a 17-year-old trouble maker named Angus, played by Dominic Sessa, a newcomer you'll see much more of in the future. His parents don't want him home for the holidays because mom has just gotten re-married. So he's surly . As a trio these people seem too moody to be good company, but slowly as they reveal more about themselves, they grow to understand each other. Teacher and student figure out that continued clashing doesn't help. Sure it's familiar. It's also soft and warm, comfortable and reassuring. And a very pleasant movie. (In theaters) 4 out of 5

THE MARVELS: It's one of the shorter Marvel movies (a rarity itself) but fully-packed with exposition, and because of it, but despite its zippy pace, a bit of a drag to watch. Maybe not for the fans, the ones who delight in connecting story strands across the many movies from the studio (over 30 now) but quite a task for the rest of us. For the record this is a sequel to Captain Marvel (2019) but it helps to have also watched two TV series: Wanda Vision and Ms. Marvel. There are many other links (hey this is Samuel L. Jackson's 15th Marvel movie) but those three brought us the main characters here. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Ms. Marvel herself, Kamala Khan played by Iman Vellani. They become a team when their powers become entangled. It's a step forward for women in super hero movies.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

They have to face off against a woman villain too: Dar-Benn, played by Zawe Ashton and of course it's the whole universe that's at stake. Something about jump-points that open up wormholes into other universes and a pair of bangles worn on the wrist that give you power over them. Kamala is wearing one; Dar-Benn wants both and two complications occur. Our three protagonists unwittingly switch roles at key times and the action switches location back and forth, from outer space, to an alien planet to a living room in Jersey City. It gets quite confusing. But the solidarity of the three women, including overcoming an old grudge, does work. And the Marvel universe is also consolidating, if I understand a surprise cameo correctly. It's down in the end credits. (In theaters) 2 ½ out of 5

TESTAMENT: It's been five years since we last got a movie from Denys Arcand (Fall of the American Empire) and here's proof he's lost none of his talent for social satire. This one looks at the woke sentiment that's being so aggressively pushed in our time and with dry humor and sharp wit pushes back. It's already a hit in Quebec where it's set and has now started playing across the country.

Courtesy of TVA Films

It starts as a rumination on life and how much time he has left by a retired archivist who still works a bit but mostly sits in a retirement home. That is until protesters set up camp outside and loudly attack the home for promoting racism. The problem is a large mural in the common room that shows a scene from history: Jacques Cartier greeting several Indigenous people. They're almost nude, while his men are fully clothed. Colonialism, a cultural insult, the protesters charge.

The Quebec government is alarmed. One official is concerned that the press might hear of it. When it does attract the media and prompts speeches in the legislature, a cabinet minister orders the director of the home to fix the problem. The solution works, but also backfires. The film has fun showing the back and forth, the pomposity and the hypocrisy. It's amusing and well played by the cast. Rémy Girard, an Arcand regular, is the old man, Sophie Lorain is the director of the home (there's a hit of romantic attraction there). Even the name of the home comes with a sly wink . It's named after Parizeau and Duplessis. Reactionary? Not so. Reality about this politically correct age. (In theaters) 3 ½ out of 5

ANYTHING FOR FAME: You get a peek into the very contemporary world of influencers in this lively film. It insists on calling them "content creators" but the content is spotty, the quest to become famous and have influence is the real goal. The internet is the venue and as most of the eight people featured here have discovered shock value works. People will watch you sled down a hill naked, or writhe sexually on a bed, or in an extreme case shoot a pellet gun into your cheek. Vancouver director Tyler Funk found people around North America who did all of those and listened to their explanations.

Courtesy of the NFB

"Everyone can be an online personality," says one. "Anyone with a cell phone can do it." One does perilous stunts, a la the Jackass series of movies. In fact, he claims that group ripped off one of his ideas. Another got attention by showing his anger in a grocery store. He urinated in the aisle and swished whole shelves of cans and bottles on the floor. That obviously spoke to his viewers and he has fans. Is there money in it? For some, yes, though the film doesn't explain much about that. Nor about the larger influencer scene, where companies pass on free clothing and products to people who they know will recommend them. Or the opportunities movie companies see here for promotion. But as a modern day phenomenon it's a revelation or as one puts it: "This is cool." (Streaming for free at 3 ½ out of 5

YOU WERE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND: Who hasn't at times thought back to their teenage years and pondered why it was so and what if it had been different. Cecilia Aldarondo did more than that. She made a film about it. It's part documentary and part recreated memories. It's also about the act of making that documentary, which gradually dawns on you as you watch. She track down old friends and frenemies and also has actors play them and others in the recreations. It's a treat to watch and get what Cecilia, who co-wrote and co-directed with Sarah Enid Hagey is saying.

Courtesy of CRAVE and HBO

Cecilia was an outsider in her American high school. She was from Puerto Rico and not that good looking. She felt like she was in a foreign country and several sequences illustrate that. She had a crush on a hunk named Joel and remembers that he asked her to dance at one prom. She finds and interviews him now and learns more about that night, how he came to dance with her and that he had absolutely no idea she had a crush on him. She thought it was obvious. Two other incidents embarrass her: (1) not helping a girl being bullied and (2) pushing away her best friend. That led to tragedy, though there aren't enough details to lay blame. What is there is a scrapbook-style look back at memories that can haunt. (HBO, streaming on CRAVE) 3 out of 5