In the Dark

‘The Circle’

Starring: Tom Hanks, Emma

Watson, Patton Oswalt

Directed by: James Ponsoldt

Rated: PG-13

 

Intended as a cautionary tale about the intrusion of social media technology in our personal lives, this is nothing more than a clumsy melodrama that would have fit better into the Lifetime schedule than a theater release.

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Consider this a little in-between-seasons truffle before the summer movies hit theaters. Spring is always a mixed bag of movies that range from pretty good to awful and run the gamut of genres: horror, humor and animation. Some recent ones have been surprisingly good like “Life,” the sci-fi horror movie, and “Boss Baby,” the DreamWorks animated feature with Alec Baldwin.

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The Boss Baby
The Boss Baby - imdb.com photo

‘The Boss Baby’

Starring: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi

Directed by: Tom McGrath

Rated: PG

There is something inherently funny about a baby dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase, especially if the baby has the voice of Alec Baldwin. From the animation team at DreamWorks comes this clever and creative animated movie with a thoughtful premise.

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Bad things can happen in deep space. We know this because films like “Alien” and the many other sci-fi horror films it inspired have engineered all kinds of extraterrestrial creatures to prey on mankind. “Life” succeeds better than about 90 percent of those due to its relentless claustrophobia and a twist ending that director Daniel Espinosa insisted on before he agreed to make the movie.

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This tale as old as time gets an extravagant makeover in the live action version that Disney is poised to make box office history with this weekend. Bill Condon, the director, goes full tilt and it’s as overdone as Neil Simon plays in community theater.

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What a throwback in time—literally as one of filmdom’s most awesome monsters is resurrected for what is a fresh take on a timeworn genre. King Kong, or just Kong here, has been around since the silent films, but just when you think you’ve seen it all, the fog bank enshrouding Skull Island parts and the fun begins.

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‘Logan’

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart

Directed by: James Mangold

Rated: R

 

This franchise might be aging, but don’t count it out. At least, not with this installment that is equal parts brutal and poignant to the point that, hold on, tears might be shed. Fair warning, X-Men fans.

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That’s a wrap, although not without an unprecedented bit of controversy when the wrong envelope was, well … if you don’t know by now. Then you probably don’t care. Let’s just say it was a moment that will live on in Oscar history for all the wrong reasons. To recap: Casey Affleck, despite some last minute scandals involving sexual harassment suits, held off Denzel Washington in the Best Actor category. The other big ones went as predicted, right up to “La La Land” being announced as Best Picture.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for me, anyway. Not the Christmas holidays, but the annual Oscar ceremony coming up this Sunday, Feb. 26, on ABC beginning at 6 p.m. Year after year, I hang in there through the bloated three-hour-plus running time filled with superfluous silliness while celebrities in their designer gowns and tuxedos suck up to one another as the precious gold statuettes are doled out.

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This has to be a record: There are four Oscar-nominated movies playing in local theaters right now. Right here in town. “La La Land” has been here long enough for Oscar fans to see it. Recently, “Manchester by the Sea” arrived, and “Fences” is doing a second tour after earning some solid nominations. But the surprise among these is “Moonlight.”

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