movie review

What I hoped would be a yummy art house feature to relieve a long, hot summer fell far short of my expectations. Allow me to save you a needless trip to a Houston cinema to see “My Cousin Rachel” when you can just wait for cable pay-per-view. I’ll wager it will be available by August.

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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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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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Peter Berg, the director and one of the writers of this film, seems drawn to tough, real subject matter. In a short time, he’s put out the war story “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon” about the BP oil spill in the Gulf, and now this, which is a ripping, tense account of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.

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If I want to indulge in some Christmas treats, I’d prefer the real thing over this treacle. It’s like having high fructose corn syrup via an IV. Unpleasant, and, definitely not good for you. This movie shamelessly tugs at your heart, something it has no business doing, even if Will Smith is trying for an Oscar nomination — again. So, fair warning: I’m about to go all Ebenezer Scrooge on this one.

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