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  • Patriots Day

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- While "Patriots Day" (Lionsgate) is an effective dramatization of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and its violent aftermath, the film is also an unsparing portrayal of those events. Thus it can only be recommended for the sturdiest adult viewers.

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  • Live by Night

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The glossy crime drama "Live by Night" (Warner Bros.) traces the rise of Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck, who also wrote and directed), a Boston-bred gangster in the Florida of the 1920s and '30s. Though not exactly a hoodlum with a heart of gold, Coughlin is presented as a sympathetic figure in Affleck's serious-minded adaptation of Dennis Lehane's best-selling novel.

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  • Monster Trucks

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The action comedy "Monster Trucks" (Paramount) certainly lives up to its title. It has strange creatures mysteriously propelling utilitarian vehicles in the absence of an internal combustion engine. It also sees to it that some bad guys meet justice, as you might expect.

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  • A Monster Calls

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The first thing to know about "A Monster Calls" (Focus) is that, although it's based on a children's novel, it's definitely not for kids. Even many adults will find its mawkish treatment of death and its supply of blithe "answers" to life's struggles difficult to handle. While the film is probably acceptable for mature and literate adolescents, "mature" is the vital term here.

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  • Underworld: Blood Wars

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The sanguinary subtitle of the action-horror sequel "Underworld: Blood Wars" (Screen Gems) proves unpleasantly appropriate as the amount of butchery on screen eventually goes off the charts. By the time the film's protagonist, in a climactic scene, uses her bare hands to rip the entire spine out of the back of one of her adversaries, the suitable audience for all of this slaughter has dwindled to nil.

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  • Hidden Figures

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The struggles of the civil rights era provide the backdrop for the appealing fact-based drama "Hidden Figures" (Fox 2000). Along with a personalized insight into the injustices that still prevailed in American society in the early 1960s, director Theodore Melfi's adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly's book -- which centers on three extraordinarily gifted mathematicians working for NASA -- successfully re-creates the tension of the Cold War space race.

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  • La La Land

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Though it's set in present-day Los Angeles, the comedy-drama "La La Land" (Lionsgate) takes a spirited stab at reviving the musicals of Hollywood's golden age. Writer-director Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash") dreams big in this over-the-top fantasy where drivers exit their cars on a freeway overpass and burst into song, and lovers float in the air amid the projected stars in a planetarium.

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  • Manchester by the Sea

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- At the center of filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan's drama "Manchester by the Sea" (Roadside) lays a crushed soul flawlessly embodied by actor Casey Affleck. Affleck's character, Lee Chandler, is a janitor in several Boston-area apartment buildings. A terse yet proficient handyman, he has little interest in conversing with tenants or in social interaction of any kind. He seems numbed, almost to the point of appearing robotic. Even when he gets drunk and picks fights with random bar patrons, his belligerence is mechanical. Evidently, something terrible has prompted Lee to wall himself off from the world and other people.

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  • Silence

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Directed and co-written (with Jay Cocks) by Martin Scorsese, "Silence" (Paramount) is a dramatically powerful but theologically complex work best suited to viewers who come to the multiplex prepared to engage with serious issues.

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  • Fences

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Suffering is a leitmotif in any of August Wilson's plays, but there's also brutal honesty and joy in unexpected moments -- as well as the musical cadence of his language to enjoy. That's what enlivens "Fences" (Paramount), the film adaptation of Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning work from 1983. Moral decisions, and the consequences of immoral ones, lurk at every turn in the plot as well.

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  • Passengers

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Science fiction becomes the springboard for a study of selfishness, sin and the possibility of forgiveness in "Passengers" (Sony). While this tale about a transgression born of desperation will resonate with romantics, it may leave others cold.

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  • Assassin's Creed

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Though the mayhem that pervades "Assassin's Creed" (Fox), director Justin Kurzel's adaptation of a popular series of video games, is mostly bloodless, other more unusual problems render it unacceptable for all.

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  • Why Him?

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The makers of "Why Him?" (Fox) evidently couldn't decide whether their film should be a raunchy sex comedy or a tamer tale about the clash between established family values and the often bereft behavior of the untethered newly wealthy.

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  • Jackie

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Jackie" (Fox Searchlight) is more of a passionate meditation on the nature of a first lady's fame than a historical drama about Jacqueline Kennedy in the weeks following the 1963 assassination of her husband.

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  • Sing

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Sing" (Universal) is a generally amiable but flawed musical cartoon, populated mostly by animals. While the essential values of this show-biz fable are respectable enough, writer-director Garth Jennings incorporates elements into his film that make it unsuitable for youngsters.

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  • Collateral Beauty

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Collateral Beauty" (Warner Bros.) is a strange, pretentious drama about overcoming grief. While that's obviously a subject about which a good film -- perhaps many of them -- might be made, the treatment of it in director David Frankel's quirky mess of a movie is at once too bizarre and too pat to yield any insights.

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  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- With "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," last year's promising reignition of the iconic franchise, "The Force Awakens," gains a worthy -- and equally family-friendly -- companion. Interstellar derring-do is once again the order of the day as this latest film in the series provides a rousing prequel to writer-director George Lucas' 1977 original, subsequently dubbed "Episode IV - A New Hope."

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  • The Bounce Back

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "The Bounce Back" (Viva) is a pleasantly compact and diverting romance in which everyone goes out of their way to be both polite and well-attired. Since the entire cast is attractive to begin with, and the characters they play are, on the whole, morally and emotionally well-grounded, this is not much of a stretch. But it's not the intention of director Youssef Delara, who co-wrote the screenplay with Victor Teran and Staci Robinson, to delve into life's messier aspects.

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  • Miss Sloane

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A striking performance from Jessica Chastain in the title role propels "Miss Sloane" (Europacorp), director John Madden's forceful study of political corruption. Since the film abounds in seamy behavior, both in the boardroom and the bedroom, however, only those grown viewers willing to wade through a swamp of unscrupulousness should pay the price of admission.

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  • Office Christmas Party

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Cubicle drones cuts loose in "Office Christmas Party" (Paramount). The result is a sleazy soiree, an "Animal House" toga wingding for the spreading-middle and receding-hairline set.

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  • Believe

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Evangelical Christian faith hovers in the background of the holiday-themed drama "Believe" (Freestyle). Though not as rose-colored in its outlook as some religiously-inspired projects, the movie -- which is suitable for most age groups -- lacks polish.

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  • Loving

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Dignity and understatement are usually noble qualities in a film. "Loving" (Focus), the fact-based story behind a landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision, is so restrained and decorous, however, that it nearly obscures the historical significance of the events it recounts.

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