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The Circle

Here’s a look at the new movies I saw this week.

The Circle
Starring: Emma Watson, John Boyega, Glenne Headly, Bill Paxton, Tom Hanks, and Patton Oswalt
Synopsis: It’s impossible to deny that we’re living in different cultural times. Two decades ago, or even a decade ago, the way people lived life was very different. The words Social Media conjured the image of a friendly newscaster, not a 24/7 obsession. Now, thanks to Social Media, no aspect of our lives is left uncovered. Or at least that’s how it seems. We talk about ideas like transparency and openness, but sometimes it’s fair to wonder if we’re all speaking the same language. How much of our lives do we want exposed? That’s where privacy comes in. Now I know, you’re thinking something happened here. This is a lot of heavy talk about privacy, transparency and Social Media. I thought I was getting a film review. Well, you’re getting both thanks to “The Circle,” a new film that tackles these ideas and is based on the novel from Dave Eggers. “The Circle” is hardly the first story to suggest that corporations are greedy and self-serving, or that technology can be a double-edged sword. But there’s something about the portrayal in this case that feels a bit more unsettling. Maybe that’s because it’s seeming more plausible by the day, a fact the film is all too happy to play up. In a lot of ways The Circle as created by co-writer and director James Ponsoldt looks a lot like Apple mixed with a commune. They have cutting edge technology and purport to believe in a world without secrets or borders. Cameras, everywhere and recording everything, will make our lives better. And Mae is like patient zero and Steve Jobs all rolled into one. The idea behind this story is deeply unsettling. But the film as a whole doesn’t live up to the premise. I was engaged by the story and the deeper issues. And I was impressed by the star-studded and deep cast. But the film was just OK. The performances were fine, but not overly engaging. The characters felt a lot like caricatures and, in the end, the film didn’t really seem to do a good job engaging the lofty questions and ideas it wanted to explore. That’s why the film fell flat at the Box Office. It might be an important and culturally relevant idea, but it’s presented in a flaccid way that won’t engender the kind of conversations it hopes to elicit.
Rating: PG-13 for a sexual situation, brief strong language and some thematic elements including drug use.
Verdict: Two stars out of four.

Upcoming Releases:
Friday, May 5: “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2”
Friday, May 12: “Snatched,” “Lowriders,” “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”
Friday, May 19: “Alien: Covenant,” “Everything, Everything,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”
Thursday, May 25: “Baywatch”
Friday, May 26: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

Matthew Fox is an avowed media junkie. Follow him on Twitter at Knighthawk7734. You can find more of his original content on the Fantasy Life Blog or on his Personal Blog.