Los Angeles Times

Mark Olsen

Writer

Mark Olsen writes about all kinds of movies for the Los Angeles Times as both a feature writer and reviewer. He creates a regular series on independent, documentary and foreign language films under the banner of Indie Focus, also curating and hosting the Indie Focus Screening Series. His work has also appeared in Film Comment, the New York Times, LA Weekly, Sight & Sound and other publications. He is from Kansas.

Recent Articles

  • How 'A Walk in the Woods' lost its way

    How 'A Walk in the Woods' lost its way

    As "A Walk in the Woods" opens, Robert Redford, playing author Bill Bryson, suffers through a morning talk-show appearance. He smiles and nods and vaguely agrees with the clueless host without saying much as he is told various things about himself and his work. It is a moment of small comedy played...

  • Wes Craven was a master of genre and reinvention

    Wes Craven was a master of genre and reinvention

    Fittingly for someone so closely associated with two enduring, ongoing movies series, Wes Craven had a knack for reinvention. Known primarily as a master of horror filmmaking, as director, writer and producer, he upended the genre more than once, rewriting rules he himself had had a hand in creating.

  • Move over, superheroes: Lots of other summer films impressed us too

    Move over, superheroes: Lots of other summer films impressed us too

    They call summer the season of "popcorn movies" for a reason — they may not be the most nutritious fare, but they're great to munch on. Certainly summer 2015 gave us a large order of popcorn movies such as "Jurassic World" and "Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation," but there was surprising variety...

  • Why the Zac Efron EDM movie 'We Are Your Friends' is more 'Foxes' than 'Saturday Night Fever'

    Why the Zac Efron EDM movie 'We Are Your Friends' is more 'Foxes' than 'Saturday Night Fever'

    The style of music known as EDM, short for electronic dance music, can sometimes be made by someone alone on a laptop with a pair of headphones, then played at throbbing volume for enormous high-energy crowds. That tension between intimacy and boisterousness motivates a lot of the movie "We Are...

  • Grown-up humor, sensitive story, costar chemistry fuel 'Learning to Drive'

    Grown-up humor, sensitive story, costar chemistry fuel 'Learning to Drive'

    A film about lessons big and small, in "Learning to Drive" New York literary critic Wendy Shields (Patricia Clarkson) decides she must finally learn to drive after a divorce. Her instructor, Darwan Singh Tur (Ben Kingsley) is himself undergoing a transition as he prepares for his impending arranged...

  • Stoner action-thriller 'American Ultra' needs more dope, smarts and humor

    Stoner action-thriller 'American Ultra' needs more dope, smarts and humor

    Those who enjoy the recreational use of marijuana — stoners, as they are commonly known — are often thought to be a listless, inactive bunch. Mellow, one could say. Which makes the idea of a high-energy action film centered on some stoners seem, while not without precedent, funny.

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