Los Angeles Times

Betsy Sharkey, Film Critic

  • 'Dreams' lulls young and old through life with grace and truth

    'Dreams' lulls young and old through life with grace and truth

    There is something about Blythe Danner's on-screen essence that is perfect for the gently aged widow she plays in "I'll See You in My Dreams," her first leading role in years. The 72-year-old actress uses her mix of flinty, flighty and fragile to draw us into Carol's story and her life as it is...

  • 'I Am Big Bird' a gentle peek at the guy behind the yellow feathers

    'I Am Big Bird' a gentle peek at the guy behind the yellow feathers

    The idea of getting to know the puppeteer responsible for the yellow-feathered sweetness of "Sesame Street's" Big Bird is a bit scary. After all, as we learned in "The Wizard of Oz," looking behind the curtain can be very disappointing. Have no fear. Dave LaMattina and Chad N. Walker's "I Am Big...

  • 'Pitch Perfect 2' brings more lowbrow fun

    'Pitch Perfect 2' brings more lowbrow fun

    The comedy choir wars are more intense, more absurd and more lowbrow fun than ever in "Pitch Perfect 2." It is almost impossible not to be amused by the cutthroat world of competitive a cappella. Watching the international battle royale that is at the heart of the "Pitch Perfect" sequel, the feints...

  • Explosive comedy '100-Year-Old Man' tosses rules out a window

    Explosive comedy '100-Year-Old Man' tosses rules out a window

    Echoes of the hilarious ineptitude of Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" and the historic kookiness of "Forrest Gump" turn up throughout "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared," starring Sweden's beloved comic actor Robert Gustafsson. It's a hoot and a half. Based...

  • 'Stop Making Sense' still one of the best band documentaries ever

    'Stop Making Sense' still one of the best band documentaries ever

    In 1984, director Jonathan Demme took a detour from the quirky comedies and intense dramas that were beginning to define him so that he could indulge his fascination with rock 'n' rollers. The result, "Stop Making Sense," remains one of the best band documentaries ever. The Talking Heads film was...

  • Left cold by 'Hot Pursuit'

    Left cold by 'Hot Pursuit'

    How bad is it? "Hot Pursuit," the new female buddy comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, is so bad even a wild bunch of die-hard misogynists would be offended. It's so bad it will go down as Academy Award-winning Witherspoon's worst movie, at least for the foreseeable future. It's...

  • Kristen Wiig is fearless in reality TV-jabbing 'Welcome to Me'

    Kristen Wiig is fearless in reality TV-jabbing 'Welcome to Me'

    "Welcome to Me," starring Kristen Wiig, is weirdly off center yet strangely in sync with the times. With Shira Piven directing screenwriter Eliot Laurence's unconventional idea, the indie comedy-drama delves into our confessional times via the very meta experience of the making of a reality TV...

  • 'Maggie' has the zombie look but a deadly slow pace

    'Maggie' has the zombie look but a deadly slow pace

    There is a provocative idea worth chewing on tucked inside the melodramatic zombie-horror of "Maggie" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. In this particular post-apocalyptic vision, a plague is making oh-so-slow work of the world population. Once infected, it takes forever for someone...

  • 'Far from the Madding Crowd' a bare-bones stab at love, desire

    'Far from the Madding Crowd' a bare-bones stab at love, desire

    Why is the allure of the bad boy so powerful that even some of the most secure of females can't seem to resist? Apparently, it has ever been, as we see in the film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's prescient novel "Far from the Madding Crowd." Set in backcountry Britain circa 1870, the Victorian realist...

  • 'The Age of Adaline' a stylish affair of the heart and chance

    'The Age of Adaline' a stylish affair of the heart and chance

    "The Age of Adaline," starring a grown-up "Gossip Girl" Blake Lively and Michiel Huisman, one of "Game of Thrones'" resident heartthrobs, is a sweeping romance beautifully wrapped in classy couture and slightly suspect in the way it uses metaphysics to manipulate matters of the heart. Not "An Affair...

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