Betsy Sharkey, Film Critic

  • 'The Purge: Anarchy' ups the ante and the gore
    'The Purge: Anarchy' ups the ante and the gore

    "The Purge: Anarchy" is a good deal bloodier, but also — gulp — a good deal better than its predecessor. Make no mistake, a good "Purge" does not equal a good movie, but the post-apocalyptic thriller is slightly more interesting because it takes itself, and its menace,...

  • 'Magic in the Moonlight' is an amusing trifle of a film
    'Magic in the Moonlight' is an amusing trifle of a film

    With 'Magic in the Moonlight,' Woody Allen dallies with true romance, magicians and spirituality, plus pretty girls and scenery. The film, which stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone, is magical, but ever so slightly.

  • 'Begin Again' mends any broken heart in sight
    'Begin Again' mends any broken heart in sight

    There are many reasons why "Begin Again" continues to have such great staying power against the big guns this summer. Expanding its run in L.A. this weekend, the story is a catchy one, the music is great, and it is flavored by real musicians, including Mos Def, CeeLo Green and a...

  • 'Sex Tape' lacks appeal, even with Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz
    'Sex Tape' lacks appeal, even with Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz

    Let's start with the bare facts. A big-screen shot of a naked handstand is an overshare any way you look at it of parts and places better left unexposed — even from the back, even in a raunchy sex comedy titled "Sex Tape," even when executed by Jason Segel, like costar Cameron...

  • Director Aaron Fernandez makes 'The Empty Hours' worth the time
    Director Aaron Fernandez makes 'The Empty Hours' worth the time

    "The Empty Hours," Aaron Fernandez's balmy, blissful new film, is about an impressionable 17-year-old Sebastian, a mid-30s Miranda and an aging rent-by-the-hour beach motel nestled on a spare stretch of Veracruz, Mexico, coastline where their paths briefly cross.

  • 'I Origins' looks polished, but story is out of focus
    'I Origins' looks polished, but story is out of focus

    In Mike Cahill movies, bad things happen to good people, and other good people are guilt-ridden as a result. But the human connections and the spare sci-fi logic that characterized "Another Earth," Cahill's ethereal romantic dramatic debut, are muddied in his second feature,...

  • 'Land Ho!' embarks on two men's adventures in Iceland
    'Land Ho!' embarks on two men's adventures in Iceland

    Calling something a feel-good film always feels like a pejorative, so let's just say that after seeing "Land Ho!" you are very likely to feel a good deal better.

  • 'Boyhood' a startling, intimate portrait of a child growing up
    'Boyhood' a startling, intimate portrait of a child growing up

    There is a telling scene deep inside "Boyhood" that gets at the essential core of the emotional appeal of Richard Linklater's startling new film. It takes place in a rural church with a pastor sermonizing about doubting Thomas and faith and those who believe without seeing.

  • 'Whitey' documentary indicts more than just James J. Bulger
    'Whitey' documentary indicts more than just James J. Bulger

    The bad guy in "Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger" is ostensibly Bulger. But Joe Berlinger's densely detailed new documentary about the legendary Boston mobster is disturbing on so many levels it's hard not to wonder why Bulger was the only one on...

  • 30 actors under 30 who matter
    30 actors under 30 who matter

    From Jennifer Lawrence to the Fanning sisters to Dev Patel, 30 young actors who truly seem to care about their craft.

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