Betsy Sharkey, Film Critic

  • Octavia Spencer can weather 'Black and White' clouds, shine elsewhere

    Octavia Spencer can weather 'Black and White' clouds, shine elsewhere

    It's a warm day, not yet 24 hours after "Black and White's" afternoon premiere at the city's annual film festival, and one of its stars, Octavia Spencer, emerges from the doorway — a study in black and white, warm and cool. Black stilettos, black jeans, flowy black-and-white top, sleeves like gossamer...

  • 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' is a sinful waste of a sequel

    'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' is a sinful waste of a sequel

    The greatest sin of "Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is the way its high style is brought low — visually stunning but emotionally vapid, unrelentingly violent, its splendiferous comic book cast mostly squandered. It's the very speed at which something so artful in design, so ironic...

  • In 'The Skeleton Twins,' untangling the past to move forward

    In 'The Skeleton Twins,' untangling the past to move forward

    Suicide's ripple effects are the driving force of Craig Johnson's authentic 'Skeleton Twins.' Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader supply eloquent grace as the film's emotionally stunted siblings.

  • 'Love Is Strange' and profound with Lithgow, Molina paired

    'Love Is Strange' and profound with Lithgow, Molina paired

    The strangest thing about "Love Is Strange," with its perfect pairing of John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a long-committed couple finally able to legalize their relationship in a lovely New York City garden wedding, is how little it is about gay marriage. The joining together of these men in holy...

  • With 'The One I Love,' a relationship gets trippy

    With 'The One I Love,' a relationship gets trippy

    There is something slightly subversive and satisfyingly spot on when a movie about love and marriage turns on a solitary detail. In "The One I Love," starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss as sparring spouses, basically it all comes down to the bacon. Who loves it and who loathes it matters in...

  • 'The Trip to Italy' is delicious summer fun

    'The Trip to Italy' is delicious summer fun

    Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing slightly more absurd versions of their selves, dissect middle age, acting and more in Michael Winterbottom's culinary road trip film 'The Trip to Italy.'

  • Paul Dano finds sunnier side of Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy'

    Paul Dano finds sunnier side of Brian Wilson in 'Love & Mercy'

     Paul Dano is having a light moment. Seared into memory as "Little Miss Sunshine's" sullen, silent teen, "There Will Be Blood's" fire-and-brimstone devil, and "12 Years a Slave's" maniacal overseer, the young actor has a role in a heralded new movie that shows a — relatively anyway — softer side....

  • Harsh realities of immigration issue drive overly earnest 'Frontera'

    Harsh realities of immigration issue drive overly earnest 'Frontera'

    One man's journey from Mexico to the U.S. shapes the narrative of 'Frontera,' which stars Ed Harris, Michael Peña and Eva Longoria. But like the trip itself, the film is fraught.

  • Late-in-life Errol Flynn leers in 'The Last of Robin Hood'

    Late-in-life Errol Flynn leers in 'The Last of Robin Hood'

    Aging star with sagging ego, pliable young beauty eager to please, obsessive stage mother willing to facilitate — the tale in "The Last of Robin Hood" is as old as Hollywood itself. In Errol Flynn's not-so-grand finale, the spotlight that had dimmed began shining once again at word of his death...

  • 'Cantinflas' is buoyed by Oscar Jaenada, hampered by Hollywood

    'Cantinflas' is buoyed by Oscar Jaenada, hampered by Hollywood

    In the Hollywood hierarchy of stardom, Cantinflas, the beloved Mexican comic actor, was like a streaking comet — white-hot and short-lived. Though well established in his homeland, he was a relative unknown to most in this country when he burst on the scene, costarring with David Niven in 1956's...

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