Los Angeles Times

Betsy Sharkey, Film Critic

  • 'Last Weekend' is too placid on surface and below it

    'Last Weekend' is too placid on surface and below it

    Polite society is so often impolite it's a wonder it still retains rights to the description. Vacation retreats are not so much for relaxing as for allowing wealthy clans to catch up on old grudges, open old wounds. That is very much the case during the less-than-warm "Last Weekend," which catches...

  • 'The Trip to Italy' a movable feast with Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

    'The Trip to Italy' a movable feast with Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon

    Food, friendships and Michael Caine impressions are dissected in director Michael Winterbottom's breezy film 'The Trip to Italy,' with Coogan and Brydon playing fictionalized versions of themselves.

  • In 'Transformers: Age of Extinction,' things get Bayed — big time

    In 'Transformers: Age of Extinction,' things get Bayed — big time

    After nearly three hours in the crucible that is "Transformers: Age of Extinction," a sort of shorthand might be helpful to discuss the fourth edition of the ginormous action franchise ruled by the iron fist of director Michael Bay. To that end, let's say "Bayed," as in "being Bayed," is the core...

  • Robin Williams seized the day in every role

    Robin Williams seized the day in every role

    Shock came first on hearing the news Monday that the master comic mind we knew as Robin Williams was dead at 63, apparently overwhelmed by the kind of despair that he lightened for so many of the rest of us. Next, as though he was orchestrating my memories, his Genie from "Aladdin," puffed up in...

  • '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.

  • Chris Pratt enters a new galaxy with his winning brand of acting

    Chris Pratt enters a new galaxy with his winning brand of acting

    You may not remember it, but there is actually a light moment in Kathryn Bigelow's political thriller "Zero Dark Thirty." It comes as a Navy SEAL team heads for the Pakistani compound where Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding. Everything is on the line in this high-risk play to sever the hydra...

  • '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 star turn by Maroon...

  • 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. Fernandez is interested in time,...

  • '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 trial. Whitey, as Bulger...

  • 'Third Person' at the mercy of a mix of emotions, stories

    'Third Person' at the mercy of a mix of emotions, stories

    "Third Person," the latest interlocking puzzle from Paul Haggis, is about love. But it's not a soft and fuzzy sort of love. As Leona Lewis put it in the pop hit a few years ago, it's the "you cut me open and I keep bleeding, keep keep bleeding" sort. Haggis uses a double-edged sword — and a relatively...

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