Betsy Sharkey, Film Critic

  • 'Seventh Son's' medieval fantasy falls flat on every level

    'Seventh Son's' medieval fantasy falls flat on every level

    I know it's early, but "Seventh Son" may actually be the worst movie of the year. It will most certainly be a contender. The medieval/fantasy/action/drama/romance hits pretty close to a perfect 10 on the egregious scale. Let's start with the beginning and work our way down from there. Scene: a...

  • Oscars 2015: Indie outside shot 'Whiplash' keeps hitting the mark

    Oscars 2015: Indie outside shot 'Whiplash' keeps hitting the mark

    From the very first, "Whiplash" has survived and thrived by being the different drummer — philosophically, metaphorically, literally. It's a $3.3-million indie outside shot that somehow keeps hitting the mark. Now it's got five Oscar nominations in its pocket. For an unsparingly tough movie about...

  • 'Timbuktu' a compelling exploration of extremism's absurdities

    'Timbuktu' a compelling exploration of extremism's absurdities

    The intriguingly unorthodox "Timbuktu," one of five films vying for a foreign-language Oscar, is a provocative, sometimes satiric drama about the sort of Islamic extremists who make life, especially in the outer reaches, so treacherous these days. Though the film, set around 2012, is specific to...

  • Biopics find new life at the Oscars and beyond

    Biopics find new life at the Oscars and beyond

    Looking across the Oscar nominations you'll see a landscape populated by pictures about real people. Look beyond the Oscars and you'll see even more. The last 12 months has produced an abundance of biographies. It's as if film's current artistic collective decided to figure out what subject matter...

  • 'Paddington' brings irresistible bear to life

    'Paddington' brings irresistible bear to life

    Where to start with the wondrous whimsy of "Paddington"? Artfully and cleverly, the sweet spirit of that young bear from darkest Peru and his many London misadventures materializes brilliantly on screen in the very good hands of writer-director-conjurer Paul King. The beloved storybook character...

  • 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is most magical on the big screen

    'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is most magical on the big screen

    Watching Wes Anderson's magical mystery tour of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" again recently, this time on my home TV, I was reminded that it is even more magical on the big screen. That darkened theater just puts you in the proper place to absorb its imagery, its secrets and especially, to be entertained...

  • We view movies through the lens of our times; case in point, 'Selma'

    We view movies through the lens of our times; case in point, 'Selma'

    It is impossible to see "Selma," Ava DuVernay's Oscar-nominated drama tracing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic 1965 march to demand voting rights be accorded all citizens of this land, and not feel the weight of Ferguson, Mo., in 2014, and the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, felled...

  • Kevin Hart-Josh Gad chemistry highlights 'The Wedding Ringer'

    Kevin Hart-Josh Gad chemistry highlights 'The Wedding Ringer'

    It's not quite a match made in heaven, but there is considerable comic chemistry between the high-octane Kevin Hart and the energy-conserving Josh Gad. A good thing since theirs is the only relationship worth watching in "The Wedding Ringer." There sure isn't much going on between Doug (Gad) and...

  • 'Strange Magic' casts a musical spell, but as a movie it misses

    'Strange Magic' casts a musical spell, but as a movie it misses

    "Strange Magic," the new animated musical fairy tale from the mind and the mixtape of George Lucas, is indeed strange. What's missing is the magic. The first animation feature film collaboration since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 seems a contrivance at best. It plays very much like a long music...

  • 'Winter Sleep' haunting portrait of one man's crumbling world

    'Winter Sleep' haunting portrait of one man's crumbling world

    "Winter Sleep," the drama from acclaimed Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, requires, like the snowfall that blankets a village in Cappadocia, where this story unfolds, that you settle in for a while. Three hours, 16 minutes to be precise. And Ceylan is precise. There are no wasted moments as...

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