TRAIL GUIDE
Our experts score the debate: How Clinton beat Trump, round-by-round
Los Angeles Times

Betsy Sharkey, Film Critic

  • 'Inherent Vice' a trippy beach noir set in '70s L.A.

    'Inherent Vice' a trippy beach noir set in '70s L.A.

    "Inherent Vice," Paul Thomas Anderson's trippy, trenchant satire, is very much a creature of Thomas Pynchon's biting deconstruction of the final daze of peace, love and understanding that gives the film its inspiration and its name. Joaquin Phoenix and the terrific acting ensemble that joins him...

  • 'Penguins of Madagascar' hit by a blizzard of puns

    'Penguins of Madagascar' hit by a blizzard of puns

    It's hard to go wrong with penguins. They can be elegant and emotionally engaging in real life, as the Oscar-winning documentary "March of the Penguins" beautifully captured. They can also be toe-tapping hysterical and wildly musical, as they proved in the animated hit "Happy Feet." So how did...

  • Mike Nichols' incisive, touching films got personal

    Mike Nichols' incisive, touching films got personal

    When I watch the films of Mike Nichols, I see my children, my parents, family, friends, foes, life in all of its complexity. I see me. "The Graduate," "Heartburn," "Catch-22," "Silkwood" ... those are some of my favorite Nichols films. But what stays with me is not any one movie. Nor his influential...

  • 'Horrible Bosses 2' has horribly funny moments, but too few

    'Horrible Bosses 2' has horribly funny moments, but too few

    In the sexually inappropriate and politically incorrect "Horrible Bosses 2," the bumbling workplace underdogs played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are about to try their hand at being in charge. And at times, they are horribly funny. Being the boss makes for a lot of incredibly...

  • 'National Gallery' a portrait of humanity on canvas and on-screen

    'National Gallery' a portrait of humanity on canvas and on-screen

    It is such a gift that Frederick Wiseman, who is edging toward 85, continues to let his curiosity and his craft fill his days and our theaters. In his new film, "National Gallery," the legendary documentarian takes on London's famed museum in the same way he's dissected other institutions, as if...

  • 'The Babadook,' smart and dark, delivers grown-up horrors

    'The Babadook,' smart and dark, delivers grown-up horrors

    "The Babadook" is a smart, darkly drawn modern-day horror movie of monsters, memories and mothers. For it is a mother's love on the line that heightens the provocation in this thriller set off when a children's book about the dreaded Babadook comes to life — dook, dook, dook — three bumps in the...

  • Harsh land and raw, maddening emotion test 'The Homesman'

    Harsh land and raw, maddening emotion test 'The Homesman'

    There is a prescient shot that opens "The Homesman," the spare frontier drama starring Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones. A flat stretch of Nebraska plain, a blanket of blue-gray sky, as if God himself had drawn a straight line between Heaven and Earth. It is haunting, that endless empty expanse....

  • Rehabilitating birds soar in 'Pelican Dreams'

    Rehabilitating birds soar in 'Pelican Dreams'

    Whatever you think you know about pelicans, "Pelican Dreams" will surprise you. I like that filmmaker Judy Irving names one of the stars Gigi, short for Golden Gate Bridge, which the injured bird shut down for a while back in 2008. I also like that Monte Merrick, the wildlife rehab specialist charged...

  • In 'Big Hero 6' a huggable robo-hero pops up in the future

    In 'Big Hero 6' a huggable robo-hero pops up in the future

    The new animated action-adventure "Big Hero 6" might sound like more of the same Marvel-inspired superhero stuff already saturating movie theaters with its flashy 3-D animation and futuristic nerd kids doing their world saving in bright plastic-plated armor and spiffy Spanx. Which it might have...

  • Romance proves ageless in 'Elsa & Fred'

    Romance proves ageless in 'Elsa & Fred'

    Sometimes the freshest face on the big screen is 80 and counting. Certainly that's true of "Elsa & Fred's" brightest star, Shirley MacLaine. One of the grande dames of cinema, she's been seen more around the edges than center stage in recent years. Not so with director Michael Radford, 68, running...

89°