L.A. Times Movie Reviews

Betsy Sharkey: '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...

'Closed Curtain' a cry for openness and art in Iran

Since being banned from making films by the Iranian government four years ago, director Jafar Panahi has produced two works of artful defiance. The latter of the two, the self-reflexive, semi-confessional drama "Closed Curtain," finds Panahi weary yet resourceful under severe creative constraints.

'Video Games' just plays at seriously examining the industry

That video games — a technology-driven mix of art, commerce and competition — are here to stay is undisputed. It's now the biggest entertainment industry and an influential culture.

'Affluenza' tries for 'Great Gatsby,' comes up shortchanged

It might be true that the very rich, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, "are different from you and me," but movies about their profligate kids tend toward dime-a-dozen sameness.

'Wish I Was Here' should have wished for insight

Has it really been 10 years? Are things so different now? Are we? Is Zach Braff's new "Wish I Was Here" a spiritual sequel to "Garden State," his 2004 directorial debut? Answer key: yes, yes, maybe, kind of but not really.

Betsy Sharkey: 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.

Betsy Sharkey: '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, more seriously.

Kenneth Turan : 'A Summer's Tale' a belated glimpse of Eric Rohmer magic

Like a forgotten gift we now get to unwrap with delight, Eric Rohmer's 1996 "A Summer's Tale," never before released in this country, arrives just in time to add a touch of delight to the contemporary landscape.

Review: Well-told 'Aftermath' unfolds as yet another apocalypse

At the start of "Aftermath," a series of nuclear explosions hits across the globe and once again, moviegoers, it's the end of the world as we know it.

Kenneth Turan : Michel Gondry's 'Mood Indigo' is wildly inventive

To call Michel Gondry's "Mood Indigo" visually inventive is not even scratching the surface, something like characterizing Apple as a company that's had a certain amount of success.

Kenneth Turan : 'Planes: Fire & Rescue' soars amid blazing-hot visuals

"Planes: Fire & Rescue" sounds more like a category on Craigslist than the name of a new animated film. But what this Disney feature lacks in the title department it makes up for with fluid visuals and fast-moving action of the, yes, firefighting variety.

'Manhattan,' 'Annie Hall' double bill honors Gordon Willis

A new Woody Allen film hits the screen just about once a year. But if like the super-intelligent aliens in 1980's "Stardust Memories" you prefer the early, funny ones, the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica features a double bill Friday of two of Allen's best as part of a...

'Rage' is just another tired Nicolas Cage action film

'Rage' is just another tired Nicolas Cage action film

"Rage" is the latest in a parade of cheesy, derivative action-thrillers that erstwhile A-list actor Nicolas Cage has recently starred in, presumably as a quick cash grab. Why he can't find an equal payday in better pictures is perhaps a less vital question than how exactly the Academy Award-winner...

Betsy Sharkey: '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.

'The Battered Bastards of Baseball' a fun, true underdog tale

The Portland Mavericks, an independent minor league baseball team that played for five seasons in the 1970s, didn't run with the pack.

'Siddharth' exposes India's tragic, dark truths

Hope is an open wound in "Siddharth," the story of a man's search for his missing son. Taking his inspiration from the firsthand account of a father who was already a year into such a search, writer-director Richie Mehta has made a film of subdued but mounting panic and grief — an...

An easy, enjoyable journey on the 'Road to Paloma'

Though there's nothing terribly profound or unique about actor Jason Momoa's feature writing-directing debut, "Road to Paloma," it does prove an effective throwback to the loose-limbed, my-way-or-the-highway road movies of the "Easy Rider" era.

An inspiring and insightful 'Underwater Dreams'

With the debate over America's unresolved immigration policies at fever pitch these days, the inspiring documentary "Underwater Dreams" makes for quite the timely entry.

Betsy Sharkey: Roman Polanski knows the ropes in 'Venus in Fur'

"Venus in Fur," a whip-smart dissection of gender politics via some teasing S&M, is arch. So arch in fact that it is surprising it's a Roman Polanski film.

'Pleasures of Being Out of Step' a brisk look at Nat Hentoff

Anyone with even a casual interest in jazz knows the name Nat Hentoff. Look on the back of landmark albums like John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" or Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" and you'll see Hentoff's name, along with an articulate essay that will help you understand the music and feel it deeply.

Betsy Sharkey: 'Gabrielle' tale of first love is hard to resist

There is an infectious reality that is not accidental in "Gabrielle," Canadian filmmaker Louise Archambault's story of first love for an engaging young couple, who happen to have intellectual disabilities.

Kenneth Turan : 'A Hard Day's Night' continues to dazzle, 50 years on

It was up for two Academy Awards — original screenplay and adapted score — but amazingly none of the original songs the Beatles wrote for "A Hard Day's Night" was Oscar nominated. There's an oversight for you.

'Cinemanovels' falls short as homage to romantic melodramas

If the romantic melodrama were in need of vindication, it would find a stalwart defender in "Cinemanovels." Writer-director Terry Miles' revisionist homage is a thoughtful thesis on the melodrama but a letdown in its attempt to serve as an affecting example of that genre.

'Girl on the Train' goes off the rails in film noir journey

"The Girl on the Train" aspires to be a film noir in the vein of "The Usual Suspects," but it proves to be a paper-thin plot ornamented with distractions: a nonlinear narrative, unreliable narrators, flatulent dialogue and awkward post-production work.

'Deliver Us From Evil' thrills with Eric Bana's haunted cop

Buckle up for the ride that is "Deliver Us From Evil," a highly intense and effective mash-up of police procedural and horror show. Boosting the story's thrill quotient is its air of authenticity: The film was inspired by actual paranormal cases described by former New York Police officer Ralph...

Advertisement
Advertisement