Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, he is the co-author of Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke. He teaches film reviewing and non-fiction writing at USC and is on the board of directors of the National Yiddish Book Center. His most recent books are the University of California Press' Sundance to Sarajevo: Film Festivals and the World They Made and Never Coming To A Theater Near You, published by Public Affairs Press.

Movie Reviews
3:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Stalked By A Fiend Worse Than Any Elm Street Nightmare

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 11:42 am

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Movie Reviews
2:57 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Review: Gyllenhaal's 'Nightcrawler' Is Pulp With A Purpose

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 5:42 am

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And now to a movie review. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal has been in many memorable films - "Brokeback Mountain," "End Of Watch" - film critic Kenneth Turan, though, says "Nightcrawler" is the best work he's ever done.

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Movie Reviews
2:53 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Message From Documentary 'Citizenfour': Be Afraid (Of Surveillance)

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 5:03 am

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A new documentary, "Citizenfour" takes us, the audience, inside one of the biggest new stories of the past few years. Kenneth Turan has this view.

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Movie Reviews
3:02 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Starring In 'Fury': The Horrors That People Are Capable Of In War

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:21 am

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Now let's talk about a different kind of power - the brutal power of an army at war. The movie "Fury" topped the box office over the weekend, and our critic Kenneth Turan has a review.

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Music Reviews
2:53 am
Fri October 10, 2014

Journalist Gary Webb's Story Told In 'Kill The Messenger'

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 6:26 pm

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Movie Reviews
3:23 am
Mon September 29, 2014

'Equalizer' Devotes Time To Character Development, Graphic Violence

Denzel Washington stars as a retired intelligence officer in The Equalizer.
Scott Garfield Sony Pictures

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 5:17 am

When star Denzel Washington and director Anton Fuqua collaborated on 2001's Training Day, the film won Washington an Oscar and changed the trajectory of his career. Now they are together again.

The Equalizer is unapologetic in its excessive, frequently grotesque violence. But because it's got Denzel Washington as its star, it's more interested in character development than you might guess.

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Movie Reviews
4:09 am
Thu May 1, 2014

'Ida': A Young Woman's Search For Identity In 1962 Poland

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 7:37 am

Ida is a Polish film about a young woman who was raised as an orphan in a convent. She's planning to take her vows as a nun when she discovers she's Jewish and her parents were killed by the Nazis.

Movie Reviews
3:39 am
Fri March 21, 2014

'Divergent': A Film About A Risk Taker That Plays It Safe

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 5:45 am

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now, Shailene Woodley's character in the movie "Divergent" is part of a huge trend in books and films these days: a young risk taker who's unafraid to break the rules. From Harry Potter to "Twilight's" Bella Swan to Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games." Film critic Kenneth Turan says even though "Divergent" is about a risk taker, the film takes no risks at all.

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Movie Reviews
4:55 am
Mon February 24, 2014

'Child's Pose' Feels 'Terrifyingly Authentic'

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 5:34 am

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film will be handed out in a couple weeks. And though Romania's "Child's Pose" is not one of the finalists, film critic Kenneth Turan says its as good as any of them.

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Movie Reviews
9:57 am
Sun February 23, 2014

A 'Tale' That's A Labor Of Love, But Not A Complete Success

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 10:08 am

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Book fans can be pretty picky about how Hollywood treats their favorite reads. And Hollywood can sometimes disappoint. Marc Helprin's "Winter's Tale" has been a favorite of readers since it was published in 1983. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has a review of how well it works as a movie.

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Movie Reviews
5:19 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Bruce Dern's 'Transcendent Performance' In 'Nebraska'

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:49 am

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Back in May at the Cannes film festival, Bruce Dern won the best acting award for "Nebraska." That movie is now opening in theaters in the U.S. and here's film critic Kenneth Turan with a review.

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NPR Story
3:12 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Soulless 'Counselor' Is Terminally Bleak

Originally published on Fri October 25, 2013 4:43 am

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. The writer Cormac McCarthy has won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. He has never written an original screenplay produced until now. That film, "The Counselor," opens this weekend. Kenneth Turan has our review.

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Arts & Life
8:39 am
Fri September 13, 2013

'Wadjda' Is First Feature Film Shot In Saudi Arabia

Wadjda tells the story of a 10-year-old Saudi girl determined to have a bicycle in a culture that frowns on female riding. Writer-director Haifaa al-Mansour says she wanted to put a human face on the situation of women in Saudi Arabia, where driving is not permitted.

Movie Reviews
3:13 am
Fri July 12, 2013

'Pacific Rim' Is Filled To The Brim With Special Effects

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 4:06 am

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Another movie opening is "Pacific Rim." Critic Kenneth Turan says it has plenty of explosions and special effects, but he says there's actually more to it than most of the other blockbusters this summer.

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NPR Story
2:29 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Movie Review: 'Trance'

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 7:14 am

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The director Danny Boyle is best known for the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire." His latest film is called "Trance," but Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan was not put under its spell.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Trance" begins with the auction of a painting by Goya.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TRANCE")

JAMES MCAVOY: (As Simon) Telephone bidder now, $26 million; 26 on the telephone, 27 to the lady on the aisle. Selling, 27 million, 500 thousand pounds - sold...

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NPR Story
2:43 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Movie Review: 'Gimme The Loot'

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 9:14 am

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"Gimme The Loot" is a new independent film that's had a charmed life, including winning the Best Narrative prize at South by Southwest and an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival. Los Angeles Times and Morning Edition film critic Kenneth Turan says it's worth the fuss.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: We meet Malcolm and Sofia as they're stealing spray paint from a hardware store.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GIMME THE LOOT")

TASHIANA WASHINGTON: (Unintelligible)

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NPR Story
4:09 am
Fri February 1, 2013

How 'Sound City' Changed The Face Of Rock 'N Roll

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 9:26 am

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One of the most entertaining documentaries to come out of this year's Sundance Film Festival is "Sound City." The rock musician Dave Grohl, of the band Foo Fighters, is the director - a first for him. Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Sound City" is a mash note to a machine - not just any machine, however, but one that helped change the face of rock 'n' roll.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Movies
2:28 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Daniel Day-Lewis 'Simply Becomes Lincoln'

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 10:46 am

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This year, we've had not one, but two movies about the sixteenth president of the United States. This spring, "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" slashed its way into theaters. This week, a more historically accurate Lincoln shows up onscreen.

Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Daniel Day-Lewis is a two-time Oscar-winning actor, but he surpasses himself and makes us see a celebrated figure in unanticipated ways in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln."

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Movies
4:35 am
Wed August 15, 2012

'Odd Life Of Timothy Green' Pushes Too Hard

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 7:12 am

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A new movie in theaters today is titled "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." And film critic, Kenneth Turan, found the movie, itself, odd.

KENNETH TURAN: "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" is a when you wish upon a star fable in the old school Disney style. It's just the kind of inspirational family-friendly comfort food it feels churlish to rebuff. But though the film's heart is pure, its execution is so cloying and contrived it brings on tears of frustration.

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Movies
3:14 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Back To The Future With 'Total Recall' Remake

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 3:30 am

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Look for a review of the new science fiction epic "Total Recall" and you'll see headlines ready Total Makeover. You might recall the 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. With our review of the remake, here's Kenneth Turan.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Whatever The Country, No Such Thing As 'Easy Money'

Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) is the enforcer for a Serbian drug cartel that controls business in Sweden, and one of three characters who clash in Easy Money.
Weinstein Company

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 7:57 am

Easy Money is a fine title for a film, but to truly savor the tang of this top-drawer Scandinavian thriller, try rolling its original Swedish title off your tongue. Say hello to Snabba Cash.

Director Daniel Espinosa starts his splendid crime story all in a rush, throwing us right into the middle of a trio of chaotic situations.

Introduced first is Jorge, a Chilean living in Sweden — in fact in a Swedish prison. Making his escape, Jorge promptly goes into hiding, as much from other local bad guys as from the police.

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Movies
3:14 am
Fri June 22, 2012

Why Knew? Honest Abe Rid The World Of The Undead

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 5:17 am

With a movie title like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, it's no mystery what the plot is. Young Mr. Lincoln is tutored by an experienced vampire killer and goes into training with his trusty ax. He bears a special grudge against vampires because they killed his mother.

Movies
3:19 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Will 'Prometheus' Top 'Alien' Or 'Blade Runner'?

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 1:03 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Ridley Scott has made two of the most acclaimed science fiction films, "Alien" and "Blade Runner." Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan has this review of the director's newest sci-fi effort, "Prometheus."

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Prometheus" ends up with less to say than it thinks it does. It's more involving than many of this year's summer blockbuster competition, but by the standards of the director's earlier films, it's a disappointment.

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Movies
4:44 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Stop Motion Animation Brings 'Band Of Misfits' Alive

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 5:24 am

Stop motion animation, where physical objects are manipulated literally frame by frame to give the illusion of movement, is one of the oldest movie techniques, but it's being used in a brand new film called The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

Movies
4:40 am
Fri April 20, 2012

'Marley' Has Great Music, Remarkable Personal Story

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 1:25 pm

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Any documentary about a singer-songwriter can provide great music, but with "Marley" you also get a remarkable personal story. We have a review from our critic Kenneth Turan.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Bob Marley, who was only 36 when he died in 1981, could be a dusty musical footnote by now. Instead, the enormous popularity of this transcendent reggae superstar shows no sign of going away, and "Marley," a moving and authoritative new documentary, explains why.

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Movies
2:00 am
Fri March 30, 2012

'Bully' Examines Students Targeted By Their Peers

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

A documentary that has been stirring up headlines for weeks finally opens today. "Bully," from producer Harvey Weinstein, has made news for its controversial R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Weinstein argues the R rating prevents the movie's intended audience - children - from seeing it, and so he decided to release "Bully" unrated.

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NPR Story
2:00 am
Fri March 16, 2012

'Footnote' Takes On Ambition, Father-Son Rivalry

Originally published on Sun March 18, 2012 9:58 am

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Israeli film "Footnote" has racked up a pile of awards - Best Screenplay at Cannes, nine awards at Israel's Oscars, and a nomination for Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards.

Film critic Kenneth Turan says it's all deserved.

KENNETH TURAN: "Footnotes"'s subject matter sounds dry, unlikely, even obscure. The film is set in Jerusalem's Hebrew University and deals with the implacable rivalry between two scholars of the Talmud, the complex and sacred text of the Jewish religious tradition.

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Movies
2:00 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Review: 'Salmon Fishing In The Yemen'

The new film Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor. It's a pleasant fantasy whose few attempts at seriousness are best forgotten.