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Martha K. Baker

Friday, 20 March 2015 00:00

"The Gunman" bleeds over four countries

If you liked "American Sniper," you will probably like "The Gunman." Heck, if you like the gore of Grand Guignol theater, you'll like "The Gunman." And if you're a big fan of Rooster Cogburn's one-man army, then "The Gunman" is the shoot'em-up movie for you.

Friday, 13 March 2015 00:00

'Cinderella' poses the question, "Why?"

So, why would the Disney Studios put out a live- action version of "Cinderella" when its 1950 animated version is embedded in the cinematic minds of millions? The current version quotes so much of the animated version -- if not really, then seemingly -- that it's impossible to divorce the two.

Men and boats. Men and gold. Men and their sons, on the beach or in utero or as a surrogate. "Black Sea" -- not "The Black Sea" (that's another recent movie) -- is all about getting the gold, getting back at "the man," and surviving. It's all about death.

Imagine working for a small company that offers a significant pay bonus to you at the expense of one colleague's job. Then imagine being that worker, who has but a weekend, the two days and one night of the title, to convince her fellows to change their votes.

The good news is that the Oscar shorts are short; the better news is that they're good -- except for one of the 10. Ever since the Academy has made the nominations for shorts available to the viewing public, the Oscar presentations have been fuller, more fun to anticipate.

Sunday, 18 January 2015 01:00

'Paddington' bears watching, over and over

See, there's this bear, and he lives with his aunt and uncle in darkest Peru, but he loves London, where this Peruvian explorer welcomed him. So he goes, skipperty-do. He ends up on his suitcase in front of the Lost and Found Department at Paddington Station?

Clint Eastwood leaves so many question marks scattered throughout "American Sniper" that it's hard not to bury the film as another clichéd war movie. It resembles "Hurt Locker" in many ways -- except "American Sniper" is based on the life of a real American sniper, Chris Kyle, and his real accommodations.

The year of J. C. Chandor's excellent and intense film is 1981. The city, New York. Numbers show that year to be one of the most violent, but the year could be nearly any in America. Chandor was making his movie as a gunman killed children in Newtown, Mass.

Imagine being a woman of words -- literally, a professor who makes her living studying words -- who loses those words. Not just a momentary stutter until the word returns, shining like new, but lost for words forever. That is the basis of Lisa Genova's novel of the same name and of this good film.

"Mr. Turner" is beautiful -- no doubt about it. Against that beauty, director Mike Leigh fashions a biography of the late years of the great 19th-century English painter, maybe the greatest. By contrast, the biography has its tawdriness: James Mallard Turner was bawdy and ill-mannered, blustery and aggressive.

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