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Martha K. Baker

The child asks for a lullaby, and the mother complies. She sings “Rock-a-bye, Baby,” a little ditty that lulls in melody but not lyric. The words, about infanticide and fear, set the scene for “What Maisie Knew.” Maisie is the child, her mother is full of the words of love but not the actions. 

While a delightful dive into soul music, “The Sapphires” has its political side. That just makes this Australian film all the better, for it is not only entertaining, it is also informative. “The Sapphires” teaches an all too recent lesson in segregation and ethnic tidying, if not cleansing. In 1967, Aborigines were classified as flora and fauna.

As often happens, the title of this film sounds a lot like the title of another recent release, “Beyond the Hills,” but where “Beyond the Hills” is set in Romania, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is set in Schenectady, N.Y. In fact, that's the loose translation of the city’s name.

There are consequences to being a sperm donor. Let’s say you become one just to raise some ready cash, not to raise children. And, then, let’s say that the hundreds of progeny born from those donations want to meet you? How do you manage such introductions without looking like a man who seems to enjoy sperm production a bit much?

Although nearly 70 years have elapsed since the end of World War II, more and more information about the Nazi design to obliterate Jews continues to come to light. Now, a quasi-documentary about five families, ages 2 through 76, who, for 511 days straight, holed up in a cave in the Ukraine demands our attention.

 “In the House” began as the play “El Chico de la ultima fila” by Juan Mayorga; director Francois Orzon translated it from stage to screen. The story asks the question, “Is art life or is life Art?” It asks it over and over, and enchantingly. 

It makes sense that, if you’re telling the story of your country's divorce, the partition of your patrinomy, that you will use the time-honored story of babies switched at birth. And, thus, does Salman Rushdie tell the story of “midnight’s children.” 

Except for a few scenes, painfully funny, most of “Frances Ha” is not a comedy, no matter how the producers try to sell it. Perhaps feminism is to blame: after all, for years, we ranted that women deserve as much of a chance to get away with being idiots and slaggards as men do.

What filmmakers have never understood is that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is not about the parties. Their hands get all sweaty at the idea of filming those grand, balloon-filled ballrooms. The Great Gatsby is a classic because it’s not just a backdrop brought forward, not just about showering shirts down from a magnificent closet.

Immediately after a photo of an atom bomb’s mushroom cloud, the prologue of “Ginger and Rosa” moves from Hiroshima 1945 to London 1945 in a maternity ward where two women reach out to each other as they labor and where two men sit apart on benches in a dark hall.

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