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Martha K. Baker

Sad to say, it just doesn't work. "True Story" doesn't even seem to try very hard to make a true story on screen as thrilling as it must have been in life. So true it may be in terms of plot, but true it is not in terms of art.

Friday, 03 April 2015 00:00

'Effie Gray' proves the need for sex ed

Many viewers of the recent film "Mr. Turner," a look at E.M.W. Turner's last quarter-century, did not like the artist's ways with his housekeeper -- lots of slam and bam but no "thank you, ma'am." "Effie Gray," a story contemporary with "Mr. Turner," presents another brutish look at sex.

Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00

'Woman in Gold' continues to fight Nazis

The woman in the Gustav Klimt painting known as "Woman in Gold" had a name: Adele Bloch-Bauer. She was someone's favorite aunt. Her portrait was stolen by Nazis then displayed in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna until her niece Maria Altman asked for her family's property back.

What if schools were places where young people could be taught to think? What if newspapers and other media were places to encourage adults to don their thinking caps? What if excellent documentaries such as "Merchants of Doubt" could be used to teach a way through the murk of spin?

So, of course, this documentary begins with succulent shots of sausages and knishes and roast beef, shaved thin. But that food porn is quickly followed by the note that in 1931, there were 1000s of Jewish delis in New York City alone whereas today there are 150 in all of America.

During the opening credits for "Wild Tales," an animal appears along with a name, and it's through those animals that the word "wild" in the title starts to promise sense and the word "tales" becomes a pun.

"Wild Tales" was nominated as Best Foreign Film from the country of Argentina. It was, indeed, award-worthy.

Friday, 27 March 2015 00:00

'Serena' is anything but serene

Serena is a name that bespeaks serenity, tranquility, and peace, but Serena Pemberton is anything but. She is a new bride, who brings her knowledge of the timber trade from her now-dead family in the West to her new husband's timberland in North Carolina.

Friday, 10 April 2015 00:00

Seymour: An Introduction

Rarely has a documentary hit so deeply at the inner workings of an artist. That depth applies, also, to the viewer, who has to dig deep to understand why tears may flow, unbidden, while watching and listening to this portrait of Seymour Bernstein, a fine piano player and consummate teacher.

Whereas the first film about this exotic hotel for the elderly and the beautiful in Jaipur, India, was delightful, the second in the series (please, movie gods, no franchise) fulfills that old declaration that sequels bring in dependable dollars even if they aren't as good as the mothermovie.

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.

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