Harlequin68's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

North West Frontier
9 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

In "Northwest Frontier," it is 1905 and a rebellion is starting in northern India. In the nick of time, Captain Scott(Kenneth More) spirits six-year old Prince Kishan(Govind Raja Ross), who is seen as the hope of his people, away towards Delhi with the help of his governess Mrs. Catherine Wyatt(Lauren Bacall). They arrive in Haserabad just after the last train has left(I hate it when that happens). Getting out proves harder than getting in as a state of siege sets in. So, Scott orders Gupta(I.S. Johar) to ready an archaic train engine to try to break it.

"Northwest Frontier" is a rousing and suspenseful adventure film that starts in media res and only lets up for the occasional breath of air. Even with a familiar plot of disparate characters traveling together through dangerous territory, there is some intelligent conversation, even if the overall tone is not as enlightened as I would like. And somehow I just cannot buy Lauren Bacall trying to be demure.

Nightwatching
Nightwatching (2007)
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Peter Greenaway would like to report a murder. As it turns out, it is the ultimate cold case, having happened over 350 years ago. But all the evidence he needs is in The Night Watch, a 1642 painting by Rembrandt(Martin Freeman), currently hanging in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

"Rembrandt's J'Accuse" is a fascinating documentary and reconstruction that brings history to life and has the power to change the way a casual observer looks at artwork by using one painting as a case study. What is the artist trying to convey? There's probably more going on than just a pretty image. At the same time, Greenaway attacks the visual illiteracy in society today(no comment), making this also Greenaway's J'Accuse. Along the way, while also playing the chief inquisitor, he details the answers to 30 mysteries plus one(reminding me a bit of the numbering scheme in his "Drowning by Numbers") in the painting to reveal not only that Piers Hasselburg(Andrzej Seweryn) was murderered when it was made to look like a military accident but also who did it and why, all set upon a wide ranging canvas of local 17th century Dutch politics and history and Europe in general at the time when Holland was a relatively free society. Like today, political assassinations are rare there, bringing to mind the murders of Theo Van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn.

And I'll bet you thought art history was boring. I did.

The Sound of Fury (Try and Get Me!)
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

In "Try and Get Me," Howard Tyler(Frank Lovejoy) has no luck finding work either at home or on the road, which is especially problematic with his wife Judy(Kathleen Ryan) expecting their second child. Howard is so desperate that he accepts an offer from Jerry Slocum(Lloyd Bridges, surprisingly effective) to be a getaway driver. But at least the money is good. Newspaper columnist Gil Stanton(Richard Carlson) does not see it the same way, of course.

First and foremost, "Try and Get Me" is a movie of the period it was made when a neighborhood gathered around a single television set and also one very much ahead of its time, not only in the ingenious way it was crafted, but also in its attitudes.(Judy dreams of a painless childbirth while another character states she is saving herself for marriage to her friend who certainly isn't. And this was 1950.) I would also not disagree with the assessment that this movie was unique for its time in its exploration of class issues, encapsulated perfectly in a cut from Howard fantasizing about the perfect barbecue to it really happening at Gil's.(This was also before microbreweries and hence beer snobs.) But that's all we really needed of Gil, as he exists solely as a stand-in for yellow journalism and to have conversations with the Voice of Reason(Renzo Cesana) about the need for fair trials and a society without violence. I mean after that climax, what more needs to be said?

Clara and Me (Clara et Moi)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In "Clara and Me," Antoine(Julien Boisselier) is an actor who goes to a therapist to talk about his worries in not yet having a family. But things are looking up for him when he meets Clara(Julie Gayet), a cute writer who works as a train hostess to pay the bills. Using a pick-up method that could only work on the Paris Metro, she goes out with him. As they date, things go along well and move quickly between the two.

So quickly in fact, especially considering Antoine's initial prickliness, that it soon becomes clear that something or someone will throw a wrench into their happiness. When it does happen, it is something more akin to a lightning bolt out of the blue. On the one hand, very few movies are willing to go there. On the other, "Clara and Me" did not have to quite overdo it, when it could find easier ways to point out that no relationship or person is perfect, especially considering it already had a neat musical number in its favor.

The Commissar (Komissar)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"The Commissar" is set during the Russian Civil War as Communist troops are setting up shop in a village. Amongst them, Klavdia(Nonna Mordyukova), a commissar, is very, very pregnant. After long periods in combat and on horseback, she was so occupied that by the time she saw a doctor, she was so advanced that one would not perform an abortion and no amount of iodine could do away with it, so her commanding officer(Vasili Shukshin) moves her away from her comrades, housing her with a large Jewish family. At first Yefim(Rolan Bykov) is indignant but once Klavdia's condition becomes clear, his wife Maria(Raisa Nedashkovskaya) does her best to help her.

While eschewing a neorealistic approach by going against the grain with a nontraditional musical score and striking imagery, "The Commissar" is also a powerful look at the role of women in combat. Klavdia sees herself as a soldier first which is in conflict with the need to care for her child.(In "Farscape," female Peacekeepers could control their pregnancies to such a degree that they could give birth quickly with hardly a break before returning to the battlefield.) In America, she would be accused of giving in to her ambitions but then that's capitalism for you. In a socialist state, as imperfect as it is, the need comes from being part of a struggle larger than yourself that a flashforward gives an even greater urgency to.