Tag Archive: Sherlock Holmes


Looking for a Good Mystery

Family Movie Night

 

by Karyn Bowman

 

Do you have a favorite type of book or movie?

 

Book Denise SwansonFor me, it is mysteries. Love them, can’t get enough of them. I am happy to read a number of book series including Denise Swanson’s Scumble River series featuring school psychologist Skye Dennison.

 

So how did I develop my love of mysteries? It started with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in the movie series of the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps it was because Sherlock was always certain, always sure. He was always a gentleman with the ladies, always stand up with the men. And Dr. Watson as portrayed by Nigel Bruce seemed to be a bit of a lovable bumbler. It made me wonder why such a sharp man would want to have Watson around unless it was because Sherlock never had to work hard to understand him.

 

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Since the movies with Robert Downey Jr. that was directed by Guy Ritchie, it seems that we are in the middle of a Sherlock revival. The BBC has a new Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch who lives in modern day London. Martin Freeman plays Watson as a wounded war veteran who pretends he wants a boring life but is energized with every case Sherlock drags him on.

 

In America, we have Elementary starring Johnny Lee Miller as the consulting detective who recently came out of rehab. His Dr. Watson is played by Lucy Liu starting off as his ‘sober companion’ but has now become his colleague. She, too, is excited about the cases Sherlock follows, but more importantly she cares about Sherlock as a friend.

 

In the movie starring Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, the time frame is in late Victorian England but we see the rougher and dirtier parts where Sherlock solves his crimes and finds relaxation through boxing. Law plays Watson as a smart man with a gambling problem who is frustrated by Sherlock and yet needs to protect the detective.

 

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

What all three have in common is that some of the layers of truly gentleman-like behavior have been stripped away from Sherlock. He is capable of having manners but he is so focused on the task at hand that using those manners fall by the wayside. This might strike some as completely rude behavior or perhaps a hint of Asperger’s Syndrome on the Autism spectrum. Some might call it being book smart and street dumb. I doubt that last remark because all three versions of Sherlock could take care of themselves if left on the streets alone.

 

In the kitchen is another matter entirely.

 

One thing I have been told is once you have seen Cumberbatch play Holmes, it will be hard to go back to watching Miller play Holmes on the CBS TV show. Well, I believe that one should not necessarily judge one version against another. You must judge how each version operates, you must judge the show by the rules it lives by, and if that version does what it sets out to do.

 

The goal of each of these new versions is to bring Sherlock Holmes to life with a modern sensibility of how people emotionally work. Two of these series makes it clear that Holmes uses hard drugs to find peace. All three show a man who is rude and abrasive but not totally devoid of human feelings. All three show a man who loves a challenging puzzle and works hard to solve it. All three show a man who has managed to attach one friend who is willing to go the distance for him.

 

To see that character fully formed is why I watch whichever version of the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes I can find.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

 

Family Movie Night

One of the great things about being a movie reviewer is seeing newer actors and watching their careers develop.

When Rachel McAdams started showing up in movies, I really liked her.

Mean Girls with Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried, picture from IMDb.com

I enjoyed her brief time on screen in The Hot Chick with Rob Schneider. a raunchy movie for older teens and young 20somethings. But then she was the Queen Bee in Mean Girls (perfect teen girl movie) and it started her towards a road of good and interesting roles.

Take a moment to compare her to Lindsey Lohan who was the ‘star’ of Mean Girls. Lohan had a few good roles and then went on the crazy train. But McAdams has stayed even-keeled and continues to have a solid career.

Her next big movie was The Notebook (2004), perhaps one of the most romantic movies ever, in which she plays a woman who has a great love, loses that love and finds it again with Ryan Gosling.

With Cillian Murphy in Red Eye, picture from IMDb.com

But then McAdams went on to make some movies that were more adult fare consisting of  The Wedding Crashers with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, Red Eye with Cillian Murphy, The Family Stone with Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson, and The Time Traveler’s Wife with Eric Bana. One of her bigger movies to date has been Sherlock Holmes as the former love interest of Robert Downey Jr. who always has an ulterior motive for every thing she does.

I mention all of this because McAdams’a latest movie in which she has the lead role is coming to the home theater market.  Morning Glory tells the story of a TV morning show producer who is learning how to balance life and work, be it successful or failing.

With Harrison Ford in Morning Glory, picture from IMDb.com

The anchors are portrayed by Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford. They do not always get along and Ford finds his latest job beneath his dignity. All of them muddle through the experience and find something new. It is a movie that is not exactly a romantic comedy and not exactly a dramedy, maybe a little breezy. But it looks like a whole lot of fun for adults looking to take a break.

This is one movie I never got to see in the theater but I am looking forward to watching it with a big bowl of popcorn. So what if there are no explosions or chase scenes involving deadly force. I think I am ready for a bit of a smart and fun slice of life movie with Rachel.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

What Did You Like Best?

I keep reading stories about the last year in movies and how it was lackluster. But I find critics say that every year. As a former critic, I know how easy it is to get jaded.

Every year there are bad sequels and bad re-makes and bad old-TV series-made-into-movies. What? You thought The A-Team and Hot Tub Time Machine were going to be good movies?

While some movies were disappointing, there were a few that I really loved.

Toy Story 3

What a great ending to a great series. Pixar, the makers of Toy Story, always seemed to get that toys are very real to kids. Each toy has its own personality, its own quirk and that is why we love various toys. But more importantly they never doubted the capabilities of their audience to understand that those qualities may be different from what we perceive.

Andy gazing at his old toys, Picture from IMDb.com

 

There are so many elements, so many details that goes into this last movie. It is a coming-of-age movie, an ending but also action-adventure with a heist element. We mourn who is gone and celebrate with who is left. We cry with relief and sadness and happiness. It may be one of the best movies of the entire year.

Burlesque

Christina Aquilera wants to be so much more than a fine singer, she wants to be an actress as well. This is a first good step in that direction. Starring with the ultimate singer-turned-actress in Cher, Aquilera is a small town girl from Iowa who wants something more from her life. A one-way ticket to L.A. is the first step. A waitressing  job at the best burlesque house is the next.

Cher and Christina Aquilera in Burlesque, Picture from IMDb.com

 

That is where she meets Cher who mentors her along in the way of make-up and performing. And when Aquilera lets loose on the pipes, all bets are off to discovering how successful she will be. Forget reality while watching this movie because you know some of what will happen. Stay for Cher’s solo, Kristen Bell’s anger and Stanley Tucci’s every scene.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

I know that everything in the book did not make it into the movie. I was looking forward to some things that did not make it. But this movie did what it had to do. It gave us the fill towards the end. It lead us from school life to real life for Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Daniel, Rupert and Emma in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Picture from IMDb.com.

 

We are now set up for the final movie, the final episode. We are ready for the huge battle we know must come. And if it all goes the way I hope, David Yates will be praised forever as one of the best directors of one of the best movie series ever.

Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr. has seen a renaissance that has been remarkable for the roles he is getting and what he is doing with them. In this movie, Downey had to contend with the specter of Basil Rathbone and made his own mark. I wondered if he was giving Sherlock a bit of an Asperberger’s twist with his incredible focus on a single subject and lack of social niceties.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. in "Sherlock Holmes," Picture from IMDb.com

 

Jude Law also has some hurdles to cross as he makes Dr. Watson different from the Nigel Bruce charactization. We follow the story of a woman from Holmes’ past whom needs Holmes to do some investigating. Plus, the two men are dealing with an estrangement as Watson finds a woman he wants to marry. I was entranced and loved how Guy Richie envisioned the story.

There are so many other movies I need to see. I am looking forward to Rabbit Hole, Country Strong and True Grit, among others.

 What movies did you love in the past year?