Monday, June 1, 2020
Sherlock Holmes in Comedy and Pastiche
The character of Sherlock Holmes has been exceptionally long loved in cinema. He can and has appeared in any kind of story, in many different genres. type
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes is an interesting example/showcase of excess. This film isn't a huge spectacle full of It's an otherwise normal Sherlock Holmes pastiche...albeit once that was nearly 4 hours long! was trimmed to a more manageable 2 hour length (thank god), against Wilder's wishes
You'll never believe how it ends though!...With no confrontation or = whatsoever! The heroes are just chilling out when Mycroft sends for Sherlock, and shows him a submarine for 5 minutes, Queen Victoria pops up to take a look, then quashes the entire/whole project. That's it. No =. This would have been unsatisfying even for a half hour story, as the lack of a = ending makes it feel pointless. But to waste an hour and a half all for an anticlimax like this is excruciating!
mystery exceedingly poor. The first section has none, while the second makes no effort in concealing anything, revealing the identity of the spy early on, as well as the monks = (although they were quite frankly really suspicious anyway)
"To think people still believe in that nonsense! I mean, here we are living in the 19th century!"
most bizarre moment was when Holmes is detailing why women can't be trusted, and among other things he casually mentions a fiancee who 'unreliably' caught influenza and died before the wedding! This isn't treated as a major character moment, or a = dramatic scene, but just a stupid joke.
One of the biggest aspect of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes are the assertions/assertations that he and Dr. Watson are in a secret homosexual relationship. themes gay
pastiche also tackles Holmes' drug use, but in a very halfhearted way. It pays =, but has no interest in actually exploring or combating it, like The Seven Percent Solution, to coin an example/a comparison.
performance as Sherlock is strange. He's a bit like Peter Cook, and has a very effete delivery and mannerisms, and an oddly pasty face, as if he's been.slathered in chalky make-up. He has his good moments, and I have faith that he could be a good Holmes, although I wasn't sold on him in this particular movie. As for Colin Blakely, I love him! So I was surprised and interested to see him as Dr. Watson of all things! How does he do?...Ehhh, he's alright. He's so covered in = and affects such a = accent that it's sometimes hard to tell it's even him, and I forgot at numerous times. He's fine here for the most part, but suffers from a = of Watson, and poor direction here and there ("You CAD!").
Christopher Lee acquits himself the best here, although I resent the director who made him shave half his head! Mollie Maureen very elderly and childlike Queen Victoria. It's a good performance, though a little weird compared with what we usually expect from her majesty. Genevieve Page is alright as Gabrielle, getting across what she needs to. Tamara Toumanova meanwhile is alright as the sultry but grumpy starlet, but doesn't get a lot to do. And lastly, Irene Handl has a nice short role here as Mrs. Hudson.
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was an interesting idea, but for me it was a failure, and took away 2 hours from my life I could have spent rewatching Without a Clue.
Young Sherlock Holmes
At a London boarding school is a young teenager named Sherlock Holmes. Blessed with remarkable talents of deduction, he teams up with his new friend John Watson and girlfriend Elizabeth to solve a series of bizarre murders in town...
Young Sherlock Holmes is one of the worst entries in this vast canon I've seen, by by golly is that saying something!
The mystery is pretty mediocre, and there are rarely any meaningful clues. The crimes also fall apart on even the most basic scrutiny. It's a really big assumption that all the victims would commit suicide! The drug only causes hallucinations and lasts just 5 minutes, and the cult just hopes the people will jump out a window, run in front of a carriage, or stab themselves! And all the darts conveniently disappear, and the authorities notice neither them or the puncture wounds. And why now? if it was this easy why not get revenge 20 years sooner, or kill them all in a single day? Nothing's stopping them. The whole sacrifice stuff feels unnecessary and tacked-on too. Frankly it makes the heroes feel useless, since they failed to prevent eight murders!
A black mark against Young Sherlock Holmes is that it is truly ridiculous! I could look past the goofy characters, and the silly concept, but what I have trouble buying is that there's an immense secret society of ancient Egyptian cultists who regularly sacrifice young maidens! Or that they willingly embark in massive chases in public! Secret societies don't stay secret when 50 members all run out screaming down Wapping with scimitars! It gets to the point where I honestly don't blame Lestrade for not believing Sherlock's story! What's all this doing in a Holmes story, too?
There are other things in the movie that bothered me too, like Holmes being expelled. It annoys me that this is never resolved. Justice is never seen, and the snobby bastard responsible is never punished (or ever seen again). Most importantly, this deprives the film of its most interesting setting! A classic British boarding school! Also silly/weird is that this expulsion is apparently so severe that Holmes is forbidden to attend his mentor's funeral, and if he's caught hanging around in London he'll be arrested! What the fuck kind of boarding school is this?!
A serious problem with this film is tone. It's a light children's adventure movie, but with many violent suicides, a teenage girl getting shot to death, and others being burned alive in pretty ghoulish ways! What the fuck, is this a horror film?! I wouldn't mind graphic and scary deaths in an adult picture, but when you have moments like this in a movie for kids, that's a bit suss. I know I may have been the kind of kid who loved this and actively sought out gruesome horror, but there's a difference. I knew that was for adults, and I didn't expect to see violent disembowelment in Clifford the Big Red Dog!
To cap all this off, there's a disturbing amount of people who want to murder children in this movie! Even the kindly Arabs hate the evil cult so much they're ready to shoot the pint-sized adventurers in the face for even asking about them! Because as we all know, shooting young teens in the face isn't considered evil anymore. Church declared it so back in 1866, weren't you paying attention?
As a Sherlock Holmes film, this is disappointing. It breaks continuity of course, but that aside, the whole tone is off, as well as the story, and The nods to continuity annoyed me too. The presence of Watson here as a kid makes no sense when he and Holmes didn't meet till adults, so have it be an original character! The villain changing his name to Moriarty at the end feels forced, and means the movie never really accomplished anything (not to mention a villain with three names is really damn confusing!). Oh well, at least they didn't make his school nemesis Moriarty!
And lastly is Elizabeth's fate at the end, which is depressing as well as pointless! It only happens to show why Holmes is detached and unemotional towards women in the books. It's because he was an emotional person who had a tragic romance as a young boy. ...Again/AGAIN? Again with this same tired old cliche? Bloody hell! Why can't Holmes just be an unemotional and distant guy to the opposite sex because that's just his personality? Why do they always feel the need to explain everything?!
The movie also explores where Holmes got the parts of his famous costume. All in a very hamfisted way, and it's especially annoying to have Watson and others go 'Oh, you look ridiculous with that pipe!', 'Bah, that hat is stupid!' or 'You're surely not going to wear that silly coat are you?', etc. It's frustrating to have the movie constantly have characters insult the iconic things, just for a lame joke. I also dislike that he gets the famous coat from the serial killer who shot his girlfriend! I don't care if it feels like a hunter's trophy, throw it in the darn trash!
Then at the end, there's a text crawl, where the movie has the balls to call itself an affectionate 'speculation'! = Perhaps Young Sherlock Holmes's worst crime over all else is that it's simply not logical at all.
One of the most intrusive aspects of the film is the narration from an older Watson! It's often unnecessary, it sometimes explains to us what would have been better to see, and in the worst instance, Holmes starts answering a question about an important discovery, and the narration butts in! He gets no more than two words out before future Watson speaks for him!
Length is also a big problem here. The film is 2 nearly hours long and it really didn't need to be. It meanders around so much with the most bare basic things, and even the climax is ridiculously drawn out, lasting for another 20 minutes after you think it's over.
Let's move onto the characters. Holmes is portrayed alright, and is more emotional side does make some sense, but it's not a great depiction. bears zero portrayal to the Watson of the stories, ]and they really should've made it be a different character. After all, Holmes and Watson don't meet until adulthood in the original stories! Let this kid be an original creation.] Elizabeth is a nice enough girl, but a bit [superfluous] I felt, while her uncle is a bit obnoxiously goofy.
I really didn't like Lestrade's portrayal in this movie. For a start, he's not so bloody old that he was in the force when Holmes was a wee nipper! But mainly he's so skeptical that it gets old fast. He has one mode, and that's "Go away, boy, I don't have time for your silly theories!"
Since there are no other suspects in this movie, it's pretty obvious that the baddie is the suave professor with the evil sounding name. His identity is a point of confusion, as he has no less than three bloody names throughout the film! He's not a very good villain, really. Predictable, a little dull, and lacking. He also has moments of idiocy, like hypnotising Elizabeth to find out where the other boys were last...even though he's the last person to see them! he knows where they were! The remainder of the cast is middling and unremarkable.
The acting here is ok, having its moments. Nicholas Rowe is alright as Holmes, but he can be a little monotone at times. Also, I don't mean to be harsh on him, as despite some shaky moments he's not that bad, but Jesus, his eyes here have the cold dead stare of a serial killer! Alan Cox is fine as Watson, though a little unremarkable. Sophie Ward is decent as Elizabeth. Roger Ashton Griffiths is an ok Lestrade, but doesn't get much to do. And the villain is played decently by Anthony Higgins (who interestingly enough played Holmes once in a terrible TV movie).
The actors playing the murder victims are all ridiculously over-the-top, and even poor Freddie Jones is dragged down by the direction. Perhaps the worst performance in the entire film though goes to Susan Fleetwood as Mrs. Dribb, who is fine for the most part, until she suddenly goes crazy in the last act, and does literally nothing but snarl like an animal for the rest of the movie.
The effects are a major part of Young Sherlock Holmes, to its detriment. This should be a low-key mystery, but instead has no less than six hallucination sequences! All very elaborate, with over-the-top special effects, and all are quite silly. The effects themselves are good in some places, but the CGI is where it disappoints a little. Some shots are just plain terrible, while the stained glass man fares a little better, but isn't that great. Interestingly enough, he was the very first character in a film to be created entirely with digital effects!...Kinda wish they hadn't wasted $200,000 dollars and 6 months of work/time on 31 seconds instead of just dressing a dude in a costume, or making an animatronic, but oh well.
One of the strangest parts/things about Young Sherlock Holmes is its Harry Potter connection! It predates the books/films by about 15 years, and yet is chockabock full of connections! Directed by Chris Columbus, this is a film about a talented boy, his goofy friend, and a girl solving a mystery, at a whimsical snowy boarding school. There's a blonde snobby bad boy, a bully named Dudley, a heavily cloaked villain, heroes sneaking into a library at night with lanterns, people being wrapped around/up by living vines, a stone staircases on fire during the climax, and main villains burning to death too! WHAT THE HELL/What the hell?! Is this a coincidence? It can't be! That's at least ten things! Who ripped off who here? Did J.K. Rowling pinch stuff from Young Sherlock Holmes for her new book series, or did Chris Columbus rip off himself when making his Harry Potter movies?! Bizarre, I tell ya!
To finish, Young Sherlock Holmes was an annoying, horrible film! It's not completely without merit, but as a movie and as a Holmes entry, it's utter rubbish!
They Might Be Giants
Former judge and millionaire Justin Playfair has believed himself to be Sherlock Holmes for the past year, ever since the death of his beloved wife.
I was always interested in the concept behind They Might Be Giants, and I always wanted to see it! Until = that is. Then the movie always occupied a place of dislike in my mind. It's fitting now to finally discuss my thoughts on it, and where I feel it fails.
The movie is a very artistically minded one, and its themes envelope the whole story. They're very interesting on paper, and some of the speeches 'Holmes' gets as the story rolls along are decent, and one in particular is great, giving a superb reason for an otherwise strange and un-Sherlockian/Holmesian title.
"Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be...Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes."
Where the themes fall flat is the obvious message and presentation. This might be just my opinion, but I found the whole film to be very on the nose. For the whole movie/journey, the heroes don't really find any clues, but the important thing is the people they meet along the way, and we see the quirky everyday people who populate New York City. *sigh* I'm not saying this plot is inherently bad, or that any cliche can permanently become tired, but in this case I saw it coming a mile away and was hardly enthused.
The pinnacle of this message comes at the end. As the heroes and friends dueled an army of orderlies in the supermarket, I said to myself in a stupid voice "Gee, I won-der who the real madmen are? Is it...society?!". This film is about as subtle as a gold brick! The overall message is just lazy! There's a triumphant scene where all the 'crazies' are proudly marching towards Moriarty, and you look forward to what they find!...Then they find nothing, Holmes makes a halfhearted speech, and they all leave for a minute before invading a supermarket.
Putting the themes to one side for a moment, let's discuss the plot. It's not very good. Since the movie starts off in media res, we never get to see the real Justin Playfair. Because of this it's hard to relate with him now in the present. It also feels like he should have an epiphany about his dead deceased wife, but he never does, which almost seems callous.
We're often going from one scene to the next in a very straightforward way, except for one diversion. The leads are in a greenhouse with new friends when they're interrupted by the sudden attack of criminals, then this is interrupted when we suddenly cut to Watson trying and failing to cook for 5 minutes. It's a strange transition, and I didn't understand it. Ok, I guess they escaped the baddies, but why did they separate again and why are they having a date? The whole scene feels at odds with the rest of the film. Sure, it's cute and we're seeing their relationship grow I guess, but they're meant to be out there finding clues and solving mysteries! This is the last 20 minutes after all. And who, who in the name of god keeps all four burners going on their stove at once?! To feed two/TWO people?!
While 'Holmes' and Watson go visiting every crackpot in New York based on the most = of clues, there's a subplot with his brother showing a very real real threat. He owes money to these gangsters from what I could tell. We don't really get much information. We never find out who they are, and after the greenhouse confrontation they're never seen or heard from again. Neither is Justin's brother for that matter! There's a lot this film needed to wrap up, but never bothers to. [I wonder if the writer had trouble with it, because] the story seems to meander around a little meaninglessly, and not enough happens to really sustain the narrative
There's a lot of characters here, and most only get one scene, before coming back together for the supermarket battle. Justin Playfair makes for an ok Sherlock Holmes, but he makes tons of deductions without ever explaining it, so it comes across as magic more than logic. Honestly the character and canon of Holmes really doesn't provide much here, besides the omnipotent Moriarty. Mildred Watson is an ok sidekick, although I can't decide if her constant flip-flopping makes sense, or is annoying. The remainder of the characters are mixed. Some ok, some bad, some decent.
The comedy in They Might be Giants is pretty lousy. Some scenes are alright, but others I felt were too cartoony, and came off like they were trying too hard, or not enough. The worst [comedy scene] is by far the supermarket scene at the climax! Absurdly over-the-top, too stupid for words, and solving nothing,
Here's what I find to be the film's lowest moment however! The movie's final moments are a ridiculous non-ending. Skilled authors can craft [endings] such as these brilliantly, such as Edgar Allan Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym (apologies for the mouthful!). Where they succeed and this one fails is that they have enough details and elements] for you to make a genuine conclusion, or perhaps multiple. They Might be Giants instead felt lazy to me, like the writer didn't want to actually answer the deeper meanings of life but instead = with a cop out. There's a flash of light, and the implication that 'We all have, like, our own Moriarty, man, and struggling against an unseen foe makes us feel alive!]', but it feels unearned, because the film hasn't actually done anything! It was telling a story, then it just cuts off when thinks might've gotten more interesting and thought-provoking! I understand that some might feel these questions are too big to answer, but to that I say-Silly. This is a story! Try! After all, even if your theory = is wrong, at least you took the trouble to think of one, and you might inspire the audience to think of their own too]/regardless!
There's another issue I have with this ending however, and it blows the other one out of the water. Getting into brief spoilers, after a whole film of showing Justin to be a font of wisdom, truly the only sane man, who helps and inspires everyone he meets, he thinks he sees Moriarty on a train track, and gets himself and Watson killed! The two walk into a railway(?) tunnel, both now claiming to see and hear Moriarty coming, then they're suddenly enveloped in light. Ergo, the headlights of a train just before it flattens them! Dialogue from Holmes supports the possibility that they're about to die! I don't think/know if this was intentional, because I can't overstate how thoroughly it completely undermines the whole message of the film! That the supposedly 'insane' people are the true wise men of society...Then the guy's illness makes him and his friend accidentally commit suicide?! What the hell kind of message is that? Was the author high? Stupid? Did he let some stranger write the ending?! Whatever the case, this utterly ruins the film.
They Might be Giants isn't paced terribly, and each scene moves by quickly enough even if they're not the most entertaining. The music here is sometimes schmaltzy, but otherwise ok, and there are some intriguing tunes here and there. The locale of New York is a little boring to me for a Sherlock Holmes story (even a fake one such as this), as well as ill-fitting for an artistic story. I'm sorry America, but your cities just can't handle art! They're too normal!
The actors here do ok to decent jobs. George C. Scott does a lot right, and I applaud him for taking on a role like this. He was always a cool dude! The film didn't let him live up to his full potential, I felt, but he's still fine, even if his English accent slips every now and then (which I suppose makes sense here?). Joanne Woodward is a nice foil, and plays her role well. Jack Gilford is a nice presence,and despite some strange deliveries at times I mostly liked him. Rue McClanahan is amusing, while Kitty Wynn is as beautiful as ever in her short role. Ron Weyand however is pretty terrible as the bad doctor and his lousy Southern accent.
Overall, there's not a lot to recommend in They Might be Giants. It's not without some positives, even if they're only little, but none of them are able to save it in my eyes. A stupid, irresponsible film that fails as a pastiche, a Sherlock Holmes film