Archive for August, 2010
Sherlock (2010 Tv Series)
Created/Written By: Stephen Moffat [Doctor Who] & Mark Gatiss [League of Gentlemen] based on the novels by Arthur Conan Doyle
Origin: BBC – TV [British]
Running Time: [series 1] 3 episodes (90 mins each)
DT’s Rating: 10/10
Well, I’ve been raving about this long enough to warrant a review, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet (especially after last week’s lengthy rant on inglorious basterds, lol).
So: Sherlock Holmes. The story itself (or rather the characters) are a real British institution that has spread worldwide. For me, I always watched The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett (1984-94) repeated on TV, which I loved; Basil of Baker Street- the Great Mouse Detective (1986) that I watched as a little kid; and of course there was the great 2009 film Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law (who benefit form both being extremely good actors at making the roles their own..and are also being very yummy. Of course :D) And I’ve read a few of the great stories (but not nearly enough ><).
So, when I heard that the Doctor Who regulars Moffat and Gatiss were going to air a modern version on Sherlock Holmes, I was of course thrilled. This only increased when It was announced that Martin Freeman (the Office/Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking) would be playing the main roles, and (later when I watched it) I loved that Gatiss would be playing Mycroft too.
So, a great cast, great writers…but did it live up to the expectation?
In a word – yes. For one, the format of the mini series allowed for longer episodes at an hour and a half each, which acted like mini films and allowed a heck of a lot of character development and the cases to stretch out in more detail. In my opinion, all of the best crime dramas are at least an hour long or more, such as the Columbo series or Inspector Morse. Like Columbo, the longer format allows you to get a real feel for the chase and game of mental wits. This was the same in every episode of Sherlock, and it also allowed more time to be spent in constructing the relationship of the new flatmates as Watson and Sherlock lean more about one another. Furthermore it allows plenty of humour to flourish without detracting from the main thrust of the plot.
What I think is remarkable about this series, and sets it apart from other Sherlock adaptations that I’ve seen, is that it effortlessly moulds it into the modern setting as if it belongs there all the time, and also how it focuses so well on the relationships between the characters.With the modern setting: Watson is a soldier who’s wounded in Afghanistan and, having to survive on an army pension, ends up moving in with Sherlock – who he’s just met and is introduced to by an old schoolmate. His personality is the strongest that I’ve seen in any adaptation, and while he of course has to play second fiddle to Sherlock’s ego -as ever- he exists individually and can take care of himself and is a genuinely good character even when separate from the detective. Sherlock is modernised by updating his sexuality, adding nicotine patches to his arsenal of addictions and perfectly characterising him as a technological whiz. Similarly, Sherlock is a very strong character which seems both faithful to the book while constructing a version of his own – and it’s fascinating especially as we see his flaws (he calls himslef a ‘high functioning sociopath’) and how his mind works (for example, his complete lack of knowledge on the solar system being ‘deleted’ to make more relevant space in the ‘harddrive’ of his brain.) This, mixed with Watson’s sensible character makes for some hilarious and genuinely interesting scenes, such as what Sherlock gets up to while he’s bored – which is often. Furthermore, smaller characters are beautifully written into strong characters, such as Mycroft (and his rather hilarious sibling rivalry with Sherlock), Molly (the girl at pathologiy who has an unreciprocated crush on the detective), Lestrade and the police force and -duh duh duuuhn!- the brilliantly original portrayal of Moriarty.
[Come on, it’s hardly a spoiler. No budding Sherlock adaptation would be complete with him at least making an appearance in some form. You knew it was coming.]
The three episodes are quality through and through and, in short, I adore them.
And, to make things even better, they have tie-in websites that are written to be made by the characters themselves. So, as the series goes on, you can actually read John’s blog, and Holme’s website, and even Molly’s blog. Not only does the series allude to what’s on the website, but they even have comments from the more minor characters and it grounds it all in reality – genius! The show is scattered with little touches like this that aren’t strictly necessary, but are layered to make the whole viewing experience even better. For example, at one point Watson -like trained soldiers in hostage situations- blinks out ‘SOS’, and at another point we hear Paul Megan (the 8th Doctor) narrating. These, like these websites, are added extras that you can;t help but love, and the show gets bonus points for it. Check out the websites, but beware of spoilers, since they were updated sequentially for the uk viewers as the series went on:
So – 10/10! I encourage you to go and watch it.
The DVD is out in the UK Aug 30th. And I’ve been told that the series is released in the US in October. Enjoy!
(Just in case you won’t be able to see it for ages :p)
A Study in Pink (ep 1):
“Oh, look at you lot. You’re all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.”
“I’m not a psychopath, I’m a highly functioning sociopath. Do your research.”
— Sherlock (to Anderson)
Donovan: “Are these human eyes?”
Sherlock: “Put those back!”
Donovan: “They were in the microwave!”
Sherlock: “It’s an experiment!”
John Watson: “Where did you get this? Detective Inspector Lestrade?”
Sherlock: “I pickpocket him when he’s annoying.”
“We can’t giggle, it’s a crime scene.”
— John Watson
“And since yesterday you’ve moved in with him and now you’re solving crimes together. Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?”
— Mycroft Holmes
The Blind Banker (ep2)
“I’m the great Sherlock Holmes, I work alone ’cause no one can compete with my massive intellect!”
Sherlock Holmes: I need to get some air – we’re going out tonight.
Dr John Watson : Actually, I’ve got a date.
Sherlock Holmes : What?
Dr John Watson : It’s where two people who like each other go out and have fun?
Sherlock Holmes : That’s what I was suggesting.
Dr John Watson : …No, it wasn’t. At least I hope not.
The Great Game (ep3)
Sherlock: “Look at that, Mrs. Hudson. Quiet, calm, peaceful… isn’t it hateful?”
Mrs. Hudson: “Oh, I’m sure something will turn up, Sherlock. A nice murder, that’ll cheer you up.”
John: “A severed head!”
Sherlock: “Just tea for me, thanks.”
Hello and happy Wednesday!
Today I’ve got a bunch of nifty pictures for you that should keep you entertained this week . It’s fairly gif heavy this time, so make sure to be patient with loading. If the image looks like it’s a gif (they’re usually small images) and they’ve frozen or don’t work, try clicking on it to view it by itself, and it’ll should be fixed.
This week we’ve also got a whole bunch of my fandoms which I’m sure a lot of your share. First of all, another shout-out to the great new BBC series ‘Sherlock’ which comes out on DVD Aug 30th. So I’ve got a Sherlock Holmes to begin and end, cos he’s awesome, etc :
I hope you like, remember to drop a comment if you liked it (or if you didn’t lol)
Genre: War Drama
Director/Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Synopsis (by IMDB):
In Nazi occupied France, young Jewish refugee Shosanna Dreyfus witnesses the slaughter of her family by Colonel Hans Landa. Narrowly escaping with her life, she plots her revenge several years later when German war hero Fredrick Zoller takes a rapid interest in her and arranges an illustrious movie premiere at the theater she now runs. With the promise of every major Nazi officer in attendance, the event catches the attention of the “Basterds”, a group of Jewish-American guerilla soldiers led by the ruthless Lt. Aldo Raine. As the relentless executioners advance and the conspiring young girl’s plans are set in motion, their paths will cross for a fateful evening that will shake the very annals of history
DT’s Rating: 6.5/10
There’s a problem when you’re an established cult-gone-famous director like Quentin Tarantino is that your audience will always approach your films with a set of expectations. For me, my expectations with the great writer/director was: excellent script (especially where one-on-one dialogue is concerned); comic book/cult references; top notch dark comedy; silly/exciting action; brutal violence ; larger-than-life characters firmly grounded in reality; and,most of all, great enjoyable quality. A film director can either embrace these expectations and make the same film again and again, or they can try and break away from them. To me, Tarantino tried to do both with dubious success in this film, somehow presenting some expectations but not realising them beyond half-hearted and shallow gimmicks, and yet relying on previous popularity without actually presenting a fully finished film. In short, it was disappointing but yet had such potential.
Granted, it did well. A lot of critics rave about it, which is what attracted me to it (as well as it being from one of my favourite film writers), so to give it such a low rating is difficult for me, because the film is tricky. It’s not incredibly bad. It has good moments. It has some quality. But, and here’s the clincher, it’s not enjoyable. It sets up goalposts that you expect – since Tarantino is so highly regarded – and yet it falls just a little short.Let me break it down, if you will, and hopefully I can explain myself better.
The expectations.Like I said I approached the film with certain expectations as I’m sure any Tarantino fan will do, so I’d like to demonstrate how the film lived up to them:
Excellent Script (esp in dialouge)
First and foremost, we have the script. Now Tarantino is a good writer, no doubt about it, and the plot of Inglourious Basterds has some great bits. For example, how it is rooted down in reality through the ground-level machinations of various groups of characters, and how these all weave together to meet in the middle for the end, that’s fine. I especially liked little touches like how a simple hand gesture can reveal a spy. And the dialogue between characters who are ‘relaxing’, such as in the pub (think pulp fiction) or, more importantly, the ‘casual’ exchange in the beginning of the film when the Nazi Jew Hunter is subtly interrogating the dairy farmer are all well done. This is written by a man with an ear for how people really talk, and an appreciation for layering up subtlety to layer up tension at a torturous pace. While I personally didn’t mind the dialogue scenes taking a long time (after all, they were there for tension and it worked), for the film as a whole it made it too long – a problem that was further exacerbated by the fact that most of these were in subtitles. (yet again, being quite a fan of subtitled films, I didn’t mind, but the people I watched it with were fast losing the will to live. It made an already laborious process that required utmost concentration even more tedious). Individual pockets of the script were, admittedly, excellent. But, and this is a big but, the script overall didn’t work. Characterisation wasn’t properly realised beyond a few flashes and what they revealed immediately in the dialogue. For a film that, in the trailers, boasted to be a violent action/revenge film, there was precious little action. for example, the Basterds themselves were practically cameos and served very little purpose at all, which was dissapointing, as they had so much potential to be fascinating. Most of all, the script was dull, and you didn’t much care whether the plan succeeded or failed or indeed if any of the characters lived or died.
Comic Book / Cult Devices
This was the perfect example of Tarantino trying to live up to audience expectations of him, but falling short. Little comic book touches were added in – for example the occasional titling of names of characters in a dramatic panel-style clip. there were little flashes of half-scenes meant to flash an important bit of info at the audience without going into detail – eg goebbles relentlessly shagging his secret girlfriend, or one of the basterds getting flogged. And finally little sketchy names and arrows to point out important nazis in the cinema. While these are fine little devices that Tarantino practically pioneered, in this film they appear without context, without necessity, without particular origionality, and so come across as shallow crowd pleasers. the rest of the film, (unlike how these devices were brilliantly used in killbill), is not sculpted in mood to allow them without them looking foreign and ridiculous.
Top Notch Dark Comedy
That, my friends, is the funniest thing in the film. The ONLY funniest thing.
I realise that a lot of the humor was dark, and subtle mockeries of nationalities, but for it’s potential it fell very short of Tarantino’s previous ability to weave humor throughout dark films. Again the trailer and film didn’t match up. The trailer showed a film that had it tongue so firmly wedged in it’s cheek that hilarity was supposedly inevitable, and it the very least it would be fun. The real film? Not so much.
Action? What Action? Again the trailer led us to believe a completely different thing to this film. There’s a couple of massacres. Which aren’t exciting. I think that this is the reason why the film falls flat again. The trailer lets you believe that you’ll follow around the basterds in their quest to kill nazis…in reality they have about 15 mins screen time in a 2 1/2 hour film. And they don’t do much while they’re there. In fact, it makes me wonder why they’re in the film at all. and when your title characters seem to be purposeless and dull, you know you have some real problems.
There was some gore. Especially at the end. I suppose it looked realistic. And the violence, when it happened, was no-frills and gory, again real. That’s not a bad thing, but again it is all done without excitement, and to characters which you don’t give a damn about (read: all of them).
Larger than life good characters that are firmly grounded in reality.
The more I think about it, the more I relaise what gets my goat with this film. I found that come the final curtain I knew next to nothing about the characters but for the superficial appearances, that i didn’t know most fo tehri names and even found some hard to recognise (eg – what? 2 basterds just got murdered?! And I don’t realise this until someone steps over and blatantly tells me that they’re basterds? and that guy was the british spy? granted, shaving off his moustache threw me off, but you could have developed his character a bit before you killed him off. jesus…). I admit that Tarantino focuses on the here and now, which usually works. for example in Killbill the bride’s backstory is only gradually revealed (in the wrong order), but at least she does have a backstory. In Pulp fiction it’s more or less the same. but in these films at least there is character development. in Inglorious basterds the only character development is shown with sosanna the jewish girl who escaped at the beginning, and that is thin. Landa is the one I liked most, but only because he got all the best dialogue. I couldn’t give two hoots about the basterds, and had difficulty recognising them as standing out from the background characters. there was no development or fleshing out of them like the killbill gang. Even Brad Pitt, the leader, has nothing two him. keen eyes would notice that he has a scar from a hanging, but we never learn about what that was from. All we know of him is that he has a retarded accent (sorry, but seriously, was it that bad and clichéd on purpose or can brad pitt just not do accents?) and that is where is characterisation ends. It is hard to like or hate any of the characters, and you don’t know who’s even the main characters you should root for. The film is full of cardboard cut-outs made apparently only to support the decent dialogue and little else.
There is something worse in film than inadvertently hating the main characters, and that is to not give a damn about any of them. And I did not give a damn.
And that was what most disappointed me from a writer who is brilliant at making memorable characters.
Great, enjoyable quality.
Because of all the reasons above the quality just consistently wasn’t there. you could see potential for quality, but it never quite added up together, as if someone had tried to complete a puzzle when they had halves of two different jigsaws.
The potential was certainly there, and if anything that makes you more bitter that it wasn’t realised.
In conclusion, the film was disappointing to me, yet still – from an educational point of view for a wannabe writer – it gave some little gems to pay attention to and learn from. the films strength was in it’s one-to-one dialouge: the little scenes where tension was eked out over a long period of casual and real talking, making it very sinister and real, and here is where the jew-hunter Colonel Landa was in his element and supported the film…but as for an enjoyable piece of cinema, it falls short. For fans, you really should watch it, because only you can decide if, like me, you find it a disappointment, or like many others, you find it one of the best films of 2009. Apparently there is no middle ground.
For me, it was the weakest of his films (I have seen so far), so:
Howdy everyone. Just to let you know that I’m off on holiday for a week, so I won’t be updating the blog during that time.
But fear not, procrastinators, I’ll be back soon with more awesome randomness 😉
Hope you have a great week!
Happy Wednesday! I’ve got some good pictures and gifs up for you this week, they certianly entertained me, so I hope they’ll put a cheer on your workday. Plenty of pandas in thsi post for panda fans too :p