Tuesday, January 5, 2010


one day i would like to be "well read." i would like to walk into libraries and have librarians ask me for recommendations. i would like to complete an entire crossword puzzle or "non-sequitor" comic strip without calling in reinforcements. label it pride (which it is) but my life is ridiculously short, my brain is shrinking with every B-flick film, and there is only so much time and energy to know and read what i hope to know and read.

(i've been working on the same flannery o'connor biography since august, shooting it down and chasing it with shots of malcolm gladwell and gulps of this new stephen king, by gods i am. and page by page i've been bragging on myself, as if each chapter were a new leg on a treacherous mountain climb. geek pride is the worst pride.)

with that said, there are a few prior knowledge schemas that possibly could have helped me enjoy SHERLOCK HOLMES way more than i did. a few things i wish i had known walking into the film include:

- a better grasp on sir arthur conan doyle's stories and holmes' character,
- a deeper and wider appreciation of guy ritchie's work (which i've never stomached for some reason),
- why the blokes in parliament wear those white wigs,
- a general sense of british culture that stretches beyond fish-n-chips, "bloody hell" and "fuckin' wanker." i ain't so mod savvy, even though some of my best friends in china were brits. we just learned to drink lager more efficiently.

still, the dullard i am carried in enough sense to enjoy SHERLOCK HOLMES greatly. i knew a few things going in:

- the robert downey jr. is making quite the comeback - hurrah for him,
- i like that they included sherlock holmes' martial arts background,
- i dig the sights of small nerdy types beating the queen's english out of bloody huge blokes,
- i love any film that begins dark, pans out in dark, and ends in dark,
- fountain pens and sinister journal sketches turn me on,
- the wife and i lived three years on Holmes Road in kansas city,
- if rachel mcadams served me nasty tea, i'd drink 12 cups of it.

with this brief and quite unliterary knowledge under my belt, the wife and i walked into an afternoon showing of SHERLOCK HOLMES, and i walked out a knocked-kneed sweaty mess.

point blank: i loved this film. i loved this film on nearly every level that i could love a film. great visuals. flawless acting. fantastic storyline. a battle between science and black magic. tons of gunpowder. loads of fist fights. mcadams taking and delivering punches. shabby and dodgy scenery. murder and resurrection. chemicals and odors. acrobatic escapism. an english bulldog pudged in for comic relief. classic holmes' uncanny deductive reasoning. mcadams in purple. the whole film was electric and exhausting.

on the whole, i give SHERLOCK HOLMES 4 crotch pillows out of 5. the film looked good. it felt good. it made me tired. and, after all that, i drove home from the theater hungry to read. and, honestly, that's my actual desire: not for brilliance as much as for hours and days hunched over black coffee/fine ale and good stories. over science. over reasoning. over the magic of transferred wisdom. over words. yes, i can buy that last little bit there.

in fact, i have some stories about some brits i once knew in china. like that one day when chad, simon and i bought a bundle of yantai pijiu in the market and lit up a pack of qi lui cigarettes on my balcony . . . . .


John Barber said...

Well dang it if we aren't starting the new year right with two slam-bang good reviews! Props to the hamster for lighting a fire under me to go see this one. I was gonna wait for dvd, but I think the priority list has changed.

myleswerntz said...

Okay, a few things:

1) I love Guy Ritchie's stuff, though I didn't know going in that this was him. The fight scene, in retrospect, is very much like Snatch, which remains one of my favorite films of all time.

2) My uncle gave me a collection of Arthur Conan Doyle when I was ten. Never touched it. Probably will after seeing this movie.

3) Loved this movie's pacing and refusal to be only an action flick. I loved that it kept all the science nerd and observational stuff that makes Holmes not just Spiderman, but Spiderman with a drug habit and a PhD in Chemistry.

4) Robert Downey Jr. strikes again.

Kelly Riad said...

YAY for the hamster's return!

i LOVED this film. I am a Guy Ritchie fan. I loved ROCKNROLLA though I refuse to say "rolla," I'll pronounce my r's, thank you very much, and I love his films, even more so after I've had Sharif translate them for me. Yes, translate English. I require it, and I agree with the American in SNATCH - what they speak is not English. Ritchie and I took a break while he was married to Madonna because the succubus sucked the talent from him during that time, but now we're reunited and it feels so good. (Sorry, that was super cheesy, but i just couldn't resist.) So i have been beyond antsy about this movie. Downey, Law, McAdams, Strong - all such amazing actors that take you away to another time, another world. Their talent is effortless.

Sharif had read all the stories and said that Guy Ritchie and his directorial style was the perfect match. I couldn't agree, not having read them, so I quickly went home and ordered my complete works and can't wait for the sequel.

Stacey Lawlis said...

ooh!! I was kind of on the fence about this one, but now... the Mr. and I may have to grab a coupla tickets. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

AmbassadorTex checking in from Waco: From what I've heard, the link between the movie and the real Holmes is tenuous at best, so you are probably much better equipped to enjoy and appreciate this movie than I am. I've read most of the Holmes stuff, so I've been wary of the film...but Guy Ritchie is the kick-ass cinematic equivalent of eating a funnel cake. And I love funnel cake. Now for that Chinese balcony story..

Tiffani R said...

I have loved mysteries since I was about 10 years old and started reading Dame Agatha's bloody "who done its" voraciously - but my experience reading Doyle's work has been much smaller. So I'm with you, Kev, I haven't read many Sherlock Holmes stories.

That being said, I think I've seen almost every Holmes movie including the hilarious "Without a Clue" (starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley as Holmes and Watson respectively) and the suspenseful "Young Sherlock Holmes."

This movie made me want to see both those movies again while simultaneously making me want to view "Sherlock Holmes" a second time and causing me to live in anticipation of what other fun the franchise will bring.

Here is what I liked about it:
1) I love smart movies and this movie did not dumb down the mystery or its solutions.
2) Jude Law (I mean, seriously, how can a guy who is apparently a tool in real life be so incredibly charming on screen in every flick?!)
3) Comedy - I love the humor that is included and think that it makes the story (which is pretty dark in some respects) lighter and more palatable.
4) The action - I haven't seen most Guy Ritchie movies, they have often seemed to harsh/violent/edgy for me, so I just skipped them - but I thought he did a TERRIFIC job directing this one.

So many other things I liked about this movie, but I have to get ready for class so I have to stop. Bottom line: I saw Sherlock Holmes on New Year's Eve, and it was a great way to end 2009.