Sherlock Holmes

What an onslaught of Holiday movies. Sure Hope I can keep caught up. The first film to cross off the list is Sherlock Holmes. I wasn’t sure what this film would be like with Guy Ritchie at the helm of a mainstream film. Better known for his edgy indie films like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, you wonder if he can pull off appealing to the masses for a holiday big budget film. Surprisingly, he does just fine! He still carries a lot of his “indie” style into Sherlock Holmes, especially the way he reveals information in the story and his way of cutting the fight scenes together.

Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Wonder Boys) is a perfect choice to play Holmes. The seeming brilliant, yet spaced out with an over active imagination, is right up Downey Jr.’s alley, having already played a similar confident egotistical crime fighter in Iron Man. Another great choice in casting is Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Gattaca, Road to Perdition) as the level-headed sidekick, Dr. Watson. Law’s demeanor plays well off the sporadic off-the-wall ramblings of Holmes. The one casting move I didn’t really care for was that of Mark Strong (Body of Lies, RocknRolla)  as the villanous Lord Blackwood. Although he looked menacing, I wanted a little more from the character and maybe a  could have brought that. Rachel McAdams (State of Play) is also in the film, but to me was really a non factor in the film, really not offering too much when she was on-screen, but not taking anything away either.

In all, I would recommend this film. It is worth seeing for sure. Robert Downey Jr is wonderful to watch, having already been recognized for his performance with a Best Actor nomination for a Golden Globe. I would have liked a bit more information during the film, more of the Sherlock Holmes studious observations as they took place rather than leaving most all of them for trying to make a clever reveal later on. Still, if that is the only complaint, it is a very good film and good holiday movie fun. Next holiday film on the list, Up In The Air!

Jude Law

lawThe fall play season is starting to pay off good for autographs. Jude Law who was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in The Talented Mr. Ripley and was also in Road to Perdition and nominated for Best Actor in Cold Mountain.

Jude Law c/o HAMLET, Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

The Aviator

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The Aviator, deservedly nominated for Best Picture, and in my opinion, a much better film than the winner that year, Million Dollar Baby.  This is a film about Howard Hughes and in particular his love for aviation. The film begins in Hughes “directing” era when he is making Hells Angels. While in production of his film Hughes is constantly pushing the boundaries of aviation and eventually buys TWA and challenges Pan Am’s monopoly on international flights. Of course the Hercules…more commonly known as the Spruce Goose…is included in the film as well as the congressional hearings and Hughes eventual demise due to his obsessive compulsive disorder.

This movie has a stellar cast highlighted by Leonardo DiCaprio’s (Titanic, Gangs of New York) portrayal of Mr. Hughes. DiCaprio is wonderful at having an attitude about not caring about money, when ever there is a problem, his solution is to “buy” it or hire someone to fix it. For example hiring Professor Fitz, played by Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings), to monitor clouds for in teh background in the movie  Hells Angels. DiCaprio is also great in slowly introducing the obsessive compulsive side of Howard Hughes. From being paranoid about washing his hands to the extreme side when he has locked himself in a room, totally naked, trying to avoid any type of germ. Personally, I thought Leonardo DiCaprio could have won an Oscar for this role. I though both he and Don Cheadle (nominated for Hotel Rwanda) were better than Jamie Foxx in Ray, but we all have our opinions.

The other outstanding performance, which did result in an Oscar, was Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) playing Katherine Hepburn. She was incredible with her accent and the way she carried herself in general. As I mentioned this film has a great cast, and many very nice performances…..Alan Alda (MASH) was nominated as best supporting actor for his role as Senator Brewster, Alec Baldwin (Beetlejuice) as Juan Trippe, and even a small role for Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley) playing actor Errol Flynn.

Behind the camera is Martin Scorsese (Best Director The Departed), and usually what ever he is involved with turns out nothing less than great. Again, another Oscar could have been won here as I thought for directing, he did a much better job and took more risks than Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby. (Although I never mind seeing Clint Eastwood win anything, he has become an American icon.) For instance, look at the first hour of the Aviator, there are no greens in the movie to reflect a look and tone of the time. No your TV does not need adjusting, even the green peas on the plate are blue. The Aviator with it’s grand scale and top notch cast needed a great director like Martin Scorsese, as where I believe there are a handful of directors that could have done Million Dollar Baby.

As much as I have mentioned the word Oscar here, it did take home 5 Oscars and deservedly so. If you have not seen this film, this is really a great movie and worth watching. It will give you an appreciation of what Howard Hughes did for the field of aviation and the airline industry. At least see this once.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

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This is one that most will really like, or really hate. Myself, I choose to really like it…OK love it. This film is just great on so many levels. Director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) does a masterful job with the actors and the creation of their characters. He also incorporates the small Italian town and the music throughout almost as if they were characters themselves. A second viewing you might even pick up on all the symbolism throughout, the reflection of Ripley’s face in the piano and the ending scene, the different reflections of Ripley….think about it!

I try to write reviews and encourage those that haven’t seen these movies, to see them…or on the other hand to avoid like the plague. So to talk about the story without giving away key plot points and twists….kind of hard on this one. Everyone should experience the trills seeing it for a first time. It really is a classic potboiler movie that starts out with one innocent lie about a jacket of all things. Things begin to twist and turn from there.

As far as the acting, to me everyone in this is on the top of their game and very good. I don’t know how Matt Damon got snubbed. I thought he was clearly better than Sean Penn in Sweet and Lowdown and better than Denzel Washington in The Hurricane. Jude Law is very good and was nominated in a supporting role. And 3 other incredible performances from Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), and Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love), Just great all around! (Also kudos to the costume designers, make a not of how Ms Paltrow’s costumes change in color and style with her demeanor throughout the move.)

The first time I saw this film, I enjoyed it, but the more I see it, the better I like it, and the more I can read into it. If you have only seen it once and liked it, I recommend a second viewing, and if you haven’t seen it, give it a chance. Also being an avid cook, this a a great movie to break out a nice bottle of wine, maybe a pinot grigio or Sauvignon blanc, cheese and crackers…OK and a few grapes. Keep the wine cool and close, you won’t want to miss any part of this flick. Highly recommended!