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!

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!