Saturday, August 1, 2015

Gandalf Goes Grey-er

If you wanna see Sherlock Holmes, you have a number of recent option.  You can choose Johnny Lee Miller and his show, Elementary.  You can wait around for the BBC to put out new episodes of Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock.  Or you can check out RDJ playing Holmes as an action hero in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes movies.

I haven't seen Elementary, in spite of the fact that it stars Lucy Liu, and I love me some Lucy Liu.  I like Sherlock and understand that it's accurate to the source material,  but I have a hard time with it cuz Mr, Cumberbatch looks too much like a camel.  I love watching RDJ and Jude Law work off one another as Holmes and Watson, but their movies aren't all that thoughtful or deep.

None of these options completely work for me, but I finally found a Sherlock Holmes I can totally get behind.  It's Holmes as he's presented in the new film, Mr. Holmes.  Played perfectly by the great Ian McKellen, this Holmes is way past his peak.  His memory is slipping so badly he has to resort to weird plant remedies to combat it.  He's arrogant and irascible, yet he's also unable to live on his own and completely dependent on his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker).

Holmes has left his profession after a case he worked went wrong.  He can't remember why or how the case went wrong.  At the same time, he replays an episode when he visited Japan in his mind.  As he wrestles with these issues in his mind, he and Roger bond over bees.  And on top of all of that, he's battles to finish writing a story that would be truer to real life than the character the public know him as from his books.

I loved this movie.  It's such a contrast to the usual blockbuster fare we get this time of year.  It's a small movie filled with delicate, emotional performances, led be McKellen.  Simply put, the dude's brilliant and his performance makes this movie worth seeing all on its own.  Throw in Linney, who is terrific as a woman who wants out of her currant situation and fears the growing bond between the old man and her son.  The movie is, for the most part, three people trying to find a way to live together.  It doesn't sound like much of a story, but the acting makes it hard to take your eyes off the screen.

Director Bill Condon uses a fairly light touch, letting the actors bring life to the frame.  The writing gives the actors multi-dimensional characters and plays up the importance of finding someone to share your loneliness.  I think that's the important takeaway here: nobody, no matter how unpleasant or hard to live with, should have to spend their whole lives alone.  It's a subject that resonates really strongly with me right now.

Mr. Holmes is not awesome.  There are no kick-ass fight scenes, no bitchin' explosions, and no heroic daring do.  But what is there is much more poignant and affecting than all the chaos and noise the summer tent pole flicks throw at us.  If you're looking for the antidote to Summer Blockbuster poisoning, check Mr. Holmes out.

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