Sunday, December 27, 2009

Playing Catch-Up: Now Viewing

With movies, too, I have slacked off in my individual reviews. This is partly because two of my recent movie viewings were old favorites, but regardless, here's some quick hits on the movies I've watched most recently:

Love Actually: Probably my second-favorite chick flick, if I had to pick one (my #1 favorite, without exception, is You've Got Mail). A sweet exploration of the many different natures of love, as couples who interact in and out of each other's lives find true love in all its forms. "Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere." With a stellar cast including Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, and Keira Knightley, a number of endearing plotlines, and a heartwarming message, Love Actually is a great movie for Christmas or any time of year when you need a reminder about the presence of love in the world.

White Christmas: To me, the #1 classic Christmas movie. Yes, I love The Santa Clause and A Christmas Story and all the others (although I have to admit that Elf kind of drives me up the wall), but it just doesn't feel like a real Christmas to me unless we watch this heartwarming Michael Curtiz film about a pair of post-WWII entertainers who bring their show and a great Christmas gift to their down-on-his-luck former general...and, of course, find love along the way. Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen, White Christmas instills me with feelings of nostalgia for holidays gone by-- not least of which, holidays where there was actually lots of real snow on the ground on Christmas Day!

Sherlock Holmes: I have been excited for this movie since I first caught the trailer back in September or so, and I was not disappointed when I went to see it in theaters yesterday. Robert Downey, Jr. stars as the famous detective and Jude Law portrays his partner, Dr. Watson. The original character of Sherlock Holmes was (to my recollection) a rather peppery, sarcastic, elitist and slightly crazy man-- a brilliant chemist, an observer, a cocaine addict, a boxer, a violinist, and fascinated by science of all varieties. The caricatures of him in popular culture since-- with the deerstalker hat and whatnot-- have in my opinion fallen rather short of this original character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so I was very pleased to see that this new Guy Ritchie Holmes film was much closer to the original character-- not a deerstalker hat in sight. The film's not perfect, of course-- for one thing, Holmes and Watson weren't nearly as funny as Downey and Law are in the film-- but it was a change that I could live with. Holmes's nemesis in this movie, Lord Blackwood (brilliantly portrayed by the sinister Mark Strong), was apparently gifted in dark magic, using his plots to kill people and build his power and influence, to a point in which he would use it to take over all of England (naturally). On the side, Holmes has to deal with his feelings for the clever criminal Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams)-- a character at the heart of the Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia," a woman who frequently manages to outsmart Holmes, or at least keep him on his toes. I was also pleased to discover that they framed the film perfectly for a sequel to come along next-- featuring the brilliant and devious Professor Moriarty, Holmes's number one nemesis in the stories. All things told, although far from a perfect film, I thoroughly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes and would highly recommend it to those who enjoy a pithy, clever, funny, action and suspense-packed mystery. Perhaps not a thriller of the highest order, but definitely a lot of fun-- most of all for the portrayal of the world's most famous detective as he was, just maybe, supposed to be portrayed.

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