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Sherlock Holmes Review

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

My rating 2.5 Stars

I know little of the Sherlock Holmes story and the little I do know comes from brief reenactments of the crew of the starship Enterprise from the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. I know, I know, that is pretty pathetic, but I never claimed to have been well read. I also have never really been interested in such things like: period criminal investigations. I guess my problem is that I like technology and the primitive methods used to solve crimes back in the days really turn me off. However, as I age and grow tired of the same old drama day in and day out I have developed a thirst for something different. Perhaps in time I will find an interest in the story of Sherlock Holmes, I just won’t hold my breath!

So not knowing much of the character, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Sherlock Holmes movie. I have to be honest and I must confess that the portrayal of Holmes in the Star Trek series didn’t leave me with much desire to get to know the character. I had hoped that the character in the movie be more to my liking; it wasn’t. I hope to God that the character that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created in his writings is nowhere near as boring as the one played by Robert Downey. That’s right, the character of Holmes as portrayed in this movie was as interesting and as exciting as drying cement. I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Downey; I think he is a great and talented actor, however something tells me that maybe he wasn’t the right choice for this role; either that or the screenwriter didn’t do the part justice. I found this Holmes to be two dimensional, dull and predictable and since the movie was all about Sherlock Holmes it took me right out of the movie.

Or maybe, just maybe, the real problem falls on the character of Sherlock Holmes who doesn’t really lend itself to the idea of a good character. Seriously, what is so special about a man who knows everything? What is so special about a person who has all of the answers? Where is the conflict? Where is the mystery? There is none, because we all know that Sherlock Holmes holds the answer. He has the mystery solved before it has a chance to take hold in the audiences mind. While this idea may have been incredibly exotic to the 1880’s audience, I am afraid that with today’s audience we have realized that such concepts are preposterous, unrealistic and boring. In my opinion that sort of nonsense are the makings of children stories or comic books like Superman or any other host of perfect superheroes. A story where there is no chance for the hero to fail is no story at all. It isn’t interesting and it’s not worth seeing. As people often say, “Nobody likes a smart ass!”

However, the film did have some good moments. It is undeniably that it was beautifully shot. It was very artistic and beautiful and enchanting. Unfortunately, like staring at a well painted wall after a few minutes of looking at, you realize that it’s just a wall and it will do nothing for you. So your obvious reaction is to walk away and put the wall behind you never to think about it again; just like this film. While it looks stunning it does absolutely nothing to keep your interests and therefore it’s forgettable and nothing to write home about.

The Soloist Review

The Soloist

The Soloist is a great story, it’s too bad that its filmmakers didn’t know how to tell it correctly or in an entertaining manner.

My rating 3 Stars

Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) is a musical prodigy who develops schizophrenia during his second year at Juilliard. Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) is a successful journalist and columnist for the LA Times. After a serious bicycle accident that nearly cost his life, Lopez had to take some time off from work; his fans missed him. After his return, his boss wanted him to write a piece about his accident; however, Lopez didn’t feel right sharing that with his readers. He wanted to write about something else, he just wasn’t sure what.

Lopez goes out to get lunch when suddenly he is mesmerized by the sound of a two string violin playing. He follows the sound only to find that it was a schizophrenic homeless man playing the “instrument.” Lopez is both in awe and inspired, he decides right then and there that he is going to write about this intriguing man. Lopez starts a conversation with him, however, it was very difficult to talk to Nathaniel because he would go on and on about unrelated topics. You had to listen very carefully to get answers. I have never been a real fan of Foxx, but I must say with all honesty, he did a really nice job with this role. The first time we see Nathaniel on the screen he delivers close to 2 minute incoherent speech, it was like a crazy Shakespearian monologue. I can’t imagine trying to memorize a speech like that where it’s just rambling stream of disjointed consciousness.

During that first encounter the only information that Lopez got out of that 2 minute monologue was that Nathaniel went to Juilliard and that he had traveled there from Cleveland. Lopez decided to start there with the story and run with it.  He contacted Juilliard which led to finding his sister. He had a nice long chat with her. He told her how he had met her brother on the streets playing the violin that only had two strings and how he went to Juilliard and she told him how he had been a music prodigy from an early age and that he used to play the cello. He gathered a lot of good information about Nathaniel from that conversation. Alas he had what he needed to write his article on Nathaniel and so he did and they published it on the next issue. The piece was so moving that he got lots of correspondence from his readers congratulating him on such a great piece. One reader was so moved that she donated her cello to Lopez for him to give to Nathaniel to play. I should remind you; this movie was based on a true story. I’m always amazed how generous people can be.

Lopez was so taken with Nathaniel that he decided he was going to help him get back on his feet and playing music again. He got him an apartment so that he wouldn’t be homeless anymore. Using his popularity as a columnist, he arranged several performances, however because of Nathaniel’s tendencies to schizophrenia, something would always happened and things would not work out which was very frustrating and disappointing for Lopez.

The Soloist is a really wonderful story. It is too bad that the movie wasn’t. That’s right; this movie was not that good. The acting was superb, the story was moving and full of life and the quality was there, but there was something with the story telling that it never seemed to get anywhere. Throughout the movie you are shown flashbacks of Nathaniel’s childhood, but they do nothing with them. Nathaniel hears voices in his head, but they are not addressed. Lopez gets a personal music teacher for Nathaniel, but they go nowhere with it. It’s like the writer of the movie started all of these different points and never finished them. There were so many questions left unanswered. That was very disappointing to me.

Another ironic tidbit in this story about music is the music wasn’t very well chosen. The pieces they selected for this film didn’t seem to fit with the scenes. As much as I love this story and as much as I, for the first time, enjoyed a Jamie Foxx performance, I cannot recommend this film to many people. It isn’t an awful film, but for the type of story that the film was trying to tell this should have been a great film and possibly an Academy Award nominee. It’s too bad they had to botch the film the way they did.

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