blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
I'd not describe myself as an old-school Holmesian, mostly because I have enjoyed so many Holmeses, starting with the books and moving onto the films with Basil Rathbone and TV series with Jeremy Brett (neither of which are actually true to the books, despite what some people my age and older will tell you). Holmes, Watson and their mysteries are strong enough characters and vibrant enough stories to remain open to endless interpretations without suffering (caveat: I say this as someone who has never watched that one with the chap from Torchwood, which I am informed may actually involve a wee bit of suffering.)

So, despite having a perfectly good post of news and thanks underway, this will instead be a quick though not as brief as it ought to be reaction to this week's Holmesarama.

To begin with, the Ritchie film, A Game of Shadows. And it is naturally cut for spoilers, since it's still rolling its way out around the world (quite new here).


To start with the likes ... )


Moving on to the not so thrilled bit ... )


Which leads me to Season 2 of BBC Sherlock.

This occupies a strange place in my mental roll of Sherlock adaptations. It's wavering on an edge and may very well end up being filed under 'good professional fanfic', rather than under 'actual adaptation'. The reasons for this are mostly the insistence on quite a lot of clever clever (The Speckled Blonde. Really, Moffatt? Really?) and the fact that I am not yet sure whether the stories will end up being Holmes stories, or investigation of the Holmes canon stories. Both make for perfectly fine and enjoyable television, but the latter is a job for fanfic (NB quite a few films, books and TV shows are basically fanfiction of source material, it's in no way a pejorative term to my mind, just different to the purpose of an adaptation.)

Again, there were things I loved, and things that made me go ARGH!

The LURVE ... )



The not-lurve (in which I complain about bad writing, AGAIN) )

Now to try and catch up on that personal post. Apologies in advance if it takes a day or two, this took a day and a half more than it was meant to as I have injured myself in a mild and deeply silly fashion that makes typing a bit painful. The embarrassing tale will form a part of that post, do feel free to make mock when you hear it.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
I'd not describe myself as an old-school Holmesian, mostly because I have enjoyed so many Holmeses, starting with the books and moving onto the films with Basil Rathbone and TV series with Jeremy Brett (neither of which are actually true to the books, despite what some people my age and older will tell you). Holmes, Watson and their mysteries are strong enough characters and vibrant enough stories to remain open to endless interpretations without suffering (caveat: I say this as someone who has never watched that one with the chap from Torchwood, which I am informed may actually involve a wee bit of suffering.)

So, despite having a perfectly good post of news and thanks underway, this will instead be a quick though not as brief as it ought to be reaction to this week's Holmesarama.

To begin with, the Ritchie film, A Game of Shadows. And it is naturally cut for spoilers, since it's still rolling its way out around the world (quite new here).


To start with the likes ... )


Moving on to the not so thrilled bit ... )


Which leads me to Season 2 of BBC Sherlock.

This occupies a strange place in my mental roll of Sherlock adaptations. It's wavering on an edge and may very well end up being filed under 'good professional fanfic', rather than under 'actual adaptation'. The reasons for this are mostly the insistence on quite a lot of clever clever (The Speckled Blonde. Really, Moffatt? Really?) and the fact that I am not yet sure whether the stories will end up being Holmes stories, or investigation of the Holmes canon stories. Both make for perfectly fine and enjoyable television, but the latter is a job for fanfic (NB quite a few films, books and TV shows are basically fanfiction of source material, it's in no way a pejorative term to my mind, just different to the purpose of an adaptation.)

Again, there were things I loved, and things that made me go ARGH!

The LURVE ... )



The not-lurve (in which I complain about bad writing, AGAIN) )

Now to try and catch up on that personal post. Apologies in advance if it takes a day or two, this took a day and a half more than it was meant to as I have injured myself in a mild and deeply silly fashion that makes typing a bit painful. The embarrassing tale will form a part of that post, do feel free to make mock when you hear it.
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
The review is in two parts, that is, er, as well as the film ... Part 1 unspoilery! Part 2, under a cut!

We both managed to miss 7.1 at the cinema, I was in England and Italy, Mr B was moping. So we saw that last night and then the second half at lunch today. Goodness, gracious me!

The short version is that I loved all of the first half and most of the second half. Also, Maggie Smith and Helen McRory can do with a tiny inflection what many actors spend their whole careers trying to achieve. Brilliant, brilliant work from both of them!

I have always thought of the films as being secondary artefacts in the Potter tale, illustrations that are about the same story, but often not telling it properly, in much the same way as book covers often have only a tangential relationship with the book inside them. For most of part seven, though, I felt that it was very truthful storytelling, not always exactly telling the exact story of the books, but being very faithful to the spirit of it.

And it was beautiful. From the sets, to the costumes, to the love that each actor brought to their character, it was emotional and as real as possible, and just lovely (especially the little Hufflepuffs).

Spoilers for 7.1 )
As we walked home last night, we agreed that this might very well have been the best Potter film ever (something that was very easy to think when we were seeing the conclusion of it 13 hours later, we may have thought differently were it eight months, as it did leave off sharply), and not just because we had enjoyed being part of such a keen crowd. It kept so closely to the feeling of the book that it felt as though it had built on the experience of reading, rather than trying to just show scenes from the story.

Today it was back for the second film, and I loved almost all of it. In fact, I'm going to keep the complaints to the end, so that you can feel free to ignore them.

HP 7.2 Praise and spoilers )

There were some things I was less thrilled with.

7.2 Criticism and Spoilers )



At the very end, the words 19 Years Later scrolled up, and a little voice from the front of the cinema said, 'What?!'

Mr B leaned down and whispered, 'Someone hasn't read the book.' I like to think the kid was just EWE.

But it was a wonderful epilogue. The Boy Who Lived went on to have a life, what more could we wish for?
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
The review is in two parts, that is, er, as well as the film ... Part 1 unspoilery! Part 2, under a cut!

We both managed to miss 7.1 at the cinema, I was in England and Italy, Mr B was moping. So we saw that last night and then the second half at lunch today. Goodness, gracious me!

The short version is that I loved all of the first half and most of the second half. Also, Maggie Smith and Helen McRory can do with a tiny inflection what many actors spend their whole careers trying to achieve. Brilliant, brilliant work from both of them!

I have always thought of the films as being secondary artefacts in the Potter tale, illustrations that are about the same story, but often not telling it properly, in much the same way as book covers often have only a tangential relationship with the book inside them. For most of part seven, though, I felt that it was very truthful storytelling, not always exactly telling the exact story of the books, but being very faithful to the spirit of it.

And it was beautiful. From the sets, to the costumes, to the love that each actor brought to their character, it was emotional and as real as possible, and just lovely (especially the little Hufflepuffs).

Spoilers for 7.1 )
As we walked home last night, we agreed that this might very well have been the best Potter film ever (something that was very easy to think when we were seeing the conclusion of it 13 hours later, we may have thought differently were it eight months, as it did leave off sharply), and not just because we had enjoyed being part of such a keen crowd. It kept so closely to the feeling of the book that it felt as though it had built on the experience of reading, rather than trying to just show scenes from the story.

Today it was back for the second film, and I loved almost all of it. In fact, I'm going to keep the complaints to the end, so that you can feel free to ignore them.

HP 7.2 Praise and spoilers )

There were some things I was less thrilled with.

7.2 Criticism and Spoilers )



At the very end, the words 19 Years Later scrolled up, and a little voice from the front of the cinema said, 'What?!'

Mr B leaned down and whispered, 'Someone hasn't read the book.' I like to think the kid was just EWE.

But it was a wonderful epilogue. The Boy Who Lived went on to have a life, what more could we wish for?
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
One of the few upsides of Evil Mag TM is that I am back reviewing in print rather than just for web formats. Which is why tonight I watched How To Train Your Dragon (DVD release). I know that at least one of my flistees loved this in its cinema release, and I have to agree, it's wholly charming!

The animation is vibrant and refreshing, the characterisation consists of actual characters rather than entirely stock, the hero is a natural philosopher rather than a classic Viking -- it was all the things I tend to adore. But what made me burst out with laughter is that it slips in a Norse gravegoods misinterpretation joke! Someone on that writing crew is at least friends with a costume historian, and this amateur one appreciates the wink!

Thoroughly recommend this for everyone with small people, or with an adult academic interest in the postmodernist approach to storytelling through technology exemplified by Dreamworks (feel free to use that excuse next time someone raises an eyebrow when you buy a ticket to a kids film without a kid in tow, I have a Very Dull lecture that goes with it if you need more.)
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
One of the few upsides of Evil Mag TM is that I am back reviewing in print rather than just for web formats. Which is why tonight I watched How To Train Your Dragon (DVD release). I know that at least one of my flistees loved this in its cinema release, and I have to agree, it's wholly charming!

The animation is vibrant and refreshing, the characterisation consists of actual characters rather than entirely stock, the hero is a natural philosopher rather than a classic Viking -- it was all the things I tend to adore. But what made me burst out with laughter is that it slips in a Norse gravegoods misinterpretation joke! Someone on that writing crew is at least friends with a costume historian, and this amateur one appreciates the wink!

Thoroughly recommend this for everyone with small people, or with an adult academic interest in the postmodernist approach to storytelling through technology exemplified by Dreamworks (feel free to use that excuse next time someone raises an eyebrow when you buy a ticket to a kids film without a kid in tow, I have a Very Dull lecture that goes with it if you need more.)
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Obeying the primal urge of people who live in a city that is too hot by half, we sought out air conditioning and a cinema today.

Sherlock Holmes
was the film of choice, both of us being avid Conan Doyle fans. We were prepared to take it on its own merits and loathe it if need be. But we did not need it to be Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett, as the world already has both of their Holmeses.

As it turned out, we quite enjoyed it. I liked the muscular, Byron with brains performance given by Robert Downey Jnr (who I admit is an old fave) and I even liked Jude Law very much as Watson (first time I've really liked him on screen) and think he did a very fine job with a character who canonically was a man of action and precision. The insertion of Irene Adler wasn't too annoying, Watson's fiancee Mary was excellent, and Mark Strong makes a most convincing Bad Guy.

But for all that, I wish that Guy Ritchie had a Neill Blomkamp. You know Blomkamp, he's the chap who Peter Jacksons now that Peter is busy being Sir Peter (which is well deserved, BTW). In Blomkamp's debut, District 9, he had all the good parts of an early Jackson film with none of the overblown grandiosity of the later ones, plus a bit of wit and coolness all his own.

Had Sherlock Holmes been produced by Guy Ritchie, rather than directed, I think it would have been a much better film. The gritty violence of Victorian London was splendidly realised and worked perfectly for the modernisation of the story, but there was just too much of it and not enough story telling. The chop-cut editing to show Holmes's thought sequences was effective, but each time it was followed up by the real-time action, wasting valuable film time that could have been used on more topless RDJ shots. Similarly, the denouément begins in typical Holmesian 'What first gave you away' style, but it is as though the film-maker quickly grew bored and decided to insert another action sequence.

The problem, of course, is that Holmes works best because its action and thrills are centered around tight story. Take that away, focus on the action and thrills, and it's all just bread and circuses. Though hot bread and circuses, with very good performances and great production values (save for that leather coat, which just looked wholly out of place).

On the whole, four and a half stars to everyone else, two and a half to Guy Ritchie.

As to the whole pre-slashed angle, well, it's Byron and Shelley and you can read that as you will. A fun start to the year, but one that had me wishing I could have been on set with a rod that I was allowed to apply to the director whenever his indulgences appeared. And for those of you who know it, you can play Spot Hatfield House, too!
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
Obeying the primal urge of people who live in a city that is too hot by half, we sought out air conditioning and a cinema today.

Sherlock Holmes
was the film of choice, both of us being avid Conan Doyle fans. We were prepared to take it on its own merits and loathe it if need be. But we did not need it to be Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett, as the world already has both of their Holmeses.

As it turned out, we quite enjoyed it. I liked the muscular, Byron with brains performance given by Robert Downey Jnr (who I admit is an old fave) and I even liked Jude Law very much as Watson (first time I've really liked him on screen) and think he did a very fine job with a character who canonically was a man of action and precision. The insertion of Irene Adler wasn't too annoying, Watson's fiancee Mary was excellent, and Mark Strong makes a most convincing Bad Guy.

But for all that, I wish that Guy Ritchie had a Neill Blomkamp. You know Blomkamp, he's the chap who Peter Jacksons now that Peter is busy being Sir Peter (which is well deserved, BTW). In Blomkamp's debut, District 9, he had all the good parts of an early Jackson film with none of the overblown grandiosity of the later ones, plus a bit of wit and coolness all his own.

Had Sherlock Holmes been produced by Guy Ritchie, rather than directed, I think it would have been a much better film. The gritty violence of Victorian London was splendidly realised and worked perfectly for the modernisation of the story, but there was just too much of it and not enough story telling. The chop-cut editing to show Holmes's thought sequences was effective, but each time it was followed up by the real-time action, wasting valuable film time that could have been used on more topless RDJ shots. Similarly, the denouément begins in typical Holmesian 'What first gave you away' style, but it is as though the film-maker quickly grew bored and decided to insert another action sequence.

The problem, of course, is that Holmes works best because its action and thrills are centered around tight story. Take that away, focus on the action and thrills, and it's all just bread and circuses. Though hot bread and circuses, with very good performances and great production values (save for that leather coat, which just looked wholly out of place).

On the whole, four and a half stars to everyone else, two and a half to Guy Ritchie.

As to the whole pre-slashed angle, well, it's Byron and Shelley and you can read that as you will. A fun start to the year, but one that had me wishing I could have been on set with a rod that I was allowed to apply to the director whenever his indulgences appeared. And for those of you who know it, you can play Spot Hatfield House, too!

District 9

Sep. 5th, 2009 12:33 am
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
We've been meaning to see Harry Potter VI since it came out in Sydney, and failing each time. For our most recent failure, we actually made it to the cinema, but too late for Potter, and so saw District 9 instead.

It was an excellent choice.

Set in a similar, but different, South Africa, District 9 tells the story of an Alien ship that came to a halt above Johannesburg in 1982. After hovering mid-air for a few months, it was finally cracked open to reveal hundreds of thousands of starving, dying aliens. In a massive humanitarian effort they were moved to Earth and settled in District 9 just outside of Jo'Burg. Now, in 2010, the numbers in the camp are approaching 2 million; the camp is a slum, there is endemic crime in the area (from both the aliens and the Nigerian criminal elements who have moved in to scam the camp inhabitants) and the local humans are demanding that Things Change.
Contains spoilers for the first half of the film )

I watched a good third of the film with one hand half-obscuring my face (a style perfected through years of Doctor Who), and I think I may have bruised Mr Brammers's arm, I was just so anxious and unable to predict what would happen. It's a bloodier film than I would normally watch, but one with such intelligence and wit behind the bloodiness that I was more than able to cope with it (and I mean genuine wit, not the Tarantino-esque facsimiles so often attempted by hyperviolent films). The violence was not without reason, and the choppy hand-held camera work of the first section segues seamlessly into a broader filmic view for the majority of the film.

The performances were spectacular, as was the script. The team who produced it had worked on the project for some years before they obtained funding from Peter Jackson, so the film comes with high-quality Weta CGI, but with the genuinely good storytelling that is beaten out of most big-budget films. On the night we saw it, a good half the audience were young boys expecting a Halo-esque action flick, which they got, but which came with a side-serving of thinking. The other half were people like me, who came out satisfied with our political fixes, along with the enjoyment of an excellently paced action flick. If you're a fan of anything from Cry, the Beloved Country to The Fifth Element, you'll love District 9, too.


District 9

Sep. 5th, 2009 12:33 am
blamebrampton: 15th century woodcut of a hound (Default)
We've been meaning to see Harry Potter VI since it came out in Sydney, and failing each time. For our most recent failure, we actually made it to the cinema, but too late for Potter, and so saw District 9 instead.

It was an excellent choice.

Set in a similar, but different, South Africa, District 9 tells the story of an Alien ship that came to a halt above Johannesburg in 1982. After hovering mid-air for a few months, it was finally cracked open to reveal hundreds of thousands of starving, dying aliens. In a massive humanitarian effort they were moved to Earth and settled in District 9 just outside of Jo'Burg. Now, in 2010, the numbers in the camp are approaching 2 million; the camp is a slum, there is endemic crime in the area (from both the aliens and the Nigerian criminal elements who have moved in to scam the camp inhabitants) and the local humans are demanding that Things Change.
Contains spoilers for the first half of the film )

I watched a good third of the film with one hand half-obscuring my face (a style perfected through years of Doctor Who), and I think I may have bruised Mr Brammers's arm, I was just so anxious and unable to predict what would happen. It's a bloodier film than I would normally watch, but one with such intelligence and wit behind the bloodiness that I was more than able to cope with it (and I mean genuine wit, not the Tarantino-esque facsimiles so often attempted by hyperviolent films). The violence was not without reason, and the choppy hand-held camera work of the first section segues seamlessly into a broader filmic view for the majority of the film.

The performances were spectacular, as was the script. The team who produced it had worked on the project for some years before they obtained funding from Peter Jackson, so the film comes with high-quality Weta CGI, but with the genuinely good storytelling that is beaten out of most big-budget films. On the night we saw it, a good half the audience were young boys expecting a Halo-esque action flick, which they got, but which came with a side-serving of thinking. The other half were people like me, who came out satisfied with our political fixes, along with the enjoyment of an excellently paced action flick. If you're a fan of anything from Cry, the Beloved Country to The Fifth Element, you'll love District 9, too.


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