Cinema Sunday – just 2 films

Nowhere Boy
Nowhere Boy

The day after Boxing Day meant Sunday parking rates (i.e. free) so I headed into Glasgow to catch two films:

Nowhere Boy

A John Lennon bio-pic starring Aaron Johnson as the central character. Pretty much the whole world will know who Lennon was (he did claim to be more famous than Jesus at one point), but how much do you know about his childhood?

Plot-in-a-nutshell: a young lad with an adopted family in Liverpool starts to discover a lot more about his genealogical past – and a taste for rock and roll.

There are two major things that you’d expect from a Lennon bio-pic which are missing – music and any mention of The Beatles. In fact, two other members of the Beatles are also introduced as the film goes on, but their surnames are never used. The focus is well and truly on young John.

Going by the Wikipedia article, the film sticks closely to some form of documented reality but does differ compared to other details. Having said that, I suppose there will be many differing versions of events at the time.

This is most definitely not a film about The Beatles. To a huge extent it’s not even about music – John only gets his first banjo lesson about halfway through. If you want a movie about music then you’d be better off with the older Backbeat movie (or Still Crazy, which I love).

Nowhere Boy is a kitchen sink drama. A tale about growing up in Liverpool in the 1950’s, not being good at school and with a collection of forgotten memoirs buried at the back of the family cupboard. It’s also very well acted and scripted, though interest does slip partway through before picking up again.

Not what I was expecting, but interesting nonetheless.

holmes
Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

From an adaptation of a “true” story, on to an adaptation of a fictional character. There has been outcry over the version of Holmes being introduced by Guy Ritchie for this movie. So how “bad” was it?

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Private detective and pit-fighter (I kid you not) Holmes gears up for one final case as witty, charismatic action buddy (again, no kidding) Dr Watson attempts to retire from the crime-fighting business.

First up, this is a marginally silly film. It’s got a great sense of humour, some cracking action sequences, wonderful chemistry between the leads, clever direction and absolutely beautiful sets and scenery. However… some of these departures, mainly from the characters featured in the Conan Doyle works, will understandably jar with hard core fans.

From a regular film fan’s point of view, I feel, it won’t matter. Robert Downey Jr is a very “cool” Holmes, though stands shorter than Jude Law‘s Dr Watson and is never seen wearing a deerstalker. Or smoking a large-bowled bendy-stemmed pipe. He does play a good version of Holmes, though. Quick-witted, often condescending, full of himself and so forth.

Dr Watson is where the problem lies for me, having read the books. The character from the stories was never much of an action man, partly due to a leg injury sustained in Afghanistan. Despite the limp he carried with him in the film, Law’s character has no problem bounding and leaping about. Generally in the written works, Watson is more of a biographer who sometimes follows Holmes around. Rarely is he as involved as the sidekick in this movie.

The thing is, ditch the “Holmes and Watson” tag (and the Adler one – she’s out of character, too) and wallow in the film as a standalone feature… and it’s pretty good. Ritchie has been let loose with a staggering budget as can be seen from the set pieces. I loved the backgrounds – even though they did look somewhat CGI – in particular the part-complete Tower Bridge (which the two chattering bints behind me decided after arguing was London Bridge).

If you liked Downey Jr in Iron Man (yay, sequel next year!) then you’ll have an idea of his Holmes. If you’ve seen earlier Ritchie films then you’ll expect the slow-mo scenes and the way certain segments are played through… and then rewound or fast-forwarded to explain them. A nice touch and not over-used.

It is a tad over-long, but it’s good Christmas fodder when there’s not a Bond film around. Closer to Lethal Weapon than canon Doyle (hey, that was clever…) but worth a watch.

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