Friday, July 24, 2015

Mr. Holmes (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Mr. Holmes” Profiles The Great Detective In His Retirement
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

No, I don’t belong to the Baker Street Irregulars, that Holmesian literary society founded by Christopher Morley in 1934, but I’ve been a longtime fan of Sherlock Holmes. First off, I’ve read all
the Arthur Conan Doyle books on the great detective -- 56 short stories and four novels -- as well as many homages like “The Seven-Percent Solution” and “The Final Solution.”

What’s more I’ve seen most of the movies and TV versions of these stories, from those delightful old Basil Rathbone pastiches to Benedict Cumberbatch’s BBC series, from spinoffs like “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” to TV’s “Elementary.” Even those Robert Downey, Jr. blockbusters.

Now we have a new little film titled “Mr. Holmes.” And the game’s afoot at the Tropic Cinema.

Here we find Sir Ian McKellen (“God and Monsters,” those “X-Men” and “Hobbit” movies) as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, wandering about his Sussex farmhouse where he retired with his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her young son (Milo Parker). Seems he’s unhappy with his old friend Watson’s account of his last case and is determined to tell the true version -- however, at his age memory has begun to fade. He struggles to remember, while seeking restorative medications in places like Japan.

The film -- based on Mitch Cullin’s novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” -- is at its heart a mystery, the old case being solved despite the obstacle of his diminishing deductive powers.

Director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” the “Twilight” sagas) has fun with the Holmesian canon as well as the earlier film versions. He cast Nicolas Rowe who starred in “The Young Sherlock Holmes” to play Basil Rathbone in a look back at the old matinee movies.

Arthur Conan Doyle always said he based the character on his old university professor, Dr. James Bell. Like Holmes, Bell was noted for “drawing broad conclusions from minute observations.” However, Bell later wrote Doyle, stating: “You are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it.”

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