Raging against the dying of the light whilst in self-imposed exile on the South Coast of England, the 93-year-old Holmes reminisces about the one case that remains unsolved, taking up Dr Watson’s duties and writing the story himself, in part as an exercise to keep his mind nimble as he struggles to cope with its deterioration.
Based on Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, and directed by Bill Condon, Mr Holmes is a slow-burning, elegiac tale that celebrates the extent of Sherlock Holmes’ fame even as Holmes himself demythologises the caricature beloved by the public.
It’s a poignant story too, the immortal Holmes brought low by the aging that comes to us all, his bouts of forgetfulness integral to his storytelling as he looks back with some regret on a life that was defined, and perhaps undermined, by his insistence on logic.
McKellen is superb as the wizened, crabby nonagenarian, impatient with the world at large but gruffly tender to his landlady Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her tirelessly inquisitive son Roger (Milo Parker), his every gesture and pause pregnant with impending death.
Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s all-knowing detective may baulk at the idea of a decrepit Sherlock Holmes, and younger fans of the BBC TV series may find this Holmes all but unrecognisable, but Bill Condon’s film is far more concerned with an existential investigation of life itself, and the belated discovery that knowledge and information are no substitute for empathy and love.
(15A) is a big-screen adaptation of the HBO TV series that ran for eight seasons until 2011, centring on Hollywood actor Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his posse of friends and hangers-on Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Eric (Kevin Connolly), their wild excesses aided and abetted by manic agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven).
Now established on Hollywood’s A-list, Vince has ambitions to direct his next picture, produced by Ari and funded by Texas oilman Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton).
Vince’s ambition exceeds his grasp, however, and matters are further complicated when Vince hooks up with Emily Ratajkowski (playing herself), much to the dismay of Larsen’s son, wannabe playboy Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment).
Writer-director Doug Ellin aims to recreate the success of the TV series by delivering a subversive behind-the-scenes movie that satirises Hollywood, but the plethora of celebrity cameos – Jon Favreau, Pharrell Williams, Liam Neeson, Warren Buffet, Piers Morgan and even Thierry Henry — gives the impression that the Entourage team is deeply embedded in the culture it set out to mock.
The dialogue is funny, the comic timing is good, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments, but there’s rarely any sense that the worst possible scenario — Vince’s movie gets torpedoed — would be a disaster for anyone but the permanently stressed Ari.
Haley Joel Osment steals the show with an hilarious turn as the petulant, over-sexed Texan man-child, but for the most part it all feels like an extended TV episode, solid but unremarkable.
The latest movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks story,(12A) follows a path to true love that runs a lot smoother than a good romantic drama should.
Art student Sophia (Britt Robertson), at college in North Carolina, meets raw-boned bull-rider Luke (Scott Eastwood), and decides a little harmless flirting wouldn’t go amiss before she graduates and moves to New York and the job waiting for her at an art gallery.
When the pair happen upon a car accident, however, they save Ira Levinson’s (Alan Alda) life, who repays their good deed by drawing them into flashbacks and regaling them with stories about how he fell in love with his wife, Ruth (Oona Chaplin), during WWII.
Directed by George Tillman Jnr, the story evolves in more or less the same way as every other Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation (The Notebook, Dear John), as the younger couple alternately squabble and swoon and gradually learn to compromise as a result of the lessons taught by their venerable elders.
The rodeo scenes are superb examples of muscular physicality but they only emphasise the blandly pleasant storyline, which takes place — present and past — in an impossibly idyllic Norman Rockwell-esque America.
Eastwood (Clint Eastwood’s son) and Robertson are likeable presences in their own right, despite the lack of chemistry between them, but the relentlessly upbeat and manic turn from Oona Chaplin (granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin) is an irritating distraction.