Monday, August 3, 2015

Hunt & Holmes

So another installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise is out. I don't have a lot to say on this one - if you liked the four previous ones, you'll like this one. It's not the best place to jump into the franchise, but if you choose to do so in order to go with your friends to the movies, you'll be fine - we're not talking about a film franchise that has all that many nuances to begin with, after all.

MI is big, colorful, silly, summer popcorn fun. There are gadgets galore, a motorcycle chase that looks so much like the speeder bike scene from Return of the Jedi that I was looking for Ewoks, and some improbable plot points. (Trust me - a CIA black op in broad daylight in Havana would get noticed. Cuba is a tad sensitive about such things.) Some of the dialogue is lazy - "I'm not ready!" "Get ready!" - but that's probably nit-picking. I don't think it's nit-picking, however, to point out that the soundtrack is a textbook example of "Due to a hackneyed storyline, I don't think the audience will know what to feel, so cue them with the soundtrack, would you?" Gak.

Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt can clamber around a fly system with the agility of a spider monkey, although I spent enough time backstage to know that none of that scene - NONE of it - could happen in any competent professional theatre, much less the Vienna State Opera.  While there is some criticism of the film, most filmgoers and critics are loving it. Me, I think it's too much cotton candy - a fun treat, but if you try to make a meal out of it, you'll wind up with an aching tummy.

On the other end of the spectrum is the new BBC Films Mr. Holmes, featuring Sir Ian McKellen as an elderly Sherlock Holmes. (He also plays a younger Sherlock and the difference between the versions reminds me again of just how amazing and subtle an actor McKellen is.) This Sherlock is 93 and has long since retired from Baker Street to the Sussex countryside to tend bees (Not wasps! Very different things, wasps) and live a quiet life. He's trying to solve the case that drove him to retirement, and it's very difficult, as his memory is fading. For someone who lives on pure intellect to the degree that Holmes does, this is nothing short of terrifying. The criminally-underrated Laura Linney plays his long-suffering housekeeper who was widowed by WW2 and Milo Parker is extraordinary as her son Roger. Mr. Holmes is a movie that is comfortable with taking its own sweet time to unfold and the story is a rich one. This is a film that deserves to be seen. It may take a little searching to find it, but - trust me - this lush, thoughtful film is worth a road trip if you prefer nourishment to cotton candy.