Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes Goes To Fight Club

Being an long-time fan of the rude, irreverent, intelligent, and egotistical sleuth, I regarded the new Sherlock Holmes film with much anticipation. Along with many other people who had time on their hands yesterday, Christmas Day, the opening day for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, I was able to take my family to see the new film.

While not necessarily less smart than Conan Doyle’s hero, this one spends more time fighting and making assumptions than our original crime-fighting genius. He seems more interested in theory and action than fact and hypothesis.

Instead of destroying his mind and body with a seven percent solution of heroin, our new Robert Downey, Jr.’s Holmes goes to fight club and wagers on himself for Watson. He now has the capability to clearly see the cause and effect of certain fighting moves and strikes, then carries them out with surgical precision.

This Holmes regards his ‘friend’ Watson almost with contempt. And this Holmes comes with the baggage of a past relationship with a woman that is just as apt to react swiftly and violently as the new Holmes, and she has an even more checkered past.

Watson is also changed. In the past, Watson was portrayed as well intentioned but inept, recognizing Holmes’ faults, but at the same time deifying him. This Watson comes across as intelligent and egotistical, less respectful of Holmes, and even derisive of Holmes, whom he claims to be just that: egotistical. In fact, this new Watson reminds me more of portrayals of Holmes by Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett.

The saving grace of the film is that Sherlock Holmes will now be introduced to a new generation, and with that comes the hope that new viewers may want to watch classic portrayals of Sherlock Holmes, or better yet, read the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels.

This is what happens when American screenwriters get hold of Sherlock Holmes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All That Remains - Metalcore in Des Moines!

I took my daughter, Schatzie, to a memorable concert at the Val Air Ballroom in Des Moines.
Haste The Day opened up the evening and immediately someone spilled beer in Schatzie's hair. We found ourselves amongst folks who'd rather thrash and 'mosh' than just enjoy the pounding drums and buzz-saw guitar. So we got away from the moshers and basically endured the opening act.
Next up was The Story Of The Year, which I was really looking forward to hearing. They had a good set which was marred only by the fact that half of their performance was from their new, unreleased album.
The Devil Wears Prada stirred the crowd up and put on a good show. I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not, but the only sound I heard from the lead singer while he was "singing" was grunts and barks. These guys definitely had the metalcore/thrash thing down. The way the drums were rigged into the sound system, one could really feel that bass drum thrumming in one's chest.

The highlight of the evening, of course, was All That Remains, who had a great set. These guys (and gal) know how to perform. Yes, the bassist was a gal and she did great: good eye contact, good performance, and screeching backing vocals.
At the end, the lead singer was cleaning up the stage and throwing stuff out into the crowd; Schatzie reached up and caught what appeared to be a ball of wadded up paper. It turned out to be a listing of the songs the band planned to play. Their set was like a compilation of the best of their two most recent albums, The Fall of Ideals and Overcome.

Songs performed:
Before the Damned [This was a great opening song that built anticipation with the first few notes, then blasted out with machine-gun like guitars and drums.]
Not Alone [Track 2 from The Fall Of Ideals]
Air That I Breathe [Track 9 from The Fall Of Ideals]
Indictment [Track 11 from The Fall Of Ideals]
Forever In Your Hands [What a geat song, and a fine performance from the band.]
Six [Track 7 from The Fall Of Ideals]
The Weak Willed [Track 6 from The Fall Of Ideals]
This Calling [Track 1 from The Fall Of Ideals]
Become The Catalyst [Track 8 from The Fall Of Ideals]
Two Weeks [the much anticipated finale]