Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

It may surprise some of my dear readers that I, as an avid Sherlockian, would deign to see this movie. At first glance (i.e, the trailers), it appeared to be an abomination of the Canon.

Note: there may be some spoilers!

As much as I love Robert Downey, Jr as an actor, in no way does he physically fit any description of Holmes anywhere. Much like Hugh Jackman being a full foot taller than his character, Wolverine, RDJ does not possess the height, physiognomy nor even the eye color of Doyle's detective. Nor did Jude Law's Watson ring entirely true: he had the limp, the moustache and the good looks of Watson, but was taller than Holmes and more slender than out to have been.

As for character, the only ones that could be considered true to the original were Watson, the soon-to-be- Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and Professor Moriarty. Holmes' character was nothing more than the sum of all the known and surmised eccentricities and slovenly about his person; Irene Adler started off strong, but descended into damsel-in-distess/at-the-mercy-of-powerful-men type of rubbishy character. The villain, Lord Blackwood, was not as venal as he could have been, but his wardrobe was fantastic.

London is portrayed in all its unglamorous, crowded, filthy, horse-dropping-bedecked street beauty, all in murky browns and greys; 221B is far larger and jam-packed with objets, dark, smoky and somewhat repugnant.

There was a feeling that the director did not know what to do with the female characters- while Watson's fiancee had the strength of character her Canonical counterpart had, she was filmed oddly and mysteriously, for no apparent reason. Irene Adler was filmed mostly in headshots, her cheekbones and pouty, mauve-hued lips first and foremost.

This movie was incredibly fun as an action/comedy- if viewed as a non-Holmesian piece, it is thoroughly enjoyable. The only impediment to that is having substantial knowledge of the original material- lines are sprinkled here and there from the Canon only serve to highlight the considerable departure from it.

There is plenty of action, as can be expected in a Ritchie film. The relationship between Holmes and Watson is well drawn out, but not overburdened; the Holmes/Adler relationship is dutifully sketched - kindred souls with an unfulfilled potential, and some unnecessarily sexy bits tossed in for....well, for no reason at all. The story, filled with the occult and political machinations, moves along and all is revealed, in true Doyle style, at the end.

Rating: 4 crowns out of 5

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Restaurant review: Eastern Standard

This past Thursday J10X and I decided to get the fuck outta Dodge and go to Boston and take in some new sights.

We rode the train from the Riverside Station all the way over the river into Cambridge to check out an antiques market near a restaurant that was rumored to have a tiki bar.....we ended up spending hours in the antiques place as it was 4 stories high. Lots of item were insanely overpriced (according to the pricing by some vendors, I have a Vanderbilt's fortune in costume jewelry) but we escaped with two tiki mugs and a couple of small Japanese woodblock prints from the early 1900s, all of which were good deals.

We then staggered out into the cold and walked a bunch of blocks over to the East Coast Grill in Inman Square - well, we finally found it, but it wasn't going to be open until 5:30pm, which was 3 hours away. So, that went on the list as a place to go back to in the near future.

We hopped on the T, back over the river, back to Kenmore Square and landed at the Eastern Standard: gorgeous room and bar, lots of dark wood, and red and brown leather upholstered chairs. Comfy and inviting. We were there in time for the mid-day menu, which was a lot like lunch and reasonably priced. We had a look at the drinks menu, and (score!), they had tropical drinks and are known for creating their own in-house syrups and infusions. The drinks menu is changed from what you see online, but they offer everything. J10X opted for the Zombie, and I, the Metamorphosis.

The Zombie was made according to the 1934 recipe and obviously had many hand-made elements in it, not to mention a ton of rum. It was easily as good as any Zombie I sampled at the Mai Kai in Florida, and it was well worth the price as it was served a pint glass. The Metamorphosis was constructed of some sort of Czechoslovakian bitters (Becherovka?), honey and fresh lemon juice - it was both warm and refreshing and really delicious (and after doing a little research, it's also called 'The Millenium' in other places.) It was served up in a martini glass, but also had quite a kick to it. Our lovely waiter, Dave, told J0X that the bartender had 'something special' for him when he finished the Zombie. Well, J10X was still sitting up after the Zombie, and was rewarded with a Cinnamon Planter's Punch: I am not a rum lover by any means, but this was one delicious cocktail. It goes on the list of only 3 drinks that have rum that I would ever consider drinking (the other two being a Derby Daiquiri and a Stormy Weather.) We were definitely pleased to find this place!!

We each had a sandwich, and if you get one with roast beast on it, it's piled high. Both were served with delicious fresh pommes frites and were really good.

Two drinks packed quite a wallop, so we decided to go and brave the wintry wind outside as the fine folk at the ES wouldn't adopt us and let us move in. The restaurant & bar are attached to a hotel, so some of you may want to keep that in mind.

So, we ducked into a book store right next door, don;t remember the name of it, but they had a fine assortment of art books, graphic novels and literature, all very reasonably priced.

We then decided to hit up Harvard Square (back on the train, over the dang river again...) and actually did some holiday shopping until we called it quits and headed home.

Rating: The Eastern Standard gets 4.5 stars out of 5, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.