Here’s just a little free association for what I hope are ongoing happy holidays for everyone. Sherlock Holmes opens on Christmas Day and is a front runner for holiday films I want to see. I happen to think that Robert Downey Jr. is in a great groove. I loved his acting in Chaplin and am quite pleased to see that his career as bloomed. Whether Guy Ritchie can make this one good remains to be seen. My guess is that like Star Trek some annoying we-have-to-do-it allegedly new action sequences or martial arts inspired skills and fights will make their way into the series. As William Goldman noted, film is a business; idealized versions of a story don’t often work in that arena. So perhaps this potential nonsense is necessary.
As a fan of the original works, I am sure to be disappointed and think that House is a better modern version of Holmes than this film’s idea. But that is the fun of open culture. Folks get to play with types and see what works. Indeed, theorists can track the way in which Holmes is portrayed and examine how a given era sees the character (Check out the difference between Bogart’s 1941 Sam Spade and the earlier, 1931, version to get a sense of how much a character can morph; or think of the ever-changing, yet stable, James Bond. Les Liaisons Dangereuses provides another example. The Marquise de Merteuil is quite different in Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont).
Regardless of my concerns, there is a chance people will discover the original works and enjoy them as well (free at the link). Or maybe the film will introduce you to the Sparks, a band that I happen love for its lyrics which are rather good at poking at society by mixing cultural references into their music. For instance you might enjoy the song Mickey Mouse (I especially enjoy the introduction which discusses the mouse as a general matter but this version has better sound and some fun mashup). The song I Predict may seem too familiar to lawyers and law students with its refrain “Are My Sources Correct?”, but it also refers to transsexuals, Elvis, Lassie, Maxim’s, marketing, and the oddity of prediction in general. Cool Places seems to pick up on theme of society’s obsession with being, well, cool. And after the jump there, you can check out The Sparks and their comment on Sherlock Holmes.
Here is a teaser:
“Fog matters to you and me, but it can’t touch Sherlock Holmes
Dogs bark and he knows their breed
And knows where they went last night
Knows their masters too
Oh baby, hold me tight.
Just pretend I’m Sherlock Holmes.”
Who knows? Maybe The Sparks predicted what the film industry hopes happens with the film: millions will want to be (or be with) Sherlock Holmes (but as the song points out, they can’t be).