Monday, January 30, 2012

Showing our softer side. . .

The Benedict Cumberbatch Situation

Right now there are numerous intelligent women across the land who are presently in crisis mode. It's all due to an actor whom you may or may not be aware of named Benedict Cumberbatch. You'll probably be very aware of him soon. He's currently shooting the new Star Trek movie, he appeared in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and War Horse, and he is the eponymous star of the BBC detective serial, Sherlock.
You also should know that Benedict Cumberbatch isn't a man. He's a situation that me and most of my friends are all having.
Since the last series of Sherlock aired, perfectly nice and law abiding ladies have been feverishly pirating copies of "The Reichenbach Fall" and posting dreamy GIFs of its climatic moments on tumblr. Clips from YouTube of Mr. Cumberbatch reading children's stories, imitating Alan Rickman and dancing to "Thriller" have been flooding Gmail inboxes across the globe. For my part, I actually built myself a "Cumbernest" this past weekend. Instead of leaving the house and meeting actual men, I surrounded my bed with wine, water, and British chocolate all in preparation to watch Cumberbatch star in the BBC movie Hawking. I then sent a friend multiple texts that essentially broke down to "Have you watched Hawking yet?", "Watch Hawking. Watch Hawking. Watch Hawking.", and finally, "MY NERVES."
So what is it about Benedict Cumberbatch that's so alluring? It's easy to see why women the world over swoon over Ryan Gosling (HERE -- I broke it down for you). But Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't burst off the screen in rainbows and moonbeams the way guys like the Gosling do. Firstly, there's his name. It's a mouth full, to be sure, and can easily be broken down into jokes like Benneton Crumblymats or, you know, something way dirtier. He's never wooed Rachel McAdams or recorded a love song. He's pretty much just spent the last decade or so toiling away in the theater and in television productions.
There is, of course, his face. His unusual, striking, fascinating face. As my friend Gaby put it, "He looks like a weird hot alien," to which I replied, "And you know how much I like aliens!"
The thing that makes him look like an attractive extraterrestrial are his now legendary cheekbones. Other cheekbones have come before: Johnny Depp's, Katharine Hepburn's, Skeletor's. However, Mr. Cumberbatch's cheekbones are so high and so valleyed that they've sliced their way not just into the psyches of his fans, but his screenwriters. There's not one, but two, flattering references in the new Sherlock series to his bone structure. In both cases, it's suggested that Sherlock is loved for his face alone, but we know that's not true.
There's also his slanted moonstone eyes. And his mouth. Mouths are always appreciated.
Okay, I kid. (Sort of.)
It's true Benedict Cumberbatch has been snatching the hearts and minds of women with his actual appearance, but he's also been doing it with the level of confidence he has in his own abilities. Let me explain...
Most up-and-coming actors fall into one of two categories. A few of them like the Jesse Eisenbergs and Robert Pattinsons of the world have either ample talent and/or ample charm and are afraid of these things within them. They mumble. They stutter. They feign awkwardness around their legions of admiring female fans. They star in films with Kristen Stewart. However, even more actors fall into the opposite category. I'm talking your James Francos or (shiver) Kellan Lutzes. These guys may have talent, but that talent is insignificant compared to the size of their egos. For example, I know that James Franco went to film school and that Kellan Lutz once read a book in a tree, but I've never seen a film that Franco made or heard Lutz speak an intelligible sentence while standing on the ground.
The most rare and impressive stars in Hollywood today are men like George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Jon Hamm. They're good at what they're hired to do, and mostly importantly, they know they're good. You're not going to hear these guys talk about how good their game is because they can just show it. George Clooney can sell depressing movies as mainstream, Brad Pitt can tame Angelina Jolie and Jon Hamm can just be a goober-about-town. They do what they want -- and don't brag about it -- because they know they can get the job done. These guys exude confidence and confidence is sexy, and confidence is also what Benedict Cumberbatch has. I mean, you'd need confidence to introduce yourself to people as "Benedict Cumberbatch," right?
Watch our dear Mr. Cumberbatch in any role and you'll see he knows what he is doing. He is neither showy nor needy in his actions. He boldly commits to his character and the results are spellbinding. When such a confident performer is joined with a famous character like Sherlock Holmes, whose every thought, twitch and action is executed with superhuman confidence, the result is a veritable supernova of confidence, and soon, typically independent young women like myself are building Cumbernests in their home. We're attracted to the confidence that Cumberbatch is exuding.
Oh, and yes, those cheekbones.
Of course, attraction is all a matter of taste and attraction to Cumberbatch isn't wholly universal.
"I don't know. I just have, like, a visceral reaction to his face," my friend Caitlin said over dinner to me last week.
I grinned. "I know, right?"
"No, no..." she shook her head as she unwittingly and poetically quoted T.S. Eliot, "That is not what I meant at all."
I just sipped my wine and shrugged and counted down the minutes until I could go home and finally start watching The Ends of the Earth on Netflix Instant Streaming. The Cumbernest called.
Credit where credit is due; Follow Meghan O'Keefe on Twitter:

Friday, January 27, 2012

This is almost to bad. . . . and he may mess up 'U.N.C.L.E.' also!

Guy Ritchie 'signs for Sherlock Holmes 3, wants to film in Hollywood'

Published Friday, Jan 27 2012, 5:44am EST | By Daniel Sperling | Add comment
Guy Ritchie has reportedly signed on to direct a third Sherlock Holmes movie.

The 43-year-old is believed to be continuing his work on the detective franchise, which stars Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, apparently opting to base the next installment in Hollywood.

Guy Ritchie welcomes baby boy
© PA Images
Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr in 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows'

Industry insiders say that the move will be well received by Downey Jr, who is based in the US and will become a father for the second time in 2012 following the arrival of his first child with wife Susan.

"Guy has loved making the movies and he gets on really well with all the cast," a source told The Sun. "But Robert's had to spend large parts of the year in the UK filming so will probably welcome the move back home.

"He loves the UK, and London in particular but having home comforts close by is such a big bonus."

Warner Bros pushed forward with a third Sherlock Holmes movie last October by hiring Iron Man 3 writer Drew Pearce to work on a screenplay.

The second entry in the franchise Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows hit cinemas last month.

Ritchie is currently working on a big-screen adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Because it's Friday and you deserve it. . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A little more hopeful news. . . .

Benedict Cumberbatch voted greatest ever on-screen Sherlock Holmes

Published Tuesday, Jan 17 2012, 11:14am EST | By Mayer Nissim |
Benedict Cumberbatch has been named the greatest ever on-screen Sherlock Holmes.

Over 2,000 people voted in a poll for Digital Spy and the current star of BBC One's Sherlock won the title with a whopping 58% of the vote.

Sherlock in The Hound of the Baskervilles

Jeremy Brett, who played the detective in four Granada TV series between 1984 and 1994, was in second place with 18.6% of the vote.

Robert Downey Jr, the star of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, was placed third, with 15.6%.

The full top five was as follows:

1. Benedict Cumberbatch - 58%
2. Jeremy Brett - 18.6%
3. Robert Downey Jr - 15.6%
4. Basil Rathbone - 5.1%
5. Peter Cushing - 1.1%

Other Sherlocks you favored who didn't make our shortlist included Michael Caine, who starred opposite Ben Kingsley in 1988 comedy Without A Clue and Douglas Wilmer, who had a non-speaking cameo in last weekend's season finale of Sherlock.

Last but not least, also grabbing a single vote was Basil the Great Mouse Detective, the lead character in the 1986 Walt Disney feature animation!

And. . .

'Elementary': CBS develops 'modern-day Sherlock Holmes' pilot

Published Wednesday, Jan 18 2012, 9:15am EST | By Morgan Jeffery | 58 comments
CBS has picked up a new detective drama pilot, described as a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes.

Elementary will transport Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective to present-day New York, according to Deadline.

The project has been devised and written by Medium scribe Rob Doherty, who will also executive produce alongside Justified 's Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly.

BBC One drama Sherlock - which ended its second run on Sunday night - is also a contemporary update of Conan Doyle's stories, with Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) solving crimes in modern London.

Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Sherlock
© BBC Pictures

Elementary was first announced in September, when Sherlock producer Sue Vertue used Twitter to remark on the similarity between the two projects.

She wrote: "Mmm interesting CBS, I'm surprised no one has thought of making a modern day version of Sherlock before, oh hang on, we have!"

The Sherlock series two finale pulled in 7.9m viewers for BBC One. The show has already been commissioned for a third series.

If picked up to series, Elementary will likely form part of the CBS 2012 fall schedule.

From the Huffington Post

CBS Creates 'Elementary': A Modern-Day Sherlock Holmes

In case you haven't had your fill of onscreen, detail-oriented pipe smokers, CBS has now green lit the pilot of a series called (wait for it) "Elementary," a new Sherlock Holmes adaptation set in modern day New York City.
As points out, "Sherlock Holmes is very much in the zeitgeist right now," what with the two recent Guy Ritchie films of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. as a brawnier brain than most, and the BBC's current modern-day take called "Sherlock", co-written by Steven Moffat, the man behind the most recent "Doctor Who" series.
It might not be the most original idea, but, as the Emmys website points out, the Holmes tales has already inspired popular TV series "House" (House... Holmes... can you see it yet?) among others.
Details of the new show are scarce, but fans of Conan Doyle probably shouldn't expect anything too faithful to the original. After all, ABC already apparently has a modern-day adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" in the pipeline, according to New York magazine. The original tells of a prosecutor and his friend who turns out to be a mass murderer in Victorian London. ABC's version is apparently about a female criminologist and an ER doctor in San Francisco.
The reason for the changes in tone, characters and setting? Ratings, my dear TV viewers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January reading number 2, BLAN

The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier -  Jan 1903

Although Watson is noticeably absent in telling and participating in this case, Holmes makes it into a fine read.
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London, however, ranks it near the bottom of it's list.
Nothing new or surprising in methods in the case, but I think we find some good points of humor in Holmes' personality.
And we are treated to the mention of some more unwritten cases.

Points to discuss;

Boer War.
Regiments in the war.
What is a Yeoman?
Telephone's in England 1903.
Elephant guns.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Speaking of Hound. . .

Saw this at the book store last night.
The art work is ok, but it did look faithful to the story.
It is a little cheaper on line than at book stores.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Hounds of the Baskerville. . .

The Hounds of Baskerville - Some thoughts

I'm pretty confident that this is spoiler free.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is, I feel, more rooted than most Sherlock Holmes stories in the Victorian era. Its central premise – the idea of a phantom hound stalking a family through the generations - works really well in its normal Victorian setting.

Naturally, for a 21st century audience with a more scientific and less superstitious outlook, that was never going to work. Consequently the legend aspect was removed by Mark Gatiss in his retelling The Hounds of Baskerville.

I can only admire the way that Gatiss reworked the story so that many of the characters from the original were able to make their way into his version. Barrymore, Stapleton, Mortimer and Frankland were all woven into the story in very suitable parts. However be warned that the characters do not have the same motives and, consequently, those versed in the original story are likely to be very surprised about who is friend and who is foe.

For those of us versed in the origins of the story there was also a very welcome, and some might say overdue, nod to Bertram Fletcher Robinson – who gave Conan Doyle the inspiration for the original story – in the Dartmoor tour guide Fletcher.

The effects and music do a first class job of creating tension especially in the moments featuring Henry Knight struggling with his internal (and external) demons.

We also see excellent acting (as we have come to expect) from Cumberbatch and Freeman. The former, in particular, shines when we see Holmes struggling with his scientific and logical world falling down around him.

I was in the dark (in every sense) as to how the conclusion would play out and it is well done indeed given the constraints imposed by its new chronological setting and its more sceptical audience.

However, and this is no criticism of Mark Gatiss, while this episode was excellent and easily on a par with its predecessor, I cannot help but feel that this story, perhaps more than any other in the canon, works best in its original setting with its original ghostly canine.

If you are interested in how the original story came about it is covered in my latest book. Online links can be found here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just in case you hadn't seen. . . I mean heard enough.

It's elementary! BBC Sherlock Holmes actress Lara Pulver is single after separating from husband

Last updated at 7:41 AM on 4th January 2012
Doing the Splits: Lara Pulver who has separated from husband Joshua Dallas
Doing the Splits: Lara Pulver who has separated from husband Joshua Dallas

Sultry actress Lara Pulver shocked the nation when she stripped off, clutching only a dominatrix whip in suggestive scenes, in the latest Sherlock Holmes series, which was screened by the BBC well before the 9pm watershed on New Year’s Day.
But while ten million viewers studied her naked charms, one person unlikely to do so in the future is her handsome husband, Hollywood actor Joshua Dallas, 30, who played warrior Fandral in Kenneth Branagh’s blockbuster sci-fi movie, Thor.
For sadly, I understand the couple have separated.

    Their marital problems emerged after Joshua, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, decided to reveal them in that most modern of fashions — on a U.S. radio talk show.
    Asked whether he was married, he replied he was ‘single’ — despite his 2007 marriage to Lara.
    They wed in a barn in Devon and  honeymooned in the Maldives.
    Lara, 31, who appeared in TV’s Spooks last year, has previously spoken about her marriage to Joshua, revealing: ‘We try not to clip each other’s wings.
    ‘We give each other the freedom and space to go and pursue things — because I don’t see the point of being in a relationship to change someone or to be fearful and try to hold on.’
    But perhaps, she gave him too much space . . .
    Raunchy pre-watershed scenes: Lara Pulver, who plays Sherlock Holmes love interest Irene Adler strips off in this scene from the BBC adaptation
    Raunchy pre-watershed scenes: Lara Pulver, who plays Sherlock Holmes love interest Irene Adler strips off in this scene from the BBC adaptation
    Love split: Lara Pulver, and her Hollywood actor husband Joshua Dallas, 30, have separated. They married in 2007
    Love split: Lara Pulver, and her Hollywood actor husband Joshua Dallas, 30, have separated. They married in 2007

    Always thought this would make a nice Baskerville Hall. . .

    Near Dartmoor and Morton Hampstead, from 1993.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Because it's Friday (almost) and you deserve it,. . . or. . . you saw it here first, unless you live in the UK.

    It's a mystery that Sherlock Holmes  himself might struggle to solve –  how could the BBC think that these  scenes were appropriate for a pre- watershed audience?

    Families settling down to watch the Corporation’s latest Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adaptation were shocked to see actress Lara Pulver – playing the great detective’s romantic interest Irene Adler – strolling around with no clothes on a full 25 minutes before 9pm.

    The character had already been shown wearing a thong and  carrying a whip as she walked into a room containing a woman tied to a bed.

    Perching suggestively: Lara pulver as Sherlock Holmes' love interest Irene Adler in the nude a full 25 minutes pre-watershed
    Perching suggestively: Lara pulver as Sherlock Holmes' love interest Irene Adler in the nude a full 25 minutes pre-watershed
    Almost ten million watched the New Year’s Day episode of Sherlock, which was based on the 1891 short story A Scandal In Bohemia. 

    The first of three new episodes of the series, which swaps the 19th-century setting of the original tales for modern-day London, was shown on BBC1 from 8.10pm. 
    In the most shocking scene, Miss Pulver wore only diamond earrings, lipstick and heels as she flirted with Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
    After perching suggestively on a chair, Miss Pulver – whose updated version of Miss Adler works as a dominatrix – went on to strike him across the face with a riding crop.

    Racfy scenes: The nude Irene Adler flirts with Benedict Cumberpatch's Sherlock Holmes
    Racfy scenes: The nude Irene Adler flirts with Benedict Cumberpatch's Sherlock Holmes

    She later tampered with the detective’s phone so that new text messages were announced with a sensual moan. 
    p9 Pugh.jpg
    Viewers yesterday complained that the BBC had gone too far with the raunchy scenes, which were screened in an early-evening holiday slot to maximise ratings. 
    One wrote on Twitter: ‘Dominatrix?! Watershed anyone? My ten-year-old was watching that.’ 
    Another said: ‘I don’t think the storyline in Sherlock is pre-watershed suitable.’ 
    A third asked: ‘How was Sherlock on pre-watershed with that slut walking round with no clothes on for most of it?!’  
    The BBC insisted that the scenes were not too racy for the timeslot. 
    A spokesman said: ‘We’re delighted with the critical and audience response to the first episode, which has been extremely positive, and have received no complaints at this stage.’ 
    The episode, titled A Scandal In Belgravia, attracted an average audience of 8.75million, peaking at 9.5million.
    Series co-creator Steven Moffat said he had given Holmes an overtly sexual sparring partner to scotch speculation about a homosexual undercurrent to the relationship between him and Dr John Watson, played by Martin Freeman.

    Trivia question of the dayweekmonthyear for today. . ..

    There are two Sherlockian connections in the movie "Finding Neverland", what are they?

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    They have started airing in the UK. . .

    First episode - A Scandal in Belgravia

    Blast from the past. . .

    In 1992 the Harpooners of the Sea Unicorn had a very big part in hosting Jeremy Brett when he came to St Louis to promote PBS and Mystery!
    We were very lucky in that we got to spend a fair amount of time with him.
    Here is a picture of Mr Brett with a couple of us.

    I will add a few more over the next few weeks.