Monday, August 31, 2015

Now here's one you can bank on. . .

The Eye

'Sherlock Holmes 3' Spoilers: Jude Law Pitched Time Travel Movie, Shut Down By Guy Ritchie

Much to do about nothing. . . yet.

The "Devastating" Sherlock Season 4: What Will Happen to Mary?

by  ⋅ Posted on 

Every time new information comes to light about the next season of the BBC's critically acclaimed Sherlock, everything just seems to get a little darker.
Speaking at Comic-Con last month, co-creator Stephen Moffat revealed that even though they're still in the early stages of writing they're really planning to up the ante this time around:
“We know very, very clearly what stories we’re doing. Where each episode goes, what the shattering, emotionally draining, you’ll never be the same again and you’ll never stop crying cliffhangers will be.” - Stephen Moffat
Interestingly enough, according to the creators, the Moriarty mystery is something that's going to be wrapped up in the Victorian Christmas Special. So if that story-line is going to be all resolved before season 4 even starts, where does that leave us?
Well, a lot of people are speculating that the tragedy that Moffat speaks of will arrive in the form of the death of Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington).
It would make a lot of sense; given what we know of the character's murky backstory and the events of the season 3 finale, there's definitely something that she's running from. Add to that the fact that in the original story Mary and John only had a short marriage and it's not looking good for her.

The Original Mary Morstan

"She was blonde young lady, small, dainty, well gloved, and dressed in the most perfect taste. Her face had neither regularity of feature nor beauty of complexion, but her expression was sweet and amiable, and her large blue eyes were singularly spiritual and sympathetic."
"Sympathetic" aye
The Conan Doyle character Mary Morstan is a governess introduced in The Sign of the Four when she approaches Holmes seeking help. Her father, a Captain in the British Indian Army disappeared ten years earlier and following the death of his friend, Major Sholto (who you might remember from The Sign of Three) she had anonymously received six pearls in the mail, one per year for the last six years. The last pearl was accompanied by a letter telling Mary that she has been wronged in some way. She suspects that this is related to her father's disappearance a decade earlier, so takes the case to Sherlock Holmes.
They meet with the Major's son and discover that he's the one who has been sending the pearls; his way of providing compensation after her father died of a heart attack unbeknownst to her during an argument he had with Major Sholto. They were arguing over a treasure that Sholto had brought from India and, fearing he would be blamed for the Captain's death, Sholto got rid of his body and hid the treasure, which our heroes then embark on a mission to find. Along the way John Watson and Mary fall in love, and they become engaged at the end of the story. They marry a year later, in 1889.
And... That's kind of about it. She doesn't make any other appearances in the Conan Doyle stories. Her name crops up in conversation during a few of the stories but there's no significant mention of her until The Adventure of the Empty House (adapted in Sherlock as S03E01 - The Empty Herse). This short story is set after Sherlock supposedly died at the Reichenbach Falls in The Final Problem, three years earlier, and it marks his return. At his point we discover that Watson is now a widower. Sherlock comments briefly on the fact that Mary is dead, but her cause of death is never clarified. Since her date of death is unknown, I estimate they were married for between 2 - 5 years in the books.

Will our Sherlock Mary go out the same way?

"While we play fast and loose with the original stories, we generally follow the trajectory of what Conan Doyle did. So [John] gets married, and then Mary dies – so at some point presumably she’ll die." - Martin Freeman
In a Telegraph interview earlier this year Martin Freeman spoke about the possibility of killing off his on-screen wife, and he for one seemingly would not be surprised if that does end up happening.
Then again, Mary and John are about to have a child, and killing off pregnant women isn't a popular twist for this kind of show. Killing her off after the pregnancy would have narrative consequences too, as it would leave John a single father and therefore restricted by this role. Logistically the show may also benefit from having a more central female character in it, especially as Moffat has spoken about the difficult in adapting the "sexist" original stories.
Mary's character has been met with mixed reception, but I for one quite liked her. She's not without her faults, and I think we could do with a little more clarification on her past, but as John so aptly put it: "The problems of your past are your business. The problems of your future are my privilege"
Let's just hope that she has a future to look forward to.

Friday, August 28, 2015

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

Could we now imagine anyone else?

Martin Freeman Totally Botched His First Sherlock Holmes Audition

The BBC’s Sherlock has become one of the hottest shows on TV in any country. It has turned its two stars into high-demand actors who make major blockbuster films when they aren’t playing Holmes and Watson. It’s difficult to imagine anybody else in those roles, but Martin Freeman was not locked into the part at first. His initial audition went to hell because he was in a bad mood.

Freeman spoke at the Edinburgh International Television Festival today and The Hollywood Reporter has the news that he was almost passed over by producers because they didn’t think he really wanted the role. He said:
Afterwards my agent told me ‘they kind of hated you, they thought you didn’t want it and were a moody prick.’ But I did want it, although maybe I was a moody prick. So I went back and did it again with Ben and got the part.

Ben is, of course, what Benedict Cumberbatch’s friends call him. Apparently he doesn’t make them all call him Benedict, which he totally should do. It just goes to show how little things can throw off an audition, even if it’s a part you really want. While Freeman was a relative unknown in the U.S. prior to Sherlock (because nobody remembers the excellent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, which should be a criminal offense), he would have walked in to the audition at the BBC with a much higher profile after his role in the original British version of The Office. Perhaps his mood gave the impression he didn’t think the show was good enough. Luckily the issue was resolved and he got the chance to set things right.

To be fair to Martin Freeman, he had a perfectly good reason for being cross that day. As co-creator Mark Gatiss has previously said, apparently Freeman had his wallet stolen earlier in the day, and that was the reason he didn't bring his A game to the audition.

There is another interesting point to be considered here, though. While Freeman talks about auditioning again, he speaks about reading with Cumberbatch as if it only happened on the second go round. If that’s the case then it may be that the inherent chemistry that the two actors share, a large part of why the show is a hit, was the reason the second opportunity went so much better. When the people you’re reading with aren’t as good, it has an effect on you. Just ask Samuel L. Jackson.

Whatever the ultimate reason for Freeman’s success, we can’t imagine anybody else playing the part of a modern John H. Watson. We’re also looking forward to seeing him play the traditional Victorian Watson when Sherlock returns for a one-off special sometime this winter. Sherlock will return for Season 4 sometime in 2016, which is not nearly soon enough.

Credit where credit is due.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

By Joshua

His blog

By Drazen

His blog

Wow! How did I miss this headline?

Emma Thompson wants to play Sherlock Holmes

Actress EMMA THOMPSON wants to become the first woman to play SHERLOCK HOLMES.

The Love Actually star is a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional sleuth, and she is convinced the part could be played by a female.
She tells The Daily Telegraph, "I have always been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I would love to play a character like that, but that's a problem if you're a female. I'm always likely to be overlooked for not being male."
Thompson is adamant she would make a good Holmes, and hopes more women will be seen in leading roles in the future, adding, "Is the heroic role unisex? Or does it mean there is an area of life which remains unexplored, which contains stories which remain untold? I suspect that's the case and it will be very interesting as this generation gets into its stride to see what those stories turn out to be."
Actors who have recently played the detective include Robert Downey, Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jonny Lee Miller, who starred opposite Lucy Liu as a female Dr. Watson in U.S. TV series Elementary.

An elder Mr Holmes?

The Old Master: The Enduring Fascination of Elderly Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas

WHY HAVEN’T WE CRACKED the case of Sherlock Holmes? By now, the evidence stacks deep. But more than 130 years after a young doctor scrawled notes for a novel provisionally titled A Tangled Skein, the “Great Detective” (Arthur Conan Doyle, mercifully, reconsidered the branding for A Study in Scarlet) continues to elude any final verdict. 
The latest chapter in the adventure of the deathless detective comes in the form of Mr. Holmes, the exactingly crafted new film from director Bill Condon, based on Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind. As a 90-something Holmes sliding into dementia, Ian McKellen alternates from regal to shattered as his Sherlock struggles to reconstruct his bygone final case, sometimes meandering, sometimes flashing the rapier acuity of old. In flashback, a mature but still in-form Holmes performs the original investigation, aware of and wryly amused by his own celebrity. McKellen’s double-layered performance and the film itself refresh an illuminating tradition in the larger Sherlockian phenomenon: Old Holmes.
As I researched my recent book The Great Detective, an examination into the history of Sherlock Holmes in popular culture, I was struck by the degree to which Conan Doyle’s creation belongs to others as much as to him. Long before the post-meta-everything fan fiction milieu took over, Sherlock Holmes evolved as a boundless collaborative project, with many hands molding critical components of the mythos. The actor William Gillette, for example, helped enshrine “Elementary, my dear Watson” as the detective’s motto; illustrator Sidney Paget welded Holmes to his deerstalker. The character thrived because so many people grabbed this and that from Conan Doyle and made it their own. And yet, paradoxically, Holmes remains Conan Doyle’s creature, too — essentially of the author, but not wholly by him any more.
So it is with Old Holmes: the idea of the detective in his retirement, even dotage, aged far beyond the Victorian era of his canonical adventures. Many have taken their crack. At this point, with literally millions of fan-fiction stories adrift on the Internet’s high seas and uncounted thousands of more conventional pastiches and parodies gathering dust in collectors’ libraries and used bookshops, there have been innumerable extra-Conan Doyle versions of retired Sherlock Holmes. A quick consultation of amateur fan-fiction websites like Archive of Our Own reveals “Retirementlock” as a healthy subgenre within a vast literary sub rosa.
But like all things Sherlockian, Old Holmes starts with Conan Doyle himself. In 1905, in the espionage yarn “The Adventure of the Second Stain,” the author let Watson slip in a curious aside: the detective had retired from Baker Street to the Sussex Downs to keep bees. It’s worth noting that within the 60-story Sherlockian corpus, this story ends the 13 tales collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes — the moment when Conan Doyle found himself financially obliged to resuscitate Sherlock, whom he’d killed off a decade before. The author always found Holmes’s wild popularity both inconvenient and irresistible; it obscured his other work, of which there was a lot, but also funded his existence, which was extravagantly expensive. So while the Returnsummoned a welcome small fortune — the initial US magazine fees alone ran to more than $1 million in today’s funds — Conan Doyle remained eager to sweep Sherlock offstage. Retirement, perhaps, seemed a better investment on future returns than murder.
During World War I, Conan Doyle produced “His Last Bow,” a single-act propaganda number featuring a disguised Holmes and delightfully obvious Watson operating against a German spy ring. Set in August 1914, it ends the Sherlockian chronology created by Conan Doyle. Famed for an elegiac speech by Holmes — “Stand with me here upon the terrace, for it may be the last quiet talk we shall ever have” — the story is a rare bird: narrated in third person, rather than by Watson, and Conan Doyle’s only attempt at showing the duo in action in their later years. The formula may have struck the author as commercially implausible: did readers, as the Teens roared into the Twenties, really want to see the 60- or 70-something old boys of Baker Street tootling around an automotive Britain, tut-tutting the decline in commissionaire’s service? After “His Last Bow,” when he did condescend to write the occasional Holmes story, an aging Conan Doyle generally opted for nostalgia pieces set in the detective’s classical period.
The one exception presents the remainder of what we “know” about Holmes’s retirement. In “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane,” Conan Doyle makes a solo Sherlock his narrator of a seaside mystery, with no Watson in sight. Set long before the events of “His Last Bow,” the story is bland and unremarkable. Along with Sherlock’s one other outing as narrator, “The Adventure of the Blanched Solider,” it suffers a dubious reputation among serious Holmes fans as one of the saga’s lowest artistic moments. Without the humanizing, energizing filter of Watson’s narration, the retired Holmes fails to engage the imagination in the old way. It turns out that even a true detective is boring without a sidekick. Besides, the villain is a jellyfish.
Still, as with other stories collected in 1927’s valedictory Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, this excursion to Holmes’s Sussex apiary shows Conan Doyle seeking — half-heartedly, at times, but with an occasional glimmer of creative curiosity — to reboot Sherlock. (By 1926, the year he published “Lion’s Mane,” he’d lived with Holmes for exactly 40 years.) That this particular effort fails points to a pair of problems that all Old Holmes iterations must confront.
First, what does Holmes look like — what does the Sherlockian milieu amount to — when excised from London? A simple cottage on the Sussex Downs no doubt has its attractions. All the honey you could eat, one imagines. Still, the setting does not exactly fire the engines of intrigue like 221B, wreathed in London fog and decorated by Sherlock’s interior revolver practice. Apart from the swarm of metropolitan humanity, Holmes runs the risk of seeming like a creature in a poorly equipped zoo.
Second, where’s Watson? Holmes without Watson is a heartbreaking prospect. In Conan Doyle’s two attempts, the doctor’s absence deprives the whole scene of its animating warmth. And yet it seems impossible to imagine Watson, committed clubman and devoted husband to an unknown multiple of wives (one at a time), uprooting himself to the provinces. So who serves as Holmes’s mandatory foil?
The approaches have varied. In Mr. Holmes and its source novel, the elderly detective acquires a new counterpart in the form of a bright young boy named Roger. In The Final Solution, a 2004 novella by noted Sherlock Holmes addict (among other things) Michael Chabon, a character known only as “the old man” encounters a young German-Jewish refugee in 1944, and then a police inspector who recruits him into various minor mysteries with vast, horrifying implications.
As in Chabon, leaving the detective’s identity vague is an established strategy for dealing with Old Holmes — and, again, owes to Conan Doyle, who occasionally included lightly veiled, nameless references to the detective in non-Sherlockian short stories. In a 1941 genre classic titled A Taste For Honey(and a pair of subsequent, lesser-known novels), Gerald Heard, writing as HF Heard, created a certain “Mr. Mycroft,” an unmistakable Sherlock given his brother’s name for reasons perhaps equally artistic and copyright-related. Mr. Mycroft’s counterpart, a local honey enthusiast, fulfills the Watsonian role.
Leaving Holmes completely on his own, staring at the bees, seems the only truly unworkable formula. Perhaps the most durable — and arguably most successful, and definitely most heretical — solution comes from Laurie King, author of the successful series of Mary Russell mysteries. Young Miss Russell, an early-century proto-feminist, is Sherlock Holmes’s wife. Beginning in 1915, just after the chronological end of Conan Doyle’s canon, the dozen Russell novels so far send Mary and Sherlock through the inter-war world, from Jerusalem to India to San Francisco. (And thus, King merges two of the most popular Sherlockian pastiche formats, Old Holmes and “Sherlock Goes to ______________.”)
When I interviewed her for The Great Detective, King shed some perceptive light on the attraction and narrative possibilities of Old Holmes, and by extension the enduring intrigue the Baker Street investigator holds for creators of fiction in many media. “Arthur Conan Doyle opens many doors that he never explored himself,” King told me. “Conan Doyle could not envision Sherlock Holmes after the war. As far as he was concerned, the world had no place for that kind of mind any longer. Mary Russell is the young, female, early 20th-century-feminist version of Sherlock Holmes’s mind, and to begin with, I was primarily interested in her […] But once I paired Russell with Holmes, I began to see his possibilities.”
Possibilities: here King hits on why Old Holmes and the rest of the Sherlockian phenomenon persist. In his 60 stories, Conan Doyle layered on the detail — the devoted Holmesian knows more than she ever wanted to about possible Victorian monograph subjects — but, somehow, left vast stretches of canvas blank. This is, in fact, the accidental artistic brilliance of the Holmes tales: they encompass a robust but tantalizingly unfinished fictional world. Intriguing characters drift in and out of Conan Doyle’s texts in a page or two: Mycroft, the smarter older brother; Moriarty, the evil mathematician; Irene Adler, the femme fatale who beats Sherlock Holmes. Watson constantly teases us, name-dropping incidents and adventures so terrible, not even he can reveal them. (Let us raise a glass to the politician, the lighthouse, and the trained cormorant; to poor Isadora Persano, rendered catatonic by a worm unknown to science; and to the Giant Rat of Sumatra, definitely capitalized.) The canon’s internal chronology is just nonsensical enough to make just about anything possible. Ever since — and, indeed, well before — Conan Doyle laid down his pen, others have tried to fill in these gaps.
Old Holmes, and what might have befallen the great detective during his apparently permanent vacation on the Sussex Downs, represents one of the most inviting gaps of all, the ne plus ultra of the ingenious authorial negligence that helped Sherlock Holmes become not just one writer’s character, but a mass-made myth.
“Because I started in 1915,” Laurie King told me, “I could do whatever I wanted with him, because at that point Conan Doyle is done with him.”


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes #62 - Yvonne Craig - Yea, I had a crush on her as Batgirl.

Former Batgirl, Yvonne Craig (1937-2015) is however only two degrees away from a Sherlockian connection.

In 1969 she co-starred in an episode of the original series Star Trek, 'Whom Gods Destroy'.
And we have prevouisly made Sherlockian connections with both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

She also shared the screen, twice, with Elvis Presley.

I the fun department. . .

My daughter, now eight, has been enjoying playing the game CLUEDO, known over here as simply CLUE, since borrowing it from heer cousins.

I never had a clue, even if tenuous, that there was a Sherlockian connection.

According to Wikipedia;

Cluedo was originally marketed as "The Great New Detective Game" upon its launch in 1949 in North America, and quickly made a deal to license "The Great New Sherlock Holmes Game" from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyleestate. Advertising at the time suggested players would take on the guise of "Sherlock Holmes following the path of the criminal", however no depictions of Holmes appears in the advertising or on the box. By 1950 the game was simply marketed as "The Great Detective Game" until the 1960s, at which time it became: "Parker Brothers Detective Game".
Cluedo 1956 UK Edition depicting a Sherlock Holmes type character.
But the association with Sherlock Holmes was far from over. With the launch of the US 1972 edition, a television commercial showed Holmes and Watson engaged in a particularly competitive game. Adjusting with the times, in 1979 US TV commercials a detective resembling a bumbling Inspector Clouseau from the popular Pink Panther film franchise, looks for clues.[16] In 1986, the marketing slogan added "Classic Detective Game" which persists through the last 2002/2003 edition.
In the UK, Cluedo did not start using "The Great Detective Game" marketing slogan until the mid-1950s, which it continued using it until the 2000 edition when it adopted the "Classic Detective Game" slogan. However, in the mid-1950s Waddingtons also adopted a Sherlock Holmes-type detective to adorn their box covers for a brief time, though unlike the US editions, there was no acknowledgement that the character was actually the famous detective. In the 1980s, as in the US, Sherlock Holmes also appeared in TV advertising of the time, along with other classic detectives such as Sam Spade.

Just thought you may want to know.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Never saw this one coming!

David Arquette to star as Sherlock Holmes in Chicago

He is known as a great actor, right?

Source and credit and story.

Will it be worth waitng for?

'Sherlock' Season 4 News: Fans May Need to Wait Until 2017

Fans of the British crime series "Sherlock" may need to wait until 2017 for the much-awaited fourth season of the hit series. Reports are pointing to the start of production sometime in 2016 and a 2017 release. The series' producers however have yet to confirm if these reports are true.
According to a report in Christian Today, what is so far confirmed is that for 2015, fans should just be satisfied with a special holiday episode of the series which is a stand-alone episode that will bring back the enigmatic sleuth and his partner to the Victorian era.
The holiday special, which has already wrapped up production, is set in Victorian London. This is straight out of the era that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, pictured Holmes to be living in and solving mysterious crimes that came his way. In early July, BBC released promotional photos and a teaser trailer showing the crime-fighting duo looking dapper in their period costumes.
Series co-showrunner Steven Moffat said this about the special: "We've got, I think you can safely say, the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of a generation – we want to see them do it in the proper outfits, just once." He also clarified that the special episode is a "special antecedent installment of the series."
"The special is its own thing. We wouldn't have done the story we're doing, and the way we're doing it, if we didn't have this special. It's not part of the run of three episodes. So we had this to do it – as we could hardly conceal – it's Victorian," the executive producer explained.
The series started in 2010, when it aired three episodes for the first series. The second series of episodes was aired in 2012 and the third series in 2014. Despite the length of the wait between seasons, the show has managed to become one of the most-watched shows in contemporary British TV.
Source and credit

Box office gold? Yea probably. Stylish? Yes it had a style all it's own. What do you think?

His Sherlock Holmes movies were stylish box office gold. So what a pity Guy Ritchie has turned into The Man From U.N.C.O.O.L.

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The Man From U.N.C.L.E.         Cert: 12A   Time: 1hr 57mins             ★★★★★
These days, Guy Ritchie doesn’t make many films but I suppose when your last two have been Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, A Game Of Shadows – which collectively took more than $1 billion at the global box office – you don’t really have to. 
So there was a real sense of anticipation – occasion even – as I sat down to enjoy The Man From U.N.C.L.E., only his third film in the past six years.
Oh, the pent-up excitement. 
The film starts well but things quickly go wrong when our American and Russian spies join forces against a shadowy organisation - sadly no longer called T.H.R.U.S.H. - that might just have got itself an atom bomb
The film starts well but things quickly go wrong when our American and Russian spies join forces against a shadowy organisation - sadly no longer called T.H.R.U.S.H. - that might just have got itself an atom bomb
I vividly remember almost purring with pleasure during the first Sherlock Holmes film, as the former Lock, Stock… and Snatch director came of Hollywood A-list age, coupling a stunning depiction of Victorian London with superb performances from his two leading men, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Surely he’d be striking movie-making gold again?
The short answer, it quickly emerges as yet another much-loved television series from the Sixties is given a belated big-screen makeover, is no, he won’t. 
With Sherlock Holmes, virtually every creative decision Ritchie made turned out to be the right one. 
Here, by wretched contrast – apart from deciding to stick with the show’s original Cold War setting and to festoon the whole thing with lashings of fashionable Sixties cool à la Austin Powers – he barely gets anything right at all.
The acting, the humour, the script… this is a film that falls miserably short right across the board. There is no chemistry between Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, the latter handicapped by a dreadful Russian accent
The acting, the humour, the script… this is a film that falls miserably short right across the board. There is no chemistry between Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, the latter handicapped by a dreadful Russian accent
The acting, the humour, the script… this is a film that falls miserably short right across the board. 
As a cult television series (Ian Fleming briefly played a small part in its original inception before his Bond producers pointed out the obvious clash of interest), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. turned its stars – Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin – into instantly recognised household names.
Five decades on and their big-screen counterparts, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer – the former playing American and the latter Russian, while their Swedish-born leading lady, Alicia Vikander, plays German – discover the hard way that they don’t quite have what it takes to be considered as authentic leading men. 
Despite the distractingly kinetic camerawork, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. spends far too much time being… well, boring.
Every creative decision Ritchie makes – apart from sticking with the show’s original Cold War setting and to festoon the whole thing with lashings of fashionable Sixties cool à la Austin Powers – is wrong
Every creative decision Ritchie makes – apart from sticking with the show’s original Cold War setting and to festoon the whole thing with lashings of fashionable Sixties cool à la Austin Powers – is wrong
This is a film crying out for a charismatic someone – anyone! – to seize it by the scruff of the neck and shout ‘Watch me, I’m really good’, as Downey Jr did so memorably with Sherlock Holmes. But nobody does. 
The chemistry between Cavill and Hammer, the latter handicapped by a dreadful Russian accent, would struggle to light up a shoe box. 
To be fair, it does take a little while for this to become clear, with the film’s opening in the East Berlin of 1963 providing one of a modest handful of highlights. 
Cavill oozes an ersatz sophistication as Napoleon Solo, the handsome, suave, black-marketeer-turned-CIA agent who’s been sent through the Berlin Wall to get the daughter of ‘Hitler’s favourite rocket scientist’ back to the West. 
He eventually succeeds, with the help of a decent car chase and despite determined opposition from a short-tempered KGB heavy who is about to become very familiar.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is crying out for a charismatic someone – anyone! – to seize it by the neck and shout ‘Watch me, I’m really good’, as Downey Jr did with Sherlock Holmes. But nobody does
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is crying out for a charismatic someone – anyone! – to seize it by the neck and shout ‘Watch me, I’m really good’, as Downey Jr did with Sherlock Holmes. But nobody does
Yes, for once Gaby (Vikander) is safely back in West Berlin, American and Russian intelligence join forces to counter the considerable threat of a shadowy organisation based in Italy that might just have got itself an atom bomb. 
Fans of the original series may be disappointed, irritated even, to know that this shadowy organisation is no longer called T.H.R.U.S.H. But the important thing is that the larky libertine Solo and the seriously Soviet Kuryakin are now working on the same side.
It’s here that things quickly begin to go wrong. Each twist of the plot seems far too complicated, the explanations seem endless (as co-writer, Ritchie must share in the blame) and you keep finding yourself thinking things like: ‘Hang on a minute, isn’t that the plot from the latest Mission: Impossible film, or Kingsman, or Spy?’ Or quite possibly the next James Bond come to that.
Most of its problems are of its own making and serious enough that even a rare cameo from Hugh Grant as a senior British intelligence officer can’t help. 
Only Elizabeth Debicki (above), so good as  Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby , stands out, playing the sort of sexually charged female villain  Bond producers would surely have loved to get their hands on
Only Elizabeth Debicki (above), so good as Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby , stands out, playing the sort of sexually charged female villain Bond producers would surely have loved to get their hands on
Only Elizabeth Debicki, so good as the golf-playing Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby, stands out, playing the sort of sexually charged female villain the current crop of Bond producers would surely have loved to get their hands on.
It’s the lack of spark, the lack of originality and, most of all, the lack of genuine humour that are the real problems here. Ritchie stamped his own mark on Sherlock Holmes; here he just reminds us how many times we’ve been down this now tired-looking path before.
Yes, there are still one or two stylish moments to admire – I enjoyed Solo’s rescue of Kuryakin from a particularly watery fate – but with punchline after punchline falling flat and the few chuckles there are coming from sexual innuendo that’s straight from James Bond, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is one of the big disappointments of the summer and will surely struggle to secure the sequel it half-heartedly sets itself up for.

Source and credit.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why Holmes really left Baker St.

Property prices in London have skyrocketed, and British police say money being laundered by international criminals is now the biggest factor driving the boom.

Britain has long been a safe haven for people fleeing persecution in their home countries, but now anti-corruption campaigners say the narrative has changed. The U.K. has also become a safe haven for dirty money, and a senior police officer claims money laundering is the biggest factor driving up London property prices. Vicki Barker reports.
VICKI BARKER, BYLINE: Baker Street in Central London - Chido Dunn from the anti-corruption organization Global Witness is looking for something that isn't there - 221 Baker Street, home of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
CHIDO DUNN: So we're looking at 219 Baker Street, which is a...
BARKER: What is there is a vast art deco building that takes up most of the block.
DUNN: If 221 Baker Street had existed - if Sherlock Holmes had ever existed - that's where the property would be located 'cause it's such a big block.
BARKER: The building's real ownership is equally elusive, but Global Witness has traced it to the late Rakhat Aliyev, a shadowy Kazak businessman with links to the ruling family. Aliyev was found hanged in an Austrian prison this winter while facing multiple European money laundering charges.
A short walk away, in the leafy splendor of Regents Park, Dunn explains that the same things that make London such an attractive destination for tourists and ex-pats also appeal to dictators, drug lords and common crooks.
DUNN: It's got great schools. It's got great shopping. It's also a really secure place if you want to put your dirty money. It has a really secure system of law, and its property is a great investment.
BARKER: An estimated $200 billion worth of property in the U.K. is owned by offshore companies, and much of that is concentrated in the capital's most desirable neighborhoods. In the wealthiest, Westminster, one in five property transactions now involves a foreign buyer.
JONATHAN HUDSON: There's the properties that start from four-and-a-half million.
BARKER: In SoHo, where the sex shops and bohemian bars are slowly being edged out by upmarket restaurants, cafes and condos, realtor Jonathan Hudson says he's never had a shady client, and he's confident he can spot one.
HUDSON: If you can prove where your cash is from - can we have it from a lawyer, or can we have a copy of a bank statement? And if they're then quite a little bit cautious about giving their information, that would be the first red flag for us.
BARKER: But not everybody finds differentiating between dirty money and the merely filthy rich so easy, especially when realtors can earn hundreds of thousands on a single sale.
UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) (Unintelligible).
BARKER: In a courtyard in the shadow of Westminster Abbey, as a choir rehearses nearby, I meet Mark Hayward, head of Britain's realtors association. He's well aware that his colleagues are legally required to report any suspect clients to anti-money-laundering authorities. He's also aware only a tiny number of them do so, and he says that's going to have to change.
MARK HAYWARD: I think government has now got the bit between its teeth. And the National Crime Agency, which is the equivalent of your FBI, has been targeted, and our sector is at the top of their hit list.
BARKER: Later this year, the British government will begin publishing the names of all foreign companies that own property in Britain. Anti-corruption groups called that a start, but they say the real owners will likely still remain in the shadows. For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London.
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