Film Review: Holmes & Watson (dir by Etan Cohen)


Will Ferrell is Sherlock Holmes!

John C. Reilly is John Watson!

Together, they get really bad reviews!

Well, that and solve crimes and protect royalty.  Holmes & Watson, which came out this previous Christmas, features Sherlock and John attempting to prevent Professor Moriarty (Ralph Fiennes) from assassinating Queen Victoria.  Watson, being the proud Englishman that he is, is an obsessive fan of Queen Victoria.  In fact, he’s such a fan that, upon meeting her, he insists that she pose for a “self-photography” with him and Holmes.  Of course, cameras back then were a lot bigger and more bulkier than cameras today so Watson ends up bashing the Queen in the head.  Watson and Holmes are terrified that they’ve killed the Queen.  But then she wakes up.  That’s the joke.

Holmes & Watson isn’t so much a parody of the original Sherlock Holmes stories as much as it’s a parody of the Guy Ritchie films that almost everyone has already forgotten about.  Of course, it can be argued that the Guy Ritchie films were, themselves, parodies which makes Holmes & Watson a parody of a parody.  (Now, we just need someone to parody Holmes & Watson so that the universe can collapse in on itself.)  As a result, the film opens with a young Sherlock Holmes being tricked into kissing a donkey’s ass and then it progresses to an adult Holmes using his deductive powers to deduce that a man is a compulsive masturbator.  The film never seems to be quite sure if its version of Holmes is meant to be an eccentric genius or an overrated bungler and Will Ferrell’s inconsistent performance doesn’t help matters.  When Holmes starts to incorrectly suspect that Watson has betrayed him, we don’t know if we’re supposed to share Watson’s feeling of betrayal or if this is just another case of Holmes being a brilliant idiot.  The film doesn’t seem to know either.

In the role of Watson, John C. Reilly is expected to do most of the dramatic heavy lifting.  He gets several scenes in which he discusses how difficult it is to always be the sidekick.  It’s a role that Reilly has played in several other films and perhaps that explains why he seems so bored in this movie.  We’re all kind of used to Will Ferrell being an inconsistent performer but it’s far more depressing to see John C. Reilly sleepwalking through a film.

Anyway, Holmes & Watson is not a film that I normally would have wasted my time seeing but, with so many people proclaiming it to be not only the worst film of 2018 but the worst film of all time, I felt that I had a certain obligation to do so.  After all, I’ll be posting my worst of and best of lists over this upcoming week and Holmes & Watson seemed like it would be a legitimate contender for one of those lists.  Having now seen the film, I can say that it’s pretty bad.  Unfortunately, unlike some other bad films, it’s also rather dull and forgettable.  It’s certainly far more dull than any film featuring John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Rebecca Hall, Hugh Laurie, Steve Coogan, and Kelly MacDonald has any right to be.  It’s a comedy where so many of the jokes fall flat that even the jokes that do work kind of suffer just by association.  Usually, I would have laughed at the film’s Billy Zane cameo but I was still annoyed by the film’s unnecessary musical number so I merely chuckled.

If Holmes & Watson has a saving grace, it is that it’s just a silly comedy.  It’s not really pompous enough to justify the claim that some have made that it’s the worst film of all time.  It’s neither as smug as Vice nor as pretentious as Life Itself.  In fact, it’s not even the worst comedy of the year.  (That honor would belong to The Happytime Murders.)  What Holmes & Watson is, is a huge disappointment.  With all the talent involved, you would hope that the film would be a bit more memorable.

Black Panther Is A Favourite With The Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society


The Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society, which is one of the newer critics groups, announced their nominees for the best of 2018 earlier today!  Not only did they really like The Favourite but — as you might expect from a group of online critics — they also embraced Black Panther.  Which is good because, if Black Panther‘s going to make history as the first comic book movie to score a best picture nomination, it’s going to need the critical precursor support that wasn’t given to Deadpool, Wonder Woman, or Logan.

Here are the nominations!

Best Picture

A Star is Born
Eighth Grade
Black Panther
The Favourite
The Hate U Give
BlacKkKlansman
Green Book
Roma
A Quiet Place
Searching

Best Actor

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Christian Bale – Vice
Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

Best Actress

Toni Collette – Hereditary
Charlize Theron – Tully
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
Nicole Kidman – Destroyer

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman
Mahershala Ali – Green Book
Russell Hornsby – The Hate U Give
Sam Elliott – A Star is Born
Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actress

Elizabeth Debicki – Widows
Emma Stone – The Favourite
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
Amy Adams – Vice

Best Adapted Screenplay

Bradley Cooper and Eric Roth – A Star is Born
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Charlie Wachtel – BlacKkKlansman
Barry Jenkins – If Beale Street Could Talk
Audrey Wells – The Hate U Give
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Original Screenplay

Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski – A Quiet Place
Bo Burnham – Eighth Grade
Tony McNamara and Deborah Davis – The Favourite
Boots Riley – Sorry to Bother You
Adam McKay – Vice

Best Male Director

Alfonso Cuaron – Roma
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Ryan Coogler – Black Panther

Best Female Director

Chloe Zhao – The Rider
Debra Granik – Leave No Trace
Tamara Jenkins – Private Life
Marielle Heller – Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Lynne Ramsay – You Were Never Really Here

Best Animated Film

Incredibles 2
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mirai

Best Foreign Film

Burning
Cold War
Roma
Shoplifters
Girl

Best Documentary

Free Solo
Minding the Gap
RBG
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Visual Effects

Ready Player One
Mission Impossible – Fallout
First Man
Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War

Best Cinematography

Linus Sandgren – First Man
James Laxton – If Beale Street Could Talk
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Robbie Ryan – The Favourite
Rachel Morrison – Black Panther

Best Blockbuster

Avengers: Infinity War
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Mission: Impossible Fallout
Ready Player One

Best Independent Film

Eighth Grade
First Reformed
Sorry to Bother You
Ben Is Back
If Beale Street Could Talk

Best First Feature

Bo Burnham – Eighth Grade
Bradley Cooper – A Star is Born
Ari Aster – Hereditary
Paul Dano – Wildlife
Aneesh Chaganty – Searching

Best Comedy/Musical

Crazy Rich Asians
Game Night
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!
The Favourite
Bohemian Rhapsody

Best Action Film

Mission: Impossible -Fallout
Black Panther
Avengers: Infinity War
Deadpool 2
Widows

Best Sci-Fi/Horror

A Quiet Place
Annihilation
Halloween
Hereditary
Suspiria

Best Performance by an Actor 23 and Under

Alex Wolff – Hereditary
Lucas Hedges – Boy Erased
Lucas Hedges – Ben Is Back
Noah Jupe – A Quiet Place
Timothée Chalamet – Beautiful Boy

Best Performance by an Actress 23 and Under

Amandla Stenberg – The Hate You Give
Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place
Milly Shapiro – Hereditary
Thomasin McKenzie- Leave No Trace

Best Breakthrough Performance

Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade
John David Washington – BlacKkKlansman
Lady Gaga – A Star is Born
Yalitza Aparicio – Roma
Amandla Stenberg – The Hate U Give

Best Cast

Black Panther
The Favourite
BlacKkKlansman
Crazy Rich Asians
Widows

Best Stunt Work

Avengers: Infinity War
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Black Panther
Deadpool 2
Upgrade

Best Score

Justin Hurwitz – First Man
Nicholas Britell – If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat – Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Göransson- Black Panther
Terence Blanchard – BlacKkKlansman

Best Original Song

All the Stars – Black Panther
Shallow – A Star is Born
Hollywood Ending – Anna and The Apocalypse
Revelation – Boy Erased
Hearts Beat Loud – Hearts Beat Loud

Best Editing

Adam Gough and Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick – Searching
Yorgos Mavropsaridis – The Favourite
Barry Alexander Brown – BlacKkKlansman
Hank Corwin – Vice

Best Visual Effects or Animated Performance

Ben Whishaw – Paddington 2
Jason Liles – Rampage
Josh Brolin – Avengers: Infinity War
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Solo: A Star Wars Story
Tom Hardy – Venom

 

Horror Film Review: A Quiet Place (dir by John Krasinski)


As a film viewer, I am sometimes guilty of taking sound for granted.

That was the first thought that I had while watching A Quiet Place, a horror film that came out earlier this year.  The film takes place in the near future, after the Earth has been invaded by aliens who track their prey by sound.  Lee Abbott (John Krasinski, who also directed), his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt), and their children (including Millicent Simmonds) have learned that the only way to survive is to do everything in silence.  They communicate with sign lanague.  They walk carefully, knowing that even the sound of a footstep could lead to doom.

If ever the old cliché about echoing silence was true, it’s true while watching A Quiet Place.  Because Krasinski starts the film by showing us what happens when one forgets to be silent around the aliens, we know what will happen if Lee or his children make the slightest amount of noise and what’s interesting is that those of us watching find ourselves not making any noise as well.  Krasinski, Blunt, and Simmonds give such effective performances that you’re drawn into their story.  You don’t want them to get killed by the invaders so you make sure to remain quiet yourself.

That doesn’t mean that A Quiet Place is a silent film, of course.  Since Lee spends the majority of the film in the woods with his children, there’s the occasional sounds of nature.  And towards the end of the film, when someone finally speaks, it’s jarring both because we’ve gotten used to the silence and because we know what’s going to happen next.

My second thought while watching A Quiet Place was “Who knew John Krasinski was capable of this?”  I’ve always liked Krasinski as an actor but his previous films as a director leaned a bit towards the pretentious side.  There was nothing about his previous films that suggested Krasinski had it in him to direct one of the most creative and tension-filled horror movies of the year.  Krasinski proves himself to be an unexpected master of suspense.

But it’s more than horror that makes A Quiet Place effective.  A Quiet Place is a film about family.  Despite the circumstances, Lee and Evelyn have managed to create a safe household for their children.  It may be a silent household but it’s also a loving household and, with Evelyn being pregnant, it’s about to get bigger.  Blunt and Krasinski are married in real life and their chemistry is evident every time that they exchange a glance.  The film celebrates not only the love of family but the sacrifices that parents make for their children.  It’s probably the most pro-family of the year.

A Quiet Place is a short and efficient film.  At a time when the average film usually clocks over two hours, A Quiet Place is only 90 minutes long but it achieves so much in those 90 minutes!  A Quiet Place is a powerful movie, one that will make you appreciate both families and the noise that they make.