Letters to Holly

Thursday, December 31

Homes and Holmes

Your Sister doesn't do vacations where one sits around. She moves forward always. In between grading papers, she's combining the guest bedroom space and the office and beginning the transition between Old Office and Nursery. Yesterday she finished construction on the guest bed, elevating it from the floor and affixing the Hitchcock boards to the bed frame and the wall. She reassembled her office desk in the guest bedroom.

We also finally donated some of my old furniture, and I, also not so grand with inertia, cleaned out the DVD closet. We're donating a heap of VHS movies. Owning them is needless when we can stream them online anytime. Included in there is Twin Peaks, my college obsession. It makes a better cultural document than a watchable series. Also, it's on DVD now, and I would upgrade if I wanted to watch it again.

We snuck out of the house before the sleet came down and caught a movie.

Sherlock Holmes is instantly forgettable. If not for the stunt casting of Downey, it would get no attention. I wonder if this is a similar scenario to Saving Private Ryan: a by-the-numbers script is taken to Olympus by Very Big Names.

As the opening production credits rolled, it made me wish someone else had taken a crack at adapting From Hell, the the Alan Moore comic about Jack the Ripper. Then I realized this film is an accidental sequel to From Hell. Even though the bad guy is never linked to those murders, it's an obvious avoidance of identification. In that perspective, I liked the film.

The "update" of Holmes is mild. Instead of the immaculate intellect we're used to, we instead get the cliched slob-genius, seemingly for no reason. Downey could have been directed to play this straight, and it would have worked fine. But this "new" direction is mild. It hedges its bet, and leaves very little impression. Same with Law and Adams as the other leads. They're just walking through stale roles.

However, they set up a sequel very well, and with another bit of stunt casting, it could be fun to watch. But I'll be watching actors, not characters.

We walked out to an iced car and drove to the grocery store for dessert: doughnuts and red velvet cake. We crashed into bed with a quick sugar plummet.

Picture of the Day
Jeepers, the cops!

Monday, December 28

It's Not Avatar-ible.

I got back from Mom's around 2 on Saturday, and that can only be the result of a time-warp. I can't be sure what happened; I was falling asleep as I entered my city limits. That night I inhaled 6 turkey-and-tomato rolls while I flipped channels on the new HD signal. It's hypnotizing. Unfortunately, we have 3 dozen shopping channel to wade through.

On Sunday, we did our usual grocery run before I cleared the driveway of the remaining ice. I thought it might take an hour. It took almost three. Only NPR programming got me through. When Says You ended at five, so did I. We had talked about catching Avatar later in the day, and I found a theatre showing it in two-and three-D. We arrived at the cinema about 20 minutes before the movie, and we discovered a shocking brain failure by the staff: They scheduled five movies to start at the same time, including the two viewings of Avatar. The lobby was a mob scene with one guy -- one small, old guy -- directing traffic. The vast majority of the ticket holders were there to see the film in 3D, and that left us in a small but crammed theatre.

It's a gigantic movie. About halfway through it, I realized I hadn't seen a film on this scale since Lord of the Rings. I mentally declared that it took four years for an effects-heavy film to compete with that trilogy's new standard of FX. When the film ended, I notice that WETA, the Rings FX people were the prominent FX company for the film. Of course.

It's clearly a step up from the Robert Zemeckis motion-capture animation style (Polar Express, Beowulf, Christmas Carol), but it also cheated a bit by focusing on non-humans to carry the film. Still, it had sweep and more than a little art doing the heavy lifting. It's impressive. It's also the definitive Cameron film, combining all his previous films. There's even a nod to True Lies when a character dangles by a locked missile. I suspect that felling of the big tree surpassed the emotional wallop of all of 2012. I'm glad I saw it. Glad Sigourney Weaver had a prominent role too.

We snuck into the soon-to-close Krispy Kreme for our post-movie ritual and drove home. I slept hard. I was exhausted.

Picture of the Day
We all fear the Math Witches.