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Here I am, down here with Doc Martin …

Forgive me, I have disappeared into the bowels of Netflix – my, that’s a disgusting turn of phrase – but at its heart its true.  For the past month or so, on weekends I have run away to Portwenn, England with layovers in New York City to visit Sherlock and Tim Gunn.  Mmm hmm, yup … I have officially snapped.

I have been assisting in the total care of my mom now for over a year and I think my mind finally decided I needed a vacation.  Enter Doc Martin! Yes, that’s right Doc Martin.  After seeing one episode on my local PBS station, I went on Netflix and got lost in Portwenn for six seasons worth of shows.  I enjoyed the scenery, ensemble acting, the characters becoming each important in their own way much like in Northern Exposure, if anyone remembers the old CBS show.  Portwenn became a place to go to and have stories told me in the gentleness of the British seaside where my reality didn’t exist.  Plus I loved the ability of the good doctor to just tell people to shut up and get the hell out of the way.  Oh, to be able to do that in real life without consequences.  He is grumpy and not the most handsome of men, emotionally inarticulate and yet fun to watch.  And look they’re making more!!!

http://www.digitalspy.com/british-tv/news/a507888/doc-martin-series-six-itv-unveils-first-trailer.html

When I wasn’t in Portwenn, I was in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact, supplementing my fantasy life with heaping helpings of Elementary (CBS show).  Let it be known, that I am declaring my love for Jonny Lee Miller here and now for all the world to hear (Don’t worry Mr. Rickman, you’re still held fondly in my heart, now stand over their with Viggo).  I enjoy Elementary immensely – the relationship between Joan Watson and Holmes has grown and changed and is interesting to watch.  I obviously have always had a fascination for Holmes and Mr. Miller’s portrayal is second to only one man – I’m sorry but Basil Rathbone will always be Holmes to me, he being the one that introduced the character and the books to me.  But Jonny Lee Miller is a very close second.  His representation of Holmes is modern but still adheres to canon – he carries the humor and the humanity that Holmes was imbued with by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the eccentricity, lack of social graces and penetrating talents that make Holmes who he is.  Mr. Miller’s performance is fun to watch – saying so much with just the slightest of eye movements. There is a childlike quality in some of his mannerisms and expressions that make him all the more endearing… okay I’m gushing here aren’t I.  Sorry.  Lucy Liu’s performance provides the perfect calmness of Watson to the stories.  Her character is a more of an equal partner to Holmes than the canonical Watson.  She does not merely stand around and say, wow, how’d you figure that one out – she actively participates and assists.  Here is video of the pilot episode where Holmes and Watson first meet – their dynamic changes throughout the show.

I think I’m going to have to buy a copy of the BBC’s Emma where Jonny Lee Miller plays Mr. Knightley, a very different character from Holmes.  Hopefully, that won’t send me careening into an Austen kick.  Actually while I like Austen, I’ve never been obsessive about her as I have been with Bronte or Doyle.

I was going to post a comparison with the BBC Sherlock but I’m opting out after seeing the mayhem and vitriolic hatred that having two good versions (altho’ I find Elementary is much more entertaining) of a modern-day Holmes available for enjoyment has engendered – particularly the Cumberbatch fans (not all of course) on Tumblr.  Makes you want to shake people and yell – Its two different interpretations – one does not take anything away from the other.  Here is a nice sane comparison of the two shows without drool or drama http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/79347119.html

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been – on a mental vacation.  Introverts like myself need alone time, down time, get the hell away from me and don’t ask me anything time.  I’ve enjoyed it.

Thud

What’s that?  That’s the sound of the Tony Award Show gracelessly falling.  I’m going to be honest and direct about my opinions – your opinion may vary:

Starting off with rock and roll and Greenday to try and engage a younger crowd – shameless.  I liked the deer in the headlight looks of some of the older thespians while the middle-aged tried to nod their heads and clap along to at least give the appearance of understanding what was happening before them.

Sean Hayes is wonderful.  He is being a trooper about this – its the pacing of the show and the presentation of awards that just is not cutting it – speaking of cutting – some one should have stopped Scarlett about 5 minutes into her thank you speech.

And who decided to have the actors come out and talk about the nominated plays (as opposed to musicals who are allowed to perform production numbers).  It is a credit to how good some of these actors are that they can make pitching the play to us interesting (I’m looking at you Tony Shaloub!).

And does Zeta-Jones go into traction at the end of every performance of Send in the Clowns?  I don’t see how she avoids whiplash from whipping her head back and forth like that while she sings – she was making me dizzy.

Angela Lansbury is still strong!  Go Angela!

David Hyde Pierce doesn’t look well.  I was ecstatic to see Katie Finneran win for best Featured Actress in Promises, Promises – the only Broadway show I saw this year.  She was magnificent, inventive and above all funny.  Her time was impeccable.  It was trite of them to put the Crane boys together to present – and kind of serindipitous to have “Poppy” win (see reference here).

Apparently no one is cut off at the Tonys.  Did Viola Davis not thank Denzel on purpose?  or was it a major oversight?

Sure they can make time for a production number from a television show but can’t present actors acting (i.e. – plays being performed rather than described)?

Oh I love Nathan Lane!  You could see him just biting his tongue and read his thoughts across his face after that embarassingly gushy Sarah Jessica Parker-like thank you that Catherine Zeta Jones sweatingly effused after she won.  And talk about cool little handshake when Hodge won for best actor in a musical in essentially the same role that Nathan Lane presented on screen.  I really wish I could have gotten to see his and Bebe’s performance in the Addams Family this year.

Oh my lord, half the audience stood up and went on stage when they announced Memphis as best musical.  I was afraid the theater was going to tip over.

So Stephen Colbert has one…

Now its my turn, right?  I’m waiting for my iPad Mr. Jobs sir….  please….. see previous post, its not for me, its for my dad….

http://mashable.com/2010/01/31/stephen-colbert-ipad/

http://gawker.com/5460942/ipad-product+placement-cheapens-noble-grammy-awards

So far the Grammys have kept my attention – which is not easy to do.  I’m not up on music (the ears haven’t been good for a few years so music has not been a priority).  But they started the show with Elton John and some one named Lady Gaga (I’m not all that impressed with her music but her outfit caught my eye)  and then added Stephen Colbert so that I’ll watch for a little longer I suppose …..

Wow – Pink’s performance was amazing.  I couldn’t help but wonder tho’ if the people being sprinkled underneath her were getting a little ticked off – I can’t imagine a lot of those gowns do well with water spots …. and she had to be lip synching right – how does one continue to sing while becoming a human sprinkler ….

BTW … I still want an iPad….. please…. thank you….

…. oh and one more thing… did they cut short the remembrance to those in the field who had passed away last year?  It seemed like a rather odd and short list they put together… notably Lhasa was not listed.  And watching the last segment all I could think of was…. Pants on the ground…

Please Mr. Jobs, can I have one?

I’m at home and I’m sick.  I’ve got a cold of some sort that’s worked itself into my ears and I’ve become even more deaf than I was two days ago.  The ear canals are swollen and I can’t put in my hearing aids and you know what would make me feel better….a new iPad!!  Please, please I want one… I need one…. please? (cough, cough) … Hey, I figure if Stephen Colbert can blatantly ask for one on his show, I could certainly do the same on my little dog and pony blog (why I must be up to like 20 readers a day by now!!!)  One of you must know some one who works at Apple, please ask them if I can have an iPad.  I’ll wait.

Did I mention I deserve it?  I just recently ranted and raved about how much my iPhone means to me.  I’m typing this on my Mac.  I’ve been trying to get our office to switch to Apple for years now – just ask them, they’ll tell you what a ginormous pain I am about it.  And really, ultimately, it’s not for me.  It’s for my dad.  He’s 80 and cannot operate the old monster PC he has.  My dad  gave up on the old PC which now sits grey and cold and sullen, glowering at anyone who walks in the room.  But my dad has shown great interest in my iPhone and asked me  to show him how it operates.  He was impressed as was my 78 year old mom who normally could care less about anything more technically challenging than a remote control.  My dad would really appreciate the no contract G3 one in particular.  I think the iPad could really be quite a hit with seniors.  You just have to touch it to go where you need to go.  You can enlarge print until you can comfortably read it just by touching the screen (one of dad’s many complaints about the PC is the small print and the problems adjusting it for his eyesight).   He can get photos of his grandchildren immediately and large enough so he can actually see them.  So, please, Mr. Jobs, can I have an iPad?  I will give it to my dad to use and review it from the point of view of an 80 year old Hispanic male and blog about it (you can’t see me but I’m on my knees and that isn’t easy considering the head cold I have and did I mention the stabby pains in my ears…..)

Okay.  I’ll await your response.  Thank you.

Watch the announcement here:  iPad presentation by Jobs..

And the iPad demo here:  I want one (did I mention for free? please)

Oh and one more thing… I realized after posting the above I’ve developed a lovely case, make that two lovely cases, of pink eye.  So, an iPad would be extra specially deserved now cause well, cause I really, really would like one?  Thank  you…..

And so I went…

…to see Sherlock Holmes (refer to previous posting “Holmes is that you” about my misgivings).  There are plenty of spoilers below so don’t read if you haven’t seen.

The film is long.  I could have eliminated about a a fourth of the movie with little or no effect to the characters, plot or overall cinematic power of the film.  Prolonged slow motion explosions, drawn out scenes of boxing, fighting, and general mayhem could have been cut in half (or more).  What did work wonderfully and the biggest strength of the film is Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law’s Watson and those characters’ relationship to each other.  They added depth to Holmes and Watson, fleshing them out into more human characters.  Holmes’ almost narcissistic need of Watson and Watson’s need to move into a more conventional life and inability to completely break himself from the excitement that Holmes represents is what makes this film enjoyable.  RDJ’s portrayal of Holmes was not disappointing – the intellect was still there underneath the muscles and sweat and the grime.

The plot I thought was a bit too weak to sustain the weight and distraction of  all the “action” sequences.  While at first I balked at the whole dark magic, occult tone of it, I reminded myself that this is just the kind of thing that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have been drawn right into.  The story dragged mainly because it was side-tracked so often by steampunky labs in all their gory details, large men being pummeled, pigs being sliced and destruction that did very little other than to show off RDJ’s athleticism and timing (which is fine – but we’ll be able to see that in Ironman 2).  The villain (Mark Strong) was menacing and stylish.  I was slightly distracted by the look they gave him – he looked like the love child of Dracula and Juan Peron.  I half expected to see Evita join him while he was proclaiming himself to the House of Lords.  The end reveal and Holmes’ explanation of all that had gone on before kept to the Holmesian storytelling tradition.

As for the look of the film – well, what’s with this blue cast, underlit, high contrast style that seems to have invaded every film I go see.  Yes, I get it, turn of the century London was grey, smoggy and soot-covered and sapping the color out of scenes was perhaps meant to give it a Victorian pallor but all it did was make me crave warm colors which apparently only existed in Irene Adler’s costumes and make-up.  I believe this is the first Guy Ritchie film I have seen as his style and my sensibilities are not in general compatible.  I admire the depth he brought to the characters. I also couldn’t help thinking while waiting for the pummeling to stop that there was something in this film that rather reminded me of Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (maybe it was all that underlit, high contrast blue tones).

And Mr. Ritchie did surprise me by the reveal of Moriarty’s presence in the film.  I had assumed the mysterious man menacing Ms. Adler was Blackwood.  Since I will more than likely be in line, with cash in hand when the sequel is released, may I make a suggestion as to the casting of Moriarty? The role requires someone who can match the intelligence that Robert Downey Jr. projects on film, someone who can be menancing while still being engaging.  I’ve read some horrid rumors of Brad Pitt being offered the role.  No, no, please no!  Brad Pitt is a fine actor but not for this part.  Wouldn’t Viggo Mortensen make an excellent Moriarty?  No?  Well, if you want to stay with a British actor, perhaps Gary Oldham would be a better choice than Mr. Pitt – he might even make a better Moriarty than Mortensen now that I think about it a bit.

And a final note on the state of the cinema in general:  Violence for the sake of violence is just not my cup of tea. Frankly I was rattled by the amount of sheer carnage paraded in front of us during the previews for Sherlock Holmes.  The same heart racing over the top music pounded over explosions, fireballs and bodies hurling towards the viewer to the point that I’m not even sure what movies I saw previews for with one exception – Date Night ( that one I placed on my list of films to see).  I know, I know – I am not the target audience for any of these movies so my opinion matters little compared with that of teenaged boys… eh, c’est la vie.

Oh and one more thing, while I love Tony Stark, I wish that Mr. Downey did a little less comic book hero movies and perhaps a few more smaller films that showcase his enormous acting talents.  I am curious as to what the ultimate outcome of “Poe” will be.  Take a look here for the background info: Stallone’s Poe ….

(Note to self – find a copy of Chaplin).

A small opinion

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,

Hmm, I’m thinking that in this time in history, that is not necessarily true Mr. Shakespeare.  We live in an age where faults, evils and mistakes hound those in the media’s grip while they are alive.  And upon the poor soul’s passing, the media takes full possession of their lives and deify that same person whose every personal issue was the base of derision and contempt, bemoan their passing as a loss to humanity, forgiving their transgressions and setting them up as a mini-deity for the populace to fixate upon.  Insert name of any and all recently passed celebrities here.

A message to ESPN

Yippee!  The 2009 season has officially started!  And double yippee and a yahooooo – the Orioles beat the Yankees yesterday!  I was home watching the game, having my blood pressure go up and yelling “You Suck” at the screen and this time believe it or not I was not yelling it at the Yankees as is my usual pattern when watching any game involving the pin-striped ones.  I was yelling it at ESPN and the stupid way they cover baseball.  I watch baseball because I want to WATCH the game.  Joe and Jon can talk all they want about what ever nonsense they want but let me WATCH the game.  Yesterday featured a what seemed like 6 minute two shot of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller talking to each other (I don’t remember what they were talking about ’cause I was yelling LET ME WATCH the game) and another 6 minute three shot interview of them and Vice President Biden.  I totally support the VP – he’s a great guy – BUT I know what he looks like (I did lose some respect for the man when he revealed himself to be a Yankee fan).  PLEASE point the camera in the direction of the field while he and Joe and Jon and whoever else are talking.  And forget the artsy shots – this is not an indy film – its a ball game – keep the camera on the action.  And this message goes to FOX too – they are the ones fond of those extreme close ups of players in the dugouts – you know the ones that get so close you feel like you are going on a Fantastic Voyage through the pores on their face…. 

Okay.  Rant over … and yeah Orioles! (Maybe this year they won’t horribly disappoint me  – say it with me guys “Yes We Can” have a winning season)

If you’re happy and you know it….

happyyes
 Best Actor – Sean Penn. …..Is it me or does Jennifer Anniston look almost as happy as Robin and Sean Penn.  I could almost hear her thinking “Not Brad, not Brad, not Brad…..” before the winner was announced.  I could be projecting – she is probably a much more generous soul than I am.   I felt for her though, having to stand there in front of Pitt and Jolie – but, perhaps I’m projecting again…. 

Anyway, she looks very happy that Sean Penn won for Milk.  Here’s the full acceptance speech footage on YouTube.  Sean Penn Wins Oscar

My pettiness aside, Mr. Penn gave a wonderful acceptance speech.

Pero escucha, Che….

It takes a big person to admit they’re wrong and since I am getting to be a big person (unfortunately, that is “big” as in rotund – by the end of the year I may attain what I once joked about – being 5′ by 5’… but I digress….)  As I was saying when I rudely interrupted myself, I was half way through writing a scathing rant against “Che, The Argentine” and Benicio Del Toro and director, Soderbergh because they were not having Che speak with a true Argentine accent.  I had heard a little audio clip from the movie and I was incensed, nay, outraged, by what I heard… and then I did a bit of research and came across this snippet from an interview with the New York Post (yes I know its the Post but I think I can trust them on this, …. can’t I?) (Click on the quote to go to Sandra Guzman’s article)

Native Spanish speakers will especially get to experience the nuance of Del Toro’s gift. In Part 1, Del Toro slowly transforms his character’s Argentinian-tinged Spanish to a rhythmic rat-a-tat-tat of colloquial Cuban.

“I don’t know if I nailed it,” Del Toro says when he’s complimented on the small but important detail. “I worked with a nephew of Che, Pablo Guevara. We worked very hard, I think that we survived.”

“Che had a very peculiar accent; it wasn’t completely Argentinian. By the time the movie starts, he had already been in Central America for some time. And then when he went to Cuba, he made a conscious effort to get rid of the accent so that he could communicate with the peasantry.”

“Imagine an Argentine trying to speak to a jibaro, (peasant), the jibaro is not going to understand him.”

It was this attention to detail that makes the Puerto Rico-born actor’s performance a standout.

“I don’t think people understand the complexity, the variety of Spanish accents that exist,” explains Bickford. According to the British-born producer, it wasn’t just Del Toro who worked on accents. All the actors, who hailed from gaggle of Latin American countries, had dialect coaches to work with them in the hotel and on the set.

Alright then, perhaps I might be persuaded to see the movie.  I’m very picky about my accents.  I myself have an Argentine accent and when they make the movie of my life (oh and they will), I do not want Rosie Perez playing me (unless she learns to reproduce my lovely Argentine lilt).  Actually, Liz Torres is probably better suited physically to playing me at this point.  I’ve always liked Ms. Torres as an actress – she has great energy, Miss Patty anyone?… Sorry… once more, I digress….

I’m impressed by the amount of thinking that was done about the proper use of accents in this film.  The rationale behind the evolving of Che’s accent sounds correct to me.  An Argentine accent, especially an upper class Argentine accent, when experienced by a Cuban peasant would probably elicit the same type of reaction as an upper class British accent on an Alabama farm worker.  “I say, what ho, shall we over throw Batista, say what?” If you’re going to lead a revolution, you must do it in the language (or accent) of the people you are leading.

To me “Motorcycle Diaries” captures the spirit of Che, or what I would like to think Che was.  Once the doctor picked up a gun, he became a flawed man and no longer a true hero.  But all that said, I will reserve judgment until I see the film.  


Taken

Don’t read this until you’ve seen “Taken” – that way you can form your own opinions and not be tainted by my screwed up analysis.  I am not going to give you a synopsis of Taken – that’s not a review, that’s a retelling.  Still there?  That didn’t scare you off?  Okay that said then, keep in mind that in the past three months I’ve only seen children’s animated films, I cannot stand gory violence and will not go see action films with gratuitous killing or frankly any sort of horror – imaginary or real.  In general I feel those kind of films cheapen life and make death and killing a game – hence the state of our world.  BUT all that said …. I really enjoyed Taken.  Go figure?  One of my companions pronounced the film “preposterous” but enjoyable and it certainly was.  I think that is one of the reasons I liked the film.  The action is not based on reality – but then what action film is based on reality.   The majority of us go to the movies to escape reality for a while. 

Really I think I enjoyed Taken because it is a well-crafted film.  It goes from point A to point B and moves on without a lot of frou-frou.  The editing and cinematography is clean and tight. It doesn’t spin its wheels or give us a lot of wisecracks or overwrought emotional explanations.  We don’t get presented with anyone else’s problems – only his.  Much like the lead character, the film has a job to do and sets about methodically doing it.  I will admit the beginning of the movie is a tad slow – this is where we connect with the lead and decide that we are going to be on his side through the story.  The story speaks to us through him – the father archetype, the protector.  

The protagonist is the man that all fathers believe or wish they could be – the man who will stop at nothing to protect his child from harm.   Except in this case of course, he has an arsenal of resources and special skills learned on the job as a “preventor” as I believe he calls himself at one point.  The same job that caused his alienation from his daughter now serves to bring her back to him.  Like I said, this film will resonate with dads everywhere. 

I found myself rooting for this man – yes, me –  the bleeding heart , anti-violence, anti-torture liberal.   Liam Neeson’s character was purposeful.  He had one goal and one goal only – to save his daughter and nothing stopped him from that goal.  He didn’t stop to think, he just did.  And yes, his cause was righteous and I was there with him until the scene where he is “interrogating” one of the men who took his daughter.  And he makes a statement about the U.S. outsourcing this kind of  “interrogation” to countries who did not have steady electrical systems, and how France’s power grid was dependable, etc.  It walloped me in the face all of a sudden – I was rooting for Dick Cheney – well, okay that is not a wholly accurate statement.  This man had a very clear cut, personal reason for torture and he had morals of sorts.  But it didn’t make his actions any more correct.  He goes on to shoot an innocent woman (not lethally but still, jeez, she was serving him dinner for cripes sake!) to get the information he needs to save his daughter.  He wipes out bunches of bad guys…… and yet at the end of the film I was still kind of connected to the character.  Not to get all Jungian on you (whoever you are who reads this) but I think it is because Neeson’s character is the pure representation of the Hero/Protector that we stay with him.   He is only that – a father and a spy – he stays true to those two traits.  At some level I think, we realize that he is a representation of a father’s love, of a hero on a quest, and not an actual depiction of a real man with grey areas and doubts.  We know nothing else of him or his character other than what is necessary to move the action forward.

Mind you, I’m not saying this is a great film.  But it is a good film.

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