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Notes from the Back Row- HO Ho ho

January 3, 2010

Notes from the Back row- dec 21

Ho ho ho and away we go. Another holiday season. Ideally, Christmas Day should be spent on the ski hill with friends and family but often there’s that one black sheep in the family who pounds one nog too many, gropes your girlfriend, pukes in the poinsetta, and instigates what will late be known as ‘the great Christmas blow-up.’ When that goes down (it almost always does) it’s nice to get away from the holiday cheer for a while and two hours in a dark cinema can do just the trick.

This Christmas the Village 8 is screening Sherlock Holmes, an origin-story wherein Guy Ritchie revamps literature’s most famous detective. Guy Ritchie hasn’t made a good film in almost ten years, since Snatch, but hey, at least he’s a brit.

Starring the always watchable (these days) Robert Downey Jr in the title role, and with Jude Law playing his esteemed sidekick Watson, this Sherlock Holmes is more than a genius man of many peculiarities– he’s also a bare-knuckle brawler with ninja-like stick-fighting abilities. Go figure, action outsells thinking almost every time.

In a digitally rendered London of the 1890’s, Holmes and Watson capture a murderer and watch him hang, but not before he promises to return from the grave and then does just that. The creepy, supernatural mystery starts with a bang then weaves through heavily stylized action set-pieces before fizzling a bit at Ritchie does his best to set up a sequel.

Downey and Law carry the film with their suave, bros-before-hoes chemistry and the visuals are cool. As a storyteller Guy Ritchie only has one speed, overdrive, but his Sherlock Holmes is an ass-kicking good time so long as you aren’t looking for too much thinking in amongst your mystery solving.

What’s a real mystery to me is why anyone would green-light a second Alvin and the Chipmunks movie? And yet here it is, The Squeak-quel. At least Jason Lee jumps ship early in the film to save face but the list of big-name actors he leaves behind (doing voices mainly) is astounding.–Amy Poelher? Justin Long? Christina Applegate? Anna Faris?! David Cross? These folks should know better.

The plot centers around a whole new band of female “chick-munks” rolling onto the scene and forcing Alvin, Simon and Theodore into a battle of the bands in order to stay on top at their school. This kind of thing is bafflingly popular with the kids these days– ever since American Pie the band geeks have been getting laid and with crapheaps like High School Musical continuing to make money I guess we’ll be stuck in this ‘performing arts’ rut for a while. To its credit, the CGI and the real world filming in The Squeakquel is pretty seamless and I suppose if you chewed on enough acid (check out the pupils on those chipmunks by the way) this might pass for entertainment. Be wary with your dosage though, those chipmunk voices are pretty far out.

If you’re looking for good Christmas DVD’s  check out Scrooged (Can’t go wrong with Bill Murray), Gremlins (give the gift of death- the chick is hot), Bad Santa (an honest look at how many of us feel about the holidays), Lethal Weapon and Die Hard (Jesus’ birthday is always a great time for action flicks) and The Nightmare Before Christmas. But the greatest Christmas film ever made is a short flick from Eastern Canada that played at this years B-Grade Horrorfest. Treevenge is a family drama full of social commentary, baby head stomps, violence, gore and J-Roc. I’m not shitting here Sherlock, check it out at online http://www.horrorsquad.com/2009/07/13/get-treevenge-at-home/

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