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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Wednesday June 12th 2024

The Fantastic Mr. Fox & Sherlock Holmes

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Twentieth Century Fox
Running Time: 81 minutes
Rated: PG
Director: Wes Anderson

The adaptation of Roald Dahl”'s book to a movie by the same title, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, directed by Wes Anderson and written by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, is an ambitious and delightful project.

The old saying “sly like a fox” is more than apt for extroverted Mr. Fox (George Clooney). Barely escaping from a few chickens napping and a newly pregnant wife, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), he promises to stop stealing chickens. After a hiatus, Mr. Fox returns to the scenes of the crimes by raiding coops of Boggis, Bunce and Bean, three farmers who ban together to destroy Mr. Fox and all his cohorts. Bean owns a cider factory which was broken into by Mr. Fox and his friends Badger (Mr. Murray) and Kylie (Wally Wolodarksy), to steal the bottles of cider. Will they get caught or will they outfox (pardon the pun) the farmers?
Ash (Jason Schwartzman), the son of Mr. Fox, competes with his handsome visiting cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson), the former is jealous of the latter.
As such, Mr. Fox”'s teasing the edges of danger is appealing to adults and children alike.

Sherlock Homles

Sherlock Holmes
Warner Brothers
Lagoon (12/27/09)
Running Time: 128 minutes
Director: Guy Ritchie

Reviewing the Sherlock Holmes movies and television series one can go back to silent film days shorts “Arsene Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes” (1910 ”“ Germany) by Viggo Lursen, “Kri Kri Contro Sherlock Holmes” (1915 comedy) by Raymond Dandy, “The Devil”'s Foot” (1921) Eille Norwood as Sherlock Holmes and Hubert Willis as Dr. John Watson), and “Sherlock Holmes Jr.” (1911) by Edwin S. Porter, and others.

The most famous Sherlock Holmes movies (a total of 14) with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, Holmes and Watson respectively are directed by Ray William Neill, from the 1939 “The Hounds of Baskervilles” to the 1946 “Dressed to Kill”. Terrance Fisher”'s 1959 version of Sherlock Holmes “The Hounds of Baskervilles” starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee is the first color version of Sherlock Holmes.

Just like in the old days, Sherlock Holmes, this time played by the versatile actor Robert Downey Jr, lives on Baker Street NW in apartment 221B. Downey”'s Holmes and Jude Law”'s Watson character are not exactly what the original author, Sir Arthur Doyle of the Sherlock Holmes novels, had in mind, but it is entertaining to a degree. Jude Law”'s good looks seem out of order when compared to a rather homely but vastly well cast Nigel Bruce as Watson, became the standard look for that particular character.

Guy Ritchie brought us “Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels”, 1998, “Snatch”, 2000, “Rock n Rolla” 2008. Holmes and Watson”'s task is to stop an infamous Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) who is “hung” for crimes but reinvents himself as his foes end up dead or missing. Blackwood is a ringleader of a satanic cult and may be into sadomasochism. His ultimate goal is to reinstate America as a colony of England.

Holmes and Watson team up with a con artist, Irene Adlee (Rachel McAdams), a spirited young woman. We”'re not sure at times whether she is a hindrance or a help. Subtle homosexual vibes between Downey and Law are undercut by the humor. Adlee asks Holms, “Why are you always so suspicious?” He replies “Shall I answer chronologically or alphabetically?”

The Tim Burton like sets are plush – a busy London harbor, an unfinished bridge, rows of houses lined up like cans and close-ups of somber alleys, dark-colored slums worn with many narrow passages right for the period. Even with the impressive sets, I thought (far too often) the Downey, Law and McAdams Characters are somewhat like Will Smith”'s “Wild, Wild West”. Ritchie, however, manages to make “Sherlock Holmes” entertaining, although not riveting.

Howard may be reached at Howard Check out his website

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