Movie Reviews: Enola Holmes (2020)


Title: Enola Holmes
Release Date: September 23, 2020
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Production Company: Legendary Pictures | PCMA Productions
Summary/Review:

The latest addition to Holmesiana is this movie about Sherlock Holmes’ (Henry Cavill) much younger sister and their mysterious mother (Helena Bonham Carter) who goes missing. It is adapted from the novel The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer. Millie Bobbie Brown stars as Enola Holmes bringing the perfect balance of intelligence and with the naivete and vulnerability of youth. Brown frequently breaks the fourth wall to address the camera directly and also improvised a lot of dialogue, both very risky techniques, but they pay off perfectly in this film. The plot deviates considerably from Springer’s novel although it may incorporate plot details from later books in the series that I haven’t read yet. One main criticism of the film is that it goes on a bit long with several seemingly extraneous scenes after the natural denouement. But overall it’s a fun and clever film that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer


Author: Nancy Springer
Title: The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publication Info: Recorded Books, Inc., 2006
Summary/Review:

The upcoming Enola Holmes movie on Netflix made me aware of the existence of this first book in a series about Sherlock Holme’s sister.  I’ve read all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes writings and numerous non-canonical works by other writers, and this is definitely a good addition to that body of work.  Enola Holmes is certainly more interesting than the mystery sister introduced in the BBC’s deeply-flawed final series of Sherlock, who also had an odd name starting with E – Eurus.

Enola is the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft who grows up isolated at the family’s estate after the death of her father and her mother estrangement with her brothers.  The novel begins on Enola’s 14th birthday when her mother disappears without a trace. Her famous brothers arrive and Mycroft decides to send the non-gender conforming Enola to a finishing school.  Enola decides instead to run away and investigate her mother’s disappearance on her own, stumbling into another mystery along the way.

Springer does a good job avoiding making Enola immediately as intellectually brilliant as her more famous brothers, allowing her to develop these skills over the course of the book.  She also does a good job showing the Holmes brothers dismissive and chauvinistic attitudes – which is straight from Conan Doyle’s characterization – and the restraints Enola has to work with in as a woman in Victorian society.  Although I know the book is a series, I was surprised by the unresolved conclusion. Nevertheless, I would like to read more about Enola Holmes.

Recommended books:

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Reviews: Mr. Holmes (2015)


Title: Mr. Holmes
Release Date: 19 June 2015
Director: Bill Condon
Production Company: AI Film | BBC Films | FilmNation Entertainment | Archer Gray Productions | See-Saw Films
Summary/Review:

This film is an adaptation of A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin that  stars Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes.  Having retired to a farm decades earlier where he tends to an apiary.  Holmes struggles with losing his brilliant mind to the onset of memory loss due to senile dementia. His only daily contact with other humans is his widowed housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker).

The movie intertwines three stories.  Holmes is working on rewriting an accurate account of his last case, one he considers a failure, and is shown in flashbacks.  Struggling to remember the details, Holmes had recently traveled to Japan, and more flashbacks show him meeting his correspondent, Tamiki Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada), and visiting the ruins of Hiroshima.  There they retrieve prickly ash, a plant that is supposed to have medicinal properties for restoring the mind.  The main plot depicts Holmes bonding with Roger, an intelligent and curious boy, while training him how to care for the bees.

The movie is a good adaptation of the book.  It’s gorgeous film and McKellen is perfect at the elderly Holmes.  I don’t know if he watched Jeremy Brett’s performance as Holmes, but there are times where he seems to be channeling Brett’s physical tics.  The movie is also a moving depiction of Holmes struggling with the most difficult thing to lose, his mind, and the emotional breakthrough he makes with Roger and Mrs. Munro.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)


Title: The Great Mouse Detective
Release Date: July 2, 1986
Director: Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, and John Musker
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Walt Disney Feature Animation | Silver Screen Partners II
Summary/Review:

Adapted from Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, itself a pastiche on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, The Great Mouse Detective is a classic mystery in Victorian London starring mice and rats. There’s the great detective, Basil (Barrie Ingham), his new acquaintance-cum-sidekick, Major Dr. David Q. Dawson (Val Bettin), coming together to help an adorable young Scottish mouse, Olivia (Susanne Pollatschek).  Her father, the toymaker Hiram Flaversham (Alan Young), is abducted by the evil Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price, who steals the movie as well) and forced to work on his evil plan.

The movie is delightful with a lot of imagination and Rube Goldberg devices. I can’t help but wonder what this movie would’ve been like if it had been made a couple of years later in the Disney Renaissance era and given the tender-loving care it deserved.  New Disney CEO Michael Eisner cut the films budget and sped up the release date.  He also renamed the movie because he thought “Basil” sounds too British. Disney animators famously circulated a memo illustrating the bland and generic nature of the new title by renaming Walt Disney animated classics.  It may be past time for a Basil of Baker Street movie reboot (but not a “live action” version please!)

Rating: ***

Podcasts of the Week Ending July 28


Hit Parade :: The Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now Edition

The history of the “featured artist” credit on number one singles.

To The Best of Our Knowledge :: Jeff Kripal at the Edge of Belief

Unconventional thoughts about religion, science, and the paranormal.  Not that I necessarily endorse this, but it’s interesting to hear something outside of the typical.

Back Story :: Elementary, Mr. President

Robert Bork, Benjamin Spock, and Sherlock Holmes and their ties to American history.

Planet Money :: Yes in My Backyard

The radical and controversial solution to America’s housing crisis: building new housing in existing neighborhoods!

Book Review: Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz


AuthorAnthony Horowitz
TitleMoriarty
Narrator: Julian Rhind-Tutt and Derek Jacobi
Publication Info: HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio (2014)
Summary/Review:

Horowitz follows up on his authorized Sherlock Holmes novel House of Silk with this mystery set in 1891 immediately after Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarity are believed to have fallen from Reichenbach Falls.  The narrator is Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton detective who travels to Switzerland seeking American criminal mastermind Clarence Devereux whom he believes will rendez-vous with Moriarity.  In the wake of the supposed deaths of Moriarity and Holmes, Chase joins up with Scotland Yard detective Athelney Jones who displays a skill in deductive reasoning. Based on the title, one wonders if Jones is Moriarity in disguise?  Or Holmes in disguise?  I won’t tell.  Chase and Jones return to London to continue the search for Devereux and find themselves pulled into the brutally violent underworld of expatriate American criminals.  It’s a gripping mystery with a lots of twists and turns, and a great companion to the Holmes’ canon.  The performance of Rhind-Tutt and Jacobi on the audiobook is particularly entrancing.

Recommended booksThe New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Martin Harry Greenberg,Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett, and A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin.
Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The House of Silk by Anthony Horwitz


 

Author: Anthony Horwitz
TitleThe House of Silk by
Publication Info: New York : Mulholland Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9780316196994
Summary/Review: I’ve read all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes and a fair sampling of Holmes’ adventures by other authors (many of which are as good or better than Conan Doyle’s weaker entries).  Horwitz’s novel is authorized by the Conan Doyle estate and is a worthy addition to the Holmes canon.  There’s a great fidelity to Conan Doyle’s style and settings while at the same time having a modern feel.  Anyhow, I don’t want to give anything away but this is a gripping novel and it’s enjoyable to see the mysteries unravel.

Recommended booksThe New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Martin Harry Greenberg, Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett, and A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin.
Rating: ****

 

Book Review: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice: Or On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King


Author: Laurie R. King
Title: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice: Or On the Segregation of the Queen
Publication Info: Recorded Books (1994)
ISBN: 0788798782
Summary/Review:  This book is the first of a series in which Sherlock Holmes – “retired” to beekeeping in the country – meets the narrator/protagonist Mary Russell and takes her on as his apprentice.  Since Russell’s intelligence and powers of observation match Holmes the relationship seems to be missing something as they are both almost too perfect (King allows both her characters to make some mistakes to make them a little complementary).  Much of the early half of the book involves Russell’s long apprenticeship and training and drags.  There are a number of mysteries to solve and the novel becomes episodic as a result.  The conclusion actually tries to tie these mysteries together which doesn’t work for me.  I wanted to like this book but just found it a bit dull.  Still, I still see promise that maybe future installments could be better now that this backstory is filled in.

Recommended books: A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Martin Harry Greenberg, and Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett
Rating: **1/2

Book Review: A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin


Author: Mitch Cullin
Title: A Slight Trick of the Mind
Publication Info: New York : Nan A. Talese, 2005.
ISBN: 0385513283

Summary/Review: Mitch Cullin takes the very familiar literary character of Sherlock Holmes and puts him in the seemingly unlikely setting of 1947 post-war England.  The aged Holmes is long-retired from detective work, tending to bees, writing his memoirs, and beginning to lose his mental faculties.  His only companions are his housekeeper and her bright son Roger of whom Holmes begins to take on as a protegé with even some paternal feelings.  Three stories are intertwined – Holmes life at his rural cottage and growing mentor ship to Roger, flashbacks to a  recent trip to Japan after the atomic bomb attacks where he went to collect botanical specimens, and a his own written account of a case and a woman who continue to haunt him.  This is a very different Holmes than ever presented by Conan Doyle yet fitting seamlessly into the oeuvre.  It’s a sad account of a very human side of Sherlock Holmes that is reminiscent of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Recommended books: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett.
Rating: ****1/2