Shades Of Words


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Cumberbatched!!

I am not the kind of person who has “favorite actors” or even be a “fan” of something except for maybe LOTR and The X-files. I either like certain people’s work or admire certain stories, style of storytelling or directing. However, when I saw the BBC’s contemporary “Sherlock” starring Benedict Cumberbatch ( yes, his real name!) , I have to admit I was completely and utterly Cumberbatched. I have never been so taken in by an actor’s skills. Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor of probably incredible intelligence. Everything from the body language of the character he is playing, to the subtle expressions of his face and his eyes, and the delivery of dialogues is just absolutely perfect. I have literally paused and rewinded certain scenes to watch his razor sharp acting.
Every actor has a breakthrough role that puts him on the map of global cinema, and Sherlock is Benedict Cumberbatch’s. Impressed by his work, I decided to see what other things that he has been in. Apparently he has been, in his own words UK’s  “next big thing” for almost 10 years. He has done a lot of stage work which for me are straight away signs of being a credible and reliable actor. He has played supporting roles in some very popular movies like Amazing Grace and Atonement. That was surprising, cause I had watched Atonement and I did not recall him til I remembered the character of the creepy pedophile. I had erased his memory because I was so disturbed by his character, again an indicator of what an exceptional actor he is. He is also carved a niche for himself in playing prodigious cerebral people – he starred in the docudrama “Hawking” and “Van Gogh”. In his interviews, he definitely displays the aptitude to play such characters. The only reason for me to do this post is to basically broadcast and promote the work of such a good actor. There aren’t that many out there.

If one is interested in his work and the following website is pretty comprehensive –http://benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/
I am going to do a short review on some of his work that I have had the chance to watch.

Sherlock – I have probably read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, once and maybe few, several times. I would definitely consider myself
a Purist, so I was initially, extremely apprehensive of this modern version of Sherlock Holmes. Honestly, I was not prepared or even
inclined to like it. But its Steven Moffat’s and Mark Gatiss’s love for Conan Doyle’s detective and their off the charts writing which really makes Sherlock one of the best shows on television right now. The modernization is so natural that after the first 15 minutes you don’t even notice it.

So how did Moffat and Gatiss bring the famous detective into the 21st century? They retained the essence of the key characters of Sherlock, Watson and Lestrange and just transposed them in the modern landscape. So now we have advanced forensics, smart phone, internet and London black cabs. Sherlock, who himself was always a keen scientist fits in perfectly in this new era. He prefers
texting over talking and uses smartphones and internet to find information and calls his brain a hard drive. However, even with all the science technology and the wonders of forensic science, Sherlock is still the only man in the world who can put the pieces together with his remarkable powers of deduction. Then there is Watson, who in this version, like the original is a war veteran returned from Afghanistan, looking for a roommate. Watson now blogs instead of writing journals but essentially he is the same person. He tempers down Sherlock’s eccentricities and makes him more accessible to the average guy.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are the perfect casting. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is ethereal, sharp, fast and almost coldly annoying which is very close to the original. Freeman’s Watson sincere, chivalrous ( within the context of 21st Century), trustworthy and perceptive. He may not be able to make the same leaps of logic that Sherlock can ( can anybody?)  but he is able to understand people, which is able to see through Sherlock, inspite all of Sherlock’s sociopathic behavior.

This show is really worth your time.

The Last Enemy – Another British TV series, that I watched because it had Benedict Cumberbatch in it. This is a sci-fi drama, based in the near future, where the UK government is the midst of mandating an ID card programme which will record everything about you – literally everything. It will capture your financial, educational, medical history, it will track your current location, who you meet and what you do. This information will be useful in tracking “terrorist” activities. In theory the concept is not far-fetched, which kind of makes it scary. However, the series was not that impressive. The problem is not with the performances which are really good but the script which is slightly mediocre and in some places and a tad unrealistic. If you are into conspiracy theories then you may enjoy this.

To the Ends of the Earth –  Based on William Golding’s ManBooker award winning trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth, this is  story of the young aristrocat, Edmund Talbout’s journey to Australia on a former war ship. The three part series explores the interactions of various class of people in a closed trapped environment which in this case is ship in the middle of the sea., the nature of humans and Talbout’s emotional growth. The story is disturbing to say the least, in a weird tragical comical way. Its not unlike other British period dramas, heavy on character development. Cumberbatch is quite believable as the bumbling, presumptuous aristrocat and gives a bit of a funny turn. He is strongly supported by Jared Harris who plays a mean Captain Anderson. I also like the performance of Jamie Sives as the morally conflicted Summers. If you like British literary adaptations, then this may be worth your time.

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Animation Weekend

Its been really some time that I have watched a good animation movie. To be honest, I am quite put off by what is being released  over the past year or so, quantity clearly does not make for quality. With advancements in animation technology, movies seem like “experimenting” grounds for what visual wonders can be created rather than an entertaining and meaningful experience. This trend is going slightly over the edge with 3D movies. Sometimes I get the feeling that movies are becoming more gimmicky and contain less of “story-telling”. I think the last animation movies that I truly enjoyed were Kung Fu Panda (for its humor) and Wall-e (for its poignant message and animation).

Anything else that I have watched after that is honestly a blur. However, one of the stay-at-home weekends, hubby and I decided to just watch “cartoons” for a change.  We incidentally picked two very similar movies. Here’s my brief review about both of them.

Despicable Me

This movie was brilliant. Non-stop funny. In this story, the world’s greatest villain Gru (brllliantly voiced by Steve Carrell)  has recently been upstaged by a pyramid stealing newbie. Clearly, he has to establish his supremacy and he hatches a brilliant plan, which is to – wait for it!- steal the moon! But moon-jacking equipment can be expensive and even a super-villain has debt issues. The underworld bank (Lehman Brothers! – I kid you not) will only loan him the money if he can procure a key weapon. To do that he must adopt 3 cookie selling orphan girls – why, what, how can be answered when you watch the movie.

It is hilarious to watch this evil but soft spoken villain, become a reluctant parent to these adorable girls. Even more entertaining are the minions  creatures that work in his factory . The movie is full of both in your face slaptstick as well as subtle understated humor. I was laughing throughout.

Megamind

The story of a special blue boy sent to Earth by his loving parents as their planet collapsed about them. They told him that he was destined for greatness. And no this is not “Superman”. At the same time, another boy was sent to Earth, by his loving parents, as their planet collapsed about them. Why is Earth the destination for all alien spawn, I don’t know.

Anyway, the blue boy obviously suffers from bad luck. He lands in a prison, and from childhoold all his attempts at greatness fail and he just appears to be making wrong, almost criminal choices. He is often upstaged by the other boy (who looks completely human), and is a savior of all humans. Frustrated by his unpopularity and his inherent destructive nature – he decides to be the greatest villain of his time – Megamind.  The good boy goes on to become the all American hero – Metro Man- the guardian angel of Metro city.

As I read back my synopsis, this is sounding like an extremely emotional and intellectual kind of movie. Its not. Its funny and sometimes hilarious, when you see Megamind’s attempt to constantly destroy  Metro Man in repeated almost cliched ways. Things go awry and the fun really begins, when Megamind actually succeeds in killing Metro Man, and taking over the city.

Will Ferrel, Brad Pitt and Tina Fey lend their voices to the leading characters. The script is okay but needed to pack more punch for an animation movie. I found myself yawning more than once. The twist in the tale is actually the movie–saver , and the twist-in-the-twist in the tale is just meh. Still, the concept is refreshingly different and sort of nice to see a cartoon where the villain is the hero.