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Posts Tagged ‘period piece’

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law dressed in 19th century period costume.Summary:
Detective Sherlock Holmes’ faithful companion, Dr. Watson, is retiring from solving cases to settle down with his soon-to-be fiancee, Mary.  He just needs to finish up one last case.  Lord Blackwell murdered five young women in occult ceremonies.  Watson pronounces him dead at his hanging, but then he seems to come back to life.  Watson and Holmes spring into action to solve the case, but things become more complicated when Holmes’ ex-girlfriend, Irene, shows up.

Review:
I’d be hard-pressed to not enjoy a movie Robert Downey Jr. is in, particularly one in which he does a bunch of fist-fighting.  Toss in Jude Law, and you’d have to do an awful lot wrong for me to not enjoy sitting through the movie.  When the mystery first came up, I found myself rolling my eyes at yet another Illuminati plot point.  However, the resolution of the mystery made the entire story worth-while.  It was actually a surprise and yet all still managed to make sense.

The feel of the movie reminded me a bit of Moulin Rouge, minus the music parts.  So if you enjoy that sort of tongue-in-cheek period piece, you’ll enjoy the feel of this movie.

The only part of the film I really didn’t enjoy was the bit about Irene.  It wasn’t explained well at all.  I couldn’t understand her character’s motivation or really exactly what was going on with her at all.  I like Rachel McAdams, but I felt that her appearance in this story was simply jarring.

That said, Sherlock Holmes is an enjoyable period piece romp with a brain-tingling mystery attached.  If you enjoy mystery or period pieces with wit, you will enjoy this film.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

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Book Review: The Thing from the Lake By Eleanor M. Ingram

March 25, 2010 3 comments

Brown paper cover with read lettering.Summary:
In the 1920s Roger Locke is a composer living in New York City.  He buys a house by a lake in Connecticut as a country retreat and appoints his cousin, Phyllida, and her husband, Ethan Veer, as caretakers of the property.  His first night on the property, he meets a woman–whether spirit or alive, he can’t tell–and is promptly intrigued by her.  His visits quickly turn sinister, though, as a dark force based in the lake comes at night to threaten Roger away from the woman.  What is the thing in the lake?  Who is this woman?  Can Roger defeat the dark force thereby returning himself and his cousins to their idyllic lifestyle?

Review:
I had a feeling I was going to like The Thing from the Lake when I discovered that every chapter started with a relevant quote pulled from the classics of the western canon, and I was right.  Ingram weaves a complex tale, filled with surprising twists and turns.  Just when you think you know what the overarching point is, or where the story is going to go next, you find out that you were wrong.

Ingram artfully goes back and forth between the daytime where the story is more period piece and the nighttime, which is all horror.  It is a very New England tale, featuring small farmers, big city dreams, references to the Puritans, and quirky, drawling neighbors.  While Phyllida and Ethan are believable and infinitely likeable, Roger’s immediate infatuation with the woman is a bit suspect.  It seems shallow how infatuated with her hair and her scent he is, but I think he later proves himself.  Sometimes people just know when they meet, so I’m willing to give Roger the benefit of the doubt.

Ingram leaves it up to the reader whether to believe the scientific or the supernatural explanation for the goings on at the lake.  It reminded me of my class on the Salem Witch Trials a bit, and I’d be willing to bet that Ingram was at least partially inspired by them.  It’s not easy to make both answers to a mystery equally plausible, but she pulls it off wonderfully.

The only thing holding me back from completely raving about the book is that there are parts that smack of historic misogyny.  I’m not blaming Ingram.  For her time period, many of her thoughts were quite progressive, and I’m sure Roger is an accurate representation of many men of that time period.  However, when he speaks about how his “plain cousin” Phyllida is so much more comely when she’s doing “womanly” household chores, it makes me cringe, and not in the good horror way.  Thankfully, these instances are not that frequent, so they’re easy enough to glide over.

The Thing from the Lake is a surprisingly thought-provoking book.  I highly recommend it to everyone, but particularly to those who enjoy New England literature or light horror.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Librivox recording by Roger Melin via the Audiobooks app for the iTouch

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