Sunday, September 13, 2015

BBC Sherlock Canon References - "The Hounds of Baskerville" Season 2 Episode 2

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Dear Readers,

It is time for a new post in my favorite series - Canonical References in BBC Sherlock episodes. 

Scripted by Mark Gatiss, this episode is based on the original story: The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Here are the references to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories:

1. Sherlock makes his entrance at 221 B Baker Street with a harpoon and blood all over himself. A surprised John asks him: “You went on the Tube like that?” - In the original story, The Adventure of Black Peter, Dr Watson notes that Sherlock Holmes “strode into the room, his hat upon his head and a huge barbed-headed spear tucked like an umbrella under his arm.” Dr John Watson asks Holmes: Good gracious, Holmes!....You don't mean to say that you have been walking about London with that thing? 

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2. In the next scene, at 221 B Baker Street, Sherlock is seen walking around impatiently, while holding the harpoon.  - Dr John Watson mentions in The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans:  “ comrade's impatient and active nature could endure this drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our sitting-room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping the furniture, and chafing against inaction.”

3. Sherlock asks John: Nothing?” referring to the newspapers that John is reading – In The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington PlansSherlock Holmes asks Dr John Watson: “Nothing of interest in the paper, Watson?” 

4. John replies to Sherlock's above question: “Military coup in Uganda....another photo of you with the (deerstalker)... Cabinet re-shuffle”. Sherlock responds: Nothing of importance! Oh, God! – In The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, Dr John Watson writes: “I was aware that by anything of interest, Holmes meant anything of criminal interest. There was the news of a revolution, of a possible war, and of an impending change of government; but these did not come within the horizon of my companion. I could see nothing recorded in the shape of crime which was not commonplace and futile. Holmes groaned and resumed his restless meanderings.”

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5. A frustrated Sherlock Holmes starts looking around desperately for drug/artificial stimulant(s): John, I need some. Get me some! – In The Adventure of the Yellow Face, Dr John Watson writes about Sherlock Holmes: “Save for the occasional use of cocaine, he had no vices, and he only turned to the drug as a protest against the monotony of existence when cases were scanty and the papers uninteresting.”

6. Sherlock tries to bribe John into getting his some cocaine: “I will let you know next week’s lottery numbers” – Reference to Watson’s gambling habit as mentioned in this exchange from The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place - Sherlock Holmes: “By the way, Watson, you know something of racing?” Dr Watson: “I ought to. I pay for it with about half my wound pension.”

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7. Sherlock refers to his “secret supply” while searching his slippers – In The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual, Dr Watson writes about Sherlock Holmes' habits: “...But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper... then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. ”

8. Mrs Hudson’s reaction to Sherlock’s (seemingly childish) fascination with the harpoon: “How about a nice cuppa? And perhaps you could put away your harpoon” – In A Study in Scarlet, when Stanford introduces Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is working on a chemical experiment. Dr Watson writes about Holmes' enthusiasm about his discovery: “ "Ha! ha!" he cried, clapping his hands, and looking as delighted as a child with a new toy.”

9. Sherlock responds to Mrs Hudson: “I need something stronger than tea. Perhaps 7 percent stronger – In The Sign of the Four, Dr Watson gets angry with Sherlock Holmes for using drugs and asks him whether he took morphine or cocaine on that particular day. Holmes responds: “It is cocaine,....a seven-per-cent solution.”

Sherlock’s deduction about Mrs Hudson’s recent activities by observing the flour on her sleeves and tiny foils on her thumbnail – In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes explains about the Science of Deduction and Analysis: “By a man's finger nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt cuffs—by each of these things a man's calling is plainly revealed.”

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11. Sherlock correctly recognizes the perfume being worn by Mrs Hudson as Casbah Nights and advises her to read his blog on the identification of perfumes – Reference to this line from The Hound of the Baskervilles: “There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition.”

12. Sherlock's remark about his mind: “Mine’s like an engine, racing out out of control… A rocket, tearing itself to pieces trapped on the launch pad... I need a case!” – In The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge, Sherlock Holmes tells Watson: “My dear Watson, you know how bored I have been since we locked up Colonel Carruthers. My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built.”

13. John retorts: You have just solved one! By harpooning a dead pig, apparently - Reference to the plot of The Adventure of Black Peter in which Sherlock Holmes solves the mystery behind the murder of Captain Black Peter.

14. Sherlock expresses his anger and frustration at being asked by a prospective client to find her missing rabbit Bluebell – In The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, Sherlock Holmes complains to Dr Watson about a letter he receives from Violet Hunter:  As to my own little practice, it seems to be degenerating into an agency for recovering lost lead pencils and giving advice to young ladies from boarding-schools. I think that I have touched bottom at last, however. This note I had this morning marks my zero-point, I fancy.”

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15. Sherlock switches off Henry's TV interview and asks Henry Knight to repeat the story. Sherlock's reason: “I prefer to do my own editing” – In the Canon, Sherlock Holmes often asks clients to repeat their case history to Holmes and Dr Watson, despite the availability of other sources of information.

In The Adventure of the Red-Headed League, Sherlock Holmes tells his client, Jabez Wilson: “I ask you not merely because my friend Dr. Watson has not heard the opening part but also because the peculiar nature of the story makes me anxious to have every possible detail from your lips

In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes makes a similar request to John Rance, the police constable. When John protests that he has already filed a police report, Holmes offers him a half-sovereign as an incentive and explains: We thought that we should like to hear it all from your own lips...... Just let us hear it all in your own way as it occurred.

16. Sherlock interrupts Henry when the latter is describing Dartmoor's beauty: “It is an amazing place. It is like nowhere else...It’s sort of black but beautiful. Sherlock's response: Hmm. Not interested, moving on. – In The Adventure of the Retired ColormanSherlock Holmes sends Dr John Watson to collect information about Josiah Amberley. Dr Watson returns and explains about Josiah's house: You know that particular quarter, the monotonous brick streets, the weary suburban highways. Right in the middle of them, a little island of ancient culture and comfort, lies this old home, surrounded by a high sun-baked wall mottled with lichens and topped with moss, the sort of wall...”. Holmes' angry response: Cut out the poetry, Watson...I note that it was a high brick wall. 

I will be listing the remaining nods in another post.

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Image Sources: BBC Wales, Hartswood Films, Masterpiece Theatre

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sinister (2012) - Recap and Review

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Sinister remains one of the best horror movie I have watched. The emphasis on the word “horror is because most movies that are supposed to be a horror movie tend more to be torture porn nowadays.

The plot goes like this: Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a True crime writer, who is coasting on his past glories. He yearns to return to the public eye by churning out another bestseller. Ellison moves in to a new town to write his latest book about a murder of a family.

Oswalt's family consists of his wife, Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and their children, Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario). Ashley likes to paint on the walls and Trevor suffers from nightmares.

The local Sheriff (Fred Dalton Thompson) is not a fan of Ellison's works. He also does not approve of the fact that the writer has moved into the very house, where the murders took place. Ellison has hidden this fact from his family members.

Soon, things start to unravel at the Oswalts. Trevor starts to have nightmares quickly. Ashley is drawing very macabre paintings on her wall. Ellison himself starts losing his mind, as the brutality of the murder he watches in the Super 8 mm films starts to overwhelm his senses.

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The only person to show some kind of understanding for Ellison's current predicament is Deputy So and So (James Ransone). After coming face to face with Mr. Boogie himself, Ellison decides to pack up things and leaves the house right away with his family.

This is where the movie shines. Usually in haunted movies, we tend to ask the question: Why don't they just move out of the house and be done with it. This movie, scripted by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, addresses this significant question.

Scott, who also directed the movie, deserves credit for delivering one of the best horror movies in a long time. The cinematography by Chris Norr and the music by Christopher Young add immensely to the atmosphere. Christopher's work especially merits mention and is probably the most influential aspect of the movie, even eclipsing Ethan Hawke's acting and Scott's direction.

The acting is pretty solid, considering that this is a horror movie. Ethan is an ace at playing this kind of every man role and this movie is no exception. He receives able support from Juliet Rylance and Clare Foley as the hapless family members. 

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But the best casting decisions are reserved for the supporting roles. There are three supporting characters and all of them have been cast exceptionally well. 

In addition to the aforementioned Deputy So and So (James Ransone) and the Sheriff (Fred Dalton Thompson), there is Vincent D'Onofrio in a very brief role as Professor Jonas. Jonas is an occult expert and has a couple of scenes, in which he explains about Bughuul to Ethan Hawke's character.

It is quite telling that Vincent has a far better screen presence and leaves quite an impression, despite having just about five minutes of screentime. Compare this with Henry Cavill, who gets to carry an entire movie by himself and still manages to leave zero impression.

James Ransone provides most of the lighter moments in the otherwise grim film. He also shares an excellent chemistry with Ethan, especially in the scene where he requests to be included in Oswalt's upcoming book.

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Same goes for Fred Dalton Thompson as the Sheriff. His early encounter with Oswalt boasts of some sharp dialogues and the actors pull it off with great aplomb.

Last but not the least, the villain himself, Bughuul / Mr. Boogie (Nicholas King). Bughuul is one of the most memorable horror movie villains. The director deserves credit for making him a truly scary and creepy character.

This is a movie that fires on all cylinders and is highly recommended to fans of the horror movies.

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Image Sources: Alliance Films, IM Global, Blumhouse Productions, Automatik Entertainment (as Automatik), Possessed Pictures 

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