sherlock: smirk

Holiday gifts & thoughts on the new Sherlock Holmes film

I have received some absolutely lovely holiday gifts this year, and exchange season is not even over yet!

katmarajade wrote me A Kitchen Invitation, an absolutely adorable ficlet about Kirk and Sulu being foodies together. I've been feeling nostalgic for Star Trek lately, so this little story was an especially nice surprise.

At holmestice, I received Three Themes, three lovely little slices of Sherlock and John's every day life together. The writing is wonderfully rich and descriptive, and there's a nice little appearance from Sally.

At hp_holidaygen, I received Les Jours Tristes, a fascinating story of Luna writing a Quibbler profile of Narcissa Malfoy and remembering her time in the Malfoys' dungeon. I really admire how the author captured the complexity of this situation. I've got a feeling I know who wrote this one for me, but I'm not naming names in case I'm wrong.

These stories are all very much worth a read, and please do leave the authors some feedback if you find something that interests you. Once finals are over, I'll be back with a longer rec post from all the fests and exchanges I've been following.

In the meantime, I think this movie squandered the potential built up in the last film. Good characterization is what made the 2009 film so rich, and that was missing here. There are some nice, sincere moments between Holmes and Watson, but I found the dialogue less witty and their relationship less complex than the previous film. I did not laugh as often as I would have liked. A great deal of time was invested in long chase scenes through spectacular settings, which entertained me at first but soon grew wearisome. I did like the way that they showed off Watson's intelligence, and I appreciated their attempts to engage some present-day issues like terrorism and immigration, even if those themes were never developed fully. However, my pleasure about those elements was by far outweighed my disappointment with the death of Irene Adler. What a wonderful character, and what a wasteful way to kill her! I am, in general, disappointed with Hollywood's tendency to kill off female characters in order to motivate the development of male characters, but I can live with it if they get to die in an interesting way that adds something to their character. (Toshiko from Torchwood springs to mind as an example.) But Irene didn't need to die in order to motivate Sherlock; he had ample motivation from Moriarty's threat to kill John and Mary. If the opening scenes with Irene had been deleted from the film, the entire plot could have been the same (except that it would have been much more interesting because Irene makes a much better foil for Sherlock when she's alive than when she's dead.) In her place, the writers gave us this gypsy lady who seemed like she would have been an awesome action heroine but instead followed men around looking pretty and asking questions. My complaints aren't just about feminism here; they're about quality of writing. Knowing who your good characters are is such a basic qualification in a writer, and the people who wrote this film could have done so much better than this.
Oh damn. Thanks for the warning. I am disappointed in the movie, and in the friend who recced it to me -- I would have thought she'd notice a heroine being fridged.
Maybe your friend needed to take her feminist goggles off for a day so that she could enjoy a movie for once. Sometimes I wish I could do that...
*nods* Good point.

I tend to... run my mind on parallel tracks? For example, I really like the movie L A Confidential, which is exciting and complex and well-written and well-acted, even though its treatment of women is severely dodgy and its treatment of Black people is pretty damn awful. Both observations exist, neither cancelling out the other.
Yes, that is a sensible approach. I can do that too, up to a point, but I usually need really strong writing and characterization to compensate. I don't care for the way the BBC Sherlock series treats women either, but I love the relationship between John and Sherlock so much that I can overlook the gender fail (and write my own fanfic for the sadly marginalized ladies). In the movie, Irene dying probably wouldn't have been a deal breaker if it had been important to the story, if she hadn't been poisoned by Moriarty for liking Sherlock, or if she had been replaced by a character who was even funnier and sassier than she was. Since none of those things were true, and the movie had writing problems anyway, I spent a lot of time being really pissed off about Irene.

Edited at 2011-12-19 05:10 am (UTC)
In canon Irene is already dead at the beginning of "A Scandal in Bohemia," so Conan Doyle
kills her off at the very moment she's introduced. And that's Doyle.He never meant for
her to be anything but a one shot character who leaves an interesting memory. It's
non-canon dramas, films, and fanon that make Irene anything more.
I dont't honestly care what happened to her in canon. In a story that's already revisionist, killing off one of your best characters is a dumb writing move, and we live in the twenty first century now. Women should be included in our narratives in substantial and interesting ways.