Sherlock Holmes – Review


A friend and I enjoyed the new Sherlock Holmes film last night so I thought I’d write up a quick review.

In typical Guy Ritchie style this film comes at you with lightening speed – in some places it’s too fast to follow.  But I’ve never seen a Guy Ritchie film that I didn’t want (and need!) to see twice, so I’ll probably return to this one with my husband this weekend.

I am a complete sucker for period production, especially late 19th century London.  Even though much of the visual context is clearly computer generated, I’ll be watching the film again just to enjoy the Dore-like detailed gloom.

The visual elements are under total control.  Sepia and navy blue dominate with accents of warm browns and deep burgundies.  The most overt color moment is our introduction to Irene Adler.  Before we see her we get glimpses of her dress and our brains are immediately cued for “Oh, here comes the girl, the love interest”.  As the color registers further the brain says, “Ah, seductress!”  Only then do we get the full image of Rachel McAdams in a gown of – what color is this really?  Its saturation in the context of all we’ve seen thus far is almost overwhelming.  And yet it’s not quite what you would expect.  It’s not red.  It’s not hot pink.  It has very strong blue tones – an intense mauve – if there is such a thing.  This unexpected color does two things – it ties in with the rest of the film’s visuals by picking up the blues while signaling the emotional and symbolic content of “a women in red”.  But it is also ambiguous.  This shift towards the blue-purple makes you hesitate to categorize Irene just as you struggle to categorize the color.  Brilliant.

Following this scene Irene’s costumes join the rest of the production’s neutrals and navy blues – with just the occasional touch of deep red to remind us of her role.   I’ll say no more on that lest I say too much.

Another subtle color theme is a recurring Persian/royal blue.  Again the context of neutrals shows off the nearly magical quality of this color that occasionally appears in symbolic mosaic tile, upholstery and carpet.  It is a needed relief from the otherwise consistent grays, browns, mahoganies and navies.  It hints at authority with a touch of the mystical.

Overall I’ll give this film a 4 out of 5 stars.  Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law play well together.  Mark Strong has a perfectly villainous voice and Rachel McAdams looks great in dark, smoky eyeshadow. Occasionally RDJ’s cotton-wooled British accent is mumbled so quickly the words never register.  But I suggest you just relax and enjoy the action and the fun.  The details will all come clear in the end – in true Guy Ritchie/Sherlock Holmes fashion.


Some Photos From 1995 Trip to Uzbekistan

These images are scans of old slides taken during a 6 week trip to
Uzbekistan in 1995. I have stacks more sitting with all my other old slides
waiting to be cleaned, sorted and scanned. Maybe I’ll finally get to that
project this winter?

The image of the two older fellows was taken in the market in Osh, Kyrgystan
on a day trip from Andijan in the Fergana Valley. That market was one of
the two places on this planet where I most felt like I’d stepped back in
time. Even there, if I looked up to the surrounding hills I could see
Soviet style apartment blocks.

My other time warp experience was in Fez’s traditional Market the following
year. I’ll post some of those shots eventually too.


A Religious Journey, Illustrated – The New York Times


This morning’s NYTimes has an article and slide show about the current exhibition of Tissot’s extensive works on the life of Christ at the Brooklyn Museum. As a lover of gouache – opaque watercolor – I wish I could get up close to these gems. Besides the story-telling power of 350 near-miniature, highly researched images I am struck by Tissot’s beautiful control over a strict palette. Primarily white, blue-grays, ochres and siennas with touches of greens, Tissot has unified the imagery without any sacrifice of emotional power or visual interest.

The Brooklyn Museum’s web site has additional images from the show on display – – as well as the show’s catalog which includes ALL 350 for the images from the series.

If anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas, here’s a very big hint.