A Study in Sherlock -UHArts Film Season

12745715_10153227532386650_8874645238768832369_nBetween March 3rd and March 24th, the University of Hertfordshire will be screening four classic Sherlock Holmes films. Hosted and organised by Danny Graydon (http://www.dannygraydon.com/) as part of the UHArts department, the season brings key moments in the career of Holmes to the attention of both students and the general public in an exhilarating and easy to attend manner.

The season highlights corner stone works such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, the delightful celebration of Holmes in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, a modern take of his long standing adversary in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and a reflected look of the aged detective in the wonderful Mr. Holmes. Each film provides an insight into the character and the attributes that have captured our attention and made him a lynch pin in popular culture. The first two events also bring with them spectacular guest speakers, including renowned Sherlock Holmes expert, David Stuart Davies (http://www.davidstuartdavies.co.uk/) and the incredible writer, Ian Edginton (https://twitter.com/ianedginton).

Each film will be screened on the College lane campus, in the FMM building, B01.

Films and dates:

March 3rd – The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). dir. Terence Fisher.

Starring Peter Cushing, Andre Morell, and Christopher Lee. This Hammer Horror classic, sees a nobleman, threatened by a family curse of his newly inherited estate, employs the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in an attempt to solve the case and save his life.

– Opening speech by David Stuart Davies.

March 10th – The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970). dir. Billy Wilder.

Starring Robert Stephens, Christopher Lee and Colin Blakely. A bored Sherlock eagerly takes the case of Gabrielle Valladon, after an attempt on her life. A search for her missing husband becomes a quest for Loch Ness and the legendary creature.

– Opening speech by Ian Edginton

March 17th – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011). dir. Guy Ritchie.

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Jared Harris. In a modern take on the lives of Holmes and Dr. Watson, the pair take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, along with the help of by Holmes’ older brother Mycroft and a gypsy named Simza.

March 24th – Mr. Holmes (2015). dir. Bill Condon.

Starring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney and Hiroyuki Sanada. The film portrays an aged Holmes, struggling with dementia and reminiscing on his final case. Showing both Holmes at his strongest and his darkest hours, while imparting his slowly decaying wisdom to a young fan and son of his housekeeper.

Tickets are £4 and are available both on the door and through the University website. http://www.herts.ac.uk/about-us/arts-and-galleries/whats-on/film

The Graduate – Review

mandomsprovet-(1967)-large-pictureSome experiences are universal. At some moment in time every person has had some variation of this one thought. What the f*** am I doing with my life? While the thought may occur at any time, ranging from trying to find your place in the world, or figuring out just how you got to this point, it’s a scary thought that can have life changing repercussions when action is taken upon it. The 1967 film ‘The Graduate’ explores this notion from multiple angles in both a humorous and realistic way. The realism of the film is not only shown through the story and characters, but reflected through its choice of music, creating an honest portrayal of life in multiple senses.

Despite the films initial comedic plot and set up, the characters motivations and dialogue seem genuine. Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) begins the film as a recently graduated twenty year old, at a complete loss with what to do with his life, getting mixed signals from multiple directions, some telling him to dive head first in to work while others encouraging him to enjoy his youth and relax. While wrestling with his social obligations and need to isolate himself to just think, he ends up making a number of rash decisions just to feel somewhat in control. As the story unfolds, we discover, even if some are only hinted at rather than blatantly stated, just how universal this feeling really is. The iconic Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft)  even uses this thought as her driving motive behind the film, displaying a desire not only for control but for her daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross), to never have to settle for the same choices forced upon her. The film displays a view of an overwhelming lack of control throughout life and that the choices we can make, we are ultimately stuck with. And yet shows this in its own strange sense of humour.

fishThe over arcing theme can even be felt through its use of camera shots and music. With its use of cinematography, the camera will frequently display a first person perspective, placing the viewer in the shoes of the subject. Forcing us to look through the characters eyes at defining moments, pushing the weight of these decisions on us and dismissing them as a passing thought with the change of perspective. This can also be felt in the music throughout. The film forgoes a traditional score, instead choosing mostly popular pieces from Simon and Garfunkel, the most notable of which being “The Sound of Silence”. Played at three key moments of the film, reflecting the character at all times. The rest of the film falls mostly silent music wise, mimicking our everyday world, creating situations that can be identified with more deeply.

The Graduate provides an interesting portrait for the importance of choice in our lives that can be identified with by almost anyone. An important film at any time of life.

The King of Comedy (1982) – Review

250px-KingofcomedyCelebrity status is something many strive for, even five minutes of fame is seen as something worth attaining. However fame comes with many responsibilities and drawbacks to the individual, a complete lack of privacy, expectations to keep a public persona at all times, and even the occasional crazed fan, sometimes taking their obsession to new heights and even becoming a danger towards the object of their attention. All these ideas and more are given a humorous and compelling spin, in Martin Scorsese’s 1982 film The King of Comedy. In a contrast to both Scorsese and DeNiro’s regular dark and gritty, unflinching looks at humanity in the city. The King of Comedy provides a strange comedic look at arguably another gritty industry, entertainment. With so many of Scorsese’s films considered classics, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull to name a few. It’s easy to overlook The King of Comedy as just a second rate side project for the director. However King of Comedy provides not only a release from his usual tone, but a equal release from their popular persona and a chance to express the boundless creativity both Director and Actor are capable of, a trait the films main character is desperate to share.

still-of-robert-de-niro-in-the-king-of-comedy-(1982)-large-pictureJerry Lewis, known in film as Jerry Langford, essentially plays himself, with a number of scenes inspired by actual events that transpired in Lewis’s career. Langford, the comedy corner stone of live television, spends most of his off screen life dealing with the numerous crazed fans, anxious for his attention, including the insanely fanatic Masha (Sandra Bernhard). In an attempt to meet his idol, Rupert Pupkin (Robert DeNiro) acts as a make shift bodyguard one night and ends up sharing a car with Langford. Pupkin essentially uses this meeting as fuel for his delusions of grandeur, believing himself worth of stepping in to Langford’s shoes despite any actual proof of his comedic abilities.

the-king-of-comedy1Pupkin displays many of the traits that the extremist fan is known for, creating a character that may even be more dangerous than previous DeNiro character’s such as Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) or Johnny Boy (Mean Streets). His delusions, many of which visible to the audience, become his driving force, as he becomes more and more obsessive and believes that he is doing the world a favour by going to some of the lengths he does, including resorting to kidnapping, extortion and blackmail. Even when the truth is screamed in his face, he refuses to believe it, instead seeing Langford’s actions as jealousy towards him. The true genius in the films portrayal of Pupkin, is the hiding of his comedic material. The audience is given no evidence other than his fantasies throughout as to whether or not Pupkin is deserving of any form of public recognition, leading to a truly well done and smile inducing payoff in the final act. His need for attention, especially from his long time crush Rita (Diahnne Abbott), creates one of the most honest, painful and intense view of humiliation and denial shown on film.

thekingofcomedy-lewisdeniro.gifWhile many would consider The King of Comedy as a minor Scorsese film, especially compared to the director’s other pieces like The Wolf of Wall Street or Casino. Its importance and impact has only grown over time. It’s view of celebrity culture and fanatic behaviour rings more true in the social media enabled 21st century than it perhaps ever has before. The rise of applications such as Twitter, provide the general public with a means of equal communication with those that they may idolise and admire. The parasocial relationship is now in a strange gray area, that The King of Comedy shows brilliantly.

A true example that just because a film was poorly received at release, that doesn’t mean that it cannot gain an importance.

“Better to be King for a night, then schmuck for a lifetime.”