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Enigmatic and elegant

movie-reviews Updated: May 24, 2010 13:32 IST
Glad Eye
Glad Eye
Hindustan Times
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Sherlock Holmes
Director: Guy Ritchie
Reliance Big Home/Warner,
Rs 599 (2-disc set)
****
The two main weapons director Guy Ritchie used to reinvent the world’s best-known detective are to be found on the edges of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. First there’s ‘baritsu’, a martial art form Conan Doyle mentioned only in The Adventure of the Empty House. And then there’s Irene Adler, the only person to have ever conned the detective, in A Scandal in Bohemia. And what a remarkable difference the blow-up of these two things make.

In Robert Downey Jr., we have, for the first time, a Holmes who can be jealous in romance and deadly in combat. This difference from any earlier portrayal of our cocaine-addicted, cerebral detective is underlined in this DVD set’s specials. The feature on why there’s no deerstalker hat, a dress code introduced by illustrator Sidney Paget, takes a tongue-in-cheek view of the earlier efforts.

The tutorial on baritsu is another matter. There is, in fact, no such thing. The educated guess is that Conan Doyle twisted bartitsu, a self-defence technique invented by a Briton.


Last Year at Marienbad
Director:
Alain Resnais
Shemaroo/Studio Canal,
Rs 349
****
Among the leading filmmakers of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais was probably the most theatrical. He used the camera as if looking through a proscenium. His actors’ movements were often melodramatic, whether in animation or in stasis. And his music heightened all of this. Nowhere is this unique Resnais treatment better defined than in Last year in Marienbad, a surreal 1961 film, in which we are never sure what the unnamed characters know.

Delphine Seyrig as woman A and Giorgio Albertazzi as man X meet at an ornate baroque palace. The man insists they met before and had made a pact to meet in a year’s time at the place. But the woman doesn’t remember, or pretends not to. This principal uncertainty is eerily underlined by an ever-present organ music, tuned up often to drown out conversation.

Is it all a fantasy? Whose? Who’s speaking the truth? None of these questions are conclusively answered. What we have is an elegant film wrapped in costumes wrapped in enigma.