December 27, 2009

Am I going deaf?

Or was much of Robert Downey's English-accented dialogue in Sherlock Holmes close to inaudible?

I started to understand more of what the star was saying after about an hour. I think I could follow the diction of Jude Law's Dr. Watson a little better. In contrast, when I was 13 and first saw Laurence Olivier's Richard III on TV, it took me about five minutes to get the hang of the accent, the blank verse, and Shakespeare's 16th Century vocabulary.

Am I deafer now, or was there something wrong with the sound system in the theatre, or is Sherlock Holmes not worth watching until it comes out with on subtitles? (Of course, that raises the issue of whether it's worth watching on DVD.)

In contrast, Englishman Hugh Laurie has been doing Holmes with an American accent to perfection on House on TV for most of the decade. (In general, I don't mind the movie turning Sherlock Holmes into bare knuckle brawler -- Laurie has been doing a brilliant riff on Sherlock Holmes as a purely cerebral force 22 times a year.)

Part of the problem is no doubt using overlapping dialogue like in a 1930s screwball comedy. But audiences could follow His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby because Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn didn't actually step on each other's lines. Instead, they generally started each line with an unnecessary syllable like "Ohhhhhhh" while the other finished.

Visually, Guy Ritchie did a bunch of useful hand-holding exercises to keep the audience from losing the thread of the plot, which was much appreciated. But it's frustrating when dialogue is inaudible. Later in the movie I could understand better, but then the witticisms didn't seem very funny. That I will never understand -- why spend years and 9 figures mounting a movie and then not spend a few weeks and six figures for a script doctoring to make sure there are enough jokes? Downey is really funny, so why not give him some jokes?

Also, is it really a good idea to make Robert Downey Jr. an action star? Despite what they tell you in the making-of documentaries, the insurance companies that provide the business-interruption insurance for film productions won't let expensive stars do their own stunts. What action stars are supposed to do is fake the hard landing after the stunt man flies through the air.

The worst job I've ever seen a leading man do in regard was Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing on Friends) in a 2002 turkey called Serving Sara. In the middle of production, he'd disappeared into rehab for a vicodin painkiller addiction. So, when he got back, the crew treated him like he was as fragile as Christmas tree bulb. They couldn't let him get hurt because he was on the wagon for painkillers, and if he slipped off the film would never have gotten finished (which wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing for the history of cinema). So, the stuntman would fly through the air and then the director would cut to Chandler lying inertly on the ground.

Now, which major current 44-year-old star would you guess would be most vulnerable to a Vicodin addiction if he, say, dislocated his shoulder taking a tumble and then gallantly soldiered on to keep the production on track?

Right.

Sherlock Holmes wasn't nearly as bad as Serving Sara, but the interplay between the star and his stunt double was a lot less seamless than is the norm these days. Guy Ritchie's Vegematic editing distracts from this problem, but it's still there.

And is it really the best use of Downey's verbal skills to have him sitting around endlessly on giant productions waiting for the crew to get ready for his next shot?

And maybe Downey got all ripped for his shirtless boxing scene purely through natural weightlifting, but, don't forget, Downey's director was married for years to Madonna, a notorious performance enhancing drug abuser. So, if the middle-aged Downey's workout regimen wasn't producing the results Ritchie had in mind, how much pressure would he put on Downey to try some chemical shortcuts? But is Downey the right guy to be putting weird chemicals in his body?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

95 comments:

Middletown Girl said...

One can go deaf just from the movie previews. Hollywood understands very well that SOUND is more crucial than the image to audience attention. Thus, every sound is amplified many times over.

With all the popcorn munching and rude talking, you may not be able to hear a pin drop in the theater, but a pin dropping IN the movie sounds like a volcano.
I never go to the theater without ear plugs.

Anonymous said...

Yes Steve, you are going deaf. i probably should have told you during your last check up. I have ordered you a cochlear implant but it is not going to work. Learn sign language.


Dan in DC

James Watson is Right!!! said...

A short answer to the question "Am I going deaf?"

The Answer: No Sailer, you are just getting old :)

TW Andrews said...

I didn't have any issues with it, nor did my wife, who's not a native English speaker (Swiss German being her language of choice) and frequently has trouble with non-American accents.

Anonymous said...

It says in the trivia notes that Downey Jr studied Granada Television's Jeremy Brett's characterization of the great sleuth. I'm glad he didn't study him too closely because I much prefer Downey as Holmes. If the image of a lean, ascetic, high fore-headed, aquiline-nosed, drawn-cheeked, somewhat saturnine detective has to be banished, why not go all the way and replace him with someone Conan Doyle never had in mind in a million years but who is at least charming.

I suppose it all comes down to casting and this was cast by current box- office appeal, with no regard to the fictional characters. The best or the most glaring example of this is Rachel McAdams who seems to have wandered off the set of a contemporary romantic comedy into London of the 1890s. Her presence in every scene is like having one of the period characters suddenly put a cellphone to his ear and take a suck at a Starbucks cup. The set design is fantastic: London of the time must've looked a lot like this, and although the clash exaggerates the time warp effect the sets win in the end, and with the excellent supporting cast make the movie credible, while Downey and Law do their best to make it in-credible - but that's what we're paying for after all.

If you want the real Sherlock, and envision the character as Conan Doyle imagined him, read the books. If you want 2 hours of amusement go see this and you won't be disappointed.

Glossy said...

I haven't seen Sherlock Holmes, but why are there action scenes in it? The original, literary Holmes fought crime by using his "deductive method", not by punching or shooting people. If Hugh Laurie, whom Steve just mentioned, was asked to reprise his legendary role as Bertie Wooster in a Hollywood production, would he need martial arts experience, weight training and stunt doubles?

The previews I've seen showed Victorian London to be third-worldishly dirty. Besides its famous smog it must have been a million times cleaner and safer than any Western city could possibly be today.

Anonymous said...

Cheer up Steve, maybe you're going deaf!

Merry Christmas by the way, four days of no new posts sure was boring.

OhioStater said...

I was greatly impressed with the overall quality of Sherlock Holmes. I didn't think Guy Ritchie was capable of directing a movie like this.

A lot of the shoots seemed authentic and I'm interested in where each scene was filmed. The NYC film bureau received a notice in the credits.

Anonymous said...

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the movie?

Anonymous said...

inaudible or unintelligible?

Whiskey said...

Maybe Steve, but Iron Man was a huge hit, making a lot of money, and Downey made it.

A lot of action movies requires well, acting as well as running and jumping. Compare say, even the most formulaic of the Die Hard Movies (Die Hard II) with that of say, any action movie with Dolph Lundrgen or Jean Claude Van Damme.

The latter two were certainly tough physically, and looked it, but could not act their way out of a paper bag. Precisely because the story lines and plots can be so over the top, a guy who projects believability is a huge help.

The other problem of course is that the younger crop of male actors particularly in the US suffer from "sorta gay pretty boy syndrome." AKA Brad Pitt disease. Approximately none of the stars of Gossip Girl, or Twilight, or so on can realistically play tough guys able to endure things.

Band of Brothers used a number of English actors for their leads, or American character actors (Neil McDonough, Donnie Walbergh, and so on). You don't have a whole lot of leading men who can project much beyond lots of hair gel in Hollywood. If not Downey, who?

I am surprised you are not aware of Ritchie's films having terrible sound for dialog. You are not going deaf. Ritchie deliberately mixes out sound quality for the dialog, considering it a trademark (and likely a cover for his American stars like Downey and Brad Pitt not being able to come up with convincing accents).

The best Holmes was of course the late Jeremy Brett. Who had that amazing silky-soft menacing VOICE, and the saturnine countenance that oozed coiled intellect.

But overall there is a problem when the action genre is dominated by Jason Statham, Downey, Nick Cage, and a few others. [I could never understand why "Life" and "Band of Brothers" star Damien Lewis was not snapped up as a tough-guy action star, or Adam Baldwin for that matter.]

albertosaurus said...

I'm being fitted for my hearing aids Tuesday. I'll see Sherlock Holmes Wednesday and I'll write you to tell you whether you are going deaf or not.

Most hearing problems for men are in the upper octaves. At least part of this is because the little bones that conduct the sound from the ear drum (incus, maleus, stapes)are bigger in big men. Just as your hand bones, foot bones and leg bones are bigger than those of women and children. Bigger bones have higher resonance frequencies.

So being big works against you for hearing speech frequencies but works for you in bar fights.

Cinco Jotas said...

I've not seen the movie yet, but if previous Guy Ritchie movies are to be used as a model, then opaque accents are par for the course.

Indeed, Brad Pitt's Irish Traveller accent in Snatch was part of the fun in that movie.

rosserw said...

I consider myself to have average hearing, and had no problem understanding his dialogue from the back row of the theatre.

Anonymous said...

I could hear him. It was rather low in places though.

His appearence was more out of character. Unshaven, slovenly dressed and with mussed hair, he did not look the part of a Victorian gentleman.

Those details aside, it worked all right as an action movie.

Anonymous said...

My hearing is better than most, and I had trouble with the dialog for the first hour or so, even when the actors weren't pacing it right on top of each other.

Harry Baldwin said...

Glossy said...Besides its famous smog it must have been a million times cleaner and safer than any Western city could possibly be today.
>>>

Not from anything I've ever read. You had coal-burning furnaces in every home, horses pooping all over the streets, livestock such as pigs and chickens kept around tenements, and lots of rats. Extreme poverty and swarms of beggars and pickpockets. Crime was probably worse than in any non-NAM city today; gentlemen carried revolvers or stout walking sticks when walking after dark.

Anonymous said...

The original, literary Holmes fought crime by using his "deductive method", not by punching or shooting people.

Ritchie, Downey and Law are well aware of this, the first and last of these having been Sherlockians since their school days, and Downey having read every word of Conan Doyle's canon in preparation for the role.

They have admitted as much in interviews. But they counter with two credible points: 1) movies are not "filmed books"; and more importantly 2) the Conan Doyle stories actually suggest (between the lines) a lot more physical violence than a casual reading would lead one to believe. A phrase like "together, we apprehended the villains" written by a Victorian for a Victorian audience leaves a lot of leeway for a reader deducing (and a filmmaker envisioning) exactly what that "apprehension" consisted of.

Lost Pilgrim said...

Doyle was an aficionado of the 'manly arts'. IIRC he studied bartitsu, boxing, cane fighting, etc. So did Holmes.

Yes you're going deaf or there is a sound problem with the movie. Too bad it is a Guy Ritchie film. I like Downey.

M. Möhling said...

typo: > Olivier (no need to keep this comment; just a Fritz being anal, you know how we are)

Mr. Anon said...

Sherlock Holmes as an action flick? Sounds like crap. Can't Hollywood make movies that are intended for anyone above the age of 12 anymore?

Truth said...

"it must have been a million times cleaner and safer than any Western city could possibly be today."

Cleaner, and safer, with people emptying chamberpots from their windows onto the streets below? I do say, old boy, I believe you've been smoking your dinner.

R J Stove said...

When I saw PUBLIC ENEMIES, I had a similar reaction to Steve Sailer's regarding Robert Downey. Much of what Johnny Depp and his fellow cast members said in PUBLIC ENEMIES was, to me, simply incomprehensible. By far the best diction in the whole movie came from the cast's sole French member, the delicious Marion Cotillard.

But on seeing for the first time (at Christmas) a Cary Grant movie, I had no problems understanding what was uttered. Similarly, not long ago I heard - after a gap of decades - a pre-war recording of Heddle Nash (the once-renowned British tenor) performing an aria from Handel's JUDAS MACCABEUS. Despite the accumulated surface noise, redolent of frying onions in the foreground, I could follow every syllable that Nash sang.

Kylie said...

Glossy said: "The previews I've seen showed Victorian London to be third-worldishly dirty. Besides its famous smog it must have been a million times cleaner and safer than any Western city could possibly be today."

I suspect Victorian London was indeed third-worldishly dirty. I saw a program on Jack the Ripper recently and what impressed me most was not the savagery of his attacks but the horrific living conditions in White Chapel. I know that was only one part of Victorian London but the problems of proper sanitation, lighting and ventilation were ubiquitous. The rich were able to insulate themselves better from the filth, squalor and resulting disease and discomfort but apparently no one escaped it altogether.

Found the following contemporaneous account:
http://www.victorianlondon.org/publications/sanitary.htm

kudzu bob said...

>But is Downey the right guy to be putting weird chemicals in his body?<

There's no harm in a middle-aged guy's tweaking his endocrine system a bit, if his M.D. knows the right hormone dosages to administer.

I'm acquainted with several folks who've done that sort of thing for years now, such as a very successful, sixtyish lawyer--Marine in Viet Nam, world class amateur athlete, IQ through the roof, a good-looking wife twenty years his junior who adores him--who works with the savviest doc in town to keep his testosterone and GH levels at the high end of what would be normal for a healthy forty-year-old. The antioxidants he takes don't seem to have hurt him, either.

Believe me when I tell you, that dude's got it goin' on. He's lean and ripped, works other lawyers half his age into the ground, and looks like an exceptionally fit fortysomething (which, physiologically speaing, he is). And no, the juice hasn't made him mean, either. He remains an exceptionally nice and thoughtful man.

Better living through chemistry, I say!

Anonymous said...

The reason they made Sherlock Holmes into a vulnerable brute is the same reason they made James Bond into a vulnerable brute.

And the same reason they've made Samuel Jackson and DMX ace scientists and hackers, and the same reason they've made Keira Knightley and Angelina Jolie into heroines who physically slug it out with men.

All differences must be leveled, all natural abilities denied. The sophisticated white male who is smarter and more debonair than everyone around him must go.

At best one can have the white male antihero -- Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, Wentworth Miller in Prison Break, Sam Worthington in Avatar -- whose legitimacy is granted by the fact that they are fighting against the *bad* white males in suits and ties.

Truth said...

"At best one can have the white male antihero -- Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, Wentworth Miller in Prison Break,"

Except that Wentworth Miller ain't white.

The globalist slammed one right down your throat, and you said "thank you sir, may I please have another," that time, Sport.

Bob said...

"There's no harm in a middle-aged guy's tweaking his endocrine system a bit"

Wrong, in fact there's grave harm, namely a much higher risk of cancer for HGH and heart disease for androgens.

From your description "testosterone and GH levels at the high end [for a 40-year-old]" these are hardly tweaks.

See here:

http://www.preventcancer.com/patients/med_avoid/hgh.htm

If it were possible for men to stay vital and virile into their 60's simply by keeping their hormone levels high, then men would have evolved to have high levels of hormones into old age. Hormone production is hardly taxing on the body.

In fact, the best way to stay youthful is a calorie restricted diet, with the side effects of being thin, weak, and tired.

Sadly medical science has yet to come up with magic free lunches.

kudzu bob said...

"Except that Wentworth Miller ain't white."

Neither is Keeanu Reeves.

Anonymous isn't the only one who got one slammed down his throat, then said, "Thank you sir, may I please have another?"

So what's it taste like, Twoof?

kudzu bob said...

>Wrong, in fact there's grave harm, namely a much higher risk of cancer for HGH and heart disease for androgens.<

I followed your link, and it took me to Dr. Samuel Epstein, whose book, "The Politics of Cancer," I read years ago. At the time I found him to be a bit of a hysteric, and what I read just now reminded me of why.

For instance, in the piece that you cited, Epstein writes that oral HGH sprays are worthless because they aren't absorbed, as opposed to injectable forms. This is true, since digestion breaks the HGH peptides down into their constituent amino acids. Then he goes on to that even so, the (now nonexistent) hormone still might be dangerous anyway, which is nonsense on the order of saying that a gun that’s been melted down into razor blades might still somehow go off and shoot somebody.

As for your contention that if “it were possible for men to stay vital and virile into their 60's simply by keeping their hormone levels high, then men would have evolved to have high levels of hormones into old age,” all I can say is that if it were possible for men to fly, then they would have evolved wings. Oh, wait, men do fly anyway—

Say, this thread was supposed to be about Robert Downey, wasn’t it?

Dominic said...

I'm British and I just watched the trailer to check out his accent. It seems perfectly understandable to me (presuming they haven't cherry picked excerpts).

I'd note that it's probably not posh enough, given Holmes' period and upbringing, but that's understandable as it's a Ritchie film, and he's probably attempting to update Holmes to make him more 'relevant'.

Either way Downey's face is too fat and jowly.

Anonymous said...

Obviously both Keanu Reeves and Wentworth Miller are half white. Many other white anti-heros are "dark" and often of ethnic rather than anglo background. However, they portray white men on screen. This is the point: even the white hero is a dark complexioned, ambiguously white antihero.

The young white male gets the message and apes the mannerisms of tattooed outcasts and black rappers rather than the "nerdy" white scientists and "greedy" white businessmen who built America.

Forget me. Tralalala. I'm off to watch Obsession, where a white woman attempts to rape a black man. Then the Blind Side, where a naive white woman picks up a massive black male hitchiker without any violent incident. After that District 9, where the entire world is revealed to be "racist" towards aliens. Next up another South African flick: Invictus, where the entire country of South Africa is redeemed by having black men on its national team, just like in real life where the end of apartheid has resulted in unparalleled living standards!

Just another day at the movies.

dearieme said...

I could make out scarcely any of the dialogue in "Gosford Park". It's a common problem.

David said...

> the best way to stay youthful is a calorie restricted diet, with the side effects of being thin, weak, and tired. <

I.e. you'll live longer, but you won't want to.

Dialogue is undervalued in movies today. The left half of the Bell Curve does not want to hear a lot of words, words, words. Still less are foreign-language markets presumed to hold an interest in hearing a lot of English. Result: today's filmmakers look at dialogue as just anoather sound in the mix, no more important than the sound of milk being poured on cereal or feet scuffling or the continuous all-important beat-dropping. A certain egalitarianism prevails. Why is what Sherlock saying any more important than any other sound is? Why privilege some sounds over others? It's all good - ain't it?

Esp. why favor intellectual content (real or imputed) in the mix?

Add this dumbing-down of sound to the natural changes in eardrums due to aging, and you can see why the older crowd prefers their Sinatra records and Cary Grant movies.

(The most prevalent problem though is overamplification. Young Spock's punches in Star Trek sounded like anvils falling on a wooden floor in an echo chamber. Extremely absurd.)

Anonymous said...

Except that Wentworth Miller ain't white.



Actually, he is white.

Anonymous said...

So, do these cochlear implant things work?

Anonymous said...

Ah, but the casual audience member sees Reeves and Miller as being white. That's all that matters in this context.

Anonymous said...

You really are an old gossipy woman.

Anonymous said...

Holmes was a coke head. He was almost surely a closeted homosexual as well as Watson. Doing the whole rougue thing is not so bad.

The bare chested cage fighting is for a younger audience that cannot realate to someone without tatoos. I could have done without it. Jeremy Brett did to Holmes what Beethoven did to quartets. Nobody wanted to do them any more afterwards. Holmes needed to be brought in to the modern and changed otherwise everything would simply look like a bad immitation of the prior. Ya, they could turn down the sound some.

Anonymous said...

Sherelock Holmes has a touch of film noir to it. With the exception of the final sceen on the bridge, most of the shots were either indoors or in the confines of a slum. The Jeremy Brett Holmes shows, tended to be filmed in beautiful old English country estates. The wealth and splendor of upper crust Victorian England tended to be the backdrop. Eye candy for the Anglophiles. In Downey's Holmes, even the rich got shit on their shoes.

Anonymous said...

From the previews, it looks like a horrible, horrible movie. The director is known for making movies about British people, in which they act like American lowlives.

The previews had Robert Downey cocking two guns sideways, LA black gangster. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Holmes was walking around with his pants pulled down and wearing a big gold chain. Utterly ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Truth,

we stopped emptying our piss-pits out of the window quite a long time before Sherlock Holmes was created.

If you fell in the Thames now you would be lucky to more than one disease.

The Great Stink by Halliday gives plenty of details about shitty old London.

(The grandson of Bazalgette, the engineer of London's sewers, created Big brother in the UK)

Richard

Kylie said...

I find Downey tends to "swallow his words" when he speaks. I haven't seen the movie so I watched the trailer and sure enough, he did. By contrast, Law's speech was crisp and clear.

I don't have a problem with Downey playing Holmes otherwise, though. I thought he was brilliant as another famous [non-fictional] Englishman, Chaplin, conveying both the latter's poignance and his athleticism.

Experience onstage seems to make actors' rapid and/or accented speech more intelligible to the audience, though, like Downey now, stage turned movie actor Brando mumbled his way through the film version of Julius Caesar. I clearly recall how distracting it was, not so much because it seemed out of place--or time--but because it interrupted the flow of the play. Maybe playing the classics onstage makes the difference.

As to the speech of film actors in the 30's being rapid yet intelligible, in England, actors were drawn from the stage while in America, actors were either drawn from the stage or coached by vocal coaches imported from England. This is why in those early drawing-room talkies, the actors so often affect an hilariously overdone English accent with lots of "dahlings" and "rawthers".

By the way, I wonder why they didn't cast Law as Holmes? Initially, I thought he was just a pretty boy (though when a young man's that pretty, I'm not one to complain). But he's repeatedly shown a coiled intensity that would suit the character of Holmes well. He's one that likes to alter his appearance, too, so being naturally a fair-haired boy wouldn't be a drawback. And he speaks crisply and clearly.

Seamus said...

So does Downey's Sherlock Holmes use a seven-percent solution of cocaine to sharpen his mind?

Anonymous said...

"The reason they made Sherlock Holmes into a vulnerable brute is the same reason they made James Bond into a vulnerable brute. "

You mean that it was closer to the book?

"Except that Wentworth Miller ain't white."

No, but I think his character in Prison Break was.

"In fact, the best way to stay youthful is a calorie restricted diet, with the side effects of being thin, weak, and tired."

The evidence behind this as a 'life extension' strategy in humans is weak. You can't just extrapolate from a rat to a man. The experiments on Rhesus
Monkeys showed a decrease in the number of diseases of old age such as cancer and heart disease, but all cause mortality was pretty much the same. Instead of dying from heart problems they died of infections and injuries.

At any rate the purpose is not to live long, but to live well. The longer you live the more time you get to spend as a demented old fool dribbling into his dinner and calling the nurse 'elsie'. No thanks. Being tired and weak is not youthful, it's being a ghoul.

Matra said...

In contrast, Englishman Hugh Laurie has been doing Holmes with an American accent to perfection on House on TV for most of the decade.

The British (and Antipodeans) are better at accents than Americans - though they tend to put too much twang in their fake American accents.

I've noticed that American actors were better at other accents from the English speaking world back in the old days of Hollywood. (The 'bad old days' when America was a diversity impoverished nation!) There were exceptions, of course, such as Dick van Dyke or Rod Steiger's Irishman in 'Run of the Arrow' but it is generally true. Today I stop watching any US movie as soon as I hear an American actor messing up a so-called 'British accent' as I'm reminded they are actors not characters every time they speak.

Also, Americans were more likely to go to films about European historical events back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s than has been the case in the last 40 years. Those films were more authentic than Hollywood attempts at historical epics in recent decades with them being turned into action movies with little real content.

The more diverse and PC America of recent decades turns out to be far more parochial than the old supposedly insensitive inward-looking WASP America. That seems counterintuitive but I suppose it's difficult to identify with other people's cultures if you don't have one of your own.

Dutch Boy said...

The late Jeremy Brett still owns the role of Holmes and is no danger from the likes of R.D., Jr..

Sport said...

Uh, Wentworth Miller is white.

Sport said...

Keeanu Reeves ... he white too.

Kijkfaas McGee said...

Sherlock Holmes was an entertaining film; much better than the hi-tech shlock of Avatar. Except for the added action-figure stuff, I thought it portrayed well the quirkiness of the novels. The speech was at times difficult, but I don't think it was due to the accents. I couldn't always make out what Rachel McAdams was saying, but she was perhaps the worst-casted person in the production.

Walpurgis said...

Let's not forget who straightened the fireplace poker after Dr. Roylott bent it.

I haven't seen the movie, but Holmes expected scuffles (he more than once told Dr. Watson to bring a revolver). Holmes fought with Dr. Moriarty at the Reichenbach falls, no?

Heck, Victorian gentlement all expected scuffles-- they practiced boxing and fencing, they served in colonial and continental wars...

(I haven't seen the movie, and if the movie's Holmes solves his case(s) by beating people up then that stinks. But if the bad guys assault Holmes for coming too close to their secrets, or resist arrest, well-- that stuff wouldn't be inconsistent with the canon.)

Victoria said...

So, are you guys going to just keep us guessing? If Keanu Reeves and Wentworth Miller are not white, what the hell are they? Any links, URLs???

Moralist said...

I'm a 30 year-old with excellent hearing and I couldn't understand most of Downey's lines in that obnoxious movie. I think the deficit is the product of adding Downey's lisp (similar to Al Gore's, which you've written about) to his trying on a non-native accent.

Actors these days tend to toss off their lines casually -- the thinking seems to be that this makes their performances more naturalistic. Maybe this stems from the Method acting delusion that acting is something other than pretending. Downey does this more than most, though. I found it really annoying in the otherwise very good "Iron Man."

Anonymous said...

Cleaner, and safer, with people emptying chamberpots from their windows onto the streets below?

Not in late Victorian London.

Victoria said...

OK, I just read the Wentworth Miller bio, showing him more colored than anything else. After all that fuss about the film Avatar and the racial angle (white imperialist sees the light and goes over to the good side, i.e., the colored side), doesn't it seem peculiar that Miller, according to his bio, is nowhere near white? What does this do for all those reviewers and their multicult interpretation of the film? Weird!

Anonymous said...

Keanu may not be (all) white but is that how he is perceived. I never get the feeling he is playing a non-white character.

Perhaps its due to his manifest thespian talents...

TW Andrews said...

I haven't seen Sherlock Holmes, but why are there action scenes in it? The original, literary Holmes fought crime by using his "deductive method", not by punching or shooting people. If Hugh Laurie, whom Steve just mentioned, was asked to reprise his legendary role as Bertie Wooster in a Hollywood production, would he need martial arts experience, weight training and stunt doubles?


This really isn't true. Having just a couple of the novels and a handful of the short stories to see whether or not the characterization was accurate, it's not the case that Holmes was a "brain over brawn" type. He used the deductive method, but wasn't at all afraid to shoot people or throw punches.

ricpic said...

Why transgress the image of a classic icon? To be lauded and applauding for ones creativity by the ignorant glitterati? Yes. That's why.

Ray Sawhill said...

Back when movie theaters were first going digital and Dolby I talked to some movie sound people about it. A couple of things I remember from these talks.

1) The dynamic range in movies today (the range from loud to soft) is much, much greater than it used to be. whisper-whisper ... KABOOM!!!

2) Although the new sound tech enables people to do amazingly artistic and super-subtle things with sound, it's generally being used to crank up the noise.

3) Young people (kids and young adults, and especially males) generally adore loud sound, but people past the age of 30 generally start to dislike it, then despise it. Seems to be a physiological, in-the-system thing. This phenom is so marked that it was taken for granted that "hating loud sounds" was one reason why adults were more and more often skipping movie theaters, and why the going-to-a-movie-theater experience was becoming more and more a young person's thing.

Simon said...

You don't *have* to accept the one drop rule, you know, guys.

Le Mur said...

"Anonymous isn't the only one who got one slammed down his throat, then said, "Thank you sir, may I please have another?""

If anything it just proves Anonymous' point ("At best one can have the white male antihero") even more than he thought it did, because apparently one can't even have a "white male antihero".

josh said...

A)Ritchies movies are hard to follow even when you DO hear them. I have seen two,the one with Brad Pitt as the boxer and another one about another band of English crooks. Both were enjoyable but it was hard to follow exactly what was going on. All in all British movies are inferior to the real thing,with obvious exceptions. I recall one night as a mere lad when I saw the original Pink Pnather,"A Shot In The Dark". It was hysterical and sooo weird.Peter Sellers at his best. And of course anything with Peter O'Toole.And big movies about big stuff,like Lawrence of Arabia,with the above O'Toole. B)Drugs? How did the Vampire/werewolf guy get so ripped? But the real case is the Australian guy,Hugh Jackman.That guy has huge pecs!He reminds me of Groucho Marx's fampous line re Victor Mature:"I would never want to be in a movie where the leading man has a bigger chest than the leading lady." These guys are taking everything,and why not,theres milion$ at stake. Stallone,of course,is very upfront about it.

Sport said...

Simon sez: You don't *have* to accept the one drop rule, you know, guys.

I'm sure the Princeton admissions office do. Roll on, Wentworth, roll on.

Off topic: I wonder if his thesis is as good as Michelle's?

Patrick said...

I saw it today and found it hard to hear the Downery dialog, also had an easier time with Law. Someone else who was with me also had a bit of a problem. I couldn't figure out if it was the accent or just that the soundtrack was slightly muddy.

Anonymous said...

You don't *have* to accept the one drop rule, you know, guys.




Where would Trooth be without it?

Glossy said...

Harry Baldwin said about Victorian London:

"Crime was probably worse than in any non-NAM city today; gentlemen carried revolvers or stout walking sticks when walking after dark."

According to this wiki the murder rate in England and Wales was 0.96 per 100,000 living per year in 1901, the next to last year of Queen Victoria's reign. That's very low. Here it says that in 2006 England and Wales had a murder rate of 1.37, which is still pretty low. The US is listed at 5.4 in 2008. A place like Jamaica is at 49. Unfortunately Russia is at 16.5 right now, and it has a lot of non-NAM cities. This wiki says that West Virginia, which is nearly all-White, had a murder rate of 3.7 in 2004.

Truth said...

I don't know if you gents understand, I'll try to elucidate:

Anonymous was bemoaning the lack of traditional white male heroes yet he takes some solace in the fact that we still have sexy, studdly, white male antiheroes who can still kick ass and get the beautiful (white) girl. "Oh, so smart am I, they're not fooling me!!!"

He lists as examples a polluted Southern European type, an Asian, and unbeknownst to him, a negro! The horrors. And the globalist assigned to pushing "the agenda," HE'S LAUGHING AT YOU!

What he did steal the ball from Kudzu Bob in the backcourt, put a juke on Simple Simon and twist his ankle, and rise two feet above the rim and SLAMMA-JAMMA WITH THE HAMMA ONE HANDED WINDMILL DIPPSEY-DOO DUNKAROO right in your face anonymous.

That's not even the worse part though, he hung onto the rin afterward, made you get a nice long whiff of his crotch and then upon re-descending to earth let out an ear shattering primal scream. You son meekly put on a paper back with cutouts for eyes, the cheerleaders came down to feel his muscles, and the coach terminated your contract while you were still on the floor!

(For our non English-speaking posters, here's a Visual Aid

I wouldn't take that if I was you kid.

Hereward said...

A valuable picture of the impoverished classes of London in Holmes' time is Jack London's journalistic account People of the Abyss.
He basically pretends to be an American sailor at loose ends in London, and lives as the underclass does, doing day jobs and the occasional stint in the workhouse. Extremely vivid; London did his share of hard living in America, but his London sojourn was frequently more than he could take. He comments on his runty, sunken-chested East End neighbors, and remarks that he ate better while jailed in California for vagrancy than he did as an inhabitant of Spitalfields.

Anonymous said...

"You don't *have* to accept the one drop rule, you know, guys."

True. We could become Brazil.

Sport said...

Truth said...

I don't know if you gents understand ...
[insert dated slang here] ... I wouldn't take that if I was you kid.

All very amusing, but they're white.

Anonymous said...

Matra - The British (and Antipodeans) are better at accents than Americans - though they tend to put too much twang in their fake American accents.

Some Americans can pull it off. Exhibit A: Spinal Tap. Of course Christopher Guest has quite a British background. (See also Mike Myers).

I think good 'ole cultural imperialism is the culprit. A British actor, in fact anyone in the English speaking non-American world, will have grown up watching American TV and movies. Listening to American singers and voices on the radio.

My daughter (age 9) can do a pretty passable American accent already but cannot manage any other English language accent.

Americans otoh I suspect can go all day and not hear 'other' versions of English.

Truth said...

"You don't *have* to accept the one drop rule, you know, guys."

You know technically there is validity there; If you'll all open your White Nationalist-HBD Nerd Rulebook to page 177 article 7 section 3 you will see where it states the following:

"The one drop rule may be waived at anytime by any white male who takes amorous interest in a woman, upon the fourth occurance of said event, two photographs the woman in question must be brought to the board for verification of whiteness.

"White females may only waive the one drop rule in case of accepting the relationship of a white male with an Asian, black, or Hispanic woman. White females are strictly prohibited from cavorting with anyone with more than 1% Asian or Meztizo heritage or .000000001% Negro heritage.*

"The one-drop rule must be strictly observed in the case of any specious looking male with any female scoring a minimum of 23 on the 1-100 blondness scale."

*Native American Heritage is the exception, NA admixture of up to 25% is not only acceptable, but favorable.

I'm hoping I don't have to recite the rules to you slackers again.

Truth said...

"All very amusing, but they're white."

You mean Nowitzki and Bradley, right?

Harry Baldwin said...

Glossy said... According to this wiki the murder rate in England and Wales was 0.96 per 100,000 living per year in 1901, the next to last year of Queen Victoria's reign.

Point taken; my assertion was not statistically rooted but based on the perceptions of people at the time, such as Dickens. Similarly, historians such as Roger McGrath claim that murder rates in Western mining towns were not as bad as we imagine, but contemporary writers claimed someone was killed almost on a daily basis.

Also, robbery and assault were tremendous concerns in London.

This is from victorianweb.org:

>>
In The Night Side of London (1858) J. Ewing Ritchie gives the following figures for 1856:

It appears that in all 73,240 persons were taken into custody, of whom 45,941 were males, and 27,209 females; 18,000 of the apprehensions were on account of drunkenness, 8160 for unlawful possession of goods, 7021 for simple larceny, 6763 for common assaults, 2194 for assaults on the police; 4303 women were taken into custody as prostitutes. (qtd. in Jackson 63)

But there much to suggest that this was only the tip of the iceberg. The problem was that crimes often went unrecorded, let alone solved. In the early years, people had little confidence in their new police force. . . Victims of thefts, muggings and so on knew it was useless to complain to them. . . Moreover, some were intimidated by their assailants, or embarrassed by the circumstances of the crime — their own drunkenness at that time, for example, or involvement with prostitutes. For their part, the police, all too aware of their own deficiencies, kept a separate tally for suspected crimes, which did not need to be included in the figures of known crimes (White 343). . .
Leaving aside drunkenness, theft was rampant. While children might pickpocket and steal from barrows on the streets, women might engage in shoplifting, and, as for London's sly con men, cheats, "magsmen" or "sharpers," they were notorious. So were the housebreakers working in teams, and slipping into homes and shops and warehouses. Mugging, with its associated violence, was rife. A hanky dipped in chloroform might be used to subdue someone before robbing him, or a man's hat might be tipped over his face to facilitate the crime (this was called "bonneting"). Another ruse was to lure men down to the riverside by using prostitutes as decoys. The dupes would then be beaten up and robbed out of sight of passers-by. Violence could, of course, easily extend to murder. Prostitutes themselves ran huge risks. No one knows how many of them were strangled or stabbed or butchered (Jack the Ripper was far from the only villain, and Dickens's Nancy must be mourned for many a pitiful "lost woman"). No respectable woman would have ventured forth after dark at all, if she had any choice in the matter. Even if a policeman appeared on the crime scene, he might be driven off by having nitric acid thrown in his face. The helpless were at special risk. Well-turned-out children might be waylaid, dragged down an alley, and stripped of their finery, or pet dogs kidnapped for ransom or simply filched for their skins. Around mid-century, and again in 1862, "garrotting" or half-strangling unwary pedestrians from behind while accomplices stripped them of their valuables, caused great waves of panic (White 337).
<<

Svigor said...

Hollywood understands very well that SOUND is more crucial than the image to audience attention. Thus, every sound is amplified many times over.

Madison Avenue, too. Not for nothing the volume gets louder during the commercial "breaks" (scare-quoted because ad broadcasting makes more sense once you understand that the "programs" are actually the "breaks.").

Steve Sailer said...

There was a huge decline in the crime rate in London over the course of the 19th Century.

Some of the reasons were technical: introduction of gas street lighting from the 1820s, introduction of a regularized police force, the Bobbies, from the same era, introduction of the telephone for reporting crime, fingerprints (which Galton made usable), mug shots, etc.

But there was a huge change in morals, too, from the Regency to the end of the Victorian era.

Sport said...

You mean Nowitzki and Bradley, right?
You forget to throw in the ever-clever sport at the end?
Off topic: who Bradley?

anony-mouse said...

I must already be deaf. I can't hear anyone here.

Anonymous said...

your White Nationalist-HBD Nerd Rulebook



How stupid is Trooth if he thinks that HBD-ers are "White Nationalsts"?

Although considering that "white nationalist" seems to be as elastic a term as "racist", it may be that lots of people are "it" without even knowing it.

Anonymous said...

According to Wikipedia:

"[Wentworth] Miller is of multiracial origins; his father is of African American, Jamaican, English, German and Jewish descent (his paternal grandmother is Jewish), and his mother is of Russian, French, Dutch, Syrian, Lebanese ancestry."

As for Keanu Reeves, Wikipedia informs us that:

"Reeves's mother is English, and his father is an American of Hawaiian and Chinese descent."

Anonymous said...

Some Americans can pull it off. Exhibit A: Spinal Tap. Of course Christopher Guest has quite a British background.

That's putting it mildly. He's an effin' peer, for crying out loud. As Baron Haden-Guest he regularly sat in the House of Lords until 1999, when Tony Blair changed it from being a chamber of hereditary idiots to one of political cronies. Progress...

Truth said...

Bradley is the guy who so compliantly helped with my visual aid, and it great you chose a really cool nickname!

Dutch Boy said...

The second half of the nineteenth century saw a rapid development of sewage treatment systems so London in 1900 was likely quite cleaner than London in 1840.

Sport said...

Anonymous said...

According to Wikipedia:

"[Wentworth] Miller is of multiracial origins; his ...


Look I've lived amongst white folks for years and I can spot you people a mile off. Messrs. Miller and Reeves (despite their exotic surnames) are white.

And for Truth, here's the picture: I be on the green stoically removing my ball from the cup after draining a 70 foot putt on a rolling fast green. I look at my shoes studying the laces as the opposing caddy says "nice one".

green mamba said...

Not for nothing the volume gets louder during the commercial "breaks"

Has this gotten more blatant in recent years? I actually have to turn the volume down during the commercials, otherwise it's positively jarring.

your White Nationalist-HBD Nerd Rulebook

I actually thought this was one of truth's more amusing comments.

AMcGuinn said...

Downey's accent was excellent - I would easily have believed he was English if I didn't know otherwise. Jude Law's was nearly as good, but then I believe he is English.

People who say that Conan Doyle's Holmes didn't get in fights and win them against improbably odds can't have actually read any of Conan Doyle's stories. The contrast is that Doyle wrote his wild action scenes with very reserved language, so if you're paying more attention to the style than the content, you don't realise just how violent Holmes and his enemies generally are.

The only truly outrageous part of the film was the running around Parliament and mysteriously ending up on top of Tower Bridge. I always allow an hour for that journey, and that's not counting climbing up however many flights of stairs.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry anony-mouse, its mutual, I never take anything you say seriously!

Truth said...

"Messrs. Miller and Reeves (despite their exotic surnames) are white...
I be on the green stoically removing my ball from the cup after draining a 70 foot putt on a rolling fast green..."

"Miller" and "Reeves" are exotic surnames, eh Champ?

I think you just shanked a Tee shot off your left testicle there, Mo Norman.

kudzu bob said...

>"Miller" and "Reeves" are exotic surnames, eh Champ?<

The powers that be at Twoof's "alma matter" never should have eliminated that Irony Lab, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

People who say that Conan Doyle's Holmes didn't get in fights and win them against improbably odds can't have actually read any of Conan Doyle's stories.




I think the popular image of Sherlock Holmes is based on the TV series starring Basil Rathbone, rather than the books. Who reads books anymore?

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Closed Captions. You'll never miss another word of dialog if you use the CC feature on your DVD.
For me it's just another reason to rent films, rather than go to theaters.
We leave the CCs on our television set all the time. Extremely noisy
action scenes, we just mute them altogether. Why listen to that crap if you don't have to?

Anonymous said...

I think the popular image of Sherlock Holmes is based on the TV series starring Basil Rathbone, rather than the books. Who reads books anymore?

Trouble is, even if you've read the book, TV & movie images tend to colonize your imagination.

Its hard to stop images of Basil Rathbone or whoever creeping into your imagination.

I read Dune (well before the movie appeared) but that doesnt stop elements of that popping up if I reflect on the book.

Ditto Starship Troopers.

I beleive Ian Fleming visualized Bond as someone like David Niven. After the first movie he too began to think of Bond as being like Sean Connery. Its all recorded somewhere...

CJ said...

Saw the flick last night. I also had trouble understanding some of Downey's lines, but not Law's. The soundtrack in general is indeedsomewhat muddy; I don't know if this is a Ritchie trait or not as I haven't seen enough of his films. The most striking thing about Sherlock Holmes occurred to me as I was siting through the end credits waiting for the crowd to disperse and I realized that the film has no sex, no nudity, no profanity, no homosexual characters or allusions, no diatribes against imperialism-colonialism-capitalism, no church-bashing, no military-bashing, and no white-people-bad. Wasn't expecting that from Madonna's ex.

[Ray Sawhill] Although the new sound tech enables people to do amazingly artistic and super-subtle things with sound, it's generally being used to crank up the noise.

Absolutely right. There's a great example of that in Sherlock Holmes when the unseen villain Blackwood speaks to Holmes from the darkness of the slaughterhouse. His voice booms from the surround speakers of the theater while Holmes's voice is heard only from the front speakers. Unfortunately it's the only example of such sonic inventiveness in the film.

So, did I like it? Actually I did, although I wouldn't call it great. I'll probably go to see the sequel, alluded to with comic heavy-handedness in the subplot involving Professor Moriarty (since Prof. M.'s face is never shown, the casting for the next villain is still open).

neil craig said...

I would say Laurie is doing an impression of Dr Joseph Bell who was the real life physician Conan Doyle based Holmes on.
http://www.diogenes-club.com/joebell.htm

Templar said...

If anything it just proves Anonymous' point ("At best one can have the white male antihero") even more than he thought it did, because apparently one can't even have a "white male antihero".

And of course White-looking Eurasian Keanu Reaves's "Neo" character from The Matrix was originally supposed to be played by Will Smith, before that august thespian turned down the role to play the non-White anti-hero in Wild Wild West...