Movie Diary 7/7/2015

Mr. Holmes (Bill Condon, 2015). Ian McKellen as the aged Sherlock Holmes, losing his memory but determined to piece together the case that drove him out of detective work years earlier. The movie’s got its highs and lows, and I wasn’t always sure what McKellen was up to – am I right in observing a trace of John Gielgud in his performance? But darned if the thing doesn’t build to an intriguing ending that has to do with the human need for fiction, even in Sherlock Holmes’ factual world. (full review 7/17)

Testament of Youth (James Kent, 2014). Vera Brittain’s memoir of WWI life, given a sleepy treatment despite the allegedly hot cast (Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Taron Egerton – surely some of those consonants are in the wrong place?). The last thing this story needs is the respectable approach. (full review 7/10)

The Tribe (Miroslav Slaboshpytskiy, 2014). My first Ukrainian sign-language movie, and it doesn’t have subtitles. But the lack of words turns out to be the movie’s strongest stroke, a fascinating way into an exotic world. Without the gimmick, the film itself (life in the violent hothouse of a boarding school for thuggish deaf teenagers) does tend to wallow in miserablism. (full review 7/10)

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