Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Debt, and Sherlock

I love good movies and tv shows, who doesn't?  But it is really hard to find quality storytelling on the big and little screen these days.  Let me tell you about a few that are worth your time.

On Friday I was supposed to be writing.  I changed my work schedule so that I'd have Fridays off, and be able to spend the entire day working on Gunlord.  Well, after a few hours of work, I really wanted to see a movie.  It's been a while since I've seen anything good--I'd go to a movie every week if there was something worth seeing.  Anyway, I had just seen the trailer for The Debt and thought it looked interesting, so took some time to check it out.  It was a pretty good flick.

The Debt deals with a small group of Mossad (Israeli CIA) agents sent to East Germany in 1966.  Their mission: to kidnap a Nazi surgeon infamous for mutilating and killing Jews during WWII.  The story is told in a non-linear format, weaving two time periods (1966 and 1997) into one plot.  You'll see some scenes in 1997 in the beginning that won't make sense until the end, but the annoyance is worth the twist in the third act.  There are several tense scenes where the agents are one mistake away from death, and I felt the pacing of these moments were dead on. 

I love period spy stories.  It just doesn't seem as impressive when a modern spy gets the job done with a gazillion gadgets that basically do all the work.  I love watching or reading about how creative and inventive spies had to be before modern tech.  Whether the things they do in the movies are real or not doesn't matter.  It's just cool to see them take on the world without the internet, cell phones, google earth, laser watches, computers, xbox, or facebook.  How in hell did they do it?

The obvious comparison to make with The Debt would be Spielberg's Munich, another story about Mossad agents from a few years ago.  They are very different films, though, despite dealing with similar subject manner.  Munich was a very dark, preachy film about the dangers of government-sanctioned assassination.  I really liked the actors invovled, but felt dirty after watching it.  (Not because of the story itself, but because of the things Spielberg had to include in it to make it a "serious" film).  The Debt is about agents not sent to kill, but to capture and bring back a war criminal for trial.  It walks the line of a dark tale, but never really crosses it in my opinion.  The characters are too moral in comparison with those from Munich.  (Their morals are compromised a bit, but not so much).

The Debt is R for violence and language, though the violence is very minor.  The language isn't too bad either.  A lot cleaner than a George R.R. Martin book.  I'd give it 3 stars.  3 and a half if it ended differently.  Won't spoil that here, though.

Okay, so there's a good movie worth seeing.  Next, an amazing tv show that everyone needs to watch!  What could this be?  Well, it was in the blog title, so I'm thinking there isn't a whole lot of suspense built up here.  Oh well.  So the show you all need to see is Sherlock, and if you haven't heard of it, you can thank me later.

I've only seen the first three episodes of the first season, because that is all Netflix is streaming through my xbox.  I have no idea why they don't have the full season, which is only 6 episodes long, but I can deal with it, because I'm absolutely buying this show on dvd.

Sherlock is a BBC production so the quality expectation is already high.  I love how the British do television.  They do mostly short seasons, and not many of them.  This ensures that the writing and story telling will be exceptional, because they have a limited amount of time to get the whole picture in.  Shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad work the same on AMC.  (I highly recommend both of those shows too).

Back to Sherlock.  They chose to set this Sherlock in modern London, which sets it apart nicely from the film franchise Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. are involved in (loved that too).  They aren't afraid to borrow from the Downey version, however.  The soundtrack sounds similar to the movie version's, and some of the quirks that the Downey Sherlock does (like pluck a violin while thinking) are in there as well.  (I've never read any of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, so if Sir Doyle put that in there I am unaware).

The realtionship between Sherlock and Watson is hilarious to watch.  The actors that play them are perfect for the roles.  Sherlock is an admitted sociopath, and Watson a practical, sympathetic ex army doctor.  They meet because a mutual friend introduces them when Watson needs a place to stay.  That's not really important to anything, but I thought I'd throw it in there because I have all these thoughts about the show rolling around in my head and am finding it hard to get any of it down in a sensible manner.  The best I can say is, it is one of the best shows I have ever seen on tv.  So far, each episode has had a case that needs solving, like Law and Order.  You find as the stories thickens that Moriarty is connected to each case.

I can't describe the greatness of Sherlock.  You'd think I could, being a writer and all... maybe I'm just being lazy.  GO AND WATCH THIS SHOW, NOW!  That's good enough to get the point across.  Oh, and Sherlock is suitable for most.  There hasn't been any sex/violence/language worse than PG, but there are a few corpses every episode that are a bit... damaged. 

That's all. 


  1. I hadn't even heard of The Debt, but it sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    And I keep forgetting to look up Sherlock on Hulu. I tried to find the BBC's Torchwood, but had to get them at the library. It's suppose to be awesome too.

  2. Can I just tell you the most fascinating part of this post for me was the fact that you rearranged your work schedule to write on Fridays? That's dedication!