Friday, November 13, 2015


As a young movie fan I spent numerous days and hours watching the classic Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce versions of Sherlock Holmes on TV. These movies left a lasting impression on viewers for decades first when they appeared in theaters and then when people like myself discovered them on TV. Those 14 films they made were what we based our knowledge of the character on. For me it wouldn’t be until later that I discovered the books on which they were based.

Yes Sherlock Holmes has been with us in one form or another for decades now. But we never hear about what happened later on in life, what happened when Dr. Watson had passed away and Sherlock got older. That is until now. With the new movie MR. SHERLOCK we get a glimpse of what might have happened. It’s a wonderful film that discusses both what happens when we age and what becomes of our heroes. And like those movies that inspired a search for the real Holmes stories my guess is this movie will make viewers seek out A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND by Mitch Cullin on which the movie is based.

The year is 1947 and Holmes (Ian McKellen) is retired now, living in a Sussex village and tending to his bee colony. His life is less adventurous and he’s assisted in his home by his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (Milo Parker). A bit on the cantankerous side now, Holmes softens when young Milo takes an interest in helping him with his bees. For a character who based his life on rational thinking with little or no emotion, he now finds himself faced with feelings that have long been buried. His fatherly affection for the young boy whose real father died in the war provide him with the impetus to do more than just get by.

While his exploits gained him notoriety due to the literary license used by his chronicler Dr. Watson, Holmes always felt he got things wrong. In particular the one case that has bothered him the most was his last one which he feels didn’t tell the truth. But as he has aged so has he taken on the problems that entails. His memory is fading. The details of that last case elude him. With the friendship of young Milo Holmes is invigorated and begins to recall things he’d forgotten. Before the film ends the details of that last case will be remembered and the reason for much of why he’s become who he is at this point is revealed.

What has always made Sherlock such an interesting character has been his ability to perceive the world around him in an analytical nature. And yet at the same time he was rarely able to see his own faults, in particular this lack of emotion. When it did occur it usually resulted in some tragedy and in the case of this film that potential happens with two different incidents, one in the past and one in the present. But this concept that Holmes always considered a flaw was what in reality made him the best detective that he was. While he never showed that he cared, deep down he did.

McKellen is magnificent in the role, bringing to life the character at his deepest roots. Not to discredit those who have played the part in the past but their versions were always the man on the hunt, the deductive man of action in search of a criminal. McKellen is left to play a man who is aging whose nemesis is not a human being but himself and his slowly digressing mind and body. He brings to life a character we know and yet don’t know at the same time.

The supporting cast also does a fantastic job here. Linney is wonderful as a woman dealing with her loss while at the same time trying to provide for a child she loves dearly. Parker as Roger is an amazing talent for his age and fills the shoes of this boy too young to know the legend of Sherlock Holmes while at the same time having an adulation for the older man who he shares a home with. It could have been played as far too precocious but he does a great job here.

Those who are looking for the pace of the recent Robert Downey Jr. films will be disappointed, that’s not what this film is all about. But fans of the real Sherlock Holmes will adore this film. The pacing is slow but the story is what matters. And there is plenty of story to go around in this film. It’s one that fans of Holmes will want to watch more than once. I know I intend to.

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I was contacted to see if I would be interested in reviewing these headphones and agreed to do so. It’s been some time since I’ve owned a pair of headphones and to be honest I’d always opted for the very inexpensive brands in the past. This was due in part to their being affordable but also because I tend to be far too rough with my headphones. I’m one of those people who accidentally rolls from one part of the room to the other so immersed in my music I forget I have them on.

Since the last pair I purchased there has been a dramatic interest in headphones and they’ve gone from a good pair for $20 to pairs that exceed several hundred dollars. I’m sorry but I’m still not ready to shell out that kind of money for headphones. If I worked in the recording industry maybe. But the truth is while I enjoy using headphones quality for the price is more of what I’m inclined to look at when purchasing them. There is also the fact that I am not a sound technician. I am the average Joe on the block looking to see what sounds good. No bells and whistles, no technical equipment to measure frequency and the rest, just two ears to listen.

So rather than hook up modulators and the like I decided the best way to determine if these headphones were worth their salt was to try them out with some music. That is what most people will be using them for. And rather than try them on one single or one album (yes I’m old and still call them that) I would try them out on several songs from various styles. Would they hold up to heavy metal but not soul? What about classical or folk? So here is what I found using various songs.

“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. Great. The bass came through but wasn’t overpowering. Lead guitars were crisp and clear. Vocals came through as intelligible. The drums were fine and the cymbals rang. All in all this song came through perfect.

“I Robot” by The Alan Parsons Project. The song starts low and soft and that was there with great mixing back and forth from left to right. Again the bass came through without being the only thing I was able to hear, one of my biggest complaints with headphones and sound systems in the past. As the melody came in all parts of the composition could be heard clearly and clean.  Another perfect sound experience.

“Pink Moon” by Nick Drake. The opening guitar chords strummed away and I closed my eyes. I was transported to a smoky nightclub or campus center where I could hear everything as it was meant to be, Drake playing in an intimate setting. The headphones allowed me to go there, offering superb quality sound that brought it all together.

“Déjà vu” by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young. One of my go to songs for harmonies, something that doesn’t always transfer well when listening to headphones. One that I listened to on headphones for years. The harmonizing of the four singers combined sweetly through the headset. Guitars solo and background sounded real. The bass was there but not overbearing. Another plus mark for this headset.

“Elevate” by Winery Dogs. Great bass on a level playing field with the lead guitar. Bass drum pounding beneath it all. Other drums and cymbals beating wildly and with clearness not usually found in headphones. Vocals clear as can be. Once again a perfect sound experience.

“Spring” by Vivaldi. The concert hall came alive. Lows, highs, midranges all came through loud and clear. Violins came through sweetly and the orchestra around them added much support clearly and cleanly.

That gets me through the sound experience but what about the rest of what makes a good pair of headphones? To start with on a comfort level these were better than headphones I’ve had in the past. The cushions used allow for maximum comfort without applying too much pressure. They also provided great sound enclosure preventing sound from not only being heard by others but from stopping sound from coming in as well. When your wife comes in and tells you she’s been calling for you from the other room for the past ten minutes you know the sound canceling works better than she would hope for. The tangle free cord was a feature I loved as well having dealt with far too many coiled cords that did little more than wrap themselves up after a single use. Perhaps it would have been nice if it were a little longer but I can take care of that on my own with an extension cord. The case the headphones come in is nice as well providing a protective location for them to reside in when not in use.

As I am not a game player and was using these for just listening to music I can’t tell you if the built in microphone on the cord worked well or not. But it seems like most headphones these days require that.

My entire experience with these headphones was exceptional. Are they worth the money? At a list price of $79.99 on amazon but marked down to $19.99 I would say they are way more qualified for that sale price. They are quite possibly worth the $79.99 price tag. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that will fill the bill of what is required for a basic set then this is something you should look into buying.