Robert Downey, Jr.'s return as the title character in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows can be both fun and tiring.
You have to think that the actor was destined to play the great detective. Who else can generate boredom and excitement within the same moment as well as Downey? Like Holmes, he always seems impatient to get on with it and not have to wait around to explain things to lesser mortals.
Too much of that, as there is in this film, can be a bit off-putting.
Director Guy Ritchie's follow-up to the 2009 hit finds Holmes assisted as ever by faithful Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and pitted against his archnemesis, Professor Moriarty (played by Mad Men's Jared Harris).
The plot, as in all Holmes stories no matter who concocts them, is diabolically complicated, though this might be helped by Ritchie. The director -- in what is a theme for the film -- always seems to be in a hurry to get on to the action scenes, which are mostly clever in their staging, though Ritchie is a bit too reliant on his slow-motion techniques.
For female excitement, temptress Rachel McAdams from the first film makes an appearance, but she is quickly replaced by Noomi Rapace, wearing long hair and Gypsy clothes, and who, unfortunately, doesn't have enough to do in the movie.
As an action film, A Game of Shadows is passable; as a Sherlock Holmes film, the only logical conclusion is not really.
My favorite TV comedy last year was Showtime's Episodes -- all six episodes of it. The series follows a British husband-and-wife screenwriting team, Beverly and Sean (Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan), who are hired by a U.S. network to remake their hit English series for America. It starred the well-regarded actor Richard Griffiths as the headmaster of a boarding school.
At first the network loves the show, but executives soon want changes. Out is Griffiths. How about Matt LeBlanc? they suggest. Huh? the screenwriters think.
Before the couple realize it, LeBlanc is on board and playing a hockey coach, and the show has been changed from Lyman's Boys to Pucks.
Episodes is a wonderfully funny lampoon of American television, made all the funnier by LeBlanc, who plays a twisted but not unlikable version of himself, giving his image as the goofy Joey on Friends a satirical ride.
The HBO film Too Big to Fail, based on the book of the same name by reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times, tries to give us a clear picture of what went down during the giant bailout of the banks during the financial crisis of 2008.
Not a scintillating subject, nobody gets killed, just a lot of dreams of average Americans crushed.
The film, directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential), is handsomely done and filled with terrific actors including William Hurt as Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Paul Giamatti as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. It's goal seems to be to explain how the big banks got into trouble with credit swaps.
The movie then goes further in giving us the government's justification for saving these troubled banks, requiring them to merge with healthy banks, ultimately creating new institutions even bigger than those too big to fail.
The film doesn't argue about the government's rationale. That's done by James Woods as Richard S. Fuld, Jr., chief executive of Lehman Brothers; Billy Crudup as Timothy F. Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Tony Shalhoub as John J. Mack, chief executive of Morgan Stanley; Evan Handler as Goldman Sachs' chief executive officer Lloyd Blankfein; and Bill Pullman as Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase.
Ed Asner even chips in as Warren Buffett.
Nowhere do you hear the voice of an average Joe. But that is part of the point of Too Big to Fail, or at least what I took away from it.
As you watch these men in their expensive suits whine, it's impossible not to wonder why America keeps listening to them.