Category: Movies


Sherlocking London

We just spent four days touring London with a bit of a twist. As many of you might know, I’m a fan, and have been looking forward to exploring the city memorably serving as a backdrop to the famous detective. Even though most of BBC Sherlock was shot in Cardiff, many exterior shots were filmed in London. So we visited most of them and some of the ACD canon locations as well.

As a base, we used this free Sherlock Holmes tour:

If you want to know more about the locations, Sherlockology has a pretty swell list.

Lots of gratuitious selfies ahead, so stop reading now if you’re not into stupidly happy people. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday 

We arrived at Heathrow at an ungodly hour and had to have a kip once we checked into our hotel. In the evening, we started the tour at Picadilly Circus.

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This location is at the beginning for two reasons: It’s in the opening title of the BBC show as an iconic London landmark. In ‘A study in Scarlet’ Watson meets his friend Stamford at the Criterion. Over dinner he tells him that Sherlock is looking for a roommate. The Criterion is very beautiful:

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We were a bit underdressed but had some kick-ass martinis and ogled the gold ceiling (Thias had Tiramisu and I’m holding a surprisingly delicious Chili and Passionfruit concoction).

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After that, we met up with a friend and went to metal pub in Camden. Talk about contrast.

Monday

On Monday we had a Full English at Speedy’s Café. Best coffee I had in London so far.

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And of course, a gratuitious picture in front of “221b”.

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While scanning for free wifi I found this little gimmick:

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Hilarious!

Then we adjourned to the real 221b Baker Street. Emerging from the tube, you bump into the Sherlock Holmes statue.

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There is a little QR code you can scan as a part of the talking statues art project. He wishes he was facing the other way because it’s so boring. Also he misses Watson at his side. So sad.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street was expensive (15PS) but nice nonetheless. The first thing you notice when you enter is the intense smell, lemongrass oil. I wonder why they burn it, maybe the whole place reeks? It is rather old.

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Obligatory picture in the study, pipe, hat, the whole shebang.

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Behold the Hound and the mostly Chinese fan mail he boldly protects.

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After that we had stroll around Regent’s park to catch a break from all the belligerent tourists with their stupid selfie sticks. I was too ashamed to be photographed outside the museum wearing a deerstalker. I just couldn’t do it. It’s just an ear hat, anyway.

In the afternoon, we drove out to St. Barts.

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Sherlock jumped off the roof here. For the record, I still don’t believe Moriarty is really dead. If Sherlock can fake it, so can he.

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Sherlock left quite the “impact”, there was this where he landed on the pavement.

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If you zoom in closely, you can see the fan grafitti. Seems to be sort of a pilgrimage thing. The pathology wing is not in active use anymore, so tons of people wrote in the dirt on the windows.

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Speaking of fan fiction and various *locks, it might have made me chuckle just a tiny bit what kind of street is located exactly opposite the wing.

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We had a Sherlock-and-Molly-appropriate lunch at Barts (without any corpses).

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Next up was Tower 42, used as the bank in “The Blind Banker”. Exterior shot:

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Interior shot. Managed to sneak a quick picture in the lobby. As if I was going to rob them. Or am I?

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Mike Stamford and John Watson meet in Russell Square Garden in the new series. They’re still drinking Criterion coffee as a nod toward the original meeting place.

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After all that walking around we thought “Let’s have dinner!” and went to Angelo’s. Or rather, Tapas Brindisa in Soho. They redecorated a bit since filming ‘A Study in Pink’, but the hanging lights are still there.

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Need a cab?

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Tuesday

We started at the South Bank and systematically worked our way to Belgravia.The South Bank is basically all of ‘The Blind Banker’.

OXO Tower Wharf is where they find the murdered museum security guard. Fortunately, it was low tide, so we could descend to the shore.

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Next up was the skate park where they find the code fragments.

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Waterloo Bridge (where Sherlock meets a representative of the Homeless network) is also there, but it was a bit dangerous on the other side.

Trafalgar Square.

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The Diogenes Club aka the British Academy.

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St. James Park, on our way to solve the attempted murder at the Wellington Barracks.

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Observing Wellington Barracks.

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For reference: ‘The Sign of Three’

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My Watson is not in the picture because he’s obviously taking it.

New Scotland Yard. Hi, Greg.

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44 Eaton Square. Hi, Irene.

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In the evening, we paid a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Pub near Trafalgar Square.

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I had Mrs Hudson’s Ale Pie and the local Sherlock Holmes brew. Couldn’t move after, so good.

There is a study you can peak into.

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Little details in decoration.

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After dinner, we went for a stroll along the shore again.

Hungerford Bridge by night.

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Wednesday

In the morning we visited the Natural History Museum, which in the late 19th century was still called the British Museum where Sherlock Holmes went for his research occasionally. Lots of dinosaurs and dead things.

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Postcards home! Can you decipher it?

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Flying home in the evening. Bye, London.

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This list has been on my wall for a year and a half. It’s almost finished.

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I’m sort of embarrassed about it. But since I went through all the trouble I might as well share the results. I’m not even sure what my rating is based on here. Some works I still enjoyed even if they were a little rough around the edges, like “The last enemy” or “Wreckers”. Some were better productions but offended me nonetheless (“The fifth Estate”, blech). So here it is: The best and worst of Cumberbatch, rated by me.* Your mileage may, of course, vary.

Best

1. Parade’s End

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(Pre-)WWI love triangle drama. That was a moving role, sufficient drama for me. Poor Tietjens. If you’re looking for a Downton Abbey replacement, this might be your thing!

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness

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Science fiction with a twist. The new Star Trek movies work for me, and Khan kicks ass.

3. Atonement

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Romance/drama. Creepy as hell, plays a rapist. Moustache! Good movie based on a great novel.

Fun fact: This is the performance that got him the (only) audition for ‘Sherlock’ with Moffat and Vertue.

4. August Osage County

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Oklahoma family drama. What a production, there is major acting mojo here. Feels like a theatre stage the whole time, intense performances. Kind of an unusual role for him (shy guy).

5. To the ends of the Earth

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Based on a Golding novel, it’s a coming of age story. Period piece, on a ship, with sexy times. Need I say more? Mildly funny at times!

6. The last enemy

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Total surveillance London middle east love triangle thingie. This could have been a decent series. But it’s still rough around the edges, plot jumps and whatnot. And why does TIA have an accent? It’s a computer. Overall okay! Anyway, you shouldn’t skip this one, because nudity.

7. Wreckers

WRECKERS

Dark British countryside drama. Sort of a bland movie, but interesting atmosphere and actors. Wasn’t too bad!

8. Third Star

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James has cancer and his last wish is to visit a particular beach. Bring tissues. Lots of tissues. Erm, for tears.

9. The Imitation Game

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Alan Turing biopic. Why has this movie not achieved a better ranking with me? All the components are there! I have ambiguous feelings about this movie, kind of like ‘The Fifth Estate’ because I know too much about Turing to sit back and enjoy the ride. But the performance is heartbreaking nonetheless.

10. Starter for 10

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Romcom feel good stuff with quizzes. Cute nerdy role!

Still noteworthy for reasons

Stuart: A Life backwards

Journalist writes homeless person’s story. Predictable tear jerker, but again, cute nerdy role. Also, Tom Hardy kills.

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Dr. Slippery / Fortysomething

Awkward off-key British comedy. But you get Dr House, the Doctor and Cumberbatch for your troubles. And he looks so young.

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Worst (in order of awfulness)

1. The Fifth Estate

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Supposedly biographical drama of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. I couldn’t watch it to the end because it sucked so much. I’m too well informed about Assange to be able to watch this without going “grr noo” all the time. Sorry.

2. Warhorse

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Boy meets horse, horse goes to war, many people die, boy meets horse again. It’s so tacky. Relatively short appearance. Do not recommend unless you’re into soppy Spielberg. Ridiculous moustache.

3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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I’ve tried to watch this twice and I still don’t get it. It’s not a bad movie, in fact it may be quite the opposite, but maybe I’m just too stupid or I have to read the novel by John le Carré first. I’ll probably do that and try again sometime. Also, hair.

Update:

It is now 2016 and I have read the 400-page novel. Let me tell you this: Easily accessible is something else. It’s a highly intricate story and le Carré is not being kind to his readers. You have to possess certain spy skillsets  to grasp what’s going on. Spreadsheets for jargon in the “Circus” (MI6) are highly advised.  It’s very subtle.

After I read the book I could appreciate the film more insofar as I could understand what the heck was going on and who was who. But without that, you are lost in the movie. I liked this adaptation insofar as it tries to convey things in a similar style to the book: hardly ever stating anything obvious, and the big reveal is very understated, the waiting and the watching is what it’s all about.

Cumberbatch’s character Peter Guillam stealing the files from the archives was one of my favorite scenes in the book and they adapted it well to the movie. It’s really hard to portray a character screaming internally while trying to act all smooth and cool to the outside. A lot of feelings and fears aren’t explicitly stated but conveyed through internal monologue in the book; so in the movie, there is a lot of silence. Having read the book, I could fill in those gaps and appreciate the (also very much understated) acting. But I stand by my point: As a viewer who has no clue what’s going on, you’re probably not going to enjoy this very much, all these blokes in trench coats staring at each other.

Interesting side fact: In the book, Guillam is hung up on his flute-playing girlfriend Camilla and gets more and more suspicious of her cheating on him, as he gets suspicious of everything he believed in at the Circus potentially being compromised. In the movie, they made him gay. When Smiley tells him that he should assume he is being watched, he breaks up with his S.O. pre-emptively, possibly to protect him? Anyway, it’s heartbreaking.

Spoiler! The secret star of the book is a homosexual love affair between two spies. The ending is not quite so subtle in the movie, though: I thought they could have done without the dramatic gesture of P. shooting H., but hey, what do I know.

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I’m still missing some big ones like ‘Hawking’, ’12 years a slave’ or  ‘Amazing Grace’. If I like them I might change the ranking accordingly. I’ve definitely gone out of my comfort zone and watched movies I would not have watched otherwise. It’s been a fun ride despite cringing through really awkward movies like ‘Four Lions’ or that horrible ‘Van Gogh’ documentary (jeez, I mean, blimey).

I hope this helps with prioritizing!

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*’Sherlock’ is non-competitive. Obviously.

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