OK, I admit that that was just a hook. I mentioned it because several minor characters in the new Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law movie, Sherlock Holmes, speak with what sound to me like Irish accents. I eagerly anticipate a critique from the blogosphere's leading critic of Irish accents in movies.
More notable is a scene of Holmes fighting a bare-knuckles boxing match to the accompaniment of Luke Kelly and the Dubliners singing "Rocky Road to Dublin," even though the band members did not write the song, as the movie's credits say they did.
The film also makes interesting use of the vaunted Holmes logical method, alluding to it at the very beginning, and then having Holmes do so just a time or two later on. This lets Guy Ritchie do his action/special effects thing without getting bogged down in old-fashioned mannerisms.
What other contemporary touches does Ritchie bring? In the aforementioned fight scene, he turns Holmes' famed logical method into a kind of Zen-like meditation that will be familiar to a generation raised on latter-day, glossy martial-arts-influenced movies. And the central plot strand, more thriller than detective tale, has a steam-punk overtone.
Robert Downey's Sherlock Holmes is more dissipated than the typical Holmes, falling into a depressed funk and letting his room fall into an alarming state of disorder. (The emphasis on the dark side goes only so far, though. Holmes used cocaine, but probably could not be shown doing so in today's moral environment. See Smithsonian.com for interesting speculation on a possible literary source for the darker side of Sherlock Holmes. That source, too, is Irish.)
That's how Guy Ritchie updates Sherlock Holmes. How do other directors update old stories?
© Peter Rozovsky 2009