Sherlock Ages Gracefully in ‘Mr. Holmes’

“Mr. Holmes” (VOD, Blu-ray) — Do we really need yet another film featuring literature’s greatest sleuth, Sherlock Holmes?

For the first third of “Mr. Holmes,” featuring Ian McKellen as the crime fighter in his golden years, the answer is a reluctant, “No.” Stay tuned.

McKellen plays Holmes as an elderly man whose mind, his legendary weapon, is deteriorating with age. He still has one last puzzle to solve, but the stakes seem far too low for even a sleuth suffering from dementia.

McKellen is outstanding throughout, though, and slowly the mystery his character hopes to solve gains momentum. That Holmes teams up with a skeptical woman (Laura Linney) and her inquisitive son gives the story depth and heart. Bravo to the make up wizards behind “Mr. Holmes,” who make McKellen’s appearance convincingly veer from older to elderly. — Christian Toto

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“Shelter” (VOD, theaters Nov. 13) — The difficulty of portraying homelessness on screen is showcased by writer-director Paul Bettany’s “Shelter,” which stars his wife, Jennifer Connelly. Anthony Mackie plays Tahir, a Nigerian struggling to find income and a home. Late one night, while walking the streets, he encounters Hannah, another homeless person, played by Connelly, and is attracted to the idea of saving her. The two become a couple, though their relationship is based on daily survival and Hannah kicking her drug habit.

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Kudos for Bettany and Connelly deciding to make a movie together. It’s still a shame to watch Connelly play an addict who prostitutes and degrades herself.

Movies like these are usually overbearingly downbeat or too pretty, though “Shelter” has it both ways. A few stylized fantasy sequences are impressively done but out of place, as are the songs on the soundtrack. Mackie, and especially Connelly give unguarded, generously open performances as grueling characters. The movie itself is too predictably grim — you don’t have to wait long for something bad to happen to this pair. Like clockwork, another unpleasant scene meets another. Sugar coating the tale wouldn’t have worked, either, but Bettany’s snow-crusted vision of urban doom is limited.

At best, “Shelter” conveys how homelessness can feel like being shut out from the world. At its worst, “Shelter” is self-consciously poetic. — Barry Wurst

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“Tiger House” (VOD, Blu-ray, DVD) — It’s no accident today’s storytellers are obsessed with both post-apocalyptic tales (“The Walking Dead,” “Wall-E,” “The Road”) and home invasion thrillers. We’re feeling less and less secure about our place in the world, our sense of security.

So it’s frightening to watch a rich family with both a guard dog and elaborate alarm system find their home invaded. “Tiger House’s” gimmick? The teenage son’s girlfriend, played with pluck by Kaya Scodelario (“The Maze Runner”), is in the house unbeknownst to the invaders.

What follows is hardly a breakthrough on any level, but it’s engaging and tense all the same. Scodelario credibly protects herself throughout ordeal, even if the film serves up a silly prelude to balance the odds set against her.

Director Thomas Daley’s no-nonsense approach suits the material, and he’s far more interested in the young girl’s battles over any feminist bromides or gratuitous visuals. Lock the doors twice and give this indie film a try. — Christian Toto

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