A Week In Film #152: Unseasonably warm (then wet)

The Adjustment Bureau title screen
The Adjustment Bureau
The billboards and trailers made it look like it would be a bit Inception-ish, but aside from a quite nice opening act – in which David Norris (no, not the racist murderer but a failed Presidential hopeful played by Matt Damon) meets a woman by chance – it’s rather silly and forgettable.

Based on a Philip K Dick short story, it seems, and directed by George Nolfi, a Hollywood screenwriter. Make of that what you will.

Red Dragon title screen
Red Dragon
Brett Ratner’s largely needless remake of the Thomas Harris novel which had already been filmed as Manhunter.

Whilst the film does make a fair stab at a more faithful adaptation than Michael Mann, Harris is hardly a literary giant, so this fidelity seems somewhat misplaced when all it does is generate a lengthier, less punchy, more ridiculous movie.

Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes earn their oats as Graham and Dolarhyde; but we do still have the Welsh Ham to endure.

Panic Room title screen
Panic Room
Tautness and efficiency, with David Fincher bringing David Koepp’s script to the screen.

Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakum and Forest Whitaker try to burgle a Manhattan brownstone – only what they want is inside the ‘panic room’ where householder Jodie Foster and her diabetic daughter have holed up.

A proper, old-fashioned thriller, with well-executed modern touches.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy title screen
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
First off, I really wanted to see this, I was very optimistic about it. The trailers, with that throbbing music; those languorously edited teasers; the washed-out look; and that delicious cast list… Oldman! Hardy! Strong! Hinds! John Hurt as Control! Kathy Burke as Connie Sachs!

So actually seeing it, well, it didn’t pack the punch I was hoping for. Sure, it squeezes a dense novel into ninety minutes, without dumbing down – and with all the expectations from the BBC series added on top of that.

But whilst clearly excisions needed to be made in order to fit in the main plot line, the changes and cuts actually made sometimes just do not seem to make sense. For example, Operation Testify is shifted from Czechoslovakia to Hungary (and consider how in the book Jim Prideaux was betrayed by a ‘Magyar’; and the distrust Esterhase evokes almost universally).

Another odd change is having Jerry Westerby (played here by Stephen Graham) as a Circus officer – and effectively conflating the part with that of Sam Collins.

The BBC series (for reasons of cost – something that also led it to skipping the mid-trilogy An Honourable Schoolboy) relocated the site of Ricki Tarr’s scalphunting expedition from Hong Kong to Lisbon; this big budget film for some reason moves the action to Istanbul.

Overall, a decent film, but with too many odd choices to make it flawless. And very much of a different pace than the teasers suggested.

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