Tag Archives: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

A Week In Film #556: RE:WHINED

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy title screen
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Keep going back; it doesn’t get better. Still bugs me, the Hungary thing.

Black Hawk Down title screenBlack Hawk Down
And still with this one – it’s just too good an action movie.

Elizabeth Harvest title screen
Elizabeth Harvest
Moderately diverting SF horror; creepy old dude marries pretty young woman, takes her back to his techno palace, weird shit happens, a death occurs, a discovery is made, all is not as it seems, etc. With Abbey Lee, Ciarán Hinds, Carla Gugino, Matthew Beard and Dylan Baker, written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.

Shaun The Sheep Movie title screen
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Umpteenth watch, and still there’s bits I’m catching for the first time. Definitely one of the best feature lengths done by Aardman.

A Week In Film #520: TEN FUCKIN’ YEARS!!! Second decade

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I swear this film gets weaker every time I see it Still, it’s got flavour, and acting chops in spades.

Early Man
Decent if not perfect Aardman stop-motion animation about a bunch of stone age dudes inventing football, and getting into scrapes with some Bronze Age dudes. Not entirely sure about the historical accuracy, but fun, as one would expect from Nick Park and his team.

A Week In Film #482: ALMOST All New

Michael Collins title screenMichael Collins
Decent enough biopic from Neil Jordan, with pre-Full Neeson Liam doing a good job at bringing the Big Fella to tragic life. Alan Rickman is also ace as creepy old De Valera, Aidan Quinn as a wet-eyed Harry Boland, Stephen Rea as a nervous mole, plus Ian Hart and Brendan Gleeson, and Julia Roberts providing some Hollywood star power.

London Heist
Only the second feature from TV show dude Mark McQueen (previously he banged out better-than-many zombie flick Devil’s Playground), working on a story and script from middle-aged cockney geezer leading man Craig Fairbrass, who here is an ageing gangster pulling off one last job, discovering the truth about some personal trauma from way back, etc. It’s not a great film, it’s not very original, but there are some commendable performance moments, and it is at least somewhat ambitious. Cast also includes Roland Manookian, James Cosmo, Nick Moran, Steven Berkoff, and Nathalie Cox.

Maze title screenMaze
Old fashioned POW escape film, but done about the 1983 Maze breakout. Best bits about writer-director Stephen Burke’s debut feature-length drama is its two leads – Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as brooding Provo planner Larry, and Barry Ward as PTSD-stricken Protestant screw Gordon – and the weaving into the story of their (dysfunctional, far-off) home lives.

The November War
Long form fly-on-the-wall documentary about a USMC unit involved in the Second Battle of Fallujah at the end of 2004. Co-directors Garrett Anderson and Antonio de la Torre bring together a lot of sensitivity to their material.

The Trust title screenThe Trust
Enjoyable if ultimately rather slight dark comedy about a pair of unexceptional Las Vegas cops who plan and execute a heist to steal dirty money from crooks. Things rattle along nicely, with a viscerally satisfying dark turn towards the end. With Elijah Wood and Nicolas Cage. Directed by the Brewer brothers.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy title screenTinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tomas Alfredson’s high quality but still imperfect le Carré adaptation.

A Week In Film #273: Test of nerves

Lone Survivor title screen
Lone Survivor
An American Bravo Two Zero type tale of derring do, with Mark Wahlberg leading a Navy SEAL team which gets into trouble behind enemy lines in Afghanistan whilst hunting down a Taliban leader.

Nothing special, with no real insight into anything, but prettily shot and pacily put together, and all helped along with masses of DoD assistance, which might indicate why it feels so ethically vacant.

Syriana title screen
Syriana
Stephen Gaghan’s Traffik-like fable about high diplomacy, oil and spooks in the Middle East, based on ex-CIA field officer Bob Baer’s exploits, but much more interesting than a biopic.

I don’t know why this did not earn better notices. For my money it peerlessly weaves together head and heart in a way that offers truth through fiction. It’s a movie where what forever was is more important than three-act gnosticism, where the audience is trusted to intuit back story rather than endure exposition, and where one is invited to share in an ecstatic climax of agony. Not a film offering easy joy or simple answers.

Patriot Games title screen
Patriot Games
…Which contrasts nicely with this action thriller-by-numbers adaptation of a Tom Clancy Jack Ryan novel, in which our CIA analyst accidentally foils a dissident Irish Republican assassination attempt on a member of the Royal family whilst on hole in England.

Enjoyably manipulative and dishonest and stupid, and not a bad first big budget American feature by Aussie director Philip Noyce.

…tick…tick…tick… title screen
…tick…tick…tick…
Stodgy, talky, but interesting, early 70s race relations drama with Jim Brown the first black sheriff of a redneck Mississippi town, who encounters suspicion, fear and contempt. Slowly he finds his feet. Things come to a head, etc. George Kennedy is also very good as the incumbent he replaces. Imagine a serious-minded Blazing Saddles with no song-and-dance numbers or fart jokes.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy title screen
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of the le Carré it’s-all-about-Philby spy masterpiece is very good in many respects, and manages to make a complete, self-contained film. But compared to the novel, or to the BBC drama, it lacks the time to let its ingredients mature in flavour, and is forced to push plot points along. Plus there are some odd and seemingly unnecessary changes – to locations, characters, motivations, etc. If the movie had been more like the hypnotic, almost narcotic teasers with which it was trailed, then I think it would have been a much more interesting proposition.

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.