Friday, 21 October 2011

Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy: Blood … Guts … And Spymastery … 

Phew …

Now THERE’s a how-de-do …

Or at least, there WILL have been a how-de-do: when I finish this post off in the morning.

Suffice to say, I’ve just come back — FAIRLY late — from Basildon, where I’ve been to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

And I’m thinking I’ve certainly seen something …



22/10/2011: 15:53

Yes, definitely very interesting …

You see, last night saw me, my mum — would you believe — and a couple of old family friends, heading off to Basildon to catch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Directed by Tomas Alfredson — of Let The Right One In fame — and based on the John Le Carré novel of the same name, and set in the early 1970s, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy follows the activities of semi-retired MI6 officer, George Smiley*, as he’s recalled to Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, to help dig up the mole that seems to have worked it’s way into the service.

A mole that seems only to have come to light after an operation in Hungary goes badly wrong: and sees the (apparent) killing of officer Jim Prideauxº and another — Ricky Tarrª — seemingly defecting.

And a mole that seems to possibly one of at least five different people …


Now …

Here’s the question you’d probably be asking me if you were sitting next to me, right at the moment.

“Paul … ? Is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy any good?”

And I’ve got to admit, I‘d have to stare thoughtfully at the wall^, frown slightly, and say “Hmmm … ”

I do know that — off bat — Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy isn’t: it isn’t a James Bond style spy thriller, so don’t buy a ticket for it, expecting to see one‡.

I do know it’s a very dry, psychological thriller, that focuses very much — as Le Carré himself has said — on the isolation and frustrations suffered by those in the spy trade.

And something that I personally feel that both the book and the original TV series do a lot better: after all, they after a lot more time to tell the same story in.

As to good … ?

Hmmm …

As you’ve probably already worked out, the posters are calling it a masterpiece. I’m not too sure I’d go that far, frankly.

While I think it’s a competently made film, with an incredible performance by Oldman™ as George Smiley, I think the very complexity of the story does hinder it.

So good … ?

Good, I couldn’t tell you, I really couldn’t.

I will leave you with both the trailer … and stars …

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


* Played by Gary Oldman, in this interpretation of the novel, but famously by Alec Guinness in the 1979 BBC television version.

º Mark Strong in the film, and Ian Bannen in the series.

ª The movie version’s played by Tom Hardy: possibly the only person I’ve seen outdo Hywel Bennett, who played the character in the original series.

^ Which need repainting, I think …

Actually, talking of tickets, there’s something of a story to tell, there. Last night, as we were watching Tinker, Tailor, it was stopped, about ten minutes into the film. Just when Gary Oldman’s having a swim in the Serpentine. Seemingly, somebody complained about the quality of the film stock. I can’t say I could complain, frankly: personally, I believed that the graininess — that I’d subconsciously ignored, until it was pointed out — was a deliberate addition, to enhance the retro 1970s feel of the movie. I’m not moaning too much, as we all got a free ticket. But the people who were complaining … ? Did seem to be complaining a little too much to the manageress who’d given them free tickets, AND refunded their money.

I’m thinking here, that some of Gary Oldman’s performances — or, at least, the ones I’ve seen, over the years — have deserved assorted gongs: his performance as Jim Gordon in the Batman movies, and as the villain in Leon, in particular. His performance as George Smiley … ? I don’t know if it’s worth an Oscar … But, much like Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, I think it’s certainly worth a nomination†.

There’s something else, as well. Oldman always seems to hang his performances in a given part on the voice: his interpretation of Dracula being a good example. As Smiley … ? As Smiley, Oldman’s turned in a work of very subtle genius. I don’t think I’ve heard an Received Pronunciation accent like the one he uses in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for some twenty or so years.

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