Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

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Jeff
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#1 Post by Jeff » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:23 am

This was already by far my most anticipated film of the year: a director who knocked me out with his debut, the awesome Gary Oldman in the lead, and an amazing supporting cast. The early reviews have really sealed the deal though. First came this five-star rave in Empire, now The Playlist gives it an 'A.'

Here's a trailer.

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Finch
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#2 Post by Finch » Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:41 am

Jeff, I wouldn't rely on Empire's reviews - they're far too generous with most films so that they continue to get set access etc. Tinker is, however, getting very strong reactions from more credible sources too, including Xan Brooks at the Guardian, who says the film is widely regarded as an early frontrunner for the Golden Lion. Bring on the 16th!

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MichaelB
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#3 Post by MichaelB » Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:14 pm

It's also praised in the current Sight & Sound - which doesn't do star ratings or grades, but it would probably be four stars or a strong B if it did.

The main criticisms in Philip Kemp's review are that it doesn't quite expunge memories of the BBC version, which had the major advantage of more than double the running time in which to encapsulate a complex and convoluted narrative (he complains that the film's conclusion is a tad rushed as a result of this abbreviation), but he's also firm about the new film's strengths.

I particularly liked his take on Gary Oldman's performance:
Philip Kemp wrote:Given that Alec Guinness's performance as Smiley is reckoned a peak of his career, much of the interest focuses on Gary Oldman's reinterpretation of the role. He's a harder-edged actor than Guinness, with none of his predecessor's knack for emollient self-effacement. (In the novel, le Carré describes Smiley as "by appearance one of London's meek who do not inherit the earth", which sums up Guinness's portrayal to perfection.) Oldman's Smiley shares the quiet watchfulness, the use of silence to unnerve and elicit the information he's after; but his reading of the character is tougher, more abrasive, now and then allowing his contempt to show through the mask of discreet reticence. Where Guinness's Smiley always seemed internally gnawed by the consciousness of his wife's multiple infidelities, Oldman gives the impression that cuckoldry has simply become part of his prevailing climate - regrettable but not worthy of preoccupation. It's even possible - as it never was with Guinness - to imagine him getting his own back with the occasional fling on the side.
In an interview elsewhere in the magazine, Oldman says that his Eureka moment when wondering how to pull off a convincing alternative to Guinness (a performance he'd admired since its original broadcast) was to base Smiley's voice on that of le Carré himself.

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RobertB
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#4 Post by RobertB » Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:43 pm

Just a small correction. Let the Right One In was not Alfredson's debut. He's been active as a director in Sweden for 15 years. Making tv-films for children and satiric comedies. Try to get hold of the Swedish dvd of "Fyra nyanser av brunt" (Four Shades of Brown). It does have english subtitles, and it's an unusual dark comedy about people who fail when they try to be normal.

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zedz
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#5 Post by zedz » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:24 pm

Well, well. Until now I had never connected Let the Right One In with Four Shades of Brown. The latter is indeed a very interesting film.

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Jeff
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#6 Post by Jeff » Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:40 pm

I stand corrected on Alfredson. I'll try to track that down.

Guy Lodge, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Telegraph all dig Tinker Tailor too.

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Ruby
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#7 Post by Ruby » Tue Nov 01, 2011 10:33 am

I fear I'm part of a minority who found this film incredibly boring.
The real stand-out for me was mangled mixed metaphor of the chess-pieces and the rhyme of the title. What a visual mess!

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jbeall
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#8 Post by jbeall » Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:37 pm


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Jeff
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#9 Post by Jeff » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:16 am

It sounds like John le Carré couldn't be more pleased.
John le Carré wrote:Once in a lifetime, if a novelist is very lucky, he gets a movie made of one of his books that has its own life and truth. This is the achievement of Tomas Alfredson and his team.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:08 am

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:Once in a lifetime, if a novelist is very lucky, he gets a movie made of one of his books that has its own life and truth. This is the achievement of Roland Joffé and his team.

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Brian C
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#11 Post by Brian C » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:05 pm

Stephen King wrote:Once in a lifetime, if a novelist is very lucky, he gets a movie made of one of his books that has its own life and truth. Fuck you, Stanley.

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Murdoch
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#12 Post by Murdoch » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:30 pm

I was gonna post something about Shakespeare and Roland Emmerich, but it would just attract a bunch of Oxfordians and no one wants that.

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MichaelB
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#13 Post by MichaelB » Sat Dec 10, 2011 12:48 pm

My two favourite laconic author's reactions were Tom Wolfe about Bonfire of the Vanities ("I cashed the check") and James Ellroy to Curtis Hanson about L.A. Confidential ("My book, your movie").

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MoonlitKnight
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#14 Post by MoonlitKnight » Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:41 pm

You know things are bad for 'serious' moviegoers these days when not even something 'fairly' accessible like this can open in wide release. ](*,)

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mfunk9786
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#15 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:00 am

It's expanding to wide release. I wouldn't make this, of all films, the one I complained about if I were you. There are very good films far more accessible than this that never make it out of a few major cities.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#16 Post by Cold Bishop » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:36 am

I'm torn on the issue. On one hand, yes, even a decade ago, a film like this may have opened wide, and had a good chance of being successful. On the other, the "wide release" is a largely recent perversion, and one that has done more damage than good to the way we watch movies. Everything should be platform released!

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Brian C
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#17 Post by Brian C » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:02 pm

MichaelB wrote:My two favourite laconic author's reactions were Tom Wolfe about Bonfire of the Vanities ("I cashed the check") and James Ellroy to Curtis Hanson about L.A. Confidential ("My book, your movie").
I thought I remembered Ellroy being on board with the L.A. Confidential movie ... and that quote might not even signal disapproval, depending on the context.

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MichaelB
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#18 Post by MichaelB » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:03 pm

Brian C wrote:
MichaelB wrote:My two favourite laconic author's reactions were Tom Wolfe about Bonfire of the Vanities ("I cashed the check") and James Ellroy to Curtis Hanson about L.A. Confidential ("My book, your movie").
I thought I remembered Ellroy being on board with the L.A. Confidential movie ... and that quote might not even signal disapproval, depending on the context.
He wasn't signalling disapproval.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#19 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:20 pm

It's been a while since I've seen it, but one of the supplementary docs on the DVD/Blu-Ray included an interview with Ellroy, and I think he said that 1) he believed his novel was impossible to adapt as he was writing it and 2) he was a bit surprised and very pleased how the film turned out. The same doc discussed some changes made to the novel, including changing an opening (or early? haven't read it) scene from the book into the climax of the film.

Anyway, going to see TTSS tonight...definitely looking forward to it.

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#20 Post by Grand Illusion » Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:10 pm

Ruby wrote:I fear I'm part of a minority who found this film incredibly boring.
The real stand-out for me was mangled mixed metaphor of the chess-pieces and the rhyme of the title. What a visual mess!
I was bored as well. I did want to give Alfredson the benefit of the doubt because I liked his vampire flick and I went into this film a bit sleepy. I can't shake the feeling though that Tinker merely runs through standard spy movie cliches, except in slow-motion.

Oldman is our protagonist, but only to get constant flashbacks of a myriad of other names and faces. I needed someone to pull me through this movie, and Oldman's character didn't cut it. I also didn't buy the convenient infidelity subplot.

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Jeff
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#21 Post by Jeff » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:30 am

Grand Illusion wrote:I also didn't buy the convenient infidelity subplot.
It wasn't just a convenient subplot.
SpoilerShow
It was strategic. Karla had told Haydon to have an affair with Smiley's wife and to let Smiley discover it. He wanted to skew Smiley's perceptions of Haydon and make him question his motives for any doubts he might have about him. Haydon confesses this to Smiley in the end.
I definitely understand most of the general criticisms lobbed at the film. I think it probably would have benefited by adding twenty minutes to the runtime, and setting up the scenario better in the first act. I wouldn't describe it as boring though; I found it absolutely riveting. It requires the viewer to engage with it fully, which I view as a plus. Sure, it's often a challenge to follow, and I can certainly understand that many find it too frustrating to fully enjoy. Even though I knew the story, I struggled with putting the pieces together properly in the first half. It's one that I think has a lot of replay value, as it has the potential to become more and more rewarding as one fully grips each twist and turn. I also thought it was one of the best directed and shot films of the year. This second collaboration by Tomas Alfredson and Hoyte van Hoytema is once again exquisitely framed and lit. Even though I concede that much of the beginning felt rushed, I was amazed at how much character development and plot exposition they managed in little montages. Like Gary Oldman's masterful performance, the direction is a model of economy, focus, and precision. Nothing's wasted.

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#22 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:20 pm

SpoilerShow
I'm still unclear about how Smiley realized Haydon was the double agent. Was it based on Karla showing the cigarette lighter inscription to Jim during their torture sessions?
I'm not clear on everything, but dammit I love a densely plotted thriller like this and can't wait to see it again. Like Jeff said, parts of it seemed rushed in the beginning, but it moves like a breeze otherwise.

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Jeff
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#23 Post by Jeff » Sat Dec 31, 2011 5:34 pm

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
SpoilerShow
I'm still unclear about how Smiley realized Haydon was the double agent. Was it based on Karla showing the cigarette lighter inscription to Jim during their torture sessions?
SpoilerShow
I don't think he knows for sure until Haydon shows up at the safe house. He sends Tarr to Paris which he knows will trigger a meeting between Polyakov and the mole. He then waits to see which of the suspects will show up for the meeting.

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Dona Santa
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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#24 Post by Dona Santa » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:50 am

Not too many people talking about this I see. I saw it over the weekend during its wide release. I loved it. The editing, cinematography all great of course I didn't feel bored for a second. I do however go through phases of watching long movies to which I prefer lots of talking and unraveling in which case I only need to worry about how its done. But one thing I'd love to talk about is the amazing score... those opening credits were absolutely perfect in setting up the rest of the film. I think now how Fincher explained the opening credits to Dragon Tattoo was to give the true tone of the that film so audiences would be set straight from misinterpretations from ads but I have no idea what he was trying to do there. It seemed like a mess of an Apple I-ad. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy contains the real example

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Re: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

#25 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Jan 15, 2012 2:20 am

I found this immensely involving and entertaining, though it wasn't hard to realize there was a lot of material cut out- it's carried largely by the performances, of course, but I also felt like the cramped cinematography and extremely grainy filmstock gave it a feeling of being worn-out that fit the mood of it perfectly. To some degree, I wasn't terribly worried about whether or not I could follow the exact ins and outs of the espionage plot (though by and large I didn't feel lost)- I absolutely felt plunged into the world of the thing, and it's a deeply interesting world.

I was actually reminded somewhat of Zodiac, overall- the feeling of intellectual exercise in the service of a cause that was fundamentally lost, the people who let their work swamp their lives until there was little else left of them, and the poorly cut 70s decor of the whole thing. I'm going to have to watch it again, certainly, and I'm interested to see the Alec Guiness version, but it was a really satisfying experience.

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