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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Jan 12: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy*


Jan 12: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy*

"In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons."

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not a movie for everyone. This is a movie that may be too smart for its own good. This is not a popcorn flick, nor is it something you can just have on in the background while you do stuff around the house. You need to sit down and focus, and I know a lot of people who can't do that. I actually had a couple leave about thirty minutes into the movie. So thus, this review will be my first super serious one. 
  The plot is simple- George Smiley (Gary Oldman) must figure out who the mole is at MI6. The ensuing attempt, however, is not that simple. The film cuts to flashbacks quite often, and you are left to your own devices to figure out what time frame of the scene you are watching. The location is constantly changing as well. With all of this jumping around, the audience is just as puzzled as Smiley, trying to solve the mystery. I believe this was all intentional. 
   The acting in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is absolutely phenomenal. Lead by Oldman, the cast never misses a beat. This is a movie driven nearly completely on the dialogue, and a cast this good was needed for this film to succeed. Oldman has had a career of playing a variety of characters, from the Dracula to Sirrius Black. This role is much more grounded and "normal" than a lot of his roles. The smallest nuances he has, from the way he moves his mouth to the way he touches his coat, are so perfect. Every little detail adds to his character, and he completely becomes George Smiley. One scene stands out, where he is retelling of his encounter with a captured Soviet. Instead of using a flashback, Tomas Alfredson (the director), let's Oldman act it out as though it is happening now. I read the script for this scene before I saw the movie, and seeing Oldman act it out was beyond any imagining I had. 

  Speaking of directing, Alfredson is masterful. The camera is almost a peeping tom, spying in on all of the actors and their actions. Many scenes are seen through windows and from a far that it really feels like you are just watching in on the events unfolding. The sound is exceptional as well, with just as much attention to the detail. The opening of a wrapper, the buttering of toast, and even the tiniest drops of rain are captured and intensified, contrasting with the silence and almost distracting the viewer. Again, I believe this is all to throw the viewer off, and have the reveal all that more suspenseful. 
  One of my only complaints of the film is how easy it is to get lost in the dialogue. Although the script is smart and tight, the characters use a lot of names you don't quite know the faces to until later in the film. 

  Overall, I found Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to be an exceptional film and worthy of a viewing. I would love to have this film shown in a class or group and have everyone dissect it and give opinion. There is just so much on the screen that cannot be absorbed in one viewing, and I cannot wait to see this film again. 

Sight: Filmed with the grittiness of the 1970s, the camera work is praise worthy as you feel you are merely peeking inside the world of espionage. 
Sound: With a large portion of the soundtrack being from a direct source (radio, singing, record player), and the sound effects heightened, you feel you are really submersed in the world of the characters. 
Skill: Every actor in this film deserves praise, but it is Gary Oldman that absolutely steals the show. He is a master of his craft. 
Script: Well written and very suspenseful, the puzzle is slowly unraveled to a very exciting conclusion. 

Overall: 9.7/10

Best Quote: 
George Smiley: "We are not so very different, you and I. We've both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another."

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At January 16, 2012 at 10:57 PM , Blogger Eric said...

This was the most confusing movie i have seen in a very long time!!! I tried very very hard to pay attention and it did not work. Great acting and tone but they needed to introduce the characters better early. I feel like I just watched a movie in a completely different language. For some reason i still liked the movie because i feel like it was a quality movie. I just think they assumed the viewers knew the story beforehand...


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