Five Little Things That Astounded Me In “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Super slow, grey and depressing. In other words, absolutely brilliant. My mother didn’t share this opinion, choosing instead to walk out and instead request she see a different film (she chose 30 Minutes or Less, which I’m assured was quite good). But sod her, what does she know.

Now, I could do what everyone except the Financial Times is doing and talk about the fantastic cast, the beautifully subtle acting, the great direction, the gorgeous cinematography and the wonderful music, but I like to pride myself on being different from other reviewers. So, instead, here are the five little things I saw in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that made me say “no fucking way!”

1. Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fucking brilliant

In my old R.S. class, there used to be a bunch of PSHE work on the walls that I would stare at for hours on end to help me through. One of these works was about ginger people, and how gingers are just like everyone else, but they have silly hair. As an ex-ginger (I grew out of it) I felt drawn to this poster (also it was directly next to where I sat), and so poured over every word of it. But one thing always stuck out. The sentence, “Gingers might not make good spies.”

Well, say hello to Benedict Cumberbatch and his ginger hair, being one of the best actors in a spy film filled with huge names. After seeing him in Sherlock, I knew this guy was good, but it was until just now that I realised how good he really is. Benedict portrays one of the most emotive characters in the film, shifting between cocky, straight, deeply upset and rather sinister with what looks like relative ease. He’s cool, he’s witty, he’s quietly gay (lovely bit where he breaks up with his boyfriend), and he’s probably the best actor in the film. If he doesn’t go up for a Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTA’s then he will have been robbed.

Speaking of ginger spies, however…

2. Tom Hardy with hair

Seriously! Who the fuck put hair on Tom Hardy’s head?! That man has been bald in absolutely every film I’ve seen him in (Inception… and, uh… I’ve seen a poster for Bronson?) and now suddenly he’s a ginger mop ‘ed spy who gets the shit kicked out of him by a fellow ginger spy?

Well, bravo to the costume designer who thought Tom needed hair, because his wig is superb and so is he. His own little story is wonderfully told, and Mr Hardy has one of those voices that could melt butter (with the aid of a blowtorch (OK this metaphor is getting too complex)), so it’s always a pleasure to see him in a film, particularly one where he isn’t being strong and cocky but actually a bit vunerable. Good performance, Tom!

Speaking of surprises…

3. Al Capone is English

As Control and Smiley leave the Circus at the start of the film, the camera follows them down the stairs and out the door, showing some of the faces of those who seem to be more affected by the departure. We see our man Benedict, the woman who was Perry in the Harry Enfield, and… wait, is that Al Capone from Boardwalk Empire?

Yep, whoever that guy is happens to be English, and is seen frequently throughout the film without saying a bloody word until his own story comes into play. I’m not gonna sing his praises about his acting; sure he was good and all, but it’s late and he was no Cumberbatch.

Speaking of not singing the praises of a small part actor…

4. John le Carré is an executive producer and has a cameo role

I once read a quote by John le Carré saying something along the lines of “having your book adapted into a film is like burning the book”. OK I totally ruined the quote, but you get the idea. So naturally I was a little surprised to hear that this was being made into a film, particularly since it was previously a TV series already. I wondered what our man le Carré thought about it.

Well, as it happens, he liked the idea so much he actually helped adapt it, put his own money towards it, and went as far as appearing in it in a very small, non-speaking role that you’ll never notice. Brilliant.

5. Studio Canal have changed their logo

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!?!

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I Don’t Know How I Justified Seeing This Crap (Review)

Here’s the thing about Sarah Jessica Parker: she’s really, really, REALLY unattractive. She looks old. Like, seriously old. Her hands are horrendous, to the point where you rarely see them on screen. Her face is sagging. Her hair always looks a mess. She played a character for years and years that wore idiotic clothing because she was being kooky and trendy.

I get that some women find this empowering and stuff. Like, go girl, you wear what you like and things like that because you’re your own woman and you don’t need no man to tell you what to do! And I get that, I really do! I understand the need to feel independent and free to do whatever you like!

But SJP can’t pull it off! She’s just… old! And looks awful! I’m not a fan of Botox or plastic surgery or anything, but for the love of God woman, at least look into it!

-anyway-

The reason I’m ranting about SJP is because she has a new movie out, called “I Don’t Know How She Does It”, a movie about successful, working “moms” and how amazing they are because they can juggle their home life and work life. Except they can’t. Except they can. The movie never seems to make up it’s mind.

SJP (full name takes too long and all the women’s magazines I read refer to her as this) plays Kate Reddy, an investment banker who’s really good at her job, and also has two children whom she abandons regularly to be good at said job. Also suffering from abandonment is Greg Kinnear as Kate’s husband, Richard (hey, that’s my name!), an architect who’s fallen on hard times because of the recession, except now he’s picked back up and everything’s hunky dory.

Problem is, Kate has been given a huge, career changing project to do at the same time that Richard has, which involves her flying off to New York from Boston every other day to spend time with Jack Ablehammer, played by Pierce Brosnan, in order to work on the project. If you can’t see the conflict and the obvious plot points by now, you may as well stop reading this review. In fact, get off my blog. Right now. Go. Go read Cbeebies or whatever.

The story’s as cliche and predictable as they get, with Kate managing to do everything, and then not managing to do everything, and then managing to do everything again. Also conflict with her husband. If you’ve ever watched a rom-com before, you know the ending (spoiler warning: she gets it together), but all in all it’s not a horrendous plot. Everything wraps up nicely and everyone gets a happy ending, so it’s all nice.

My main problem lies mostly with the direction. The film will progress along nicely, in a standard rom-com fare, and then suddenly SJP will step out of the film to talk to the audience, or someone will have a description about them written in chalk next to their head, or Kate will have a fantasy about being on TV because she bought a pie instead of making one. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the film, and it’s actually kind of jarring at times.

Even worse, the film will randomly dive off to talk with the side characters in an interview style, as if they were talking about Kate in some kind of weird TV documentary about her. Either that or they’ll try (and fail) to interject some comedy into the goings on by throwing in little quips about being a single mother, or try and make a serious point about equality in the workplace (which is incredibly one sided and made me start to hate myself for having a penis). It adds nothing to the film, and just pads it out more than necessary to keep it running at the ninety minute mark. Honestly, if the cut-aways, freeze frames and dream sequences were cut out of the film, it would be about half an hour shorter.

The acting is average at best. SJP plays the same bloody role she’s been playing for years, complete with voice overs (that sound just like her Sex and the City voice overs), except this time she dresses more conservatively. Greg Kinnear makes the doting husband role his own (or something) and really makes SJP seem like the bad guy in all this, which is never bad.

But what is up with Pierce Brosnan? His accent is supposedly American, but I couldn’t get past how English he sounds all the same. At one point, Christina Hendricks (getting to her) refers to his character by saying “I don’t know whether he’s Scottish or Irish”, which just makes it even more confusing. And I don’t know whether it was just the character, the direction, or indeed his own fault, but his portrayl just seems dull and wooden. I know he’s a businessman, but his dead wife story could have been a -little- more emotional.

Also, Christina Hendricks! What are you doing in this tosh?! You’re a beautiful, successful woman who’s graced such fantastic shows as E.R., Firefly and Mad Men, so why are you lowering yourself to an SJP flick?! I understand that Matthew Weiner is struggling to get Mad Men back and you need the cash, but there must have been better offers!

Every other side character is one dimensional and comic relief, from the robotic secretary to the bitchy stay at home mom, who deliver their lines as you’d expect, and aren’t given any depth or story to extend their roles as glorified speakers. Even Kelsey Grammer (KELSEY FUCKING GRAMMER!!!) is a pointless addition to the cast, given his role is so limited and uninteresting.

So you’ve got a cliche plot, a lame cast, odd directing and some really awful jokes. Any redeeming factors? Well, yes! Thankfully, the scriptwriter (or, the book adapter) saw fit to not have SJP and Brosnan have the cliched affair plot, so we avoid hating SJP any more than we need to thanks to her bad parenting skills. Which is nice.

But at the end of the film, what do we learn? Kate succeeds by neglecting her children heavily for three months, and then it pays off because her boss starts giving her more time off. What does this say to all working mothers? Your children will only hate you for so long? It’s always darkest before the dawn? If you work ridiculous hours for months on end and travel all over the country it’s still possible to correctly raise children? It’s not realistic; chances are that if this were real life, Kate and Richard would be divorced, or one of them would jack in their career to look after the kids. It’s a predictable, unrealistic ending that is so heavily sided to the mother that it neglects to mention that the father in this is fucking amazing and puts up with all of his wife’s shit without complaining too much.

Still, it’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen. “I Don’t Know How She Does It” won’t win any awards for originality, but it’s something to watch if it comes up on Sky and you’re doing bollocks all else with your time. Just, please, can Sarah Jessica Parker retire now? Pleeeeease?