Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Viewed – 03 February 2012  Blu-ray

In the run up to the awards season, this has become one of the most talked about movies around.  With a heavy weight cast of top British thesps and a gritty cold war storyline, this is the movie many people are putting all their hopes in.  Call it this years The King’s Speech, if you like.  Adapted from the novel by John LeCarré … Gary Oldman stars as a former M16 agent who is persuaded by an old friend to come out of retirement in order to investigate the possibility of a Russian mole in the organization.  The movie jumps back and forth between time lines and shows us the history behind such suspicion after former boss John Hurt sends field agent Mark Strong to Budapest in hope if discovering the identity of the mole from a Russian contact.  In the present, Oldman must piece the clues together and line up the suspects, whilst uncovering a wealth of shady dealings.

For such a talked about movie, I admit to finding it extremely difficult to follow.  It is told in such a vague and scatter shot way, that I kept hoping for a narration to fill me in on who is who and what’s what.  But no, this is the sort of movie where you the viewer are left pretty much in the dark, and everyone on-screen seems much more well-informed.  Sometimes people would say things and the other person would look shocked, whilst I would respond with ‘huh?’.  I don’t know.  Other movies have played the trick of showing you something, making you believe its one way, then later revealing it wasn’t quite what you thought.  That can be cool, but here it was simply frustrating.  Gary Oldman is very good as the veteran MI6 agent ‘Smiley’ but doesn’t ever really have a moment to stand out, neither does John Hurt, who apart from an acceptable performance, is barely in it.  I actually warmed much more to underrated actor Mark Strong, as I felt his story was the most intriguing, but like everything here, it never really delves enough to totally satisfy.

Tomas (Let The Right One In) Alfredson’s direction, on a technical level is sublime and very stylish.  He makes the mostly London-set locations look gorgeous, and there’s no doubt he’s a genuine talent.  However the material he has been given is confusing, a little too sure of itself and ultimately … boring.  Really, when a movie can be summed up as two hours of stiff upper collar British chaps sitting in rooms looking confused, that can’t be good, can it?

Verdict:  2 /5

Let The Right One In

Viewed – 31 July 2009  Blu-ray

I had heard about this one a while ago, hyped as being one of the best vampire movies ever made, and with a liking of world cinema, as you can imagine I was desperate to see it.  Now that I have I can honestly say it lives up to it’s hype, and is an intelligent, surprisingly moving and effective take on the vampire myth mixed with a very unconventional love story.  Oscar you see, is a lonely 12 year old boy, bullied in school and living with his mother in an apartment block in the middle of a Swedish suburb blanketed by snowfall.  Not exactly cheery surroundings.  Then one night he meets a strange girl called Eli, who seems unable to feel the cold weather, but is also it seems equally as lost and lonely as he is – and so a friendship begins that soon develops into love.

Of course you are probably already two steps ahead of me, and yes, Eli is a vampire, who hides her blood sucking from the towns folk by making her ‘dad’ go out and murder people and drain their bodies of the blood.  Yet he’s not exactly the worlds most efficient killer, and before long bodies are turning up and the local police are looking for a serial killer, and poor Eli is going to have to stop that hunger inside her somehow.


What I really loved about this film was that it plays very closely to the vampire movie rules, there is no going out in daylight, and most effectively, and hence the title, a vampire can only enter your home if invited – leading to a particularly stand out moment.  And this film is full of stand out moments, with the little girl playing Eli (Lina Leandersson) beautifully heart-breaking and carries the film just as well as the more subtle but no less brilliant little boy (Kare Hedebrant).  Director Tomas Alfredson has crafted a unique entry in the vampire genre that works brilliantly as a horror movie whilst also delivering a memorable story of childhood friendship and first time love. 

I came away very impressed and see this as a contender for film of the year.

Verdict:  5 /5