Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tinker Tailor Dismal Walls

I just saw the film version of John Le Careé's TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. Right off the bat, it made me want to move to the Caribbean. There is not a bright light, sunny day, or swatch of colorful fabric in the entire film. It's a sepia smoke-filled fishbowl from which there is no escape.

The story is engaging and labyrinthine, involving the ferreting out of a mole amidst England's spy network at the highest levels. How any of these men managed not to crack under the pressure of wallpaper that would drive a blind man insane is beyond me. "Open a window!" I wanted to shout. Someone in the theater turned on a cell phone, and I thought, "Is that the outside? Thank God! Fresh air!"

In the film, there's some killing, some double-crossing, and lots and lots of barely emoting from Gary Oldman. His portrayal of George Smiley, super-agent, made me wonder if the character had experienced a mild stroke that removed all emotion from his face. Wanna play poker with a pal? This is not your guy; you'll never get anything out of him.

What DRIVE did for thrillers, TINKER TAILOR DISMAL WALLS does for spy films. Forget about gorgeous babes, champagne, signature hotels and exotic locations expected from spy films, this thing is shot in the longest winter in human history. From cloudy England to dreary Hungary and back, there isn't a shred of greenery or sunshine to be seen. In one scene I positive I saw Little Orphan Annie being taken to an insane asylum for even trying to sing about the sun.

While I understand that TINKER TAILOR UNLIT HOUSE is a pretty faithful adaptation to the spirit of the novel and the Cold War, would it have killed them to throw in at least an avocado-green or a wicker-tan every once in a while. Those were very popular in 1973.

I also recently saw MI: GHOST PROTOCOL. I have to say, though I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan, it's really Brad Bird's touch that rocket-propels this film squarely into entertainment-ville. And whadyaknow, its coincidentally set in sunny, colorful locations like Dubai and India!

There's even danceable music. Stir in a gorgeous babe, and a funny side-kick, and oh no folks, looks like we're at the movies! So if you have a choice between ass-numbing wrist-slitter and high-stakes hi-jinks with a jazzy soundtrack, I'm guessing you don't need Seasonal Depressive Disorder to steer your decision.

- Movie Lover

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