Wednesday, June 21, 2017

1033. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Directed by Tomas Alfredson

I apologize for taking so long to post.  This has been a very stressful period in my life (I would call this the understatement of the year but I am saving that for "Trump is a bad president").  Anyway, I am going through a bit of a John Le Carre phase right now (currently reading Smiley's People) and thought I would check this movie out, which I have been meaning to see for awhile now.

George Smiley has been called out of retirement (are spies ever really retired??) to investigate a possible mole within MI6.  Wow, that might be my most succinct summary yet!

Having just reviewed The Bourne Ultimatum, it is interesting to compare these two films.  Both spy movies, but they are very different.  I bet I could guess which one most of my readers prefer.   This movie is devoid of explosions and car chases.  In fact, it mostly consists of waiting: waiting for someone to speak, to slip up, to reveal some part of themselves.  In that way, it felt very authentic to me; surely, this is the true spy experience, rather than just having sex with mysterious Russian beauties (oh wait, they still do that in this movie).

Stylistically, this is a beautiful film with brilliant actors.  Still, I couldn't blame people for finding it a bit on the dull side; it is a slow movie.  However, I had fun with it and I am loving on Le Carre lately.

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Title is taken from an English children's rhyme.

The search for the right actor to play George Smiley took 18 months.

Friday, June 9, 2017

1032. True Grit

True Grit
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

I was shocked by how normal this movie was; I guess the Coen brothers have gotten tired of having to be original and genre-bending all the time.  I am not complaining; this was a pretty decent western.

After outlaw Tom Chaney murders her father, 14-year-old Mattie Ross is determined to see him hang.  She hires Rooster Cogburn, a trigger-happy drunk, to bring Chaney to "justice."  Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, much to his dismay.  They are also joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who is pursuing Chaney for murdering a senator.

Like I said, this was a decent western.  I was particularly impressed with Steinfeld's performance; we all know how horrific the outcome can be when child actors are involved.  Her character was clever, determined, and didn't have to resort to seduction to get the men to do what she wanted.  I did find the spanking scene to be disturbing; it seems that women in movies have to be degraded and humiliated in ways that men do not.  I understand that they were demonstrating that it was a different time and that women were pretty much treated like property (LaBoeuf's pervy comments about kissing Mattie when she was asleep accomplished this already).  But it was still unsettling.  I was googling it earlier to see what other women thought about it.  Based on the many spanking blogs singing its praises, I guess the general reception was positive.

Anyway, as far as modern westerns go, it's this or The Hateful Eight.  So...

RATING: ****-

Interesting Facts:

Body count of 14.

Hailee Steinfeld was only 13 when she was cast.