DID YOU READ

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” reviewed

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” reviewed (photo)

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Director Tomas Alfredson‘s last film was the unorthodox vampire story “Let the Right One In,” a title that would also fit Alfredson’s new film, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” This adaptation of the famous John le Carré novel is set in the world of British Intelligence circa the 1970s, but it’s less about espionage than it is about trust. “Tinker Tailor” is all about letting the right ones in: the right spy, the right friend, the right lover. This is a smart and impeccably crafted film, but its tone is so bleakly cynical and its characters are so stingy about revealing their allegiances of heart and country, that the audience gets left out in the cold along with the disavowed field agents.

The icy center of this chilly affair is George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a lifer at England’s MI:6 (a.k.a. The Circus) until a mission in Hungary goes belly up and Smiley and the master of The Circus, Control (John Hurt), are forcibly retired. After Control passes away, Smiley is recruited to spy on the spies: there’s a mole somewhere in MI:6, and it’s up to Smiley and a small team of men to figure out who it is (the title is a play on the code names of the four main suspects).

The men of le Carré’s Circus, who were inspired by the author’s own time working in British Intelligence, will never be confused for James Bond, not even the “scalphunters” like Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) who actually perform tasks besides sitting around in soundproofed conferences rooms. They’re backbiting bureaucrats, office drones, scheming adulterers, and above all, paunchy middle-aged schlubs with terrible haircuts. They own drab houses and throw lame Christmas parties. Of course this is what real spies must look like. It would be awfully hard to infiltrate an enemy country with a flamboyantly chiseled eight-pack and an Aston Martin that transforms into a nuclear submarine.

But while Smiley and his people make wonderful secret agents, they don’t make ideal film protagonists. They’re so remote and unreadable that there’s no suspense, let alone drama, in their mole hunt. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” isn’t really a thriller at all. Alfredson and screenwriters Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan are much more interested in exploring the minutia of day-to-day life in The Circus than in supplying genre entertainment, and as a dreary slice of life about people living in a state of perpetual unease, “Tinker Tailor”‘s a qualified success — with the qualification being it’s an awfully sluggish one.

I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who enjoyed “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” It has one of the very best ensembles of any film this year (the stellar British cast includes Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Toby Jones) and the period details of 1970s London, all of them seemingly shot through a haze of Lucky Strikes smoke, look incredible. Oldman is suitably inscrutable as Smiley, and you’ll have some fun just studying his unreadable face and trying to figure out what the hell he’s thinking. But personally, I wanted “Tinker Tailor” to feel more alive. I understand that it’s about the heavy toll the Cold War spy game took on the people who played it. I just wish it didn’t take such a heavy toll on the viewer’s patience. In this case, it’s not about letting the right one in; the movie itself never even lets you get that close.

“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is in theaters now. If you see it, let us know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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