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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - quick review


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#1 of 25 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted January 07 2012 - 04:39 AM

2-word review: Dreadfully droll The film takes place in the early 1970s as a British spy vs. spy drama. The main head spy, Control (John Hurt), suspects a mole in his midst of 5 high level spies, and spy Smiley (Gary Oldman) is dismissed. Later, Smiley gets brought back in some oversight capacity to find the mole. Hilarity ensues. And yes, I figured out the mole within 5 minutes of the film. This film could have almost been given the "The Artist" treatment and done in the silent film genre because the director does rely a lot on visual information, and the script's dialogue doesn't quite given enough details or information on the prime mole suspects to generate any genuine investment in this spy hunt. The trailers are far more entertaining than the actual film. I give it 2.5 stars, or a grade of C+.
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#2 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 07 2012 - 05:08 AM

2-word review: Dreadfully droll

I'll go for the easy joke and say that it should been called Dull, Slow, Confusing, Uninteresting. The movie is well-made and the performances are very good but it's very hard to follow and so uninvolving that I didn't really care enough to try to figure out what they failed to properly illustrate onscreen.

#3 of 25 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 09 2012 - 12:04 PM

Yeah, I have no idea of most of what I saw, but I will say that Gary

Oldman proves once again he is one of the greatest actors of our time.

The film was incredibly dull.  Don't have much more to say than that.


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#4 of 25 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted January 19 2012 - 05:51 AM

Slate magazine's reviewer was complaining at being confused as well.  I didn't find it confusing in the slightest, but many years ago I read the book, so probably that helped.


I always find movies that are subtle, don't repeat or explain things much better - but they are becoming a rarity.  And to be fair to the audience that likes things explained, often those like me who champion the unexplained version have had their explanation ahead of time -- the book in this case, or having seen the original Blade Runner with the much hated narration, before seeing the brilliant no-narration "director's cut".  I can't unread or unsee them to find out if in fact those subtle films suddenly turn inscrutable without the foreknowledge.


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#5 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 19 2012 - 06:06 AM

Slate magazine's reviewer was complaining at being confused as well.  I didn't find it confusing in the slightest, but many years ago I read the book, so probably that helped. I always find movies that are subtle, don't repeat or explain things much better - but they are becoming a rarity.  And to be fair to the audience that likes things explained, often those like me who champion the unexplained version have had their explanation ahead of time -- the book in this case, or having seen the original Blade Runner with the much hated narration, before seeing the brilliant no-narration "director's cut".  I can't unread or unsee them to find out if in fact those subtle films suddenly turn inscrutable without the foreknowledge.

There's a difference between subtlety and not properly informing the audience and there's a difference between an audience member who wants an over or repeated explanation of things and an audience member who needs a clear explantion in order to keep up with the movie. I'm never joining Mensa but I'm smart enough that I don't need information spoonfed to me and even if I do get confused by a plot point, I can usually clear up my confusion as the movie goes on. However, I do need to be given certain information to understand what's happening onscreen and this movie does not properly provide that.

#6 of 25 OFFLINE   David Hobbes

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Posted January 21 2012 - 11:30 AM

I always wonder how these movies get made if they are so confusing to the audience? Don't the director, producer, actors, realize this when the movie is being scripted and filmed?

#7 of 25 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted January 21 2012 - 12:43 PM



Originally Posted by David Hobbes 

I always wonder how these movies get made if they are so confusing to the audience? Don't the director, producer, actors, realize this when the movie is being scripted and filmed?



I think it's hard to tell what's confusing when you're so close to the project.  You know what you intended to do, so you don't feel confused.  That doesn't mean someone who walks in cold will get it, though.


People seem to hate the notion of test screenings, but I think they can be helpful for potentially convoluted movies like this - they can let filmmakers know how much confusion is acceptable and how much throws off the crowd.  Dunno if that happened with "TTSS"...


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#8 of 25 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted January 21 2012 - 01:12 PM

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not confusing, I assure you. It always makes emotional sense even when the characters are being stoic. Which information to reveal in the clear text and keep in the subtext is carefully organized and balanced in accord with the novel. The subtext is present and sustained and progresses logically. A lot of the underlying meaning becomes manifest as the story progresses. The motivations are emotional rather than physical. This is a character-driven piece. Everybody is trying to out-think one another on their feet, and acting on that counter-maneuvering. Yes, the film is faithful to the book, and if I have a complaint, it's that the film is too streamlined. Too much is cut. The mini-series dug deeper, plowed through more painfully and aimed higher. But the film is solid. LeCarre's prose is some of the finest written in the modern English language, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is considered his highest achievement for reasons. The problem is not with the film or the filmmakers, but the dumbed down audiences who expect to have everything explained to them like in elementary school. See spot run is for Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli movies. Drama requires subtext, which nudges the audience to participate emotionally and intellectually. Without it, drama would become a dead art for deadened minds. http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ http://www.amazon.co...bxgy_mov_text_b http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ http://www.amazon.co...bxgy_d_h__img_b

#9 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 21 2012 - 02:43 PM

I think it's hard to tell what's confusing when you're so close to the project.  You know what you intended to do, so you don't feel confused.  That doesn't mean someone who walks in cold will get it, though.

Exactly. Besides that it's based on a novel (which I can safely assume works), the movie is well made enough that I can trust that the plot and the characters' moves all make sense but it's too hard to keep track of them. If you haven't read the book or seen another adaptation, it's difficult to follow this movie. That's not to say that it's impossible to follow for someone who hasn't read the book but when I repeatedly see people saying that the movie was confusing, that's a real good indicator that the film makers made a mistake. And despite what Richard--W says, it has nothing to do with today's audience being dumbed down (the movie would have been just as confusing to audiences 40 years ago) or that they like Casino Royale (what that has to do with anything, you'll have to ask Richard).

#10 of 25 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted January 21 2012 - 03:56 PM

Again, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not confusing. It is not confusing. You don't have to read the book or watch the mini-series to understand the film because the film is not confusing. You don't need prior knowledge of the story to understand the film because it is not confusing. You can go in cold and understand the film just fine because it is not confusing.

#11 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 22 2012 - 12:26 AM

^ Then why is it a relatively common complaint that the movie is confusing? Once again, I have no doubt that there are many people with zero prior knowledge of the story who have seen this movie and have no problem following it but when I consistently see the complaint that it was difficult to follow (and it's fair to say that this movie is attracting a more intelligent crowd than a typical summer action movie), they didn't properly tell their story.

#12 of 25 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted January 22 2012 - 12:44 AM

Take my word for it.  Many people are going to walk out confused.


Obviously, some may not.


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#13 of 25 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted January 22 2012 - 04:11 AM



Originally Posted by Richard--W 

Again, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not confusing.
It is not confusing.
You don't have to read the book or watch the mini-series to understand the film because the film is not confusing.
You don't need prior knowledge of the story to understand the film because it is not confusing.
You can go in cold and understand the film just fine because it is not confusing.



You have zero ability to judge because you clearly DIDN'T go in cold - you obviously already knew and loved the material.


Your constant claims that it wasn't confusing don't make it any less confusing for those who were confused - and insults aimed at them for being too "brain dead" to understand the film don't help your case...


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#14 of 25 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted January 22 2012 - 04:11 AM


Whoops - duplicate post!


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#15 of 25 OFFLINE   Tim Gerdes

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Posted January 22 2012 - 05:30 AM

This was on my watch list for weeks, based on the ads alone, and I finally got to see it yesterday. Unlike Richard I went in cold, but I still found it excellent, and easy to follow. I was struck by how visual it was, realizing several minutes into the movie that the protagonist hadn't even spoken yet. I think that perhaps some expected it to be a whodunit with clues about the mole's identity throughout, but I saw it as more about the chase, and Smiley's trap, than laying clues for an "ah ha" moment. Loved this, and would gladly trade all of the Bournes, Bonds and films like Haywire for more deliberate, thoughtful films about Intelligence services.

#16 of 25 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted January 22 2012 - 09:49 AM

I urge everyone to give Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a look, preferably on the big screen, where the nuances and subtleties and visual language are more enticing and readable. The film is not confusing, and you will have no trouble understanding it, if you concentrate. It is an espionage melodrama and an exercise in suspense, not an action film. It is not supposed to be an action film, although it does have some action, but no more than it needs.

This was on my watch list for weeks, based on the ads alone, and I finally got to see it yesterday. Unlike Richard I went in cold, but I still found it excellent, and easy to follow. I was struck by how visual it was, realizing several minutes into the movie that the protagonist hadn't even spoken yet. I think that perhaps some expected it to be a whodunit with clues about the mole's identity throughout, but I saw it as more about the chase, and Smiley's trap, than laying clues for an "ah ha" moment. Loved this, and would gladly trade all of the Bournes, Bonds and films like Haywire for more deliberate, thoughtful films about Intelligence services.

Thank you, Tim Gerdes. I think most everyone has a similar experience to yours'.

#17 of 25 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 22 2012 - 10:29 AM

I urge everyone to give Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy a look, preferably on the big screen, where the nuances and subtleties and visual language are more enticing and readable.

I completely agree. While I didn't care for the movie, it looks beautiful and the performances from the entire cast are really excellent. It's gotten plenty of wonderful reviews and it's likely to get a few Oscar nominations so I'd still recommend that people see it and make up their own minds.

#18 of 25 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted January 23 2012 - 01:05 PM

In light of this discussion, may I present http://www.davidbord...-the-perplexed/

#19 of 25 OFFLINE   Patrick_S

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Posted January 24 2012 - 02:18 PM

I really liked this movie and certainly consider it one of the better ones that I have viewed this past year. As I get older I generally find myself enjoying movies that have nuances and subtleties over the ones that spoon feed the audience. I’ll add myself to the list of people who went in cold and had no problems following the story.

#20 of 25 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted January 30 2012 - 08:35 AM

THE BIG SLEEP was confusing as shit and so is this movie. It doesn't mean they bad movies. I just got back from seeing this. At times the plot points make very little sense but the direction was terrific and the performances were great. I'm really shocked that Oldman is getting so much attention. The performance is great but it's so quiet, so non-James Bond that you'd think some would lose the fact that he was so good in the part.




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