Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards is shaping up to be one heck of a testosterone-charged run.
Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" and Ridley Scott's "Gladiator" have emerged as the frontrunners in this year's race for the Globes, each receiving five nods apiece as nominations for the annual bash were announced this morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in Beverly Hills, Calif..
Trailing closely behind are Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical rock flick "Almost Famous," "Chocolat," "Wonder Boys" and Soderbergh's "Erin Brockovich," each earning four nominations.
Soderbergh's drug trafficking drama (which has yet to bow in theaters) picked up almost all the prized loot with a nod for best picture (drama), best director, best screenplay for scribe Stephen Gaghan and a best supporting actor and actress (drama) mention for Benicio Del Toro and Catherine Zeta-Jones, respectively.
Soderbergh and company will go up against Scott's brutish epic "Gladiator" in three other fronts: best picture (drama), best director and best supporting thanks to the lascivious performance by Joaquin Phoenix.
The Roman decadence film has also earned its rugged Australian star Russell Crowe a best actor (drama) nomination. Crowe was long favored by critics to receive a nomination for his performance. Rounding out the film's fifth nomination is a nod for best original score.
The usual suspects also turned up for the best actor (drama) category. Besides Crowe, there's Javier Bardem for his role as a gay Cuban poet in "Before Night Falls," Michael Douglas playing a mid-life-crisis-prone writer in "Wonder Boys," Geoffrey Rush as the decorum-defying Marquis de Sade in "Quills" and Tom Hanks -- who avenges his "The Green Mile" shutout last year -- with his turn as the modern-day Robinson Crusoe in "Cast Away."
But the most interesting race to watch is when Soderbergh goes up against himself. His "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich" are nominated in both the best director and best picture (drama) categories. (Soderbergh, we might add, has also been named best director by the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association on the strength of both flicks).
Besides going head-to-head with Scott, Soderbergh will also have to fend off Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and Istvan Szabo ("Sunshine"), also contenders in the best director race.
Joining "Traffic," "Brockovich" and "Gladiator" in the best picture (drama) race are boy ballet film "Billy Elliot," the Douglas late bloomer "Wonder Boys" and the surprise dark horse "Sunshine."
As everyone suspected, Julia Roberts secured a best actress (drama) nom for her bosom-enhanced role in "Erin Brockovich." She's up against Joan Allen ("The Contender"), Bjork ("Dancer in the Dark"), Laura Linney ( "You Can Count On Me") and a somewhat surprising nomination for Ellen Burstyn for what some folks thought was more of a supporting role in "Requiem For a Dream."
In the best supporting actor (drama) race, the HFPA picked "The Contender" co-star Jeff Bridges, Willem Dafoe as the stoic bloodsucker in "Shadow of a Vampire," Albert Finney from "Erin Brockovich" and, as mentioned before, Del Toro in "Traffic" and Phoenix for "Gladiator."
Their female counterparts in the best supporting actress (drama) are: Oscar and Golden Globe winner Judi Dench for her work in "Chocolat," Julie Walters for "Billy Elliot," Zeta-Jones in "Traffic." In that category, "Almost Famous" yielded two noms -- one for Frances McDormand and one for ingenue Kate Hudson.
Perhaps to show that drama is really different from comedy, the HFPA also has separate categories for films that are in the lighter and decidedly happier vein.
That said, "Almost Famous" was tapped a best picture (comedy) nom, along with dog show spoof "Best in Show," DreamWorks' "Chicken Run," "Chocolat" and the Coen brothers' epic laughfest "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
The Golden Globes continues to smile on annual Oscar snub Jim Carrey as the actor picks up his Globe nod for his interpretation as the Dr. Seuss miser the Grinch in "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (he won a Globe for both "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon" the past two years). Going up against Mr. Rubberface himself will be George Clooney ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?), John Cusack ("High Fidelity"), Robert De Niro ("Meet the Parents") and Mel Gibson ("What Women Want").
And if Carrey is the Globes golden boy, then Sandra Bullock might be the awards' dream girl. However uncannily, the actress (who was nominated for "While You Were Sleeping") picked up a best actress (comedy or musical) nom for "Miss Congeniality." Juliette Binoche from "Chocolat," Brenda Blethyn from the marijuana-minded "Saving Grace," Tracey Ullman from "Small Time Crooks" and Renee Zellweger from "Nurse Betty" are also nominees in the category.
Besides Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," the best foreign film category is filled with titles that are obscure at best, unknown in the least. Going fist-to-fist against Lee's martial-arts flick (which failed to nab a best film nod) are "Amores Perros" from Mexico, "The Hundred Steps" and "Malena," both from Italy, and the French flick "The Widow of St. Pierre."
On the television front, the best series (drama) race will pit ratings buster "ER" (NBC) against "CSI" (CBS), "The Practice" (ABC), "The Sopranos" (HBO) and multiple Emmy winner "The West Wing" (NBC).
And "Ally McBeal" (Fox), "Frasier" (NBC), "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox), "Sex and the City (HBO) and "Will & Grace" (NBC) will duke it out in the best series (comedy) realm. "Will & Grace" is this year's Emmy champ.
The Globes, in somewhat of a surprise move, nominated Sarah Michelle Gellar for the WB's "Buffy the Vampire" and Jessica Alba of Fox's "Dark Angel" in the best actress (drama) category. Joining them are Lorraine Bracco (HBO's "The Sopranos"), Amy Brenneman (CBS' "Judging Amy") and Edie Falco (also HBO's "The Sopranos").
Of special note is Robert Downey Jr.'s nomination for best supporting actor for "Ally McBeal." His future, however, on the Fox comedy series has been hanging in the balance since his recent run-ins with drugs and the law. Downey is nominated along with Sean Hayes of "Will & Grace" (NBC) John Mahoney and David Hyde Pierce of "Frasier" (NBC), Christopher Plummer of "American Tragedy" (CBS) and Bradley Whitford of "The West Wing" (NBC).
Winners of the 58th Annual Golden Globes will be announced Jan. 21 in an NBC telecast.
"Gone in 60 Seconds" ruled the box office speedway this weekend.
The PG-13-rated action thriller from Buena Vista/Touchstone and Jerry Bruckheimer Films kicked off with a high octane ESTIMATED $25.5 million at 3,006 theaters ($8,484 per theater).
Insiders had anticipated a fast-paced launch for "Gone," with some speculating its 27% overall first-choice tracking score might even translate into $30 million or more in ticket sales.
"Gone's" per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
A Buena Vista spokesperson said it was the biggest non-holiday opening ever for a film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and the biggest opening ever from star Nicolas Cage. The Bruckheimer productions that opened bigger than "Gone" were the holiday weekend releases "Armageddon" ($36.1 million over July Fourth weekend 1998) and "Beverly Hills Cop II" ($33.0 million over Memorial Day weekend 1987).
Bruckheimer's biggest previous non-holiday openings were "The Rock" ($25.1 million, averaging $10,481 at 2,392 theaters for June 7-9, 1996) and "Con Air" ($24.1 million, averaging $8,545 at 2,824 theaters for June 6-8, 1997). Cage starred in both "The Rock" and "Con Air."
"We've gone to the well here three times on this week in June, and each one of them has been as consistent as hell, so we're really happy," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "I understand it's Nic Cage's biggest picture ever - which used to be 'The Rock,' so that's nice. We're thrilled to be Number One. Any time you can do that, you've got to be happy as hell. The market was almost $90 million for the top ten movies, and I think that's really terrific."
Asked if speculation that "Gone" might have cracked $30 million had been realistic, Viane replied, "Look, I think, in the reality of everything, I don't know what 'realistic' is. There are times when I wonder about our business, when somebody's Number One, and they do $25 million and somebody's disappointed. Then the next time somebody does $35-40 million and they're disappointed.
I believe the day of the tracking and all that (speculation) makes for wild expectations that sometimes have no basis in reality. Obviously, this movie is really well liked, if it becomes Nic's biggest picture. And, at the same time, if somebody wants to paint that as disappointing, I don't know how to stop them.
"I think what might have happened is, we all have a tendency to inflate someone else's expectations. And the way you do it is you give out a number, and when they don't hit it, it looks disappointing. I would think, based on what we have been lucky enough to do on this week - whether it was 'Con Air' or 'The Rock' - if you got to the mid-$20 millions, you had to be happy. If it was over that, you were going to be ecstatic. And if you didn't get into the $20 millions, you would have felt you made a mistake. I think people stayed away from (opening anything against) the picture because they thought it was very big. In the definition of this week, this is very big."
A competing distribution executive pointed out Sunday morning, "It's still a good opening and I'm sure they're happy with it. $25 million openings are good openings. We sort of get jaded during the summer because they come one after the other. But, still, these are nice openings."
With "Gone" off to such a good start, Viane added, "I'll take being number one at this kind of number any day of the week, because this is the summertime and everybody's now available seven days a week. Seventy percent of the kids are out of school as of Monday, and I think that bodes really well for what we have. We have a PG-13 and we have all of those reasons for kids now to go to the movies. Unlike us adults, they seem to go seven days a week."
Did the basketball playoff games have a negative impact on "Gone's" opening numbers? "Obviously, when there's something as important as the basketball games or last night's final in hockey, you're going to lose some of the audience," Viane said. "But those are the kind of competitive things we face every year, and there's just nothing anybody can do about that.
"Would I like to see the Lakers sweep in, say, four? Yes, I would. Trust me when I say that the guys who have pictures opening next weekend feel that way even more strongly than I do, because then it gives them a free weekend to open. Whether it's that (kind of sports competition) or some unbelievable circumstance that happens worldwide, those are the features we all compete against every day. That's not an excuse. I don't need to make an excuse for a Number One movie in the mid-$20 millions."
Asked where "Gone" is heading, Viane pointed out, "It's too early. As you know, this will become an extremely competitive summer from this point on. We were very lucky we had this window of opportunity open to us. That's up to the public. I'm going to be very interested in seeing how the weekdays play out, because then you'll know if you've hit your core group and how strong you've hit them."
Viane noted that "The Rock" wound up grossing $134 million and "Con Air" did $101.1 million. "So even though you can open in the same range, you really never know what your playability is until after the tenth or twelfth day, and then you start to get a sense of it," he said. "I'm sure that when 'Gladiator' opened, nobody anticipated that this movie would play into, what, the $170 millions. It's just got great legs. So now we all will sit here and play it out (as to where 'Gone' will go)."
Although movie critics had few kind words to say about "Gone," BV's marketing campaign clearly got it open to big time ticket sales. How closely word-of-mouth among moviegoers mirrors the critics' unfavorable opinions will determine where it winds up.
Directed by Dominic Sena and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Stenson, "Gone" stars Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.
As expected, "Gone's" arrival resulted in a box office slow down for Paramount's blockbuster "Mission: Impossible 2."
"M:I-2" fell one peg to second place in its third week with a still high-powered ESTIMATED $17.1 million (-37%) at 3,669 theaters (+16 theaters; $4,661 per theater). The PG-13-rated action adventure sequel's cume is approximately $157.9 million, heading for $200-220 million in domestic theaters. The first "Mission" did $181 million domestically.
The original "Mission" dropped 32% to $14.7 million at 3,012 theaters ($4,868 per theater) in its third weekend (June 7-9, 1996). Its cume was $130.8 million. The sequel's cume is running about 21% ahead of the original. In its second week the sequel had a 22% lead over the original.
Directed by John Woo, "M:I-2" was produced by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner through their Cruise/Wagner production company, which also produced the 1996 blockbuster "Mission: Impossible." Besides Cruise, the sequel stars Dougray Scott, Thandie Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Sherbedgia and Ving Rhames.
"It's pretty much on track," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "It's amazing how closely it's played to what the first one did. The percentages of drop are almost identical. Of course, the marketplace is almost identical with competing product. If it holds up throughout the lifetime of the picture, it's projected to be between $200-220 million. We're at $158 million roughly right now, so it definitely gets to $200 million."
20th Century Fox's PG-13 comedy "Big Momma's House" dropped one rung to third place in its second week with a still rotund ESTIMATED $16.8 million (-34%) at 2,853 theaters (+51 theaters; $5,889 per theater). Its cume is approximately $52.0 million, on its way to $90 millio or more.
Directed by Raja Gosnell, it stars Martin Lawrence and Nia Long.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated computer animated feature "Dinosaur" fell one notch to fourth place in its fourth weekend with a less lively ESTIMATED $8.8 million (-27%) at 3,275 theaters (-44 theaters; $2,689 per theater). Its cume is approximately $110.4 million, heading for about $150 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Ralph Zondag and Eric Leighton, "Dinosaur" features such voices as D.B. Sweeney, Ossie Davis, Joan Plowright, Della Reese and Alfre Woodard.
DreamWorks' R-rated action adventure "Gladiator" held on to fifth place in its seventh week, still showing great legs with an ESTIMATED $7.1 million (-15%) at 2,706 theaters (-350 theaters; $2,636 per theater). Its cume is approximately $150.2 million, heading for $175 million or more in domestic theaters.
"Gladiator" is half owned by Universal, which is releasing it internationally.
Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment's PG-13-rated action comedy "Shanghai Noon" skidded two pegs to sixth place in its third weekend with a calm ESTIMATED $5.8 million (-35%) at 2,751 theaters (+6 theaters; $2,110 per theater). Its cume is approximately $41.5 million, heading for $50 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Tom Dey, it stars Jackie Chan, Owen C. Wilson and Lucy Liu.
DreamWorks' R-rated youth appeal comedy "Road Trip" dropped one post to seventh place in its fourth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $4.7 million (-30%) at 2,586 theaters (-68 theaters; $1,812 per theater). Its cume is approximately $53.9 million.
Directed by Todd Philips, it stars Breckin Meyer and Sean William Scott.
New Line's "Frequency" slid one slot to eighth place in its seventh week with an okay ESTIMATED $1.48 million (-27%) at 1,219 theaters (-386 theaters; $1,210 per theater). Its cume is approximately $40.1 million, heading for about $45 million in domestic theatres.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
DreamWorks' Woody Allen PG-rated comedy "Small Time Crooks" dropped one rung to ninth place in its fourth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $1.3 million (-20%) at 886 theaters (+12 theaters; $1,511 per theater). Its cume is approximately $13.2 million.
Written and directed by Woody Allen, it stars Allen, Tony Darrow, Hugh Grant, George Grizzard, Jon Lovitz, Elaine May, Michael Rapaport, Elaine Stritch and Tracey Ullman.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal's PG-13 World War II submarine drama "U-571," down one notch in its eighth week with a slow ESTIMATED $1.13 million (-27%) at 1,172 theaters (-430 theaters; $960 per theater). Its cume is approximately $73.0 million, heading for about $75 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
Paramount Classics' R-rated drama about a Hungarian Jewish family's rise and fall, "Sunshine," opened in 16th place to a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.093 million at 7 theaters ($13,226 per theater).
Directed by Istvan Szabo, it stars Ralph Fiennes and Rosemary Harris.
Miramax's PG-rated romantic musical comedy "Love's Labour's Lost" kicked off its platform release in New York and Los Angeles, placing 17th with a lovely ESTIMATED $0.027 million at 2 theaters ($13,500 per theater).
"I think it's a great start," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday. "In New York, it's better than L.A. New York's going to be about $18,500 and L.A. about $8,500. The Times wasn't a terrific review either in New York or L.A., so we had that to overcome a little bit."
Directed by Kenneth Branagh, it stars Branagh, Alicia Silverstone, Alessandro Nivola and Natascha McElhone.
This weekend saw no national sneak previews.
There was no activity this weekend on the expansion front.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $91.64 million, down about 19.50% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $113.85 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 5.89% from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $97.38 million.
Last year, New Line's opening week of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" was first with $54.92 million at 3,312 theaters ($16,581 per theater); and 20th Century Fox's fourth week of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - Episode One" was second with $25.63 million at 3,024 theaters ($8,476 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $80.5 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $42.6 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES
Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
Buena Vista (Disney and Touchstone) was first with three films ("Gone in 60 Seconds," "Dinosaur" and "Shanghai Noon"), grossing an ESTIMATED $40.1 million or 43.8% of the market.
20th Century Fox was second with two films ("Big Momma's House" and "Where the Heart Is"), grossing an ESTIMATED $17.53 million or 19.1% of the market.
Paramount was third with one film ("Mission: Impossible 2"), grossing an ESTIMATED $17.1 million or 18.7% of the market.
DreamWorks was fourth with three films("Gladiator," "Road Trip" and "Small Time Crooks"), grossing an ESTIMATED $13.1 million or 14.3% of the market.
Universal was fifth with two films ("U-571" and "Erin Brockovich"), grossing an ESTIMATED $1.64 million or 1.8% of the market.
New Line was sixth with one film ("Frequency"), grossing an ESTIMATED $1.48 million or 1.6% of the market.
(11)Where the Heart Is/Fox: Theaters: 848 (-222) Gross: $0.73 million (-24%) Average per theater: $855 Cume: $31.3 million
(12)Center Stage/Columbia: Theaters: 920 (-442) Gross: $0.70 million (-33%) Average per theater: $765 Cume: $15.7 million
(13)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 643 (-94) Gross: $0.51 million (-16%) Average per theater: $800 Cume: $123.2 million
(14)The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas/Universal: Theaters: 873 (-232) Gross: $0.47 million (-36%) Average per theater: $535 Cume: $31.9 million
(15)Up at the Villa/USA Films: Theaters: 112 (0) Gross: $0.16 million (-15%) Average per theater: $1,395 Cume: $2.0 million
(16)SUNSHINE/Paramount Classics: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)
(17)LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST/Miramax: (see OTHER OPENINGS above)