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.
Brandy has finally revealed why she went to the hospital back in November -- and it isn't what the rumors say.
The 20-year-old singer-actress collapsed on the set of her UPN sitcom "Moesha" as a result of chronic fatigue and dehydration, not an addiction to diet pills. She was hospitalized for three days, halting production on her sitcom, and her publicists described her case as dehydration.
"I just want to tell you it took me five years to get sick. It took me five years to get off track," Brandy told "Access Hollywood" on Thursday. "Dehydration is crazy when you don't realize what you are doing and you are working all of the time."
Addressing the addiction rumors, she said: "I wasn't addicted to anything. My family has kept me to where I need to be mentally. So to go that route and say those bad things about me, it was kind of weird, but I was true to myself and it didn't matter."
TESH'S LAWSUIT.COM: Former "Entertainment Tonight" host and Yanni-like musician John Tesh is suing an online firm for registering an Internet domain named after him.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, accuses Celebsites.com, which owns the name johntesh.com, of cybersquatting -- that is, registering an Internet domain in the name of a famous person or company and later trying to sell it for a high price.
"John Tesh is a recognized family brand whose ability to promote products and family values has been recognized worldwide," Tesh's lawyer, Charles N. Kenworthy, said in the lawsuit.
He added that the site could compromise Tesh's own site, tesh.com, which he said offers "intelligence for the family." Actually, we visited the site and it features a "Name that Tesh Tune" contest. If you can identify the keyboarded melody, you can win $100.
QUICK TAKES: Mel Gibson won't discuss salary specifics, but a recent article about the actor's deal with Columbia Pictures says he'll make $25 million for "The Patriot," a Revolutionary War drama opening June 30. But USA Today says the figure -- if it's true -- is likely not salary, but from "back end deals" including percentage of revenue from TV and video sales. What does Mel say to the rumor? "I wish." ...
... Actors Tommy Lee Jones, Anouk Aime ("La Dolce Vita") and director William Friedkin ("The French Connection") will receive Lifetime achievement awards at the Palm Beach International Film Festival, held Feb. 4-13 ...
...Freddie Prinze Jr., who stars in this weekend's romance "Down to You," is on the market again. The 23-year-old actor recently split with actress Kimberly McCullough, the former "General Hospital" star last seen in ABC's "Once and Again," after four years of dating. "It was better for us to go our separate ways," Prinze told TV Guide Online. "I'm still becoming a man an trying to figure out what this world is all about." We're sure there are many girls out there who'd like to help you with that, Freddie.
THIS WEEK'S RUMOR ROUNDUP: Detective John Shaft was a ladies' man, but director John Singleton seems to be taking over that job on the set of his new version of the blaxploitation film and television series. The New York Post, quoting "celluloid sources," reports that Singleton has been spending much time in his trailer with young starlets. His on-set antics, including showing up late and ordering reshoots, have caused clashes with "Shaft" producer Scott Rudin and star Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson reportedly blew up at Singleton for making him repeat dialogue when the camera wasn't focused on him. Singleton's agent, Jeremy Zimmer, calls the story "misguided," but says: "If at one point or another John dated a female extra, I can't say. But his behavior toward women on the set has never been the focus of any attention or discussion." He also admits "There have been dificulties between John and Scott," but that Singleton's only been late once or twice. A representative for Paramount, which is funding the film, denies the story.
Kate Winslet recently encountered an uninvited guest at a wrap party for her latest film, "Quills." According to Seventeen.com, the actress became irritated with the party-crasher parading around in a Dennis the Menace costume, and finally ordered him removed. When the bouncers closed in, "Dennis" whipped off his mask, and lo and behold -- it was her "Titanic" co-star and prankster extraordinaire, Leonardo DiCaprio...
Renee Zellweger is reportedly sporting a $200,000 diamond "friendship ring" from Jim Carrey, with whom she's been spotted Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here.in recent months. They've been seen everywhere, including ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, ever since they met on the set of the upcoming Farrelly brothers comedy "Me, Myself and Irene." Carrey plays a man with a split personality, and Renée is the woman both his personalities fall for. At least she knows she has his full attention.