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.
Schwarzenegger sells $18 million compound
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife, Maria Shriver, have sold three properties in their Pacific Palisades residential compound in California, while a fourth lot is in escrow, The Associated Press reports. Los Angeles Times reported Sunday the couple has not lived on the 5.3-acre property, which is valued at about $18 million, since they bought a new home in nearby Brentwood two years ago for about $11.9 million. The four lots in the compound were offered as three separate homes. One of the buyers is Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy and a cousin of Shriver, who bought one of the homes for $3.4 million. According to The Times, Schwarzenegger purchased that home, which boasts a pool and tennis court, for Shriver in 2001 as a Valentine's Day gift. The two other homes in the compound were sold as one estate for a reported $7.9 million. So how does Schwarzenegger measure up in his first gubernatorial year in office? The former action star stuck to his promise to avoid new taxes but signed a $105 billion spending package that, like those of past administrations, uses money borrowed through bond sales to help pay this year's bills as well as past years' debts.
Illinois newspaper wants apology from Michael Moore
The Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington, Ill., is demanding a letter of apology from Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore and the film's distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., for using what it calls an altered front page in his documentary. According to the AP, an early scene in the film shows newspaper headlines related to the contested 2000 presidential election, including a shot of Pantagraph's Dec. 19, 2001, front page with the headline: "Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election." The newspaper says that headline didn't appeared on that day but in a Dec. 5, 2001, edition in smaller type above a letter to the editor, which the paper says reflects "only the opinions of the letter writer." The paper is seeking $1 in damages. Neither Lions Gate nor Moore were immediately available for comment Sunday, the AP reports.
Celebs thank Prime Minister Tony Blair
Bono, Jude Law and Bob Geldof are just some of the celebrities that signed an open letter thanking Prime Minister Tony Blair's government for its promise to boost aid to poor countries, the AP reports. "It's unfashionable to congratulate politicians in public but we're going to do it anyway, to say thanks for increasing the funds available to tackle world poverty now and for committing to reach the U.N. aid-giving target by 2013 at the latest," the letter, which was published in Monday's Independent newspaper, said. "Thousands of people campaigned, and you responded, and lives in the poorest parts of the world will be transformed as a result." Others signing the letter included Minnie Driver, Helen Mirren, Roger Moore, Colin Firth and Joseph Fiennes and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.
Little House actor Edwards dies
Character actor Sam Edwards, who made scores of appearances on such TV shows as Gunsmoke, Barnaby Jones and Happy Days, as well as the town banker on Little House on the Prairie, dies Wednesday in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack, the AP reports. He was 89. Born into a show business family in Macon, Ga., Edwards first appeared on radio with his family in the 1930s. He moved on to TV in the 1950s and worked regularly into the 1980s, appearing on shows such as The Dukes of Hazzard, Wonder Woman, Dragnet and Adam-12. His film credits included Hello, Dolly! and The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Spike TV in The Club
Spike TV is launching The Club, a reality series that will chronicle the goings-on at ICE, a club that is seeking to compete with clubs/casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. As part of the series' storyline, ICE owner Ed Williams will give the club a makeover and bring in D.J. Paul Oakenfold and Hollywood party planner Allison Melnick. Ben Silverman, the show's creator and executive producer, told The Hollywood Reporter the show will also feature the real-life stories of all the clubgoers who come to ICE. "The bachelors, the bachelorettes, the newlyweds--all these great archetypal stories will play out in The Club," he said. The 10-episode series is scheduled to premiere on the men's cable channel Oct. 12 in the 10 p.m. time slot.
Estefan looking forward to retirement
Gloria Estefan, who kicked off her final concert tour in Texas on July 30, said she can't wait to spend more time with her family when it's all over. "Although I feel very energetic and I'm really in great shape, it's like boot camp, being on the road, singing live," Estefan, 46, told the AP. The Cuban-American singer's Live and Re-Wrapped tour wraps Sept. 25 in Miami, where she lives with her husband, producer Emilio Estefan.
Italian actress Laura Betti dies
Italian actress Laura Betti, who worked with many of Italy's best-known directors, died Saturday in Rome, Reuters reports. She was 70. Betti, whose real surname was Trombetti, was a close friend of the late director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who chose her for several of his films, including 1972's Canterbury Tales. The actress also starred in Federico Fellini's classic 1960 dramedy La Dolce Vita and Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 romance Last Tango in Paris. In 2001, Betti made a documentary about Pasolini, a homosexual who was killed in mysterious circumstances on a beach near Rome in 1975.
CBS prepping disaster miniseries
The disaster miniseries genre is gaining popularity once again, thanks in part to NBC's earthquake saga 10.5, which delivered blockbuster ratings last season. Now CBS is cashing in on the trend with an as-yet-unidentified disaster-themed miniseries the network is quietly putting together for next season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, thesps Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest, Randy Quaid, Nancy McKeon and Thomas Gibson are set to star in the untitled miniseries.