Family shows such as Modern Family and Parenthood are hard to resist, because they're so easy to relate to. They remind us about all the good and bad times that we've gone through with our own family. Often, the remind us to appreciate our loved ones and all that they do for us.
1. They are going to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and you're going to be embarrassed.
2. They always make time for romantic crises.
3. They understand what you really mean.
4. Their happiness = your happiness
5. You will endure the worst and the best times together.
6. They have the potential to really disappoint you.
7. They're always proud of you even if they don't say it.
8. They waste no time in celebrating your accomplishments.
9. They know what you need without you having to say it.
10. Family will always stick by you...
11. ...and accept you.
12. You'll cherish the small moments with them all your life.
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When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Whether or not Parenthood comes back next season (NBC chief Bob Greenblatt said earlier this month that the network is "hopeful" for its return, and oh man, so am I) the writers of the beloved little-series-that-should certainly covered their bases and treated the Season 4 finale like a series finale. You know, just in case.
Now, whether or not this was a full-fledged goodbye to the tight-knit Braverman clan (the last moments felt awfully reminiscent of Jason Katims' other beloved, underrated series Friday Night Lights' send-off) or just a see you later, loose ends were tied up, lovers were reunited, and happy news was shared. Here's how it all went down and — worst case scenario, if this is it — if it was a satisfying farewell. Let's break it down, Braverman by Braverman.
Kristina and Adam: My goodness, is there a more adorable husband on TV right now than Adam Braverman? Always by Kristina's side during her cancer treatments, and then surprising her with a much-deserved trip to Hawaii, he's quickly climbed the ranks in the Katims Husband Hall of Fame. (Coach Taylor is still No. 1.) Of course, the best thing to happen to Kristina and Adam last night was the wonderful news that she was, at long last, cancer-free. Happy ugly cries for all! And listen up, Emmy voters, just in case this show doesn't come back doesn't mean you can have short-term memory loss about Monica Potter's brave, brilliant performance this year.
Jasmine and Crosby: The intrusive mother-in-law storyline lost steam about two weeks ago, but things were finally patched up between the three (c'mon, this is the Bravermans, like they could ever hold a grudge) when Jasmine and Crosby announced Jabbar would soon have a little brother or sister. D'aww.
Joel and Julia: If anybody deserved to be cut a break this season, it was these two. It was bad enough they had a terrible biological child (Syndey, look around you. What could possibly be your damage in these surroundings?), but then they got placed with a terrible foster child (Victor, look around you. What could possibly be your damage in those surroundings?). While Sydney seems like a lost cause, Victor magically got his act together, wanted to be adopted and started calling them Mom and Dad by episode's end. Sappy and rushed? Sure. But, at least if the show comes back next year we'll all be able to put up with Victor.
Sarah and Mark and Hank: Ugh, Sarah. I mean, I guess every family needs an illogical, self-destructive screw-up. And now that Crosby has his act together, Sarah can take the ranks. But, still, ugh. Who picks the human equivalent of Droopy Dog and looks like Ray Romano over the sweet, sensitive, safe, forgiving, handsome guy who looks like Jason Ritter? Sarah, that's who. Mark was willing to take her back after all the Hank drama, but she still picked Hank. This despite the fact that he's a total Debbie Downer, with baggage to boot. Unbeknownst that he is the chosen one, Hank drops the bomb on Sarah that he's moving to be near his daughter, and invites Sarah to come along. We don't know what Sarah winds up doing, but if she ends up alone, it sorta serves her right. Team Mr. Cyr.
Amber and Ryan: At least Sarah's daughter has begun to make wise romantic choices as she's gotten older. The adorable couple (Mae Whitman and Matt Lauria are a match made in TV heaven) had a tearful reunion that paid off in a big way. Come on Season 5, we need another wedding!
Drew: Aw, Drew. The poor kid barely gets cut a break on this show, let alone paid any attention by the writers (or his relatives). The kid needed some good news thrown his way (especially after the trauma he experience when he and his girlfriend Amy had an abortion) and got it when he found out he was accepted to Berkeley. And hey, you got way more airtime last night than Zeke, Camille, and Max combined. Drew Holt!
See you soon, Bravermans. If not for a new season, then at least revisiting you with DVD marathons. Until then, thanks for all laughs, the memories, and so, so, so many tears.
[Photo credit: NBC]
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Gangster Squad the new movie from genre-blending filmmaker Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) has a tone problem. The scatterbrained approach to the vigilante tale is summed up in one particular sequence: the "Squad " cops given permission to take down the goons of Los Angeles gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) by any means possible bust a dope smuggling operation at an airport in Burbank. Instead of tailing the criminals making off with the drugs they engage them in a car chase full of gunfire explosions and hyper-stylized CG-assisted camera work. When they finally do capture Cohen's men the squad leader Sgt. John O'Mara (Josh Brolin) interrogates them then shoots the cowering thugs in the back of the legs before rolling them down a hill. Within seconds the movie jumps from outlandish comic book roller coaster ride to gritty crime fiction exploring the moral complexity of defeating crime lords. The two mix onscreen like water and oil.
Fleischer packs it all into Gangster Squad and rarely does any of the material shine. Brolin works as the hard-nosed policeman dedicated to justice physically perfect with beady eyes and a square chin. But that's all his character has to offer with his squadron offering even less. Ryan Gosling appears as the whippersnapper cop on the verge of corruption expressing his doubts with the whiniest '40s accent ever to grace the screen. Anthony Mackie Michael Pena Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Patrick fill out the group — after sleek Ocean's 11-style introductions — bringing identifiable traits that open the door for one or two oh-right-that's-why-you're-here moments throughout the film. They feel barely existent in Gangster Squad's zippy script convinced to work outside the law all too easily and following O'Mara into suicidal missions that likely have sounder alternatives. For O'Mara whatever takedown creates the biggest mess — be it the aforementioned chase or setting a Cohen-owned club aflame — is top priority.
The saving grace is Penn playing Cohen like a long lost castmember of Warren Beaty's Dick Tracy. Every moment he's on screen Penn is scarfing down scenery and spitting it in our faces going over the top and sticking to it. He loves money he loves women he loves fudge sundaes. Penn makes a choice one the movie desperately needs. Surprisingly Emma Stone can't keep up as his arm candy Grace Faraday who falls head over heels for Gosling because it's an old fashioned noir throwback and well you certainly can't have one without hammy dialogue and paper thin romance.
The nods to Hollywood's golden era upgraded with flashy costumes and special effects would work if Gangster Squad didn't insist on bringing reality into the picture. Too often the movie resorts to moments of shocking violence much of it intensified by the slow motion shots of a tommy gun. The violence is raw while the film surrounding it is cartoonish. The choice raises questions Gangster Squad never answers: is O'Mara in the right when he takes the law into his own hands? Ribisi's techie character — a WWII vet like O'Mara and someone deeply changed by his war experiences — asks these questions challenging his boss' choices. Briefly. O'Mara and the film brush off the debate any time it comes up making room for more slick scenes of action.
Muddled in some of the most heinous digital photography in recent memory (no exaggeration: half the movie is motion blur) Gangster Squad is an experiment in modernization gone wrong. As Brolin and Penn trudge their way with entertaining choices Fleischer's film goes rogue around them. In this case entertaining outside the law doesn't work.
Aw, another year? Really? More taxes, annoying celebrity Instagram photos, and Taylor Swift boyfriend scandals? That's not what we signed up for when we totally bought into that Mayan Apocalypse thing, universe. We just don't know if we can take another Swifty break-up. We'd take the Rapture any day.
Still, there are some legitimate reasons to be excited that we made it out okay, even without John Cusack's help. From the return of a beloved, quirky sitcom to one of the most badass blockbuster concepts ever, behold our top 10 reasons to be excited for 2013:
Pacific Rim: Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro-directed sci-fi thriller, where the likes of Jax from Sons of Anarchy (Charlie Hunnam), Stringer Bell from The Wire (Idris Elba), and Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Charlie Day) team up to create giant, man-controlled robots to fight the alien monsters who sprouted from a crack in the ocean. If you're not already peeing yourself, we can't help you.
Man of Steel: What our world needs most — even more than its own Superman — is a good movie about Superman. After the disastrous Superman Returns incident of 2006, we were hesitant when it was announced that Henry Cavill (The Tudors) would put on the suit for yet another remake. But when we learned that Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark... you get our drift) would produce, and when the stellar cast assembled, we felt better. Then the trailer came out, and now we're just ridiculously excited.
Star Trek Into Darkness: We really enjoyed the franchise's first go-round back in 2009, and having J.J. Abrams back at the helm — as well as American Horror Story baddie Zachary Quinto as Spock — gives us confidence for the sequel. Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch plays the villain, so there's that.
NEXT: Small-screen wondersReally Good TV
The Following: We've already seen the pilot for the new Kevin Williamson drama, which stars James Purefoy as a behind-bars serial killer with a terrifying worldwide following (get it?) and Kevin Bacon as the FBI agent who has no choice but to stop him. It. Is. Terrifying. Also, it's unlike anything you've ever seen on network TV. Do give it a shot — unless you enjoy sleeping at night.
Arrested Development: New episodes of Arrested Development seven years after its cancellation? Come on! This must be an illusion, Michael. But it's true — production began last summer, and 12-15 episodes (featuring cameos by beloved guest stars like Liza Minnelli, Henry Winkler, Mae Whitman, and Judy Greer) will premiere on Netflix early this year. But one major question remains — whatever happened to Steve Holt?
Bates Motel: A weekly look into the relationship between Psycho's resident psycho (Norman Bates) and his mother, starring the kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Freddie Highmore) and movie star Vera Farmiga? Sounds pretty cool. Add some enticing trailers and the fact that it's produced by Lost guru Carlton Cuse, and we're sold.
The Americans: FX has proven itself to be a go-to network for quality drama (we're talking to you, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, and American Horror Story), and the idea of a show about Cold War KGB agents posing as everyday Americans is pretty awesome — especially when you throw in Keri Russell as the main agent, who is in an arranged marriage with another agent (Matthew Rhys). Oh yeah, and they have kids who have no idea that their parents could be activated at any second.
NEXT: From the page to the screen (finally)
Our Favorite Books, As Movies
The Great Gatsby: “He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” Sigh. We love you, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and we're hoping that Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Baz Luhrmann and co. do you justice. If not, that'd be a bigger crime than hitting Myrtle with a car.
Ender's Game: Here's a reason to stick around until November: A big-screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card's devastating sci-fi novel Ender's Game! The story of a brilliant boy whose childhood is stolen when he's picked to save the world from aliens has been haunting parents and kids alike for generations, and we can't wait to see what director Gavin Hood can do with it.
World War Z: Sorry, Walking Dead — we love you, but Max Brooks' World War Z is arguably the greatest work of zombie fiction in the land. The things human beings will do for survival — and they ultimately do survive — when faced with fear, abandonment, and uncertainty are explored via multiple eyewitness accounts told to a U.N. employee in the novel. The film is taking a different approach — the U.N. employee (played by Brad Pitt) isn't trying to explore the catastrophe after the fact, he's the tried and true action hero trying to save the day. We like the first idea better, but are excited to see what Marc Forster has done with the source material.
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Forget that the latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's sweeping romance novel comes from the man who brought us the slick-but-stuffy Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. Every frame of director Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is a wonder to behold overflowing with visual spectacle and roaring performances. Keira Knightley Jude Law Aaron Taylor-Johnson and the rest of the cast fit perfectly in the high drama epic but it's really Wright's playground. Following Hanna an artful spin on the action movie Wright returns to the period drama but injects it with dazzling daring choices. A book like Anna Karenina could once fit in reality but its larger-than-life legacy precedes it. Wright acknowledges that from frame one approaching the film like a grand ballet or opera where grand gestures broad emotions and overt theatrics are commonplace. That vision clicks transforming Anna Karenina into an exhilarating moviegoing experience.
The storyline of Anna Karenina isn't far off from a daytime soap: It's 1874 and Anna (Knightley) is floating through existence as the wife of influential government player Karenin (Law). But when her brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) summons her to Moscow to save his marriage Anna's entire world is shaken up. She meets Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson) a cavalry hunk who finds himself smitten with the taken lady. She's in the same boat: The two strike up a flirtatious relationship that evolves into one of sexual passion. A scandalous affair would incite trouble in the preset day but in the 19th century it's the ultimate crime. Quickly Anna's life comes crumbling down.
The intertwining melodrama of Anna Karenina earned the novel its classic status but Wright uses the material as a launching pad for imagination rather than a tome to translate to screen. Many of the scenes are staged in a theater creating an instant awareness of the production. Sets shift and are reconstructed into new rooms; actors costume change in the span of single shots; action sequences like a thrilling horse race are conducted on stage with special effects you might see on Broadway. Wright works this sort of stylization in the other direction too; a character could walk an empty stage open a door and suddenly be on a snow-covered hill. Anna Karenina isn't the first film to use the effect but in Wright's hands it's exhilarating.
The movie is Wright's third collaboration with Knightley and easily their most successful. Knightley never struggles to stay on the same page as the heightened material whether she's nailing a dance sequence or breaking down in a flood of tears. Casting an ensemble around Knightley is no easy task but Taylor-Johnson gives his best work yet as the debonair love interest and Macfadyen steals the show with moments of physical comedy.
We have expectations of the texture and structure of period romances. Anna Karenina defies them. Masterpiece Theater it is not.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
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.
Okay. Fine. I'll live.
I went on a desolate three-day bender after hearing that Bryan Cranston was dropping out of Gangster Squad, which compiled the most monumental assortment of actors in the history of time. I wasn't sleeping, I yelled at strangers... but there is a bright light on the horizon, and a fire in the sky. Robert Patrick, the Terminator 2 villain, will be taking Cranston's role. Although I'll never truly be happy with anyone accepting the character of Max Kennard, I don't have much to say in the vein of negative criticism regarding Patrick.
Max Kennard is a didactic Texan police officer based in Los Angeles, hellbent on doing his job to a fault. Kennard has that in him. In fact, I think it's a role pretty well-suited for him.
No matter what, Ruben Fleischer's film will be a sensation: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, Holt McCallany and Emma Stone. THAT'S how. But you probably already knew most of that, since this film is huge enough to be overshadowing everything from the economic crisis to whatever else exists in the present period of time (I wouldn't know, I've only been focusing on this film).