Double O Oldham

Why is it that American movies have yet to create a espionage thriller comparable to them Brits? (Don’t even get me started on rock & roll!) Everything from The Third Man, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold to James Bond. As for our homegrown we just have Jason Bourne, The Good Shepherd, and Tom Clancy. If only Norman Mailer finished writing the conclusion to Harlot’s Ghost….

I guess the fact is cloak and dagger tactics don’t bode well in cow towns like Boise, Idaho or Shaftsbury, Vermont, whereas any village in Europe is a ripe setting for assassination plots and double dealings. Besides, I can’t imagine a spy with a hillbilly accent. But at least we have a lock on the detective genre. I mean just look what them fucking ‘tards are doing with Sherlock Holmes! And so the latest import by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, breathes new air into the genre even though it is mainly shot in a claustrophobic soundproof think tank called “The Circus” with a bunch of suits huddled around a table smoking fags giving each other the stink eye.

In the eye of this quiet storm is recently dismissed into retirement British Intelligence Officer, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) who looks around this poker table trying to figure out who the KGB mole is or in other words, bluffing. But as the the old poker saying goes, “if you can’t spot the sucker around the table then you are the sucker.” Much of course is owed to John le Carre seminal novel though the adaptation seems a bit muddled probably due to compression and trying to weed thru the subterfuge and decipher all that spy stuff, code names, and operations – one can easily become disorientated with what the fuck is going on.

(Benedict Cumberbatch – the real Sherlock Holmes)

But if you are familiar with the Cold War climate during the late 50’s and 60’s and the infamous Cambridge Five which are somewhat loosely represented in this film by a very motley looking crew comprised of Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Truman Capote, and Ciaran Hinds then you will go with the flow of things and begin to admire the amazing cinematography, direction, and set design. I never thought it possible that seeing a room full of file cabinets, desks, reading lamps could look so beautiful. Not to say Gary Oldman’s performance wasn’t admirable but he was definitely the antithesis to his cop persona in The Professional. He didn’t even utter a fucking word until about 20 minutes into the movie! I mean I thought I was in the wrong theater and mistakenly turned homo and sat in on The Artist. All kidding aside, Gary’s character was methodically subdued and like a Bobby Fischer assigning the pieces on this chessboard only to find that his opponent was not them Ruskies but his whore of a wife.

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3 responses to “Double O Oldham

  1. Pingback: 2011 “Winning” 5 | Video Killed the Movie Stars

  2. He really did sound spkoioly like Guinness at times. I’m not sure if he adopted other mannerisms like polishing his glasses with his tie but it was an amazing performance. I really hope they do versions of The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People next. I also liked the way they didn’t show Karla as it gives the character more of an air of mystery (I half hoped they’d get Patrick Stewart in to do it like in the TV series). Actually Tim Roth would be a great choice and I’d love to see him and Oldman on screen together again.They do they skim over the traitor’s reasons for spying for the Soviets but this is a problem with the book as well. Hating the Americans seems a rather shallow reason for betraying a country to the USSR. Have you read A Perfect Spy, as the character in that Magnus Pym is a traitor and it makes his motives totally convincing, in fact when I was reading it half the time I forgot that he was betraying his country.

    • It is excellent, as is Oldman, algtuohh I couldn’t help hearing an Alec Guinness impression creeping through. I also thought the traitor’s reason for spying for the Soviets could have been given more than a single line.

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