Recently I had the great displeasure of sitting through the colonoscopy of a film “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”. Now I’ve a great many terrible movies in my lifetime. And some I have enjoyed for their awfulness- “Bad Taste” by Peter Jackson, the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. But what made Tinker Tailor different was the almost universal critical praise that has been lavished on the film, and it was that critical knob-tuggery that sent me to the theater to watch the film.
That and Gary Oldman. I loves me some Gary Oldman!
His performance in the Professional is one of my favorite of all time! But this performance in Tinker Tailor…although I enjoyed it very much for its subtlety, should NOT be the role that earns this man the mass mainstream critical praise and award adornment that has eluded him for his career. This performance was a nice exercise in stillness but jesus, you should hear what the critics are saying!
“Ultimately, though, it is very much Oldman’s film, thanks to a restrained tour de force performance. Smiley is weathered, worn and beaten down by life, but he’s also a quiet, sure force of something that resembles good.” -Tom Long, Detroit News
“Gary Oldman’s graceful understatement as Smiley makes his slow-burning performance all the more smashing.” – John Wirt, Advocate
If great acting is sitting still and not reacting to dialogue, allow me to offer Mr. Wirt and Long this year’s nominees for Best Actor.
The one pervasive thing that I found when reading the reviews for this film was how the movie was not for people who went to the movies looking for such conceits as “plot”, “story” or “any semblance of a cohesive narrative” and those looking for such things were immature and stupid.
“Put another way, if you’re expecting Oldman or Hardy to go all Jason Bourne on some Russkies, you’d be better off staying home and watching Rambo.” – Pete Vonder Haar, Houston Press
Yeah! You stupid motherfuckers!
Go watch Rambo and try not to swallow your tongue! I’ll be at home sipping tea, jerking off with my pinkie raised and watching Tinky Tailor while dancing a waltz in my puffy wig! MORE!
“A movie of chain smokers and whisperers, of grey skies and glum expressions, of rattling tea cups and rotary-dialed telephones.” -Peter Howell Toronto Star
I forgot about the rotary phones. I hated this movie, but I forgot all about the rotary phones!
Again, I’ve seen terrible movies. I’ve even loved some terrible movies for how terrible they are. But there’s something so smug about the critical response to this picture and the defensive preemptive strikes on the intellect of those who don’t enjoy what is a slow, linear and emotionally and intellectually unappealing story. If you want to see a movie that has all the things that I was hoping for in TTSS, go see the Spanish Prisoner with Steve Martin.
Now THAT was a good movie!
But not every critic who watched this film ran out of the theater with a culture boner that could only be drained by smug reviews that would be picked up by Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics stood up in the face of boredom and said “NAY!”
“Alfredson wraps a riddle inside an enigma and ties it with a big gray bow, as disloyalties are exposed and flashback clues can’t come fast enough… boldly dull in protest to modern tastes, and that alone may earn it more praise than it deserves.” – Steve Parsall, St. Petersburg Times
The great Bret Easton Ellis tweeted his displeasure with the film, he has since deleted the tweet, no doubt bullied by the cabal of people who love boring shit.
“Everything great about the novel is condensed into two confusing hours.
So in summary, if you want to be a pretentious prick, go to this movie. Enjoy it. Relish it! Tell your friends about it. Ridicule them for “not getting it”. And then use words like “restrained”, “captivating” and if you’re so bold, “tour de force”. Do ALL those things. Just don’t do that anywhere around me, I’ll be watching a movie with a “story” that “moves” from one point to another in a meaningful, cohesive and satisfying way.