Upcoming Flix Spotlight: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

I haven’t done a new flick spotlight in a while, and the last time I did it was on Cloud Atlas, which had quite an ensemble cast. Well, the fantastic British cast is what initially grabbed my attention about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know I love all things Brits and most of my favorite actors are from across the pond. Well, this one is chock full of them! Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, and John Hurt.

I put this movie on the list of most-anticipated movies of 2011 back in March, but now it’s been generating some serious buzz all over, thanks to the impressive set of enigmatic character posters

… and trailer, like this new International version that’s just been released yesterday.


It shows just a bit more clips than the first trailer, but retains that same creepy, sinister vibe. It’s particularly interesting that it uses the same score as in the X-Men: First Class, and the fact that both are set in the 60s. I love the retro look and the music is certainly effective.

Based on John le Carré’s 1973 novel of the same name, this movie is a remake to the 1979 British miniseries starring Sir Alec Guinness as espionage veteran George Smiley. Set in the bleak days of the Cold War, the plot centers on a middle-aged spy who’s forced out of retirement to uncover a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The minute we hear the words ‘British spy’ most of us automatically think of 007, but the gritty and realistic portrayal of the espionage world in this one is a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle depicted in the Bond movies.

Author John le Carré

According to FilmStage, Le Carré actually has a cameo in the film. The British spy novelist has also seen the film and has high praise for it… “Through my very personal prism… it is a triumph. And if people write to me and say, ‘How could you let this happen to poor Alec Guinness,’ I shall reply that, if ‘poor Alec’ had witnessed Oldman’s performance, he would have been the first to give it a standing ovation. I’m very proud to have provided [director Tomas] Alfredson with the material, but what he made of it is wonderfully his own.” Wow, that’s quite a compliment coming from the author himself!

Speaking of Alfredson, he’s said to have brought a horror sensibility to the film, even comparing it to his last feature, the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In. In the Independent article, he’s quoted as saying ” … horror is 90 per cent inside people. The gap between reality and what’s happening in their mind — that’s what creates the horror. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a horror precisely because you do not know how far the conspiracies and lies stretch — it could be much worse than you think.”

I’m so glad to see Gary Oldman in a leading role in a pretty high profile project. He’s done other leading roles of course, but this is perhaps one of the most prominent with high visibility. I’m pulling for him to finally nab at least an Oscar nomination for the role. Can you believe it he has NEVER been nominated?? It’s ludicrous really considering his resume. I’ve listed five of my favorite Gary Oldman roles, but I have a strong feeling I’d have to make room for his role as Smiley once I’ve seen this film. He even sounds different somehow, but then again great actors are often able to alter their speaking voice.

And of course there’s the eye candy factor, ehm. Tom Hardy is not the primary reason I want to see this movie, but his presence certainly can’t hurt. He looks so darn appealing sporting blond locks. Even amongst THIS cast, I have no doubt he’ll be stealing scenes with his seductive glances and well, looking like Tom Hardy 😀

I know it’s perhaps premature to say this, but I can’t imagine this one NOT living up to the hype. I sure hope this will be released nationwide come November 18!


What do you think folks? Is this high on your must-see list?

THIS JUST IN! Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Trailer

Woo hoo! Another preview to one of my anticipated movies this year.

Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6′s echelons.

Wow, that is one suspenseful trailer, but man it looks sooo good! I love spy thrillers and this one looks realistic and intense. Espionage is serious business, none of that Bond frivolity, who has time for sipping martinis and shagging women when you’ve got a crisis! I almost didn’t recognize Tom Hardy w/ his blond looks, but he sure looks good! Swedish director Tomas Alfredson who did the critically acclaimed vampire film Let the Right One In is directing this one. The story is based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré that was adapted into a BBC miniseries back in 1979 with Alec Guinness, which I have yet to see. “Le Carre’s spies live in a world of shades of grey – none of the good guy/bad guy clarity of the James Bond world,” Mark Phillips said on his CBS interview article with the author.

If there is a best ensemble cast award, this one containing some of the best UK’s dramatic actors is certainly a shoo-in! 😀 Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, and John Hurt. OH MY! The only thing is, where is the female cast?? On the IMDb page, there are only two actresses listed and I’m not familiar w/ either one of them.

Oldman plays George Smiley, a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service.  As I said before on my Gary Oldman spotlight post, I am pulling for him to get at least a Best Actor Oscar nomination!


What do you think folks? Is this one on your radar?

Chat-Worthy Thespian: Gary Oldman

This is my LAMB Acting School debut post. It’s kind of perfect timing as the British thespian just turned 53 this past Monday!

If I were to come up with top ten great actors who haven’t won an Oscar, Oldman would’ve certainly made the list. If you think that idea is atrocious, get this, he actually has never gotten a single nomination!! Wha-? U-huh. Really? Yep. Come on! Exactly.

There are so many of his performances that are Oscar-worthy. Just from what I’ve seen, here are at least three roles that merit a nomination: Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992), Stansfield (The Professional, 1994), and Beethoven (Immortal Beloved, 1994). It’s challenging to play a persona like Dracula that’s been done so many times over, but Oldman was quite a revelation as the romantic, seductive yet utterly terrifying prince of darkness that it could easily be one of the best Dracula ever. As Stansfield, he was so darn creepy as the pill-crunching corrupt cop who personifies evil through and through, it was a scene-stealing role that puts him as one of the most memorable movie villains. In the same year, he ‘transformed’ himself into one of the greatest composers that ever lived, Ludwig Von Beethoven. He immerses himself in the character and captured the musical genius’ inner turmoil, passion and madness, even in the scenes of him going deaf, it’s as if we could feel his world turning silent.

Now many of you probably would list his iconic portrayal of Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy as his greatest role (which ranked #62 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time in 2006). I haven’t seen the film yet, but from the clips and reviews I’ve read, I have no doubt it was a spectacular performance.

The many faces... and hairstyle of Gary Oldman

You could say that Oldman’s an actors’ actor, as a number of talented actors such as Ryan Gosling and Jason Isaac regard him as one of their favorite actors (per IMDb). Last August I made a post about The Chameleon vs. Perpetually-Typecast Actors and his name is the one that immediately spring to mind when thinking about chameleon actors. He along with under-appreciated thespians such as Alfred Molina, Ciaran Hinds, Sam Rockwell, etc. are the kind of actors who are able to ‘disappear’ into their roles. They’re the kind of actors who consistently seek out roles where they often appear unrecognizable on screen as their looks vary drastically from film to film. Even though he often plays bad guys, he manages to always bring something new to the table and elevate them from being caricatures or one-dimensional characters.

Despite his more indelible psychotic roles, I find him equally convincing as a noble regular guy. Case in point: Commissioner Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. At first I was quite puzzled Nolan’s choice, but after seeing him in the role, I really think it’s inspired casting! In fact, Gordon stands as one of my favorite Gary Oldman roles, as well as my favorite amongst the stellar cast he shared the screen with. Oh, speaking of stellar cast, his supporting role as Sirius Black in Harry Potter is also one of my top ten faves in that franchise.

Just a couple of tidbits about the actor you might not know about: In 1997, Oldman directed, produced, and wrote a gritty drama Nil by Mouth (starring Ray Winstone), partially based on his own childhood. The movie ended up winning a BAFTA for Best British Film and is regarded by the organization as one of 100 best films of all time. Oldman’s also an accomplished pianist who once considered becoming a musician rather than an actor.

Gary Oldman as George Smiley

I can’t wait to see Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy – a spy thriller with Oldman in the leading role. It’s one of my most anticipated movies 0f 2011. This is a role that another British great Alec Guinness once played in a BBC miniseries back in 1979, a huge shoes to fill of which I’m sure Oldman is more than up for the task.

Too bad we’d have to wait until December for this, but on the plus side, it’s perfect timing for award season that hopefully Oldman would finally get the recognition he deserves. Now that Christian Bale’s won his Oscar, I’m pulling for Oldman to at least garner a nomination next year. Interestingly enough, both British actors often gravitate toward obsessive and/or deranged roles, and have a knack for doing various accents in movies.

Here’s hoping the day of this massively talented thespian getting passed over for an award will soon be at an end.


What are your thoughts about Gary Oldman? I’d also love to hear your favorite Gary Oldman role(s).

FlixChatter’s Most Anticipated 2011 Movies – Part II

Here’s the second part of the movies I’m anticipating this year. Again, I only list those that I’d most likely be seeing in the cinema. The release dates information is courtesy of Movie Insider and The-Numbers. I will update accordingly if there are changes, as the information becomes available.


AUGUST

August 31 – The Debt
Synopsis:
Twenty years after World War II’s end, three Mossad agents learn that a Nazi war criminal is still alive and set out to pursue him across Europe.

I’ve been anticipating this movie for a while since I saw this intriguing trailer, oh and what a cast! Relative newcomers Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain are quite privileged to be acting alongside seasoned thespians like Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds. Chastain who’s also in The Tree of Life and Coriolanus is quite possibly one of the hottest (and luckiest) young actress working today! I was afraid this movie would go straight to dvd when Miramax went kaput last year. Glad it ends up getting a theater release.

 

SEPTEMBER

September 1 – Straw Dogs
Synopsis:
James Marsden as a Hollywood screenwriter who accompanies his wife (Kate Bosworth) as she returns to her hometown in Mississippi. Her ex-boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard), a former high school football hero, sees her return as an opportunity to reclaim glory.

Wow, September is a slow month indeed, I kept looking at the list and the only one that I’m somewhat interested is the one above (as I like James Marsden). He’s back together again with Bosworth, who was his love interest in Superman Returns. Depending on the reviews, this could be worth seeing in the theater, but I’m waiting for the trailer/reviews first.

The only other one I might be interested in is Brighton Rock, a UK gangster-themed thriller starring Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Sam Riley, which probably will get a limited theater release here in the States. It’s got mixed reviews when it opened in the UK and premiered at last year’s TIFF, so it could be more of a rental-quality.

OCTOBER

October 14 – Three Musketeers
Synopsis:
A modernized re-imagining of the classic novels written by Alexandre Dumas that follow the story of a young d’Artagnan, who longs to become a great musketeer — one of the personal guards of the French crown. He encounters and befriends the contentious Athos, Porthos, and Aramis — three musketeers of legend and folly.


I’ve always had a thing for this classic tale, I mean one of my favorite guilty pleasures is The Man in the Iron Mask. Most likely I won’t be as enamored by this d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) than I was with Gabriel Byrne in the titular role, but I quite like the cast of the three musketeers themselves: Brits Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans and Matthew Macfayden. I sure hope this won’t be as bad as the other Paul W.S. Anderson‘s films and at the very least it’d be a fun swashbuckling entertainment worth a cinema ticket price.

October 21 – Contagion
Synopsis:
An action-thriller that takes place in a worst case scenario of a deadly virus.

I don’t know much about this Steven Soderbergh movie but check out the cast: Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne and recent Oscar nominee John Hawkes. I’d watch just for the amazing cast. The premise kind of reminds me of the Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak, but I’m curious what Soderbergh has in store for us in this one.


TBA – The Rum Diary
Synopsis:
Based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson with the same name, Depp plays an American journalist named Paul Kemp, which is loosely based on the author’s own life journey. Kemp moves from New York to the Caribbean with the hope of finding adventure, but instead finds himself tangled in love, jealousy, and violence, amongst his alcoholic American peers who staff the run-down newspaper.

This movie was actually in my 2010 most anticipated movies list, but it just kept getting delayed. Not sure what the problem is, can’t imagine a Johnny Depp movie not getting a distributor?? The premise sounds interesting and tailor-made for Depp, especially his connection to Thompson. I also like Aaron Eckhart who’s his co-star in this movie. Check out some of the on-set photos that my co-worker shot whilst vacationing in Puerto Rico. Hope the trailer will be released soon.

NOVEMBER

November 11 – Immortals
Synopsis: A mythological tale set in war-torn ancient Greece where the young warrior prince Theseus leads his men in a battle against evil that will see theGods and Men fighting against the Titans and Barbarians.

Freida Pinto as Phaedra with Theseus in the background

It’s like Clash of the Titans but Kraken-free and hopefully much, much better. Indian director Tarsem Singh first came to my attention when I saw the visual feast that is The Fall, which was filmed on location in 18 countries, including Bali for the Kecak dance sequence. I have a soft spot for the leading man Henry Cavill (the new Superman) and coupled with Tarsem’s knack for a glorious visual spectacle, this is definitely one to see on the big screen.

 

TBA – Coriolanus
Synopsis: A modern Shakespeare historical thriller on a banished Roman hero (Ralph Fiennes) who allies with a sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to take his revenge on the city.

Coriolanus greets his mother Volumnia as Menenius looks on

Despite Vanessa’s dismal review from Berlinale, I’m still hugely anticipating this. Yes, I’m a big fan of Butler as y’all already know, but I’m also curious to see Fiennes’s directing debut and all the fuss is about Vanessa Redgrave’s performance as Coriolanus’ mother that there’s already talks of Oscar nomination for next year. I also love Scottish thespian Brian Cox who plays Coriolanus’ mentor Menenius.

Check out the behind-the-scene photos and additional stills and info about the movie. The screenplay is by John Logan (Gladiator, Last Samurai) so I’m still hoping the dialog would at least be pretty solid.

DECEMBER

December 23 – The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Synopsis: Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock’s ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt. Based on the Belgian comic series The Adventures of Tintin from Georges Rémi, a.k.a Herge that is beloved all over the world (but largely unknown in the US).

As a huge fan of the comic books that I still even read from time to time in my native language, I’m beyond thrilled that this is getting a big screen treatment, from Spielberg and Peter Jackson no less! I realize the motion capture thing can be a concern as it did with the ‘dead eyes’ problem with The Polar Express, as Darren pointed it out on his blog post about it. But I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll be a huge improvement from the previous motion capture films and it’d look more realistic like Avatar.

TBA – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons.

I’ve always had a thing about retired spy being called back to mission again, hence the protagonist in my first fantasy movie pitch Hearts Want. So the premise based on John le Carré’s novel intrigues me even before I saw the cast. But when you’ve got this kind of lineup: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock Holme), and Ciaran Hinds, it’s hard not to include this in my most-anticipated list. Oldman plays George Smiley, a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service (info from the Wikipedia page of the novel). There was a BBC miniseries back in 1979 starring Alec Guinness, so if any of you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you think.

I’ve been waiting for its release for quite a while but finally I heard news a few weeks ago that Universal will distribute this in the US (perhaps the fact that Colin Firth took home an Oscar had a lot to do with it?). A bit of casting trivia, Michael Fassbender was originally cast but was replaced by Tom Hardy. Not a bad trade, no, not bad at all 🙂

Maybe:

December 16 – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
I quite like the first one (read my review), I thought Guy Ritchie did a decent job adapting this with a modern feel and keeping it light and funny. I’m not a Holmes’ purist so I didn’t mind Ritchie taking a lot of liberty with the material. I think having Robert Downey Jr. as the famous character is inspired casting, and his rapport with Jude Law is Ritchie’s bromance at its most entertaining. So I might check the sequel even just to see them back together again.


Well, turns out there are more movies I want to see in the second half of the year. There might be a few I’m missing here but I’ll update this list periodically.

So, any one of these movies you’re eager to see? Do share what movie(s) you are anticipating that are not on this list.