Sailors, Drivers, the Irish Police and an American Captain

There has been a gap in my movie discussions of late, and so here with a slightly cryptic title, are my four latest viewings and what I thought.

Let's start with Sailors - Obviously refers to the one word that never gets a mention in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". If you've read the book, then you'll understand that "based on" means just that.  That's not to say it's not recognisable from the book - it does follow the same main plot points - but it's been properly crafted together. 
Many people will have seen the 1970's Alec Guinness TV series made by the BBC. This also is not that. While the TV series was excellent and followed the book far more closely. it did have it's problems. By today's standards it's much harder viewing than the new Movie version - although that may well be in part due to it's video-tape/film nature and the plot jumping around much like the book does.

They seem to have fixed all that stuff in this version.  It's quite fun trying to guess what time period it's set in. There are many pointers to the 70's and 80's, but you just can't quite put your finger on it.  Of course it revolves around the cold war - so they've got the timing and the look just right. I loved it. Some people have claimed it to be a bit slow - I never noticed. I did however notice some vocal inflections from Gary Oldman (Smiley) which almost sounded like he was impersonating Alec Guinness. He got away with it though. It just serves to add further weight to his character.  

It also reads a bit like a who's who of currently great British actors with appearances from John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong (more on him in a moment), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Tom Hardy ("Eames" in Inception - and soon to appear in the next batman - The Dark Knight Rises).

Some great set pieces - I particularly enjoyed Mark Strong's visit to Budapest, the office Christmas party and the final scene at the army base - but you should watch it for yourself.  It's rightly nominated for this years Oscars, and I hope it does well.  9/10

Drivers - refers to the new DVD release "Drive". I'm not quite so keen on this, although I was riveted throughout. Ryan Gosling plays the lead, and I suspect he was pretty cheap to hire if he's paid by the word.  He has very little to say throughout. The violence depicted is pretty extreme - and on occasion to much so.  That said, it's an 18, and you can see why.
It tells the story of a Hollywood stuntman (part-time - I think he performs a stunt, just so we know he does that stuff) and mechanic (the other part of his time). when he's not doing either of those things he's a getaway driver for whoever wants to hire him. What I really enjoyed about it though, was the 80's feel of LA.  I spent some time there in the 80's and they show it much as I remembered it to be. 

A great 80's feeling soundtrack and moody performances mean that I think this is likely to end up with a cult status, in the vein of Robert De Niro's Taxi Driver (1979) or Christian Bale's American Psycho (2000). Overall mostly watch-able - 8/10

The Irish Police - can only really mean one thing, "The Guard" as in the The Guarda. If you saw "In Bruges" (2008) with Brendan Gleeson and enjoyed it, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this too.  It's not the same thing, with Mr Gleeson playing a good guy this time round, although the line between good and bad is equally well blurred.  There's something about his hard Irish delivery that has comedy written all the way through it.  A good tight script helps it along and it's a great bit of mobster style magic.  
A stand-out moment has to be the IRA Arms cache - both it's discovery and it's handover. Beautifully put together.

There's also an appearance from Mark Strong as the Englishman. He likes Sharks. A much stronger character than that in TTSS, but also a lot darker of heart. Clearly an up and coming movie actor who is really starting to shine since his long stint in UK TV during the 90's.

Thoroughly enjoyable black comedy - 8/10

And finally, an American Captain ?? - duh...Captain America: The first Avenger (in 3D).  Yes, you read that right. In 3D.  Some of you are aware I've recently aquired a 3D TV.  Like Dr Kermode, I too don't really believe in 3D cinema.  It's a bit of a gimmick, and more often than not adds absolutely nothing to the viewing experience of a film.
Anyone in the market for a new TV is going to be faced with the 3D option, which is almost becoming a standard for anything over 40-inches screen size. In the end, I went for "big is best" and chose the 55" LG LED with Smart TV.  There's a whole other post waiting to be written about that, so I'll leave it for now.  However, what it has helped me to understand is that there may well be a future in 3D TV - as opposed to cinema. I'm already looking forward to the Olympics now - regardless of having tickets or not.

I digress...  Captain America. A really nice surprise.  So much better than I expected. Marvel studios have done a great job of building the line up for the forth coming "Avengers" movie in May this year. The exception that proves the rule is most likely the Incredible Hulk, which I wasn't quite so enamoured with. However, Iron man and Thor have also both been great movies and Capt' A, is right up there with them.

Set during World War II it tells the story of Steve Rodgers, a weedy chap who is consistently rejected on his army applications. A German doctor has concocted a serum (as is the way with such stories) and Tony Stark's dad shows up with some technical gubbins which combined help transform our protagonist into our hero.

I thought they did a great job. The whole 1940's design feels right and the plot doesn't loose it's way or it's interest as we chase down Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from "The Matrix"). Some top quality CGI tricks help us believe that Chris Evans (no, not the one off the Radio - Johnny Storm in the "Fantastic Four") can really be a 7-stone weakling. I don't think we've seen this sort of CGI body-modelling before, but they've done a great job of it, and try as I migh, I couldn't see the join (just like Eric Morecombe, who could also "Never see the join, Ern. I'm telling you, you'd never know it was a wig")

Does it need 3D??  Well, probably not. I'm not sure there's much that does need 3D, but, in a living room environment, it's a lot more natural and believable than in a cinema.  I found myself not noticing the 3D-ness, and just being immersed in the movie. There are a couple of moments when the 3D sticks out and it almost breaks the rule of the fourth wall, but it was at no time offensive, or off-putting and certainly did not detract from my enjoyment of the film overall.

A good solid family fun action movie, that it just as good without the 3D - 8/10

What I'm really looking forward to is "Hugo" in 3D.  From what I've heard (Thatyou @wittertainment) and what I've read this is the movie that 3D was made for this time round.  It's also massively tipped for the Oscars, but then it's a film about film, so that and "The Artist" are set for a proper battle of the awards.

Hope that hasn't bored you too much.
Until next time....

This post originally appeared here: Posterous


  1. Of course It's rightly nominated for this years Oscars, and I also hope it does very horgen


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