The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A very personal reaction
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly


Photo credit: http://benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/tinker-tailor-soldier-spy-p/

First up, if you want a proper review of this film I am directing you to yvaine24's review of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which is here:
http://mycroft-brolly.livejournal.com/131231.html

What I am writing now is MY personal reaction to the film. As you all know, I speak my mind and I do not shy away from controversy so here goes!

I saw this yesterday night at the Brixton Ritzy. I was massively disappointed. The film did nothing for me and, to be honest, I thought it lacked soul. I found it boring and tedious and unengaging. I could not be bothered with the plot and I did not care one iota for any of the characters in the film. For me, for a film to work, I have to care about the characters and what happens to them. The film has the creme de la creme of British acting talent in it and all I could think was - what a waste!

I realise and fully accept that I am a lone voice in the wilderness. This film is breaking box office records all over town. Three weeks into its run, every single seat in the Brixton Ritzy was taken, and it was playing on the Ritzy's largest screen. It is also playing on hundreds of screens across town and people are flocking to see it. But what I will say is that there are others who feel the same way as me. Quite a few people packed up and left during the film. I actually wish I had done the same. I just fail to see what all the fuss was about.

What breaks my heart was that Third Star, which was a deeply touching, moving and quite beautiful film, was playing on 1 or 2 screens in London, in the smallest cinema in the complex, to an empty house. There is no justice in the world!

Stuart and Third Star speak to me and to my heart. Both films have soul and a heart. I own both on DVD. I have watched Stuart many times over the years. I went to see Third Star three times at the cinema. I know I will watch the Third Star DVD many times over the years to come. I really wish I had stayed in and watched Third Star for the fourth time, not wasted my time watching TTSS for the first. I love all of Benedict's work and all of Tom's work. This is the exception.

I know I will be slaughtered in all quarters for saying this but that is my honest opinion of, and reaction to, this dull, tedious and souless film.

And so, I will post a photo from a film I think people should see in preference to this, Third Star!



Photo credit: http://www.benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/third-star-trailer-screenca/

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How interesting. It just goes to prove that our individual instincts both proved correct! I knew that I would love TTSS, and you knew that you would not. :-))

I admit that I don't know what I would have thought if I hadn't my homework first. The novel and the original BBC series obviously give so much more meat to the characters and the situations. By the time I saw the film, I had already invested hours, was entirely involved, and could therefore catch every understated nuance. The film is a lovingly made homage to the original work(s). The characters are realised by a dream team. For myself, I can only compare seeing TTSS to seeing a new impression of a personally beloved classic – a version where all one's favourite actors have been cast, even in the most minor roles. So for me, not dull, not tedious and certainly not soulless. But I can understand why others might think so coming at it from a different perspective and level of preparedness.

Actually, I fully admit to being somewhat surprised that TTSS has been such a success. I had thought that, despite the hype, such a necessarily distilled down rendition might prove an entirely minority interest, dismissed for lack of action and seemingly unsympathetic characters. Undoubtedly the calibre of the cast carries it a long way. Also the director's style. Plus the current fashion for slower, more cerebral detective stories on our small screens. How many of the audience really get what's going on however, I have no idea!

Alas, a low budget, independent film like Third Star could never hope to attract the same amount of attention. Perhaps if the story had been a best selling novel by a famous author, which had already been made into one of the most memorable and beloved BBC television series of all time... :-/


Yes, re instinct. As you know, I was never enamoured of the concept of this film, and I saw a lot of footage at the Empire Big Screen and it left me cold. Maybe I had succeeded in prejudicing my mind against it from the off!

And yes, I had not done any homework. I did not read the book (and have no intention of doing so!) and I did not see the BBC series (and have no intention of doing so!). What I will say is that I believe that a film should stand on its own merits. You should not have had to read the book or seen other versions to appreciate it. I fully admit that knowing the source material often adds pleasure to seeing a film (and at other times just leaves you frustrated!). The way I often like to do it is to see a film/play that then inspires me to read the book. That for me works best.

"Alas, a low budget, independent film like Third Star could never hope to attract the same amount of attention." This makes me very sad. I really believe that quality should find and attract an audience. Third Star had a really moving and gripping story, exceptional and outstanding acting, plenty to say and lots to think about, and I got to know each of the characters and all about them so well in such a short space of time. I am a firm believer also in the great British public having good taste. I would like to think that a high quality independent film, with a great cast and something positive and worthwhile to say, can and should attract an audience. It really broke my heart to see it play to an empty auditorium when I knew it was only playing on that one screen across the whole of London. However, it has found its audience with its DVD release - the DVD went out of stock in all the key places within a day of its release and that made me happy.

Finally, as you know, both theatre and film are such personal things. You see both through your own eyes and experience and you bring all your baggage with you. I know I would have felt differently about Emperor and Galilean if I was not a new Christian and if I was not going through a difficult time in my life when it was on at the National. I drew inspiration from it and it gave me strength. All of that had to do with my personal circumstances at the time. That piece would always have blown me away, I am certain of that, but it buried its way into my heart and my soul because of my lived experience at the time I saw it. Maybe that makes sense, maybe it doesn't!

Of course our responses are subjective and personal. And it's absolutely true that a film should stand on its own merits. Nevertheless I think that if I hadn't read the book/seen the BBC series first, that I would have wanted to do so afterwards. As it is, I'm going to read the next two Smiley books, and watch the second BBC series whilst still conversant with Le Carré's characters. I can't actually explain why. The world of Cold War espionage wouldn't usually be my genre at all – despite having been aware of living through it as a youngster, and having studied Russian language and history at school. And visiting Russia both before and after the break up of the Soviet Union. And having Russian online friends. Okay – maybe I do have reasons for being intrigued by the era. :-)) Or maybe I like a project to get into! Or perhaps I just like the pictures I have in my mind of actors I like playing the characters, and don't want to let go of them yet... :-))




Russia. You are very lucky. Russia, and the Soviet Union as it was, was the one place I have always wanted to visit and have never got round to. Foreign travel is out of the question for me at the moment and when I do go abroad again, Egypt is the place I want to go first (although I have been there once before in the early 90s). Nevertheless, I would like to get to Russia, especially Moscow, one day. I live in hope!


I was in Egypt in the early 90s too – 1990 to be precise. Cairo, a week long sightseeing cruise up the Nile to Aswan, and a trip to Abu Simbel. Always thought I'd like to return to Luxor one day to spend more time in those massive temples and explore more over the river in the Valley of the Kings. It'll probably never happen. Not with all our money these days going towards supporting two kids through university!

Moscow is a massive, vibrant, modern city these days, in some ways akin to any other European capital, but in other ways quite distinct. I don't know anywhere else where there are so many beautiful onion-shaped golden domes – and more are being restored all the time.

I hope that you find a really well-paid job so that you can plan overseas holidays again. The perk of having no dependents is that you should be able to treat yourself! :-)

I didn't do any homework. I hadn't read the book, or seen the BBC series, and I didn't have a clue what I was going to see and, as you both already know, I loved the film.

For me it was the psychological aspect of what was happening inside their heads that interested me, and I loved how low tech everything was. They survived on their wits alone with absolutely no, or very little, gadgetry. Now that's true espionage, not sitting in front of a screen and pressing little buttons.

The only reason I haven't been to see TTSS again is that I'm too damn busy at the moment, but I will be buying it on DVD and I will be watching it several times over when I do.

Having said that I completely agree with Raks about Third Star and Stuart, A Life Backwards, they are brilliant, and I love them both. And I am completely converted to how wonderful Tom Hardy is. I have just bought several of his TV series/films on DVD and am working my way through them, and he is amazing in all of them.

Right with you regarding sudden interest in Tom Hardy! Have you seen him as Heathcliff? Wow! He's my favourite... I wrote some rough thoughts about it recently here http://captivebird.livejournal.com/155169.html :-))

Please see my comments just below yours re Tom Hardy. I am also going to head over to your rough thoughts now!

I think you posted your comment and then I posted a couple of minutes later. I completely went off on one re Tom Hardy!

Just bought Tom Hardy's version of Wuthering Heights, another one to add to the collection - I have four different versions of WH on dvd now.

Haven't watched Tom's yet, but looking forward to it.

Like you, I hadn't done my homework. But I think a film should stand on its own merits. Your review of TTSS proved that it did do so. I think your review is probably a truer one of this film which is why I actually directed people to it and said that my response was a very personal one. As I have just responded to captivebird it probably says more about me than it does about the film. I also think I had succeeded in turning my mind and crucially my heart against this film before I even got into the cinema.

Obviously, I agree re Stuart and Third Star. Stuart, especially, means so much to me, and moves me deeply because it is a real story with such an unlikely friendship at its core.

Tom Hardy - I first became aware of him or, more to the point, he grabbed me by the throat when I saw him as the lead in Nick Hytner's The Man of Mode in 2007. I had never even heard of him but he strutted onto the Olivier stage and took the place over. He had such a magnetic stage presence I could not take my eyes off him, even when he was not anywhere near the action. I became a Tom convert from that day forward. As you know, I cannot bring myself to watch Warrior (although unlike TTSS I do really want to see it!) so I am revisiting The Man of Mode at the Archive next week. You will be pleased to know I will be running a feature on this version of The Man of Mode next week.

One recommendation re Tom's back catalogue which you may not have come across - Cape Wrath. Tom is not the lead but he has a significant role and the series is outstanding. A dark scary psychological thriller. I loved it when it aired on Channel 4.

From the DVD cover:
Welcome to Cape Wrath ... a psychological thriller set in a 21st century suburban paradise. Underneath the pleasant facade lies a rich seam of unsettling secrets where everyone has something to hide. On the run from their past, the Brogan family are sent to Meadowlands to create a new life as part of a protective custody programme. But as they get to know their neighbours and settle into this mysterious world they begin to realise that everything is not what it seems ...
I SIMPLY LOVE STUFF LIKE THIS AND I LOVED THIS! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The DVD I have which I have not yet got onto which I am really looking forward to getting onto is ... The Take.
Tom Hardy is the lead.

From the DVD cover:
Betrayal ... it's in the blood.
An exciting and uncompromising four-part adaptation of the best-selling crime thriller by Martina Cole. Freddie Jackson (Tom Hardy) is a free man spending a considerable stretch at Her Majesty's Pleasure, and now he plans to take the underworld by storm. As events unfold, his wife Jackie becomes increasingly unstable, not helped by the actions of her younger sister, Maggie, who is in love with Freddie's cousin, Jimmy. If you are a Jackson then you trust no one, because everyone in this criminal world is on The Take.

Sorry, you see, you get me started on Tom Hardy and I cannot stop - I love him to pieces!

Edited at 2011-10-07 09:21 am (UTC)

Watched The Take at the weekend. Tom is amazing in it! And it's really rather good! Definitely one to watch if you haven't done so yet.

Have just ordered Cape Wrath because Amazon is selling it for the ridiculous price of £2.49 with free postage!

Also, you need to get hold of a copy of The Virgin Queen, if you haven't already. It's about Elizabeth I (Anne-Marie Duff). Tom plays Robert Dudley, and believe me you will want to see this! If the real Robert Dudley was like this then you can see why Elizabeth I supposedly fell for him!

Love the avatar!

I MUST get onto The Take! I have been meaning to watch it for ages. I meant to watch it when it was on Sky and then I kept missing it.

Cape Wrath - You are lucky - I think I paid much more for it but I did so as I had seen it and I loved it and I wanted it (it is one of those series with a lot of twists and turns and I am sure I missed out on half the bloody twists the first time round!).

The Virgin Queen - Yes I saw this - on the telly I think. And yes I agree Tom is amazing in it. And dashing. And charismatic. And sexy. And ... ! I wouldn't mind seeing it again!

Tom Hardy. Interesting. I was talking to the National's Archivist. I loved The Man of Mode and having now seen it once live, and twice at the Archive, I stand by what I said about it, which is that it is genuinely one of my favourite productions of all time. I was surprised when I went through the press cuts that it had had mixed reviews, including some poor ones. The Archivist, who is THE corporate knowledge on the National, also said that it was not one of his favourites either and Rory Kinnear had completely upstaged Tom Hardy. I said I could not disagree more (but the Archivist is a man so maybe he just does not "get" Tom's appeal!). I said when I watched it live, and Tom strutted onto the stage, he had the most magnetic stage presence and I could not take my eyes off him. He was The Man of Mode - tall, dark, handsome, charming, amusing, seductive, charismatic, engaging, drop dead gorgeous etc! Yes Rory was great as the fop but, to be honest, I was so besotted with Tom that I had totally forgotten Rory was in the production and also his amazing turn as the fop. The Archivist made some comment about my reaction having something to do with the fact that Tom had his shirt off a lot of the time in the play, and I said - yes - no one upstages Tom with his shirt off! But, to get back to being serious, I thought Tom was outstanding in the role and I don't see how anyone else can say anything different (but then the Arhcivist did not like Emperor and Galilean that much either!).

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