Archive for the ‘John Hurt’ Category

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy

02 Jan

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy — directed by Tomas Alfredson. Spy Suspense. There is a Russian spy secreted in British Intelligence, but which of the four suspects is it? 127 minutes Color 2011.

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You gaze as into an aquarium, and past your eyes many strange things pass, among which one of four identical fish may be poisonous. One is riveted by the strange slow movement of things back and forth before one and by the subterranean places one visits. This particular aquarium stretches from London to Paris to Budapest to Istanbul. Among the hunters and protectors of the poisonous fish is the premier English actor Gary Oldman, playing a man of great reserve, watchfulness, and respect. The barest response. The civillest tone. And a pair of glasses that hide everything or nothing, screening a face as closed as a shell. He is supported by a cast, which is as exquisite and apt as he is, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciarán Hinds (although his character needs to be given more play), John Hurt, Kathy Burke, David Dencik, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbactch. As we move through this aqueous stillness, we are held by the deliberation of the scenes, places, tones, which float the vessel of suspense entirely, for we too know nothing. We too haven’t a clue. So we surrender to that ignorance of the truth upon which suspense is built, if we participate in what is being done to us visually. We wait for it to be announced, not to be fooled but to be revealed as co-agents of the crime. Clearly the director is master hand. Clearly the editor Dino Johnsâter and the photographer Hoyte Van Hoytema are master hands, as are the set designers and art directors and composer. The medium they deliver us into is the jell of suspense itself, so we are not vexed by red herrings but prompted by them. The piece is drawn from John le Carré’s novel set in the cold war, and the movie strikes into the very center of the dirty heart of war, whose mindset is a bureaucratic tenement. We have here the drab underpinnings of espionage, so dandified up in the James Bond movies of fond memory. The film is a gem, a masterpiece, not to be missed or dismissed. Brilliant on every level of execution and a very high entertainment indeed.




18 Mar

Brute — Directed by Meceij Dejczer. — Drama. A British prisoner is sent to a Rumanian orphanage to work out his time. 90 minutes Color 1999.

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A very interesting movie on all levels. Pete Postlethwaite, than whom no one can play anyone more cold, plays the head of the orphanage, and his rashness in cruelty takes that darling human attribute to a level of truly celestial excellence. John Hurt plays the defrocked doctor who executes mercy upon the children, and when he can’t do that, drinks, and when he can’t do that, plays the violin. He is wonderful. The children are hollow-eyed little devils, and the British prisoner, who comes to custodian the place, is forced to romance them into submission. He is played by Til Schweiger, who is handsome, sexy, and dangerous, and a wonderful actor of this part. He is the both the title and the focal figure here; his name is Brute and brute he is. A lovely orphanage worker works her way into his affections, in a part also well acted: by Ida Jablonska. The film is perfectly performed, written, directed, edited, and the story told is out of the ordinary. I was put off by the persistent red lens, which was intended to set the whole orphanage in Hades, but tended to put the film, there instead. Once I had found patience with that error, I tended to my business of following the Dickensian tale of this very solid picture and was content to wait my turn to find out how it in turn would all turn out. Check it out.


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