RegularFrank

Apr 172012
 

Director: Thomas Alfredson

Based On: Novel by John le Carré.

RatingR

Running Time: 127 minutes

Release Date:9/16/2011

GenreSpy, Thriller

CastGeorge Smiley, “Beggarman” (Gary Oldman), Bill Haydon, “Tailor” (Colin Firth), Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy), Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong), Roy Bland, “Soldier” (Ciarán Hinds), Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Toby Esterhase, “Poorman” (David Dencik), Jerry Westerby (Stephen Graham), Oliver Lacon (Simon McBurney), Percy Alleline, “Tinker” (Toby Jones), Control (John Hurt), Irina (Svetlana Khodchenkova)

Synopsis: During the Cold War in 1973, the head of British Intelligence and his second in command, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) are forced into retirement after a failed intelligence operation in Hungary. When an informant alerts the agency that the actions of a mole led to the failure of the operation, Smiley goes back to work and sets about getting to the bottom of things. He soon discovers that one of the four men that rose to the top after the coup is the mole, and must find out who to trust and who is a threat to the Free World.

AnalysisWhen I was growing up, the 1979 BBC mini-series with Alec Guinness as George Smiley was often on PBS, but it never held my interest because it was about a bunch of old people doing things that I couldn’t comprehend. I still haven’t had a second chance to revisit the mini-series, but recently I saw the movie version and even though it took awhile to get into the story, I was deeply into it by the end.

It was hard work remembering what things were like back during the Cold War when the Soviets where something to fear but I finally got into the correct mindset. Even though there are some action scenes, most of the action takes place in conversations and subtle flashbacks. In fact, I didn’t realize we were witnessing flashbacks at first until I realized that Smiley had different glasses in the past. In the end, it is a rewarding film if you pay attention.

Pro:

  • The film is stark and gray like everything was in the 70s.
  • The flashbacks are great.
  • Cold War nostalgia.
  • Underrated actor Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux is great!

Con:

  • Hard to get into.
  • Must pay constant attention.

Conclusion

Be ready to do a little more work than usual if you pick up this film, but as you get used to the style and the slight dryness you will find yourself getting sucked into the story and rooting for Smiley to find the mole.

Score: 3.38/5

Apr 162012
 

Director: David Fincher

Rating: R

Running Time: 158 minutes

Release Date:12/21/2011

GenreThriller

CastMikael Blomkvist(Daniel Craig), Lisbeth Salander(Rooney Mara), Henrik Vanger(Christopher Plummer), Martin Vanger(Stellan Skarsgård), Dirch Frode(Steven Berkoff), Erika Berger(Robin Wright), Nils Bjurman(Yorick van Wageningen), Anita Vanger(Joely Richardson), Cecilia Vanger(Geraldine James), Dragan Armansky(Goran Visnjic)

SynopsisThis American adaptation of a Steig Larrson novel follows Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) as he attempts to solve a 40-year-old case about a missing girl. He enlists the help of the enigmatic genius Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and together they uncover secrets that have long been hidden. At the same time, Lisbeth must work alone to seek revenge against a man who brutally hurt her.

Analysis: This film is nearly faithful to the book, and is generally very good, but I think that it leaves out some interesting tidbits like Mikael’s prison sentence and changes other things around like where Harriet’s body is hidden.

Pro:

  • Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
  • Great transitions between people’s recollections and the reading of documents and the flashbacks they inspire.
  • Seeing the rape scene is more disturbing that reading it.
  • Stellan Skarsgård.

Con:

  • Millennium offices fancier than I imagined.
  • There is a scene where Blomkvist is using a highlighter to highlight every line of a document. It doesn’t very seem effective.
  • Bugged by consolidated ending.

Conclusion: After reading the novel, I worried that the story would be ruined by a bigger Hollywood budget. This is not the case for this entertaining film. If you are in the mood for a thriller with some darker elements and great revenge scenes check it out and while you’re at it, think about reading the novel and its sequels!

Score:4/5

Apr 122012
 

Author: Suzanne Collins

Pages: 390 hardcover

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: August 24, 2010

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Characters:

Katniss Everdeen- Survived her second Hunger Game and is now figurehead of rebellion against the Capitol.

Gale Hawthorne- Survived the Capitol’s attack on District 12 and now part of rebellion.

Peeta Mellark- Was captured by the Capitol and is their pawn against Katniss.

Synopsis: After escaping the arena at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen and some of the other tributes escaped from the arena and were transported to District 13. Now as the symbol of the revolution, Katniss takes part in propaganda broadcasts aimed at turning the populous against the Capitol. Sadly, Peeta did not make it to District 13 and the Capitol is using him for their own propaganda. Katniss must fight against he pull of two Presidents to help liberate the people of the districts, free Peeta and get revenge against the Capitol.

Analysis: I have liked the series up till this point, but I think that the 3rd book is very weak compared to the other two. Previously Katniss was an active participant in everything, but in this book, she is often one of three things, unconscious, uncertain and acting without knowing why. I realize that she has been though a lot in the previous two books, but I don’t think it is an excuse for the heroine of the book to be so passive.

Pro:

  • Backgrounds for Finnick and Haymitch were interesting.
  • Some of the death traps were inventive.
  • Peeta was well written in the last half of the book.

Con:

  • Too much focus on costumes.
  • Even a high-tech bow is a pretty silly weapon against people with real guns.
  • Arena extended into the real world, but I think it stretches credibility.

ConclusionI imagine that Suzanne Collins really racked her brain to figure out a way to have the same feeling of the arena in the 3rd book. So, she added the pods and the camera crews and a small team fighting against greater odds. It could have worked, but it seems forced in this situation. Also, Katniss seems to have become a much weaker character in this one. I don’t know how she could ave been done better, but I had a harder time getting into this one. I only recommend it because it ties the series together and it would bug me not to finish it.

Score: 2.25/5