Tag Archives: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Daily Whatever: On James Bond and ‘Skyfall’.

So now we know. After three years of negotiation, the 23rd installment of the longest film series in history is now in production. The “will-they-won’t-they” confusion is at an end, and by this time next year, cinema goers all around the world will be able to make up their own minds as to whether Skyfall is any good or not.

The signs are good. Daniel Craig returns to the role and will continue to add steel to the coveted role of 007. It’s my feeling that this will be his last performance as James Bond. Give it socks, Daniel! Go out with style.

We have Oscar-winners galore. Dame Judi returns as M (maybe her last performance, too), Javier Bardem will be the bad guy, and Sam (American Beauty) Mendes steps into the director’s chair. This should be an intriguing prospect. But something has me worried. Before the official unveiling of this project’s title, a Sky News reporter suggested that Skyfall would be concentrate less on action and more on characters.

To this I say: What. The. F**k?

This is James Bond, movie people. We fans want action, gadgets, girls and exotic scenery. Okay, the last two Bond films featured a return to basics form of storytelling. Nothing wrong with this. But the problem would appear to be preferring one style over another. I have no problems with intelligent storytelling; in fact I demand it. But if I want a spy story that explores the nature of the business and why people keep secrets, I’ll go see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. (I did, and it was brilliant.) With Bond I want something else. Escapism, danger, derring-do, humour, and a script that won’t insult my intelligence in the same way Die Another Day did. With Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, a balance was found and I would like this to be maintained.

But I still want to see stuff get blown up, okay?

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100 Words, 100 Days: Day 72. On Smiley.

No, not the emoticon but the character: John Le Carre’s famous spymaster, George Smiley. Coming out of a screening of the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I thought about fictional characters authors are most famous for. Fleming has Bond, Lee Child has Jack Reacher, Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes.

For people of a certain age, Sir Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley was the benchmark by which Gary Oldman would be judged. But now Le Carre’s creation has a new lease of life, and  I would love to see him return for another adventure.

Classic characters will live forever.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 64. On Spy Stories.

With the release of the movie version of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the return of Spooks to the BBC (its 10th and final season), there is, for me, a renaissance of the spy thriller. The Bourne trilogy of movies resulted in a more pared-down, gadget-free James Bond, focusing more on the people involved in the business of spying than outrageous plotting.

You see, spying is a sleazy industry: keeping secrets from some, extracting them from others, without letting your emotions get in the way. It can come at a price, though.

You may lose your humanity.

 

The Name of The Rose, and Other Stories.

The Name of The Rose, starring Sean Connery

I was looking through the weekend’s TV listings before heading into work last Saturday, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on any nuggets. My DVR was preprogrammed to record my current favourites: Merlin on the BBC, Downton Abbey on ITV. Usually a movie appears from out of left field, showing at some ungodly hour of the night or morning.

I whooped with joy when I saw that RTE Two had Sean Connery’s movie, The Name of the Rose, showing at ten after midnight Sunday night, Monday morning. It’s been a long time since I’d this little-seen gem: a medieval murder mystery, based on the novel by Umberto Eco.

Connery and Slater as William of Baskerville and Adso of Melk

Now, I’ve tried reading Eco’s philosophical detective novel. I picked it up after first seeing the movie. I put it down after only getting through fifty or so pages of it. Last year I picked up a different copy and I got further. A bookmark nestles at page 102. I’ll finish it some day. I promise.

But it’s a classic Connery movie. To most, he is James Bond. To me, he is 007 and much, much more. An Oscar winner for The Untouchables, Connery brings his distinctive voice to all types of characters, usually without diluting his Scottish accent. He’s played Spanish, Irish, Russian and English – all in Scottish. That’s why we love him.

Anyway, back to The Name of the Rose. I preset my DVR and away to work I went. I mentioned to some customers that it was on later and I was really looking forward to seeing it again.

Needless to say, when I came back home, I found that my DVR failed to pick it up. It was on the TV all right, but it didn’t record. Damn you, UPC! Everything else recorded except the one thing that wasn’t going to be repeated later on in the week. I don’t pay my bill on time for service like this.

Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

I made it my Monday mission to hunt down a copy – but to no avail. HMV didn’t stock it, Tower Records never heard of it, and my local Xtravision proved equally fruitless. There was nothing else to do but go online. Hello Amazon.co.uk! I ordered a copy, along with two other gems from TV times gone by.

The BBC adapted two of John Le Carre’s novels in the late 70s and early 80s: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People, with the late Sir Alec Guinness as spymaster George Smiley. I remember being gripped by their complexity when I was a wee nipper. Unlike Eco, I read both novels after viewing the TV adaptations. Le Carre is a better writer of spy thrillers that Ian Fleming, but that’s my opinion.

So why did I rush out and order a copy of a movie my machine couldn’t record? The answer is, like me, simple. I have no patience. It will be a long time before TNOTR comes on TV again. I want to see it – and I want to see it now.

But I have to wait two weeks.