Tag Archives: Simon McBurney

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Review

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Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Gary Oldman as George Smiley (“Beggarman”)
Colin Firth as Bill Haydon (“Tailor”)
Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr
Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux
Ciarán Hinds as Roy Bland (“Soldier”)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam
David Dencik as Toby Esterhase (“Poorman”)
Stephen Graham as Jerry Westerby
Simon McBurney as Oliver Lacon
Toby Jones as Percy Alleline (“Tinker”)
John Hurt as Control
Director: Tomas Alfredson

A retired spy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is summoned by the Government to investigate a furtive case. With a secret Soviet agent assumed to be working within their system, will George be able to unveil his identity?

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I remember watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy many years ago, and it’s always been one of those movies I’ve been meaning to rewatch for some time. I remember finding it to be a good movie, but it was really slow and I didn’t understand completely everything that was going on, it was a really complicated movie. I finally saw it a second time, and I got all the acclaim this time round, it’s a very well made movie, even though I can understand why it might not work for some people.

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For those who don’t know much about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, although it’s classed as a spy movie, this isn’t the James Bond or Jason Bourne kind of spy movie. It’s an investigative and truly espionage spy movie, with complex and shifty characters in a morally grey and bleak world. There aren’t many gunshots, and there isn’t anything even close to resembling action scenes. It’s also a very slowly paced movie, and this will definitely turn off a lot of people, I will admit that there were moments where it got a little too slow for my liking. It’s more than just that it’s a slow paced movie, it’s really complicated too, and maybe even hard to follow at times. You really have to pay close attention to from start to finish, otherwise you’ll probably miss some vital details. It’s not so much that it’s bad at crafting the story for the big screen, in fact I heard that it was well done considering the source material was apparently extremely hard to follow as it was. There are just a lot of moving parts, plotlines and characters that you have to pay attention to. Even having known much of the plot from the last viewing, after my second viewing I still had to look up a couple of things about the plot to clarify a few things I wasn’t certain about. As I was, I was invested in what was going on, even if it dragged in parts and I was lost in moments. The writing is quite strong, and the dialogue quite layered, with intimate character moments and subtext carefully placed throughout. Now having quite a good understanding of what happened, I think I’ll get this movie even more on a further 3rd viewing.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has such a great ensemble cast, and all of them worked well together. Gary Oldman plays the lead character of George Smiley, and he absolutely transforms into the role. Smiley is calm and collected, yet captivating in every scene. He’s quite effectively subtle, conveying so much without having to say much. The rest of the cast are at the top of their game, with Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and John Hurt all giving great performances. The highlights out of all of them for me were Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy doing so much in their screentime.

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Tomas Alfredson directed this movie quite well, he really set it well in the time period of the Cold War. The cinematography was by Hoyte Van Hotema, who shot the movie very well. It’s a very grey looking movie, yet it somehow still manages to be visually stunning and stylish. Tomas also does well at building up an effective atmosphere. The score by Alberto Iglesias is also great and fits the movie quite a bit.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re expecting a fast paced movie, it might even test the most patient of viewers. From the second viewing however, I found it to be a complex, deeply layered story, directed very well and features outstanding performances from its ensemble cast. I liked it a lot more on a second viewing, and I think that I will like it even more the more I come back to it.

The Conjuring 2 (2016) Review

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The Conjuring 2

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence and Horror Scenes
Cast:
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Frances O’Connor as Peggy Hodgson
Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson
Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse
Franka Potente as Anita Gregory
Director: James Wan

HolIn 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor), an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter (Madison Wolfe) starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next target of the malicious spirits.

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Horror sequels are most of the time failures, which was why I initially wasn’t pleased when I heard that they announced a sequel to The Conjuring, one of the best horror films in recent memory. The only reason that I gave this film a chance to begin with is the fact that James Wan was returning. After seeing this movie however, I can say that this movie is fantastic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the original but I do think that this sequel is superior. Wan’s direction, as well as all the other elements really does come together to make it one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a while.

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What separates this movie from many other horror movies is that it doesn’t just feel like just another horror movie. This film is long for a horror movie, about 2 hours and 15 minutes and gives enough time for characters to be developed, and builds up the suspense. This film also feels a lot more grounded, the characters feel like real people, the way that they interact with one another feels genuine, it doesn’t 100% focus on only delivering scares, characters are established and developed very well. It’s worth noting that unlike a lot of horror movie characters, we actually care about them here. Even though many of the things that happen in the movie has happened many times in other horror films, it’s the executions of them that makes this movie so great.

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The performances are excellent from everyone, all of them played their roles spectacularly. One thing that surprised me was the amount of focus on the family, the actors who play them are great, even the child actors are absolutely fantastic and work very well. One of the standouts was Madison Wolfe, who had a lot to handle as she plays a girl who is in more direct contact with this evil spirit, if she failed in her role, this movie would probably fail but she was excellent. Once again, these characters aren’t just generic movie characters, they actually felt real, so these actors had a huge advantage because of that.

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James Wan directed horror movies fantastically and he does the same with Conjuring 2. The cinematography was breathtaking (especially when long takes were used) and the sound design was so effective. The lighting was also absolutely on point. All of these elements helped the scenes feel more immersive, especially during the suspense scenes. And yes, there are jumpscares but they are done correctly, you do see what the characters see and it is real when the scare actually happens, it’s not fake or just a loud noise to give a cheap scare.

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The Conjuring 2 is one of the best horror movies in recent years. Everything from the acting from its talented cast as well as its well written story is done greatly but James Wan’s direction absolutely deserves a lot of credit, this movie proves that he’s one of the best horror directors out of there. I’m actually on board on a Conjuring 3 happening, just as long as Wan is returning. If we get more horror movies like this, I think we’ll see a resurgence in horror. One can only dream though.