David Thompson


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September 16, 2011



Re: Beards from Below...Disappointing...I was thinking...never mind.


Walrus chair.

Ew. Most hideous piece of furniture ever?


Yeah?!!? Yeah?!!? Well maybe I'll just make some Z-Rays of my own, Mr Raymond 'So-called-scientist' Massey!


“Most hideous piece of furniture ever?”

I wouldn’t say it’s hideous as such. Just… difficult to coordinate with typical home décor. I’m assuming most people don’t have black leather curtains.

Maybe some jolly cushions would lighten the effect.

sackcloth and ashes

Re: 'Tinker Tailor', from reading the reviews Tomas Alfredson might actually have pulled off an impossible feat.

This will be my first cinema visit for over a year.


"Ew. Most hideous piece of furniture ever?"

You didn't click on the octopus chair, then?


You've mentioned Tinker Tailor ...and from the same YT user Smileys People

Two of the finest pieces of TV drama ever made. I've watched them I don't know how many times and I'm still spellbound by it...Looking forward to the film.


sackcloth & Henry,

It’s surprisingly well compressed and worth seeing. Solid performances, some fine photography and an excellent period feel. It’s all very muted and not exactly tense or emotional - at times it’s almost impressionistic - and a key moment doesn’t quite deliver, though there are a couple of brief (and very effective) flashes of horror.


Just booked tickets. The reviews have been glowing -does it live up to the hype? (No spoilers please.)



“…does it live up to the hype?”

Er, mostly, I think.

It’s intelligent and technically impressive – the acting, photography and design are all excellent – but it’s a little too detached to be regarded as a thriller, which is how some reviewers have described it. It’s more an exercise in atmosphere and period mood. There are one or two key moments that presume an emotional impact that isn’t quite delivered, especially when Smiley fathoms the mole’s identity. The soundtrack tells us an important insight is happening but the audience doesn’t share in the process. It isn’t made sufficiently clear how Smiley deduces this, which is rather important if you’re expecting an emotional payoff.

But it’s classy, well-acted and never dull to watch.


Thanks, David. Looking forward to it.


There are no z rays. but IIRR sellotape gives off x-rays.

Ted S., Catskills, NY

Dogs jumping rope:



Well, I have perfect colour vision.

Now, to leverage that hitherto-unsuspected superpower into untold millions of profit and mind-boggling popularity with the opposite sex.

Rich Rostrom

OT but fun:
Johann Hari busted for the wrong thing

A Venezuelan blogger republishes his 2008 demolition of Hari for "his wholesale endorsement of a tinpot autocrat’s propaganda fantasies."



Thought I saw something interesting happening in a corner of the screen - other than the relentless and eponymous falling...but 'twas just the reflection of my whisky-bottle-swigging, as I watched expectantly...

Anyone watched this for 10 minutes to see if anything happens? 20?

Goddam it I'm switching off that sound! lol

sackcloth and ashes

svh, if you haven't seen it yet, I hope this isn't a spoiler.

Film version of 'Tinker, Tailor' - on the whole, very good. Splendid acting, the Cold War atmosphere was just right. There was one major blunder, with reference to the Prideaux and Tarr storylines. The former happens well before the latter, and there is no way that Prideaux would have witnessed the execution of Irina's paramour.

Minor niggles - Peter Guillam is not gay in the novels, so why is he in the film? I was also a bit bemused by the 'Toby Esterhase was a war criminal' angle, because I'm pretty sure that old Toby is in his teens when he's recruited by Smiley. Perhaps it was a useful shortcut to explain why he's blackmailed into co-operating with Smiley.

I'm also not impressed with the two cheap shots against the Americans. The first shows Alleline handing over intelligence to the CIA Station Chief (at least I presume that's who he is) at Grosvenor Square. I cannot see the head of the Service being received in a servile manner by the resident Yank spook, and then dismissed with a wave of the hand. While the 'special relationship' is a cliche, so to is this scene.

The second involves Smiley's account of his meeting with Karla (or Gerstmann, as he knows him them) whilst he's in prison in Delhi. There's a throw-away reference to the 'Americans' having Karla tortured and having his fingernails removed. Point 1 - There is absolutely no way that the Indian police or the IB in the 1950s will accept orders from any US intelligence officer; the only foreign liaison they had was with the British (actually with the Security Liaison Officer from MI5). Point 2 - There is no way that any CIA officer will order the torture of a KGB counterpart, even an 'illegal', because of the possible implications for their own when captured. Point 3 - it's not in the fucking book!

Maybe I'm being a bit picky, but I do recommend it nonetheless. Oh, and if anyone can tell me the names of the songs being played (1) in the Turkish knocking shop patronised by Boris and (2) at the end of the film (the funked-up version of 'La Mer') I'd be grateful.

sackcloth and ashes

Sorry, that's a blunder. Should read 'Tarr's paramour'.


the funked-up version of 'La Mer'

I think it's Julio Iglesias.



“Maybe I’m being a bit picky, but I do recommend it nonetheless.”

I suppose some anti-American sentiment had to be included to flatter an art-house audience. And I’d guess the altered timeline was part of compressing the story into two hours, though I’m not sufficiently familiar with the book to be sure.

It’s quite funny watching the trailer again – with its urgency and ‘thriller’ pacing - after having seen the film, which is a much more still and stately affair. There’s plenty of low-level intrigue and the acting, photography and production design are sufficiently watchable in themselves; but whatever else the film may be, it isn’t a thriller as such. Prideaux’s café scene is very nicely done and vividly paranoid, as is the sequence where Guillam has to swipe secret documents from under his colleagues’ noses. But these moments are the nearest we get to any real, sustained tension. Smiley’s realisation of the mole’s identity is one of the film’s key scenes - and its most obvious miscalculation. A scene that should be emotionally charged – and which clearly assumes it is – isn’t. It just doesn’t hit the note. It’s much too opaque, as if the director was worried about seeming vulgar. A big part of the problem is that we don’t get to spend enough time with the suspects to earn an emotional or dramatic payoff when the mole is revealed. They’re very much bit parts, albeit well played. And so the denouement is a too flat and subdued.

Given how much of the film is good - very good - it seems almost churlish to grumble about details. But I can’t help thinking that a little less understatement and intellectual tastefulness would have made for a better film. Or an even better film.

sackcloth and ashes

'I think it's Julio Iglesias'.

Is it? It's sung in French (the intro is in the same language), but I'll try Youtube.

David - your comments are spot-on. I think the film could have done with an extra hour, but I fear film-makers are becoming increasingly discouraged from testing their audience's attention span.

sackcloth and ashes

@ Anna - good tip. Many thanks.

Ted S., Catskills, NY

I think the film could have done with an extra hour, but I fear film-makers are becoming increasingly discouraged from testing their audience's attention span.

Funny you should say that; I'm a fan of classic cinema who thinks there's little reason why many movies can't tell their story in under two hours. Indeed, if you go back to the 1930s, there are a lot of all-time classic movies (and Oscar winners) that are even under 90 minutes. Even the multiple intertwined stories of Grand Hotel and Dinner at Eight all get resolved in 112 minutes.

sackcloth and ashes

Ted, I don't disagree with you, it's just that in this case some of the intricacies of 'Tinker Tailor' could have been teased out with a longer running time.

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