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Tinker Tailer is an odd film plus whatever else comes to mind

Posted Feb 08 2012 12:00am

Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy – based on the John Le Carre novel, watched as a result of getting acquainted with Cumberbatch as Sherlock.  What else has he done?  Is it any good?  This also led me to watch the 2009 film of Sherlock with Robert Downey Junior.  But let’s have order at this meeting.  First, the TTSS film:

I haven’t read a John Le Carre novel, but I know they’re popular and I know they’re based around the obsessive surveillance of powerful people, set in the cold war period – spy novels.

Oh! My! God!  I did not enjoy the film at all.  It was so plodding.  It was so lacking in either character or action, one of which is a necessity to keep me engaged.  The lack of character was due to the ensemble style, the lack of action, or perhaps, interest, was due to the fact I didn’t care about any of the washed out (visibly and figuratively) characters – too many of them to get to know.

I expect it’s technically brilliant – most films I don’t enjoy are critically appreciated.  It felt like a cross between a mid-week episode of  Eastenders and James Bond without the fantasy.  This mixed in with a distinctly European feel – a film one would find with subtitles.

Gary Oldman plodded around, trying to find out who the mole is, the fly in the ointment.  He looks ill.  They all do.  Actually, did someone try to assassinate all our stellar British actors because their pallor left something to be desired, almost  like they all had gastroenteritis and were leaving the set to vomit and faint between takes.  Colin Firth, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch (okay, he’s never rosy-cheeked), Gary Oldman, and the rest.  Are you all okay?  I hope it was merely a lens filter.

So, ensemble casts with intricate plots about moles and telephone calls and impeccable acting are not for me then, it would seem.

Next item?

Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law, as Holmes and Watson respectively, in the 2009 film.  Enjoyable.  I did quite like it.  I have read Conan Doyle, but not for ages (wishing I still had the stories so I could check up on the references – this always happens whenever an author gets a renewed interest – it’s always the book I think ‘I’ll probably not read that again.  May as well clear it out, and look at the three inches of dust Yuk

Yeah, back to RDJ – passable accent, I think.  I’m hampered in the analysis by my geographical distance from London and my chronological distance from Victorian London.

I’ve read that the T.V. people are keen to stress the lack of competition between the two portrayals of Sherlock – no no no, no competition, we’re doing Sherlock, not Victorian, no need for comparison here..

Well, they are a little disingenuous on that score, in my opinion.  This has happened loads of times when two similar versions of author’s works have hit the small screen and big screen at the same time – even worse if two similars hit the big screen close after each other.

Anyway, they are comparable, because, doh! they are playing a role – they are reliant on their ability to evoke emotions in the audience.  They are playing human beings.  It really doesn’t wash to say just because one of the portrayals lives in modern day Lan-dan, and the other lives in Victorian times, they are not in competition.

Having said that, liked them both, so no problems with one viewer – they’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing that, I’m sure.

Couple of points I found interesting though.  The first was the infamous drug use, or lack thereof, in the cinematic and T.V. portrayals.  The second was the insistence on bringing in Irene Adler and inflating her relative importance.

The drugs are mentioned in the film, but by oblique reference “Holmes you do know this stuff you’re drinking is meant for eye surgery?”, and only really evident in a couple of scenes where Robert DJ is cooped up acting crazy. In the new T.V. version there’s a drug raid at his flat, a nod from his brother that he has some sort of history and will use it to coerce Sherlock to do his bidding.  So, neither of these versions man up and show him taking cocaine or properly include it.  They should just have left it out altogether instead of being so bloody coy.  The T.V. version has Cumberbatch addicted to…nicotine patches!!!

About The Woman.  I’ve read that she only appears in one, two at the most, of the Sherlock stories and yet she’s a major player in the film version – the only woman who’s outwitted him, a woman he has feelings for.  In the T.V. version she gets a large role in the episode which refers to the story in which she is mentioned.

WHY??  Are they afraid that if there’s no love interest the actors will blanch, like the Tinker Tailor lot and plod about listlessly?  This is about modern standards that require sexual tension to be inserted into every plotline.  I only despair at this because it does an injustice to the viewers.  Most of us can handle the fact that Conan Doyle wrote some fabulous detective fiction that involved a man for whom romance was not on the menu.  He’s cerebral, he’s a sociopath, he’s interested in his pipe, mental dexterity, cocaine and danger.  Oh, yeah, and nicotine patches.  Mustn’t forget those.

Both these recent T.V. and film versions…

…Crisis…had to shut down and restart and the aitch has come back into action – seriously hope it doesn’t conk out again.  I can’t spend the rest of my blogging avoiding words with h in them, look how many times I have used it in this paragrap (last word just preparing you for the worst)…

…Back on track, what was the last thing…oh, yes, cocaine and women – include the former, exclude the latter – the death of many a beloved T.V. drama turns on the problematic issue that sexual tension is riveting, until it is resolved.  Resolved it must be.  Pride and Prejudice ends with a wedding.  Downton Abbey will not survive over five years of sultry looks, parting  and reuniting Mary and Matthew.  Not that it wasn’t a great drama anyway – it was wonderful in other ways – but including the will-they won’t-they as a bit for us to chew, does shorten a dramas lifespan.

Sherlock the film and T.V. both have the rare opportunity to remove this love possibility – even if it is only mildly hinted at.  The drama is in the escapades, the mental flurries, the friendship betwixt the leads.  I say leads – Martin Freeman won some sort of best supporting actor gong.  This is a disservice, in my opinion.  To achieve the illusion that you are supporting a lead character, whilst being utterly responsible for allowing the lead to bounce off you and be the reflective surface from which they shine – that’s not a supporting actor.  That’s two excellent leading men.  Speech over.

Not really.  I’m soooo changeable (Graham Norton accent with sinister poolside backdrop).  Yes, just saying, they didn’t need to include the oh-so-fuckable women in roles they didn’t occupy in the author’s novels (if the lazy internet reading I did is correct in this matter regarding her prominent abscence).  Bring back the cocaine.  Sociopaths/psychopaths are well known for boredom that leads to reckless drug abuse among there other traits and many are high functioning, in racy jobs, getting their kicks without murdering anyone.

I am going to stop watching so much T.V. as soon as Spring comes and I remember there are other things in life, lingering glances, diets, friendships to re-kindle, books to read without a kindle, cleaning, drinking, exercising and watching that program on T.V. about the lambing season.  Oops…

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