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  • The Playlist
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    Venice '11 Review: 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' Is A Remarkable, Quietly Devastating Spy Movie

    The spy genre, is generally speaking, a euphemism for 'action movie' -- look at the explosions, fistfights and car chases of the Bond films, of the 'Mission: Impossible' series, of the 'Bourne' franchise, none of which have much in the way of actual tradecraft. The business of being a spy is hard, boring work, made up of listening and talking and without a lot of glamor. One of the men who best understands this is novelist John Le Carré, himself a former spy, who for close to half a century has been behind some of the most acclaimed literary examples of the genre. But aside from the much-loved "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," and the more recent "The Constant Gardener" (the latter not strictly speaking an espionage picture), his works haven't had a huge amount of success on the big screen, lacking the speedboats and fireballs of Ian Fleming or Robert Ludlum. One of the writer's best-known books is "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," the first of the 'Karla' trilogy, which focuses on George Smiley, a middle-aged veteran of 'The Circus' (Le Carré's term for the British intelligence services) and his rivalry with his Soviet counterpart Karla. Working Title Films has spent the last couple of years on a new cinematic take with Tomas Alfredson, director of the much-acclaimed "Let the Right One In," making his English-language debut at the helm. It's no small undertaking, considering that the novel was previously adapted as a much-loved, seven-part, 290-minute BBC miniseries, headed up by an indelible performance from the great Alec Guinness. Alfredson might have assembled an all-star cast of British talent to bring the book to life, but could the company, led by Gary Oldman taking up Smiley's thick glasses, hope to match their predecessors? And could the film manage to keep the plot coherent and thrilling at a running time less than half of what the TV take had to play with?

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  • Hope for Film
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    Tools Review: Stonehenge Mobile Apps For Films

    The other day, I posted a WIP list of some of the many tools and platforms filmmakers have it their disposal these days. It's hard to make heads or tails of them. How do we determine which ones we should use?

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    More: Tools
  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Early Review Round-Up: "Chilly and Acrid" "Razor-Sharp"

    Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Early Review Round-Up: "Chilly and Acrid" "Razor-Sharp"

    Early reviews praise Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) in the Cold War spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, the film adaptation of John le Carre’s 1974 best-selling novel directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In). Oldman plays MI6 agent George Smiley, previously immortalized by Alec Guinness in the 1979 BBC mini-series. Critics say that Tom Hardy also pops in the ensemble including Colin Firth, John Hurt and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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  • The Playlist
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    Not Mad About 'Dreamgirls' Anymore, Eddie Murphy Considers Hosting The Oscars

    Update: Deadline reports that Eddie Murphy is now officially on board to host the Oscars. Career comeback? Between this and "Tower Heist" it could well be. However "A Thousand Words" and the "Hong Kong Phooey" movie say otherwise.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Telluride Film Fest Review: Butter Churns Mixed Response, Not Oscar Contender

    Telluride Film Fest Review: Butter Churns Mixed Response, Not Oscar Contender

    The Weinstein Co. threw its comedic political allegory Butter into the Telluride fray as a test balloon to see how it would play. While folks around me in the overheated Galaxy were laughing at this overwrought Iowa parable about an obsessive-compulsive woman driven to win a butter-carving contest at all costs (read: Michele Bachmann), star Jennifer Garner can't compare with Nicole Kidman in To Die For. I neither laughed at nor reviled her, I just felt sorry for her.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Venice Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Is Good, Not Superb Spy Thriller

    Venice Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Is Good, Not Superb Spy Thriller

    Matt Mueller reviews Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, which made its world premiere in Venice. “Trust no one,” says John Hurt, in fine fettle here as British spymaster Control, in the early stages of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. In the case of the talent behind this top-class adaptation, they’re words not to be heeded. Attempting to rival the BBC’s superior 1979 serialisation of John Le Carre’s espionage classic – about the hunt for a Soviet mole in the British secret service (‘The Circus’, as Le Carre dubs it) – with a two-hour movie that couldn’t possibly bring the same depth or subtlety may have seemed a foolhardy proposition to many, but the talent wrangled for the mission is magnificently trustworthy.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    New In Theaters This Week: "The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" (Plus VOD Release Date)

    If you live in New York, and can only see one movie opening this coming weekend, see this (assuming it plays in a theater near you).

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Telluride Review Round-Up: Glenn Close Passion Project Albert Nobbs

    Telluride Review Round-Up: Glenn Close Passion Project Albert Nobbs

    Based on the Telluride reaction to Glenn Close's long-aborning gender-bender drama Albert Nobbs, the veteran actress has a shot at an Oscar nomination--and so does supporting actress Janet McTeer. Roadside Attractions is planning a late year release--outside the fray--and will push hard for award recognition for Close. The movie played well with the Telluride's audience, especially women, but may face some mixed reviews. The sampling below includes a rave from the NYT's A.O. Scott, which won't hurt.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Murphy as Oscar Host, Hugh Laurie Sings the Blues

    It's not a stretch to imagine Oscar producer Brett Ratner asking his Tower Heist star Eddie Murphy to consider hosting the Oscars on February 26. Ratner is expected to announce this week whether or not Murphy has made the cut over the likes of Billy Crystal, who has been lobbying for a return, or our fantasy of pairing of Steve Martin and Tina Fey.

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