I was super excited to see this movie.
For one thing, the title is sheer poetry. For another, I heard Gary Oldman interviewed on NPR this week. Also: Colin Firth. Do I need a reason besides Colin Firth?
None of those are the actual reason I went. The actual reason is that I once exchanged three sentences on the phone with John Le Carré himself, when I worked with his sister at a hotel on the coast of Scotland the summer after college. This is the exact transcript of our conversation:
Famous Spy Thriller Novelist: “Hello! May I speak with Alex? This is John.”
Me: “Sure! I’ll go get her.”
I know. It’s a little embarrassing, how well-connected I am.
So I talked BBB into pizza and pistachio salads at Piola, and then we headed for the Colony, where they have local beer on tap and this groovy carpet on the walls:
The cinematography is beautiful; muted and haunting, dimly lit, very Soviet Bloc, grey-skied London, Cold War era drab. It’s flawlessly well-acted. And there were not five consecutive minutes in which I understood what the hell was happening. That’s partially deliberate, I guess, given that it’s a spy thriller. BBB had to go home and spend an hour on the computer trying to find a plot summary. She texted me that she’d found an entire study guide.
Too late. By then I was already with friends at Tyler’s, announcing to the table at large, “I think I might be a lot dumber than I thought I was earlier in the day.”
Oh well. It’s all fine. I have a mission: to see all the Best Picture candidates before the Oscars. Yes I know they haven’t announced the nominees yet. But if you wait until then to start seeing all the contenders, it’s already too late. So, in the last month, I have seen The Dependents, The Adventures of TinTin, Moneyball, and The Help. I saw Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris way back when. I seriously, seriously hope War Horse doesn’t get nominated, because that breaks all of my movie rules (no war movies, no live-action animal movies, no movies that can be described as “heartwarming” in any way.) I’ll recruit some kids to take me to see Hugo, and The Artist just showed up at Rialto, so that’s a safe bet for this week.
What better time to plow through a bunch of worthy films than dreary January? Spring will be here soon enough, with music festivals and dinners on sidewalks and camping and road trips. Right now, I’ll content myself with cinema. See you at the popcorn counter.