FILM OF THE WEEK: Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy
Channel 4, Sunday September 8, 9pm
In these digital days, spying can seem a little underwhelming. In our heads we might imagine a swathe Daniel Craig type, but in reality the average spook is now a desk-bound jobsworth, sat in a monolithic data centre somewhere reading our emails, Facebook posts and WhatsApp conversations. Back in the cold war era of which author John le Carré wrote, things were much more analogue and the stakes – total nuclear annihilation – were so much higher. With no computers, internet or smartphones, information was exchanged face to face, at great risk, in smoke-filled rooms or back-alley locations.
It is in this murky world that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is set, brilliantly captured by the film’s subdued colour palate and muted interiors. But it serves only as a backdrop for director Thomas Alfredson’s adaptation of le Carré’s novel, for while at first glance this appears to be a tale of lies and the lying spies who tell them, it is actually a study of men alone, struggling to repress human emotion as changing geopolitics and a new world order threatens to render them irrelevant.
Alfredson, who provided prior shocks with icy cold debut Let The Right One In, gives us the cream of British acting talent – Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones and John Hurt – and all are at their understated best. But then everything about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is universally brilliant, from Hoyte Van Hoytema’s restrained cinematography to Alberto Iglesias’s haunting score and Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughn’s perfect screenplay. Be warned though: if you are tired, this is probably a film to set the recorder for too. Packed full of important subtleties, it demands your full attention and rewards you admirably for it.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Shut Up And Play The Hits
Film4, Friday September 6, 10.55pm
At the start of 2011, LCD Soundsystem, one of the noughties most seminal bands, suddenly announced that it was calling it quits with one final gig at New York’s Madison Square Garden that April. Needless to say, the gig sold out in a heartbeat, leaving thousands disappointed. Never fear though, for Shut Up And Play The Hits is almost as good as having been there. The film may sag a little when the focus shifts away from the music, but its concert footage is utterly thrilling.
In Search Of A Midnight Kiss
BBC2, Saturday September 7, 12:45pm
As a set up for a movie, that of In Search Of A Midnight Kiss isn’t promising. Single on December 31, a guy puts out a Craigslist ad for a date and a beautiful but awkward woman replies. Not the sort of couple you’d imagine wanting to follow into the New Year, but their burgeoning relationship is actually as compelling as any seen on screen. You’ll almost certainly never have heard of this film, but if you’re a fan of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, or any romantic film where the protagonists are as real as you and I, it’s definitely one to watch.
ITV3, Sunday September 8, 11:40pm
Before he became known to global audiences as the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, Paul Greengrass carved out a successful career dramatising real life events for television. His powerful depiction of Bloody Sunday, the day the British Army shot 26 unarmed Irish civil-rights protestors, 14 of whom died, helped to recruit a whole new generation to the IRA in the process, was reason enough for Hollywood to come calling. Shot in documentary style with no score or soundtrack, a technique that Greengrass would use four years later in the equally masterful United 93, you cannot fail to be appalled and moved as the tragedy unfolds before your eyes.