The Cold War is often used as the backdrop for some of fiction’s greatest spy stories.
In the 2011 film, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, (based upon the novel of the same name by John le Carré), George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is a former spy who thinks that his working days are behind him. Then a Soviet spy is found within MI6 and George is called back to work to discover the identity of the spy.
I’ve never read the original novel nor had I seen the 1979 adaptation starring Alec Guinness. The only reason I went to see the film was the cast, most of whom are British and have starred in adaptations of Jane Austen novels. As I recall, I didn’t quite get the intricacies of the narrative and by the end of the film, I remember being confused.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
2017 is nearly up. Surprisingly, it was a good year for the movies. Below, without further a due, is my top ten list of movies that premiered in 2017.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The next chapter in the ongoing saga of the rebellion against the empire was nothing short of perfection.
- The Post: The story of the revelation of The Pentagon Papers is as relevant today as it was in 1971.
- Beauty And The Beast/The Shape Of Water: Both the live action adaptation of the 1991 animated Beauty And The Beast and The Shape Of Water proves once more that love wins over hate and only through tolerance and respect of others, can we create the world we wish to have.
- Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman is sure to win multiple awards playing Winston Churchill, who must decide to negotiate with Germany or go to war.
- Lady Macbeth: In 19th century England, a young lady is forced into marriage and has an affair with one of the estate workers.
- Lady Bird: A gripping and realistic coming of age story set in Sacramento in the early 2000’s.
- Thor: Ragnarok: When Thor’s previously unknown sister Hela returns to Asgard, he must save his land and his people from his sister.
- Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman finally receives a proper film adaptation. Starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, this film, well is, a wonder.
- The Lovers: Tracey Letts and Debra Winger play a married couple who are openly seeing other people, but somehow find the spark has returned to their marriage.
- Battle Of The Sexes: The true story of the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King is as much a story about tennis as it is about feminism.
- The Big Sick: This unconventional romantic comedy hit both the comedy gut and the heart.
- The Women’s Balcony: When a new Rabbi takes over an Orthodox temple in Jerusalem, the women stage a coup to get their husbands and their temple back.
Sometimes, a film producer or director has what they think is a brilliant idea. They take a classic television show from their early years and attempt to reboot it for a new generation.
An example of this is the movie reboot of the classic 1960’s television show, Lost In Space (1998). The movie mirrors the plot of the television series. The earth, as we know it to be, may soon be no more. The Robinson family, led by Professor John Robinson (William Hurt) is charged with colonizing another planet in hopes of saving humanity. But something goes wrong, as it always does. Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman) is the something that goes wrong, a villain, who as usual, has less than honorable motives. Will the Robinson’s ever return home or are they fated to be lost in space for eternity?
Bear in mind, that I have never seen the original series in its entirety, so this review is strictly based on the movie. As a standalone movie, it’s fine, but I have a feeling that fans of the original series might have objected to the reboot. While the cast is excellent and Gary Oldman excels, as he usually does as the antagonist, it’s merely ok for me. There is nothing spectacular about this film.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Adapting a film based on a novel is like walking a tight rope. The screenwriter or screenwriters and the production staff must be true to the novel and it’s fan base, but the movie must also be appealing to audiences, regardless of whether they have read the book.
In some cases, the movie succeeds. In other cases, the movie is a failure and readers, especially traditionally minded readers are reminded why the book was and still is the better medium.
In 1995, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter was adapted for the big screen.
In 17th century Massachusetts, the Puritan lifestyle is law, spoken and unspoken.
A newcomer, Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) arrives in the colony. She believes her husband Roger (Robert Duvall) has died at the hands of the local Indian tribe. Relishing her independence, she starts a secret love affair with Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman). The result of the affair is a child. Refusing to the publicly name her child’s father, Hester is forced to wear an a scarlet A (for adulteress) on her outer clothing. Then her husband reappears and starts to stir up trouble.
Were the critics wrong? In this case, no. The screenwriting and production team tried very hard to walk the fine line of being faithful to the book while attempting to fill in the seats at the cinema. But try as they might, the film is not very good. The other issue with this film is casting. At the end of the day, Demi Moore was not only wrong for Hester, but her accent was questionable. Robert Duvall did not give me the chills that a villain of his sort would normally give. The film’s only saving grace, cast wise is Gary Oldman.
Do I recommend this movie? No.