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Category: Gary Oldman

Oscar Senti-meter: A BAFTA bounce for Dujardin, Oldman, Streep

February 20, 2012 |  5:17 pm

Sentimeter 2-12
Trying to predict winners at the Academy Awards can be like trying to read tea leaves, but thanks to tools like The Times’ Oscar Senti-meter, which analyzes Oscar-related buzz on Twitter, we can bring a bit of “Moneyball”-like analysis to the process.

Examining tweets captured by the Senti-meter in the wake of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, held Feb. 12 in London, shows that BAFTA-watching Twitter users had a lot to say about silent-film star Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”), hometown hero Gary Oldman (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) and perennial favorite Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”).

The Senti-meter is an interactive tool developed by The Times, IBM and the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab that analyzes opinions about the Academy Awards race by combing through and cataloging a high volume of tweets each day. It uses language-recognition technology to gauge positive, negative and neutral opinions shared in the messages, and it also tracks the number of tweets.

Take, for example, “The Artist,” which is nominated for 10 Oscars and won best picture, director, screenplay and lead actor at the BAFTAs: In the three days leading up to the British awards, “The Artist” was mentioned in 1,253, 1,331 and 1,166 tweets, a daily average of 1,250 tweets. On Feb. 12, the day of the BAFTAs, the Twitterverse exploded with 10,296 tweets about the film, a more than eight-fold increase.

The high volume consisted largely of congratulatory and celebratory tweets, such as “The Artist Best Film !!! #BAFTA ! :D #Proud” and “Fantastic that The Artist did so well. Wonderful, charming film.”

Dujardin, the French leading man of “The Artist,” also received a BAFTA bump after he won the award for lead actor. Dujardin averaged about 454 tweets per day from Feb. 9-11, but shot up to 2,330 on Feb. 12, an increase of more than five times.

One Dujardin fan put it this way: “So happy Jean Dujardin wins BAFTA. Just one more to go ... two weeks tonight #Oscar.”

Dujardin also received some Twitter buzz after guest appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” reprising his silent-star persona, and on the website Funny or Die, humorously auditioning for a surfeit of stereotypical French bad-guy roles.

Among the actors Dujardin bested at the BAFTAs was Englishman Oldman, star of the thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Oldman remains a long shot to win lead actor at the Oscars (his first-ever nomination), but perhaps he can take some consolation in having lots of fans on Twitter.

Averaging about 119 tweets per day going into the BAFTAs, Oldman shot up to 1,502 on Feb. 12, an increase of more than 12 times. One Oldman supporter (and Grammy hater) tweeted, “grammys can suck my toes, on the other hand the baftas was delightful S/O to Gary Oldman you was snubbed but still a winner and legend.”

Oldman’s movie also won awards for outstanding British film and adapted screenplay. Averaging 900 tweets over the previous three days, “Tinker Tailor” racked up 5,488 tweets the day of the awards, a more than six-fold increase. Positive sentiment for the film, which has occasionally been deemed boring and confusing by Twitter users, also edged upward.

One Twitter user wrote, “So glad Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won Best British Film at #Baftas. It was brilliant, and should have gotten more Oscar nods.”

Meanwhile, BAFTA-winning actress Streep, who portrays former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the biopic “The Iron Lady,” continued her reign as a favorite Twitter subject. From an average of 1,695 tweets per day captured by the Senti-meter leading up to the BAFTAs, Streep skyrocketed to 14,725 tweets upon winning the lead actress award, dwarfing any other actress (or actor, for that matter).

For comparison, “The Help” star Viola Davis, who is widely considered the other Oscar front-runner alongside Streep for lead actress, managed only 364 tweets the same day.

In the words of one Streep fan, “I love meryl Streep! Superb actress! Classy all round! So happy she won tonight! Bring on the Oscar.”

That said, neither the BAFTA awards nor the Twitterverse is a foolproof predictor of Oscar success; we’ll have to wait till Feb. 26 to be sure. Until then, though, we can see what all the talk is about.


Unmasking the academy: Who votes on the Oscars?

'The Artist' sweeps BAFTAs, winning best picture, director, actor

Oscar Senti-meter: Russell Crowe and Miley Cyrus pump up the volume

— Oliver Gettell

Oscars 2012: Gary Oldman talks about nomination, George Clooney

January 24, 2012 | 10:23 am


Click for photos of the top nominees


It's somewhat astonishing that Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Oscar, but the veteran actor will be competing in the best actor race at the 84th Academy Awards -- for his nominated performance as taciturn agent George Smiley in the slow-burning drama "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." 24 Frames caught up with Oldman in Berlin, where he's preparing for the German premiere of the movie. 

"It's very fitting that I'm in the city which was the mecca for spies and where eventually Smiley gets his man," Oldman said. "So I hear about an Oscar nomination in Berlin for playing George Smiley. I mean a screenwriter couldn't put it together better."

How did you find out about the nomination?

I was actually giving an interview -- it's nearly 5 p.m. here -- for a German newspaper, and my manager came in and looked a little teary-eyed and shook my hand and said, "Congratulations you're an Oscar nominee."

FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

What does this movie mean to you, your first Oscar nomination?

I'm very proud of the film. And really it’s been quite a ride. We had a huge success in the U.K., and we opened in America to incredible reviews and amazing box office. It continues to make money. I'm proud of my work in it and the film and everyone involved. So, to be nominated is one thing but to be nominated particularly for this film and this role, it's a nice feeling.

Who else do you like in this year’s race?

I've seen a great many of them. Some are nominated, and some are not. I'm a George Clooney fan. And I love Brad Pitt. I love Ryan Gosling.

Do you have a favorite Clooney film in this race?

I like him as a director. And I thought he was particularly good in "The Ides of March." That's not to say I don't like him in "The Descendants." I had seen the play, and I liked what he did with that story. I thought he and his co-workers did a very nice adaptation of it.

Do you get any time to celebrate?

No. I've got to now get into my suit and present this movie in Berlin. But it feels terrific for this one.


The following video is from the Envelope Directors Roundtable. Here, filmmakers George Clooney ("The Ides of March"), Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"), Michel Hazanavicius ("The Artist"), Alexander Payne ("The Descendants") and Martin Scorsese ("Hugo") sat down with The Times' John Horn at the recent Envelope Directors Roundtable and talked about the importance and challenges of assembling a good cast.


And the nominees are ...

PHOTOS: 84th Academy Awards nominees

"The Artist," Scorsese's "Hugo" shine brightest

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Gary Oldman. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

National Society of Film Critics: 'Melancholia' best of 2011

January 7, 2012 |  1:51 pm


Kirsten Dunst, from left,  Alexander Skarsgaard, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg  in "Melancholia."

The National Society of Film Critics, which is made up of 58 the country's major film critics, rarely agrees with the choices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Oscars. And the group probably stayed true to form with its picks for its 46th annual awards, naming Lars Von Trier's end-of-the-world drama "Melancholia" best picture Saturday.

Terrence's Malick's "The Tree of Life" came in second and the lauded Iranian drama "A Separation" placed third. "Separation" also won best foreign-language film and best screenplay for Asghar Farhadi.

Malick took best director honors with Martin Scorsese for "Hugo" coming in second and Von Trier placing third.

The annual voting, using a weighted ballot system, is held at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City; this year 48 of the 58 members participated.

Best actor went to Brad Pitt for both "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life." Pitt also won best actor from the New York Film Critics' Circle and is nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG award and a Critics Choice award. Runner-up was Gary Oldman for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," and Jean Dujardin placed third for "The Artist."

Notably missing from the list was Michael Fassbender for "Shame" and George Clooney for "The Descendants."

Best actress honors went to Kirsten Dunst for "Melancholia," with Yun Jung-hee for the Korean film "Poetry" coming in second. Meryl Streep's turn in "The Iron Lady" placed third.

Best supporting actor went to Albert Brooks for a his dramatic turn in "Drive." Christopher Plummer placed second for "Beginners," followed by Patton Oswalt for "Young Adult."

Best supporting actress was given to Jessica Chastain for her roles in three films: "The Tree of Life," "Take Shelter" and "The Help." Jeannie Berlin came in second for "Margaret" and Shailene Woodley placed third for "The Descandants."

"Tree of Life" also took home best cinematography for Emanual Lubezki with Manual Alberto Claro placing second for "Melancholia" and Robert Richardson taking third for "Hugo."

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" was best nonfiction film. He also came in third place in the category for "Into the Abyss." Steve James' "The Interrupters" placed second.

In best screenplay category, Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin's script for "Moneyball" was second behind "A Separation" and Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" took third.

 The Experimental Award went to Ken Jacobs for "Seeking the Monkey King."

There were also several Film Heritage honors given out:

-- BAM Cinematek for its complete Vincente Minnelli retrospective, with all titles shown in 16mm or 35mm.

-- Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and the Technicolor Foundation for Cinema for the restoration of the color version of Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon."

-- New York's Museum of Modern Art for its extensive retrospective of Weimar Cinema.

-- Flicker Alley for its box set "Landmarks of Early Soviet Film."

-- Criterion Collection for its two-disc DVD package, "The Complete Jean Vigo."


'Melancholia' -- Kirsten Dunst ponders the end of the world [video]

Veteran Koreanactress Yun Jung-hee comes out of retirement for 'Poetry'

Jessica Chastain heading to Broadway in 'The Heiress'

-- Susan King

Photo: Kirsten Dunst, from left,  Alexander Skarsgaard, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in "Melancholia." Credit: Christian Geisnaes/Magnolia Pictures.


Around Town: Films, screenings and more in L.A. this week

January 4, 2012 | 12:17 pm


This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

With Gary Oldman getting strong reviews and Oscar buzz for his performance as spy George Smiley in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” the Arclight in Hollywood is offering a six-film retrospective of the British actor’s career beginning Monday with 1986’s “Sid and Nancy,” in which he played punk rocker Sid Vicious, followed by Oliver Stone’s 1991 “J.F.K.,” which features his tenacious performance as Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oldman’s performance as a U.S. congressman in 2000’s “The Contender” is on display on Tuesday, along with his “biting” turn as the most famous vampire in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 “Dracula.” Scheduled for Wednesday is his turn as playwright Joe Orton in 1987’s “Prick Up Your Ears,” directed by Stephen Frears, followed by “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

After the "Tinker, Tailor" screening, Oldman will participate in a Q&A with Matt Holzman, host of KCRW’s “Matt’s Movies.” The admission to the retrospective is free, but tickets are only available via RSVP through www.OldmanRSVP.com. www.arclightcinemas.com

The American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre concludes its annual “Screwball Comedies” Festival Thursday evening with Howard Hawks’ 1941 romantic comedy “Ball of Fire,” starring Barbara Stanwyck in her Oscar-nominated performance as a nightclub singer on the lam who hides out with a group of encyclopedia nerds. Gary Cooper plays the nerd working on slang who falls for Stanwyck.

The second feature is the 1937 classic “The Awful Truth,” for which director Leo McCarey won the best director Oscar. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, who earned an Oscar nomination, star.

On Friday, the Aero celebrates the centennial of New Mexico’s statehood with Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 Western “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” with Kris Kristofferson and James Coburn. Nick Redman, Peckinpah’s biographer and documentary filmmaker; Peckinpah’s assistant Katy Haber; editor Garth Craven; and the film’s co-star, Charles Martin Smith, will discuss the movie after the screening.

Director J.J. Abrams and members of his cast and crew will be appearing Saturday evening at the Aero Theatre for a screening of Abrams' sci-fi coming-of-age 2011 box office hit, “Super 8.” Sunday evening, the Aero presents the 2010 French comedy-drama “Eight Times Up,” which explores the topic of unemployment. Director Xabia Molia and star and co-producer Julie Gayet will appear in person.

Every year the Cinematheque presents the “Golden Globe Foreign-Language Nominee Series.” The Globes take place Jan. 15. This year's programming begins Monday evening at the Aero with Angelina Jolie’s feature film debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” which is in Bosnian with English subtitles. The series continues Tuesday with Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In,” which marks a reunion with one of the Spanish director’s early muses, Antonio Banderas. The critically lauded Iranian film, “A Separation,” which has already earned several critics’ accolades, screens Wednesday.

The Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre presents its seventh annual “Focus on Female Directors” evening on Thursday. Among the films screening are Maryna Vroda’s “Cross,” which won the 2011 Palme d’Or for best short film; Jess Holzworth’s 2011 “Gamma Ray,” with Chloe Sevigny; Mitsuyo Miyazaki’s award-winning 2011 USC student film, “Tsuyako”; and Penelope Spheeris’ 1998 “No Use Walkin’ When You Can Stroll.” Spheeris and other directors featured in the program will be appearing.

Two cult coming-of-age classics, 1985’s “The Goonies” and 1986’s “Stand By Me,” are scheduled for Friday evening at the Egyptian.

On Saturday evening, Jeff Garlin of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” will be leading a discussion after the screening of “The Honeymooners: Lost Episodes 1951-1957.”

The current film “My Week with Marilyn” explores the turbulent production of the 1957 film, “The Prince and the Showgirl,” starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. On Sunday the Egyptian will screen “The Prince and the Showgirl,” along with the 1959 Billy Wilder comedy masterwork, “Some Like It Hot,” with Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. www.americancinematheque.com

The UCLA Film & Television Archive commences its three-month retrospective on Oscar-winning actor Spencer Tracy on Saturday evening at the Billy Wilder Theatre with “Inherit the Wind,” Stanley Kramer’s 1960 film version of the hit Broadway play based on the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, for which Tracy earned an Oscar nomination as an attorney based on Clarence Darrow. Fredric March also stars. James Curtis, author of the new Tracy biography, and “Wind” co-star Donna Anderson will be in attendance.

Scheduled for Sunday is his first feature film, 1930’s “Up the River,” which also marked the feature debut of Humphrey Bogart, followed by the 1930 Vitaphone short, “The Hard Guy.”

The archive’s Wednesday program at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles is the campy 1966 prehistoric drama “One Million Years B.C." starring Raquel Welch in very revealing outfits and the 1940 version “One Million B.C.” with Victor Mature. www.cinema.ucla.edu

Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 satire “Weekend” visits the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Thursday through Wednesday in a new 35mm print. On Monday, Cinefamily presents a feature length edition of Season One of David Cross’ IFC series “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” followed by a Q&A with the actor (“Arrested Development”), who created and writes the series, which begins its second season Friday evening. www.cinefamily.org

And on Saturday the Los Angeles Filmforum teams up with Cinefamily to present “Wallace Berman’s Underground Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, Screening 9." Toni Bail and Russ Tamblyn are scheduled to appear in person, schedule permitting. www. lafilmforum.org

The New Beverly Cinema showcases Werner Herzog’s latest documentary, “Into the Abyss,” on Thursday evening, followed by Errol Morris’ 1999 doc, “Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr." Two by Pedro Almodovar are featured Friday and Saturday -- his 2011 drama “The Skin I Live In” followed by 2009’s “Broken Embraces” with Penelope Cruz. Saturday’s midnight movie is David Fincher’s 1999 “Fight Club,” with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

Sunday and Monday’s offerings are Luc Besson’s 1997 action-adventure “The Fifth Element,” with Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker, as well as 2001’s “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.”

Mark Romanek, schedule permitting, will appear in person Wednesday at the New Beverly for a screening of his 2010 drama, “Never Let Me Go.” Also screening is Francois Truffaut’s only English-language film, 1966’s “Fahrenheit 451,” based on the novel by Ray Bradbury. www.newbevcinema.com

The 7th Annual Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday at the Repertory East Playhouse in Old Town Newhall and features comedies, dramas, animation and shorts, plus works by budding filmmakers in junior high and high school. www.SCVFilmFestival.com

The 9th Annual Venice Film Festival, which explores the history of films made in Venice, Calif., takes place Thursday at the Seven Dudley Cinema at Beyond Baroque. laughters.com/7dudleycinema.html.

The Free Tunisia Organization is presenting the New Tunisian Film Festival Tuesday through Thursday at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. The festival also marks the one-year anniversary of the Tunisian uprising. Among the films to be screened are “Fallaga 2011,” “Making of,” “Fausse Note” and “Rouge Parole.” www.levantinecenter.org/event/tunisian-film-festival.

Stanley Donen directed the acclaimed 1967 romantic comedy-drama “Two for the Road,” with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney, which screens Tuesday afternoon at the Skirball Cultural Center. www.skirball.org

[For the record, 4:03 p.m. Jan. 5: This post originally listed Spencer Tracy's retrospective as a two-month engagement launching on Friday. The retrospective is three months and launches Saturday.]


'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

-- Susan King

Photo: Tom Hardy, left, and Gary Oldman in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" Credit: Jack English/Focus Features

George Smiley’s glasses are key to ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’

December 15, 2011 |  1:30 pm

In “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” retired British intelligence officer George Smiley is on a mission to find a Soviet mole in the agency in the early 1970s. But before filming could start, star Gary Oldman and director Tomas Alfredson had to do some tough sleuthing of their own to track down the perfect eyeglasses for Smiley, because the spectacles serve as clues for the audience trying to follow the complex tale.

A key break in their case came on Sunset Boulevard, and involved costar Colin Firth, which led to Old Town Pasadena. But before we go any further, some background is in order.

“Tinker Tailor,” based on a novel by John le Carré, is set in 1973-74, with flashbacks to earlier dates. While some directors might change the set, or cars on the street, or clothing — or just simply display the date on screen — Alfredson turned to glasses.

Early in the film, Smiley is forced to retire from the Secret Intelligence Service. He soon steps into an eyeglass shop, has his eyes checked and walks out wearing a distinctly new pair of glasses. From that point, by paying attention to Smiley’s frames, the audience can identify whether a scene is in the present or is a flashback.

“If you have a main character who will be onscreen for 80% of the film, if you put something on the middle of that person’s face, it will be in each and every shot,” Alfredson explained. “In many ways it could be more important than cars, sets and constructions.”

In addition to helping guide the audience, the glasses were also a critical component in constructing the character. “Smiley is a voyeur, he almost doesn’t speak in the film, it’s a very quiet part,” Alfredson added. “So his eyes are extremely important and they are very active in what they are reflecting.”

Alfredson, Oldman and costume designer Jacqueline Durran spent hours discussing exactly what Smiley’s first and second pair of glasses should look like.

For the first pair, Alfredson said that “Smiley is described as someone you would immediately forget. For that reason, we were looking for things that would make him as anonymous as possible. We decided not to put cufflinks on him — he would have a very gray and anonymous suit, white shirts. No details that people would remember. And his old glasses, we thought, should be the kind of glasses you were given in the military service. They’re very anonymous too.

“And with the new glasses, we wanted something that was more contemporary and we wanted them to have a lot of surface so they would reflect what was in the room in front of George,” Alfredson said. “Usually, you have this coating on glasses when you do films because you don’t want reflections, but in our case, we wanted reflections.”

Alfredson wanted Smiley’s second pair of glasses to serve as a mechanism through which the audience could see what Smiley could see. Alfredson chose to shoot a few moments from behind Smiley and through his glasses, so the glasses also needed to be quite wide.

Oldman sent hundreds of photos and images of glasses to Alfredson to fit the part of Smiley’s second pair.

The perfect pair was discovered after Oldman drove past a billboard for Colin Firth’s film “A Single Man” on Sunset Boulevard. Oldman said he remembered thinking to himself, “I have to have those fantastic glasses.” (Ironically, Firth ended up playing a very key role in “Tinker Tailor.”)

Fast forward some time and Oldman found himself in an airport, flipping through a magazine that had an advertisement saying: If you like the glasses Colin Firth wore in “A Single Man,” you can find them at Old Focals in Pasadena.

Oldman went to Old Focals, sifting through 200 pairs of glasses. Russ Campbell, owner of the shop, said he has provided glasses for many films; recently, he supplied 350 pairs for “Men in Black 3.”

“Whenever an actor comes in, the first thing we do is find out who their character is. Then we find the right shape for that character,” Campbell said. “Gary knew what he wanted down to the millimeter.”

Oldman narrowed the search down to 30 pairs, took them to London and a final decision three days before shooting began. Campbell said he isn’t sure what brand the chosen glasses are — being vintage, any markings were worn off.

“Smiley sees everything and he hears everything,” Oldman said. “I wanted wide glasses like a wise old owl for Smiley.”


'Tinker Tailor': Gary Oldman on the film's repressed sexuality

Golden Globes: 'Extremely Loud,' 'Tinker Tailor' snubbed

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

-- Jasmine Elist and John Horn

Photo: George Smiley (Gary Oldman) has two sets of glasses in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." On the left are the "old" ones, and on the right are the "new" ones, found at Old Focals in Pasadena. Credit: Focus Features

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy': Betsy Sharkey's film pick

December 14, 2011 |  4:30 pm

GetprevSometimes there is a wonderful madness in the method, and so it is with the superb thrill of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," starring Gary Oldman.

Adapted from the dense counter-intelligence maze created by novelist John le Carre, the film begins with the discovery that there is a mole inside the British central intelligence agency, but unearthing him will come virtually devoid of the usual pyrotechnics. Instead, suspense builds like a low-grade fever just waiting to spike and do you in.

To solve a double-agent mystery, sometimes it helps to be on the outside, though Oldman’s top spy George Smiley isn’t really given a choice, unceremoniously ousted as he is in a mini-coup that also took out agency director Control, a terrific John Hurt.

Even better, director Tomas Alfredson understands the power of understatement for his lead actor. The quiet voice, a sideways glance, a raised brow: With those as his weapons of choice, Oldman creates a slow squeeze that proves deliciously deadly.



'Margin Call': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

'Like Crazy': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

A ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ sequel: How likely is it?

-– Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo caption: Gary Oldman as agent George Smiley in the spy thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Credit: Jack English


'Tinker Tailor': Gary Oldman on the film's repressed sexuality [video]

December 14, 2011 |  2:52 pm

 Tinker Tailor
When you consider Cold War spying, particularly as it relates to the novels of John le Carré, sex and sexuality may not be the first things that come to mind. But the topics are very much a part of the new movie "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." As Gary Oldman, who plays master intelligence office George Smiley, discusses in this excerpt from the Envelope Screening Series, adultery and homosexuality make up a large part of the film's subtext, a reflection not only of the double lives many spies lived but also a product of the kinds of young men Britain recruited to keep world affairs in order.




Movie review: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

'Tinker Tailor': Gary Oldman overcomes his panic [video]

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy': engaging espionage, critics say

--John Horn

Photo: David Dencik, left, and Benedict Cumberbatch in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Credit: Jack English


'Tinker Tailor': Gary Oldman overcomes his panic [video]

December 12, 2011 |  4:41 pm

Tinker Tailor
It's the kind of part that is both exhilarating and terrifying: playing a role already canonized by a great actor, in this case Sir Alec Guinness.

In the month it took Gary Oldman to commit to playing George Smiley in the new movie adaptation of John le Carré's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," the veteran of "The Dark Knight" worried about how his performance would be compared to the acting of Guinness, who played the British spy in a 1979 BBC  miniseries. "He was my nemesis," Oldman says in this excerpt from The Envelope Screening Series. Eventually, Oldman overcame his fears, and turned in what has been hailed as one of the year's top performances.

Here's the actor explaining how he convinced himself to play Smiley:


Movie review: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy': engaging espionage, critics say

'Tinker Tailor' director has cyclical theory about vampire craze

--John Horn

Photo: Gary Oldman as George Smiley in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Credit: Jack English/Focus Features

A ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ sequel: How likely is it?

December 12, 2011 |  7:00 am



With the carefully paced spy thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” storming the art-house box office this weekend – it notched a whopping $75,000 on each of its four screens -- filmgoers could soon be in for another dose of John le Carre’s iconic George Smiley character.

The man who plays Smiley in “Tinker Tailor” says that a follow-up based on le Carre’s novel “Smiley’s People” is a very viable possibility. “There are whispers,” actor Gary Oldman told 24 Frames. “Actually, I think they are more than whispers. I think it could very well happen.”

A “Smiley’s People” film would be based on le Carre’s third book in the so-called Karla Trilogy. (The second tome, “The Honourable Schoolboy,” is set largely in Asia and also did not rate an adaptation when the BBC turned “Tinker Tailor” and then “Smiley’s People” into miniseries material in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.)

In the Cold War trilogy’s final novel, the taciturn Smiley is now retired from the Circus, the secretive British espionage agency. But his life is shaken up when an agent and friend turns up dead, as the battle between Smiley and Soviet arch-nemesis Karla begins to intensify.

As Oldman sees it, the well-reviewed “Tinker Tailor” introduces viewers to a bevy of characters who could then be mobilized, with a minimum of exposition, for the new story. “We've basically set the kitchen up, so we can just come in with another recipe,” the actor said.

Certainly filmmakers would have cinematic justification. While this movie’s ending (spoiler alert, skip ahead if you’d rather not know), shows Smiley back in charge, it leaves tantalizingly open the issues of how long and under what conditions.

But a new film also wouldn’t necessarily look to pick up on every dangling strand from this picture. “It’s a very good story and it can hold up on its own,” said Oldman of a “Smiley’s People” adaptation. ”It’s a sequel but it’s not a sequel. It’s rather like ‘The Godfather: Part II’ in that sense.”

Of course, any new Smiley film would have to make financial sense. "Tinker Tailor" has performed well in the U.K., where it topped the box office for nearly a month, but the Focus Features film's commercial fate in the far larger U.S. market will be determined as the movie widens in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Oldman said he thought a new movie would work creatively only if—fittingly for a spy thriller—the team came back together, principally producers Working Title, himself and enigmatic director Tomas Alfredson.

Alfredson could be a wild card. The director has evinced a clear preference for mixing things up, as you can see from this recent interview with The Times, and it’s an open question whether he’d want to return to the same territory.

At the very least, he’ll be working on a movie in his native Sweden for his next project, according to him and Oldman, which would put a “Smiley’s People” at least a few years away. Given the deliberate pacing of “Tinker Tailor,” though, that should be a relatively minor wait.

[For the record: An earlier version of this post stated that in the book "Smiley's People," George Smiley is in charge of the British spy agency, known as the Circus. He is retired.]


Movie Review: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

Tomas Alfredson will only let the right film in

New Year's Eve disappoints on 2011's slowest weekend

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." Credit: Focus Features

'Tinker Tailor': Gary Oldman reins it in [video]

December 9, 2011 |  5:30 pm

Gary Oldman gives a very restrained performance as George Smiley, the master British spy at the center of "Tinker Tailor Solider Spy." Sometimes, Oldman says in this interview from the Envelope Screening Series, director Tomas Alfredson found Oldman's acting just a bit too subtle. Doing a scene in a movie, Oldman says, is a bit like climbing a mountain a step at a time, and in "Tinker Tailor" he wasn't always sure he could reach the summit.


Movie review: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

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--John Horn


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