Thoughts on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

General Geekiness

Something I should never do is see a movie while rereading it. All of the additions are fresh, the omissions glaring, and the result is sometimes less than satisfactory. As in the case, I am sad to say, with Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The movie is a good one, don’t get me wrong. It is entertaining, tense, and often uncomfortable. When it ends, you’re left in a sort of silence, unable to speak, to explain what you saw (a different sort of silence from this weekend’s other movie, Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In). I enjoyed watching it, seeing how the film would handle certain scenes and situations. I really liked how Ann Smiley is a shadow, a hand, a dress, a blurred body, a presence, just as Karla is.

Because of film’s shorter run time than TV (or indeed, a book), character development is sacrificed for tension. We never find out what the motivations for the suspects are, we never know of their more shining moments and their faults. The mole gets more screentime than the rest of the suspects (with the exception of George Smiley). Relationships are shortchanged, neglected, largely forgotten. Characters are omitted entirely, the politics of the Circus around Control’s death pushed aside. There is no sense of truly bad blood, of the rift, of the betrayal.

In thinking about the movie, there are more things that I dislike about it than I like. In terms of casting, Gary Oldman was very good as Smiley, as was Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr, but it felt like the rest of the cast never was quite enough. Benedict Cumberbatch, while a good Peter Guillam, wasn’t tough enough. Toby Jones wasn’t pompous enough as Percy Alleline. Colin Firth, whom I was incredibly excited to see cast as Bill Haydon, fell a little flat.

I also am a bit wary of their moving the Prideaux storyline from Prague to Budapest, and the Ricki Tarr-Irina tale from Hong Kong to Istanbul.

I’ve also read that, rather than filming the Quest for Karla series as a trilogy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People may be combined into one movie. I guess The Honourable Schoolboy will have to wait to be its own movie.

Most amusing part? One of the production companies (I’m assuming John le Carre’s) is Karla Films.

Final verdict? Three of Five Stars.

Edit 21 September: It isn’t Prague that Jim Prideaux visits in the book. It’s Brno.

Harry Potter and the Disappointing End

General Geekiness

Here there be spoilers.

I wanted so badly to love Deathly Hallows, Part II. I really did. My friends all proclaimed their love for the movie, have seen it multiple times, and assured me that I, too, would love the movie.

I didn’t.

Yes, there were portions of the film that I really enjoyed–the Pensieve sequence being one, Helena Bonham Carter as Hermione Polyjuiced to be Bellatrix, and the visual effects (the dragon in Bellatrix’s Gringott’s vault, Voldemort turning to ash) but I felt the film was lacking.

Firstly, there was no true beginning. It just sort of started. I recognize that it was the second part of a book. But the structure was missing. As such, I felt it was very anti-climatic.

Within its structural issues, I felt that there was little sense of character. The Golden Trio, Neville, Snape, yes, but everyone else felt like cameos and nothing more than that. I was waiting for Trewlaney’s moment of awesome, when she chucks crystal balls at Death Eaters. Nonexistant. Fred’s death failed to have any emotional impact on me. Hagrid was…weak. Boring. He didn’t seem phased with Harry’s “death.”

Secondly, its too damn long. I love battle scenes as much as the next girl, but seriously. These are too long. I don’t want to watch a two hour battle scene. Its part of the reason why I don’t like The Two Towers all that much. Honestly, though, not enough happens to make it a compelling battle scene. There is no story to it, only fighting. The quest for the final horcruxes feels almost secondary, it detracts from the fighting, which has taken precedence.

Finally, it was unnecessary. I can hear people screaming, “what? why? we need to know how it ends!” Well, as a film, it was unnecessary. Deathly Hallows Part I could have been forty-five minutes longer, cut down on the ‘and we’re walking’ portions of the movie, and the final battle could easily have been included. Edited, of course. I gladly would have sat through a three hour Deathly Hallows, so long as it was well paced and engaging. The thing that hurts the most is that it could have been a fabulous single movie, the pieces are all there, but two mediocre halves do not a good movie make.

If you could talk to any deceased historical figure, who would it be?

General Geekiness

I was listening to the radio station and they were discussing who you would want to talk to once you get to heaven. Family not permitted.

The listeners said everything from Jim Morrison (is he really dead?) to Marilyn Monroe (what happened?) to Lee Harvey Oswald (was there another gunman?)

Which got me thinking. Who would I want to talk to? If I had to choose one, who would it be? I’m defining historical figure as: “anyone who contributed to history and the creation of the current culture.” Which is what the radio station used.

The more I think, the more names I come up with. First to pop into my head were Winston Churchill, Roald Dahl and Alfred Hitchcock. With a little more thought, Sandro Botticelli, Dante Alighieri, Victor Hugo and Eugene Delacroix wandered on in (I’m hoping I have a Babel Fish for this).

But why not Jim Henson, Queen Elizabeth I, or Patrick McGoohan? Andrea del Sarto? Or Steve McQueen?

I’m leaning to Botticelli, Delacroix or del Sarto. We can talk art shop and it’ll be pretty sweet.

I clearly cannot make up my mind. I have the same issue when trying to answer the “If You Could Have Dinner with any Five People, Who?”

The problem with having so many interests is, well, being so interested. I’m not sure if I’d want to speak with an artist (visual, written or an actor), or a politician.

Which begs me to wonder: can I just go on a historical figure speed dating circuit?

Time Travel books should be fun. This is a drag.

General Geekiness

It all started one innocuous day last week. After work, I went to my local library to pick up some books to read. First on the list of books to get was Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (which I finished last night and thought was really very good). The other was up in the air. I figured I’d wander through the stacks at will, and something would catch my eye.

Well, I was really hoping that this library would have The Count of Monte Cristo (unabridged) but no such luck.

Instead of Dumas, I picked up The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is nearly as far from epic French literature as you can get. I had heard good things about the book, from professional reviews to recommendations from friends, and while I had seen the movie (and been underwhelmed), the ‘book is amazing!’ I continuously heard led me to think, ‘hmm, I’ll give this a shot.’ Besides, two things in fiction really appeal to me: time travel and immortality, and smack dab on the cover was the first of these.

The little pink ‘Romance’ sticker should have clued me in. Going into the book, I knew it was a love story. I didn’t think I’d end up philosophizing about it.

There are a few things that I like about the book. Namely, the narrative style. It is told alternately from Henry and Clare’s points of view, in the present tense, which is quite effective for the story being told. The book also makes me think, which is always a good thing for me (though not necessarily for anyone in earshot). I also really like the premise, as I adore time travel and, deep down, do enjoy a good love story when I can find one. My hopes were high for the book.

Before I go any further with my critique, I will preface it by saying that I’m about halfway through, and that things may change. I am hoping for some incredible revelation and that everything I am writing about is proven wrong.

Firstly, the joint problem of morality and logistics. Henry really doesn’t suffer any consequences for his actions. Yes, his time traveling means that he ends up running around naked, which leads to him mugging, beating people up and breaking and entering. He never seems to struggle with any of this, morally. He pushes it off, saying, (I paraphrase), “I need to do it to survive and no one will believe me anyways.” He shows no guilt, no remorse for those he has robbed, instead feeling entitled. He does nothing to make amends to those he has stolen from, instead snidely thinking that he is better than everyone else.

He does get arrested (which we are told about), but doesn’t seem to have a criminal record of any sort. Having never been arrested myself (and never want to be, thanks), I don’t know for certain, but I would think that one’s finger prints are on file. And lots of times jobs (and visas) make you get your prints taken, so wouldn’t it be odd if his prints matched up? Particularly as he always seems to end up in Chicago, where he lives and works.

Oh, and as he turns up naked random places, his employers at the library just assume he has some weird fetish for nudity and books, and they push it aside. Um, I think a library counts as a public place, so if anyone were to see Henry darting through the stacks looking for his clothes, wouldn’t that count as indecent exposure?

Next, there is the issue with predeterminism. Clare, the titular wife, meets her husband when she is six years old. And, as their meetings progress, she falls in love with him by the age of 12, pretty much knowing that the two of them will get married. All before she turns twenty. Clare takes this in stride and happily goes along with her life, knowing she’s going to marry some jerk named Henry.

Now, why exactly is Henry a jerk? He encourages Clare’s attachment to him. He doesn’t let her experience life as he has, to date other people, to make mistakes in relationships because its already determined that they’ll end up together. Clare never really has a say in anything, because Henry’s already seen the future. He knows what house they’re going to live in. He knows that they’re going to get married (arguably, in the beginning of his chronology, he doesn’t even know who Clare is, considering he lives life out of order, and decides to sleep with this girl he has met once because she says “OH MY GOODNESS! IT’S YOU! I LOVE YOU! BED ME NOW.” Again, paraphrasing).

Their acceptance of determinism really frustrates me. Henry makes no attempt to change anything, just saying, “It’s a bad idea. I prefer Chaos, but hey, I don’t think that that exists.” There’s no testing, both Henry and Clare are too cautious to make anything of it. There’s some talk about that messing with the universe, but this isn’t explored.

Finally, the root of the problem is with Clare. Her life revolves entirely around Henry. She has her career as a sculptor, but it is Henry who consumes every waking moment of her life. Her thoughts always return to him, and she cannot exist without him. Sculpture seems to be something just tacked on to her, to give her some depth, a ‘oh, she can exist without him, see, she has her ART.’ Which, incidentally, we don’t see her create until AFTER she and Henry are married. We hear about it, but never see it. Kind of like how Clare apparently went to college, but never seems to go to class (too busy mucking about with Henry) or graduate (she gets married and that’s that).

She buys so heavily into the “I’m going to spend the rest of my life with Henry” from such a young age, you can’t help but wonder if the girl’s been brainwashed by the dashing older man. The ‘we will end up together’ is so ingrained in her head, I can’t help but wonder if Henry lived some alternative life, didn’t like it, and is trying his damnedest to change it. Now, this reading may make the rest of the book more interesting, as 300 pages in is too much of an investment to shove aside. Somehow, I don’t think my theory is what the author had in mind.

News of the Most Wonderful, Newsy Sort.

General Geekiness

I have news. It’s not entirely earth shattering. I’m not being published. I haven’t discovered the cure for the common cold (but movies, plenty of tea and a good book do help).

But…it’s pretty big. For me. You see, I’ve just finished my undergrad degree-I’ve now got a Bachelor of Arts with my name on it. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do. Until this morning.

A couple of months ago, I applied for a grad program at the University of Edinburgh. I received my acceptance today. So, starting in September, She Thinks Too Much will once again be international.

I am ecstatic. I’ll be living in Scotland for just shy of a year, doing my postgraduate work. It’ll be quite the experience.

Feeling a bit Hitchcockian.

General Geekiness

So, seeing the Vertigo new theme made me think, hmm…I think I shall change my theme. So I did.

There are a couple of things I’m not too fond of–namely, the fact that all of my links (to about, movie/book lists, etc) are at the bottom now rather than the top. But I’m working with it.

I’ll probably end up at one of my previous themes sometime soon. But til then, I’ll just enjoy the Vertigo inspired stuff. Just got a book from my library about the making of Vertigo, so it’s rather timely.