Monthly Archives: April 2023

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

I first watched this film in the Kabuki theater on New Year’s Eve 2012 then went for a mediocre ramen in Japantown. Over ten years later, my second screening, on a late afternoon as my braised chicken bubbles in the oven, granted me a fuller appreciation of the film’s analeptic structure as well as its accomplished cast. Imagine: Tom Hardy! Stephen Graham! Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon McBurney, David Dencik, John Hurt (!), and Gary Oldman (obviously). Yes it’s a sausage party, but who could ask for a more riveting ensemble?

For me, the most alluring aspect of TTSS is its mise-en-scène, its socio-temporal setting. Nobody uses a cell phone, thank christ. There appear to be no computers. And thus the tactile, sensual world of analog technology prevails. Every press of a button or flick of a switch produces an audible click. Examined intelligence files emit the quiet rasp of paper against fingertips. This is a world most of us yearn to inhabit.

I was never a Le Carre fan and I frankly don’t care much about late-Cold War, gray-faced spook-bureaucrats. But the diegisis of TTSS– its textures and ambience– is seductive.


Report to the Commissioner

Yaphet Kotto, easily the most compelling African-American actor of the 1970s, plays Crunch Blackstone, a brutal Black NYC policeman who came up before the Civil Rights Era. He’s been partnered with that absolute freak of law enforcement, the fabled hippie cop. Michael Moriarty, playing Det. 3rd grade Bo Lockley, sweats a lot as he agonizes about the institutional indifference to human suffering. This film distills the racial antagonisms and utopian yearnings of a long gone era.