Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Week of January 12 to January 18 (Mann)

Alert! The spies are coming to town.

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY is the latest adaptation of the celebrated le Carré novel. George Smiley (Gary Oldman - The Dark Knight, Harry Potter) is a retired MI6 operative called back into service to root out a Soviet double agent who has infiltrated the British Secret Service. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, the Danish director who crafted Let The Right One In, and with supporting cast including Colin Firth and John Hurt, this is a mystery of sinister intrigue that drags us to the darkest Cold War corners of Budapest, Istanbul, London, and Paris.

 "A pleasurably sly and involving puzzler — a mystery about mysteries within mysteries." (Manhola Dargis, New York Times )  “The Cold War is over, but director Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and his collaborators have brought those suspicion-fueled days to vivid life in this masterful adaptation of John le Carré's beloved 1974 spy novel.” (Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York}

MI6 is, of course, the British equivalent of our CIA, which is laid bare in the documentary THE MAN NOBODY KNEW: IN SEARCH OF MY FATHER, CIA SPYMASTER WILLIAM COLBY.  He was head of the CIA during the same 1970'S era depicted in Tinker, Tailor, so it's fascinating to observe similar worlds through such different lenses. Colby’s career in intelligence included a role as CIA station chief in Saigon, but his final stint as head of the organization was marked by a reform effort and attempt to make the agency more transparent.

"Packed with knowledge of another sort. It amounts to an absorbing, sometimes appalling course in how U.S. foreign policy evolved and functioned following World War II." (Joe Morgenstern,   Wall Street Journal) “Carl Colby’s smart, fact-packed film The Man Nobody Knew operates on many levels, all riveting.” (Andy Webster, New York Times)

The director of this documentary, Colby's son Carl, will join us on Friday evening as part of the Tropic's Visiting Filmmaker Series. Your chance to get "the rest of the story. "

If all this is too heavy for you, CARNAGE may be a good alternative.  Despite the threatening title, this is a comedy of manners about a conflict between two Yuppie couples over a playground incident involving their children. Director Roman Polanski shows a light touch we haven't seen before. He must have enjoyed making a film that satirizes the pretentions of conventional society, especially with an all-star cast of Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster.

"Scathing and funny and cynical about contemporary society and the hypocritical way we live now.  (Rex  Reed, New York Observer) “
A scabrous, amusing, and thoroughly predictable exercise in exposing the animalistic underbellies of grown-ups pretending to be civilized liberals.” (David Edelstein, New York Magazine)

Or check out LE HAVRE, the new comedy-drama from famed Finnish writer/director
Aki Kaurismäki, whose previous films have included such titles as I Hired A Contract Killer, and Leningrad Cowboys Go To America. This time he’s working in France, with a movie set in the nondescript English Channel port town that has containers filled with illegal African immigrants as one of its principal cargoes. When one of these unfortunate souls, a boy from Gabon named Idrissa, is hunted down by the cops, a shoeshine man named Marcel comes to his aid, and a story unfurls of a poor community’s humanity to someone ever poorer.

potent - and often hilarious - testament to the power of community and collective sense of duty…. one of the finest films of the year.” (Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)  “Tells a good story with clear eyes and a level gaze, and it just plain makes you feel good.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

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