Currently holding 93% and 97% respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes. Drive and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy have become two of the most critically successful films of 2011.
Prior to its release on 16th September, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy had been on radar for a long time, ever since the cast was being announced. Headed by Gary Oldman, the cast also boasts a range of British talent including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy and Toby Jones.
Drive, on the other hand, I knew very little about. Out in the UK on the 23rd September, it wasn’t until Empire Presents… BIG SCREEN, held 12th-14th August, that I found out about it. Not being a particular fan of Ryan Gosling – previously I’d only seen him in The Notebook – it had slipped unnoticed…
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy
” In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Oldman) is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons” – IMDb.
With a stellar cast and beautiful cinematography, there is much to like about Alfredson’s TTSS. With film lovers flocking to see it in their thousands – not yet released in the US, it has currently grossed £9 million in the UK alone – it has received very positive reviews.
I may be a bit controversial in saying this, but I was most impressed by the performances of Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, Cumberbatch especially. Having only previously seen him in a handful of things – including Starter for 10, which I reviewed here – I thought he was fantastic.
However, I was left a little dissatisfied. This could be due to many things, including the fact that I tend to enjoy more complicated thrillers like TTSS and Inception at home, where I can check with the person that I’m watching it with that I’m up to speed. Perhaps I’ll enjoy it more on a second viewing.
I also came to it knowing nothing of John le Carré ‘s novel or the 1979 television series starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley. I was hoping – perhaps expecting is a better word – for more action and more drama. To me, it all seemed pretty tame – words, not actions, are Smiley’s weapon of choice…
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston
“A Hollywood stunt performer (Gosling) who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong”- IMDb.
After reading Scott’s review over at Front Room Cinema as well as seeing the lovefest Gosling was getting on Twitter from some of my fellow bloggers – apparently they’re calling themselves the ‘Gaggle of Goslings’ – I booked my ticket as soon as it was released.
Happily, I can report that I was not disappointed. Gosling’s performance is very, very good and he is ably supported by Bryan Cranston and Carey Mulligan. Previously, I had only seen Gosling in The Notebook and Blue Valentine, the latter being a rental that I watched a few days before seeing Drive. Post-Drive and I have added Half Nelson, Fracture and Lars and the Real Girl to my LOVEFiLM rental list – I want to see what else this boy has done.
With a retro, electronic sounding soundtrack and the bright lights of Los Angeles providing its backdrop, it is a feast for the ears as well as eyes – the opening scene, which featured a panoramic view of the city and was accompanied by Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’, looked beautiful on the big screen. To say it has been influenced by 1980s cinema is an understatement.
Enough about the ambience, though. The film is about Driver’s ability to do just that: drive. In parts it reminded me of 1968’s Bullitt and 2007’s Death Proof. Driver’s own car, which I think is a 1973 Chevrolet Malibu, isn’t particularly noteworthy – it doesn’t hold the same iconic status as the Ford Mustang, the Jaguar E-Type or the Pontiac Firebird – but then again, from the outside, neither is Driver. Little is revealed about his history and his name is never revealed – just how did he come to be such a superb driver?