A veritable who's who of British Isles actors is featured in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a new adaptation of John le Carre's 1974 novel.
Gary Oldman, still fresh from his work supporting Batman in The Dark Knight, heads the ensemble cast. He's George Smiley, a disgraced intelligence officer who's called back to duty at the height of the Cold War to root out a Soviet mole among the ranks of MI-6, a.k.a. "the Circus". It's a role previously played by many actors, most notably Alec Guinness in a seven-part BBC TV series based on the same novel.
Also starring are Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds.
Tomas Alfredson, who previously helmed the dark Swedish vampire thriller Let the Right One In, directs this espionage whodunnit, described as "a dense puzzle of anxiety [and] paranoia."
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy premiered at last fall's Venice Film Festival and has been mentioned among many of the round-ups of 2011's best. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's at Apex Siam Square and SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. Rated 13+.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Just over two years since the release of the original Swedish thriller, adapted from the first book in Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gets the Hollywood-remake treatment under the directorship of suspense master David Fincher. Still set in Sweden, but with dialogue that's friendlier to American audiences who can't read subtitles, the story is the same. Daniel Craig steps into the role of Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist who's trying to solve the 40-year-old mystery of a missing woman. While uncovering many dark secrets, he gets help in his search from the unorthodox computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, a troubled young woman who has deep, dark issues of her own. Memorably portrayed by Noomi Rapace in the original, the Goth girl Lisbeth is now played by young actress Rooney Mara, who underwent a radical change in her appearance, which she's kept up in preparation for filming the final two installments of the Millennium series. The movie is already nominated for several awards, with most of the nods going for the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, though Mara herself has been recognized for her total commitment, including a Golden Globe nomination. Critical reception is mostly positive. Rated 18+.
The Darkest Hour – Aliens invade Moscow, where five young people figure out a way to work together and defeat the fearsome invisible beings that thrive on electricity or biomatter energy or something. Directed by Chris Gorak and produced by Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted), it was actually filmed in 3D, but the effects are gimmicky to be sure. Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Max Minghella, Rachael Taylor and Joel Kinnaman star. Critical reception is mostly negative. Rated G.
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate – Tsui Hark gives the 3D treatment to the Dragon Gate Inn tale, previously done in a 1992 picture that Hark produced, which itself was a remake of King Hu's 1966 martial-arts classic. Jet Li stars as a swashbuckling former general who's out to take down corrupt enunchs during China's Ming dynasty. Zhou Xun, Chen Kun, Li Yuchun, Kwai Lun-mei, Louis Fan and Mavis Fan also star, with a special appearance by Gordon Liu. It was entirely shot in 3D, touted as a first for a wuxia film and a milestone for the Chinese film industry. Critical reception, is generally positive, with high praise for the special effects, which were overseen by Chuck Comisky, visual-effects supervisor on Avatar. The Mandarin soundtrack with English and Thai subtitles is at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld, but it's not in the 3D, owing to the technical problem of superimposing the Thai subtitles on a 3D projection. If you want to see it in 3D, you'll have to put up with the Thai-dubbed version. Rated 15+.
German Open Air Cinema – The Goethe-Institut Thailand's annual outdoor movie series continues on Tuesday, January 10 with The Day of the Cat (Der grosse Kater), a 2010 political comedy-drama in which the president of Switzerland battles a plot to overthrow him while struggling to maintain the decorum of a state dinner he's hosting for the King and Queen of Spain. Bruno Ganz stars. The German Open Air Cinema series runs on Tuesdays until February 28 at the institute on Sathorn Soi 1. Show times are at 7.30pm.
Les Diaboliques – Henri-Georges Clouzot, riding the critical acclaim that accompanied his previous film The Wages of Fear, directs this classic 1955 thriller that's said to be a major inspiration for the twisty thrillers by Hitchcock, including Psycho. Indeed, it's been said that Hitchcock himself wanted the rights to the movie's source material, but Clouzot was first out of the gate to snatch them. The murder tale has a long-suffering invalid wife conspiring with her husband's mistress, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange things start to happen. A Hollywood remake came decades later, starring Sharon Stone and Isabel Adjani. Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot and Paul Meurisse star in the original. Critical reception is positive. It's showing at 7.30pm on Wednesday, January 11, at the Alliance Francaise Bangkok.