Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


I found the movie disappointing in that it starts with a routine cold war spy-movie premise (the mole is one of five senior guys in British intelligence) and does very little with it. It does nothing to subvert our expectations. Yes, one of them is the mole, so there are no surprises, and:

1. You don't really care which one is guilty because you don't get to know them at all. I didn't even really know which was which except that they are played by five actors with distinctly different physical presences. I suppose each of them had a different field of expertise and/or different departments working for them, but I don't know what those might have been. When one of them was identified as the culprit, it was anticlimactic. My reaction was "Yah, I knew that one of them had to be guilty, and I really don't know one from another, so who cares which one? Flip a coin and be done with it."

2. You don't get to match wits with the investigators because the script is not designed that way. You're just supposed to watch them solve the mystery, not to try to solve it along with them. 

3. Some of the solution is provided by a deus ex machina. A spy who was thought to have defected to the Soviets was actually in deep cover. When he returned, he basically delivered a monologue explaining the plot of the movie to the investigators and to us. Frankly, I'm glad he did, because I wasn't involved enough in the humdrum events on screen to pay scrupulous attention to the intricacies of the anfractuous plot.

Anyway, Tinker is not a "spy "thriller," but a cerebral film which makes the work of spying seem to include no thrills at all. The work seems unsexy, unphysical, and mechanical. You won't mistake these guys for Jason Bourne. The pace is slow, and the film is amost utterly bereft of both passion and action. If it isn't a visceral thriller, it is a complex mystery? No. There are a few matters which are not as they first seem, but I wouldn't call the film a mind-bender.

Oh, yeah, there are positives. The film looks great. The location shoots, especially in Budapest and on the London rooftops, are exotic and evocative. The cast is also first-rate, but is not used to full potential. The great Gary Oldman plays a world-weary and completely emotionless character who never breaks from a measured monotone, and uses a single facial expression for every scene, so the film wastes Oldman's gifts for complex characterizations. Some people have discussed Oldman's Oscar potential, but there surely must be five better performances this year, because Oldman could have done this role in his sleep.

And to be honest, he pretty much did.

Oh, as long as we're being honest, let's just cut to the chase, shall we?

This film is just plain dull.


There is a tiny, brief bit of anonymous female nudity in this film, which opened yesterday in most cities. (On the other hand, there was a brief male frontal and rear from a credited actor, so this film clearly wasn't made for us guys!)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

2011 - COMPLETE spoilers

I'm not kidding about the "spoilers" warning. Do not read this if you don't want to ruin the experience of watching a mystery film, because I'm going to discuss plot minutiae and the various solutions to the mystery, as presented by three different sources.

There is a vital lesson to be learned in the succession of projects that have taken this story from a book to a Swedish movie to an American remake, and that lesson is this: if you must re-write plot details in a mystery or a thriller, you need to bring in several other people to read the script to make sure that you haven't messed up other things dependent on the original unchanged details. It is normal in this kind of plot for all the details to interlock, and if you change one thing you'll probably have to change several others which relate to that one.

Here's the problem: the core of the exposition in this story hinges on a woman presumed murdered who is not actually dead. Her beloved uncle hires an investigative reporter to figure out which of his relatives killed her. In the original story, the "dead" girl had been sending her uncle a distinctive kind of flower arrangement every year since her disappearance. Since those arrangements were identicsal to the ones she had given him while she was "alive," she presumed that the uncle would realize that she was still alive. The uncle did not do so. He assumed that her killer was taunting him.

The Swedish movie handled the resolution of this plot detail correctly. As soon as the woman found out about the despair she had caused her beloved uncle all those years, she rushed to meet him in person, traveling immediately all the way from a remote part of Australia to an equally remote part of northern Sweden, because she just had to atone for the pain she had inadvertantly caused him.

The American scriptwriters changed the identity of the missing girl. The change that they made was very clever, and I would call it a significant improvement - except for one important factor: changes do not exist in a vacuum. When they changed the identity of the missing girl, they forgot that she had been trying to tell her uncle that she was alive. The investigator, not knowing who she was at the time, told her that her uncle thought she was dead. So did she rush to his side? Not at all. She didn't even pick up the damned phone to call the old codger. But we know from the annual flower arrangement that she really wanted her uncle to know she was alive. So why did she do nothing after finding out that her gift had been misinterpreted? The script re-write turned her into a cruel witch, but she couldn't have been that cruel because she sent the flowers in the first place. So the script simply ended up with a contradiction. She loved the uncle so much that she wanted him to know she was alive, but when she found out that he had misinterpreted the annual gifts and that his old age was filled with despair because of her "death," she suddenly didn't care enough about him to make a simple phone call, let alone fly immediately to his side.

I must have seen something like this happen in about a hundred different adapted scripts, just because the scriptwriters felt like tinkering without considering all the ramifications of their changes.

There were a few other plot points that were much clearer in the Swedish version.

1. It was clear in the original that the reporter was convicted of libel, was sentenced to jail time, and was convicted justly. This was an important and interesting sub-plot, because the reporter was duped into printing an inaccurate story. The reporter was on the trail of an expose. His target, a corrupt industrialist, tricked him off the trail by "offering" him a much bigger story through a trusted old friend. The so-called friend turned out to be on the payroll of the industrialist all along, and the bigger story turned out to be totally false. Although the original, smaller story had been accurate, the reporter's conviction totally undermined his credibility and made it impossible for him to go back to the first story, or even to get any more work as a reporter. In fact, he had to go to the Swedish slammer, and part of the film's ongoing investigation was conducted by Lisbeth the hacker (the title character) while the reporter was in jail.

2. Even though the allegedly murdered girl was still alive, there actually was a murderer in the family (actually two!) and they had killed most of the remaining female population of Sweden. (Yeah, I know. How convenient! That the investigation turned up a murderer even though the "victim" was still alive.) Late in the story, the reporter knew who the killer was, and the killer was aware that the reporter had figured it out. After all that had been resolved, the killer even caught the reporter in his yard after he had snuck out of his house. So what happened than? The killer called the reporter back in, and the reporter came, not at gunpoint, but of his own volition. That was an absolute WTF situation. The reporter would have known at that time that he was returning to his own death, but he just cheerfully returned. I watched the film in a packed theater, and the entire audience groaned when Daniel Craig's character, caught with his hand in the cookie jar, meekly marched back into the killer's lair, to certain doom, instead of just running the hell away. Needless to say, nothing similar to that happened in the book or the original movie.

3. In the original film, the killer was using his influence to squelch the investigation, as you might expect. In the remake, the killer was overriding other people who wanted to suppress the investigation, and was offering all possible co-operation when he could have ended the entire investigation and blamed that decision entirely on the company's attorney, who was an honest and respected man. Again ... WTF?

What was purpose of tinkering with these plot points, which were all perfectly logical in the earlier versions of the tale? I just don't know.

I give David Fincher lots of points for the way he managed the look, the dramatic tension, and the atmosphere in this film. All of the technical credits, from the acting to the cinematography are totally first-rate. It's a long film, but I sat through it without ever being aware of the time. The editing is excellent, the narrative moves quickly, and Fincher just did a great job in general. It's a good film. The Swedish original is nowhere near as professional and slick.

But slick isn't everything.

What the hell, man, why make all of those unnecessary changes? The story was perfectly good to begin with. Why didn't you just use what you had?


Rooney Mara had five nude scenes, eventually exposing just about everything there is to expose. The best we have now is a crappy cam, but even that shows you some impressive nudity. You should see it in a theater.

Annual "Best Nude Scenes" Poll

Have at it. Here's the poll. The Rapidshare links are designed, of course, to allow non-members to participate in the poll. You can download them if you care to, but you don't need Rapidshare because you already have access to all those film clips in the back issues. That's where I got them from in the first place!

  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.

It's the years 1996 and 1997 this week.

The Beneficiary

Corey Chang

and Stacy Haiduk

 both display their breasts in The Beneficiary (1997).


Gina Gerson

and Jennifer Tilly are both naked in Bound (1996) and it is looking good.

Susie Bright shows a bit of cleavage.

Breast Men

Breast Men (1997) has lots and lots of breasts showing and a few other sexy women. The women are:

Amanda Foreman

Barbara Niven

Beth Broderick

Carrie Browder

Emily Procter

Gail Matthius

Heidi Swedberg

Iva Franks

Jamie Austin

Jennifer Lyons

Judith Hoag

Julie K. Smith

Leila Kenzle

Lisa Falcone

Lisa Marie

Mary Deno

Nina Siemaszko

Rena Riffel

Ria Pavia

Tiffany Granath

and a few not identified


Lots more breasts shown in Busted (1996). This time the women are:

Ava Fabian

Devin De Vasquez

Griffin Drew

Julie Strain

Landon Hall

Mariana Morgan

Mindy Feldman

Monique Parent

Samantha Mudd

and some not identified

The Corporate Ladder

Even more breasts shown in The Corporate Ladder (1997), particularly by Kathleen Kinmont,

Lisa Marie Scott

and Meilani Paul.

the other women look good: Karen Roe,

Lisa Falcone,

Talisa Soto

Day of the Warrior

It's also breasts aplenty in Day of the Warrior (1996) by Christiva Turner,

Julie K. Smith,

Julie Strain,

Raye Hollitt,

Shae Marks

and Tammy Parks.

Carolyn Liu fills out a bikini.

Dead of Night

Diana Frank shows the lot in Dead of Night (1996).

Many others show their breasts: Anya Longwell,

Jennifer Burton,

Kathleen Kinmont,

Tanya Newbould.

Heather Stephens looks sexy.


Renée Zellweger

and Rosanna Arquette both look sexy in Deceiver (1997).


Michelle Hutchinson bares her butt in Fargo (1996).

Larissa Kokernot and Melissa Peterman are topless but nothing can be seen.

The Game

Deborah Kara Unger is down to her underwear in The Game (1997).

The Glass Cage

Lots of breasts revealed in The Glass Cage (1996) by Charlotte Lewis,

Lisa Marie Scott,

Maria Ford

and some not identified.

Four dancers, Laurie Sposit,  Karen Dyer, Wendy Fowler and Melinda Songer, are also topless.

Hellraiser: Bloodline

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996) has some breast exposure by Valentina Vargas.

In Love and War

Sandra Bullock is supposed to be naked in In Love and War (1996) but nothing can be seen.

Midnight Blue

Annabel Schofield is topless in Midnight Blue (1997)

as is Shelley Michelle, who body doubles for Annabel in some scenes.


Playback (1996) has Tawny Kitaen

and a number of unidentified women showing some breast.

Shannon Whirry shows some sexy butt

and Hitoe Ootake is sexy in vinyl.


Ringer (1996) has Lisa Marie Scott

and Shannon Whirry both topless.

Scream 2

No nudity in Scream 2 (1997). Courteney Cox,

Heather Graham,

Neve Campbell,

Portia De Rossi

and Rebecca Gayheart are looking good.


An unidentified dancer is topless in Sleepers (1996).

Speed 2: Cruise Control

There are some lovely pokies by Sandra Bullock in Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997).

A Time to Kill

No nudity in A Time to Kill (1996) but Ashley Judd

and Sandra Bullock are looking good.

Trojan War

No nudity in Trojan War (1997). Marley Shelton is in her underwear

and Jennifer Love Hewitt shows some nice cleavage.

True Crime

There is also no nudity in True Crime (1996). Alicia Silverstone

and Ann Devaney are looking good.