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TONY DAYOUB: The many faces of George Smiley

Though Gary Oldman came up empty at the BAFTAs this past weekend, he still stands a chance of being recognized at this year's Academy Awards for his career-best turn as graying spymaster George Smiley in Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This is Oldman's first nomination, and to my mind the most deserving of any of the performances cited in the Best Actor category this year. For Oldman – usually a kinetic and, at times, even bombastic performer – the role offered the challenge of playing a man accustomed to fading into the background. Projecting a face so passive it could almost be labeled a mask, Oldman allows a glimpse into Smiley’s inner life through his aqueous eyes, which betray volatility more in line with the rest of the actor’s notable roles.
  • By Tony Dayoub
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  • February 16, 2012 6:06 AM
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  • 0 Comments

TONY DAYOUB: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a worthy remake filled with lonely characters

The tall, athletic man introduced earlier in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as British Intelligence officer Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) walks into a classroom and begins to write his name on the chalkboard. Only he does not write the name we’ve come to know him by. The typically garrulous young males attending the tony prep school remain blissfully unaware of their new teacher’s identity as he starts handing out the class assignment. But the viewer is all too keenly aware of who Prideaux is if only for the fact that we saw him shot in the back at the start of Tomas Alfredson’s film adaptation of the John le Carré novel. Is this a flashback? Or did Prideaux somehow survive the shooting? Prideaux’s mild demeanor belies his efficiency, a fact his students become aware of when a bird trapped in the chimney suddenly flies into the classroom in confusion. Prideaux rapidly pulls out a club from his desk drawer and swats the bird down to the ground where it continues to squeal in pain. As Alfredson directs the camera to capture the students’ horrified reactions, the sound of Prideaux beating the bird to death comes from off-screen.
  • By Tony Dayoub
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  • December 9, 2011 12:35 PM
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  • 3 Comments

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