Film Highlights Thursday
The Guard (2011)
RTE One, 9.20pm
There's more than a touch of Quentin Tarantino to writer/director John Michael McDonagh's debut feature 'The Guard', but his tale of drugs and corruption also has an energy reminiscent of Flann O'Brien.
Although the film has a fairly conventional structure, it's more of a cartoon than a drama, and none of the characters are especially believable. But while not every joke works, McDonagh's film is often funny, and Brendan Gleeson (above) dominates proceedings.
He is Gerry Boyle, a cynical Garda sergeant stationed in Connemara. Gerry has seen it all and has long since lost interest in the petty crimes he deals with. He's devoted to his ailing mother, Eileen (Fionnula Flanagan), and likes to spend his free time in the company of prostitutes.
He's not impressed or best pleased when an FBI man called Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) turns up to investigate a drug-smuggling ring. Boyle gets most -- but not all -- of the best lines, and Gleeson certainly makes the most of them. His Boyle is a very Irish anti-hero who turns out to be far less of a country bumpkin than both the hoodlums and the FBI expected. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
John Le Carré's acclaimed espionage novel was adapted into an award-winning BBC TV drama in the 1970s, with Alec Guinness taking the role of jaded intelligence officer George Smiley.
In Tomas Alfredson's labyrinthine film it's Gary Oldman who plays him, with outsize spectacles and a quiet manner that conceals a frightening intelligence.
The jaded MI6 man is brought out of retirement to find a mole who's infiltrated British intelligence and is passing vital information to Russians, and proves a very competent inquisitor.
To lovers of Cold War thrillers and of Le Carré's work in particular, the joy has always been in their convoluted plots that mirror the madness, paranoia and confusion of that silent, vicious conflict. 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' is certainly no exception, and Tomas Alfredson's film demands your constant attention.
That attention, though, is richly rewarded, because Alfredson and his writers Peter Straughan and Bridget O'Connor have weaved John le Carré's devilishly complex story into a hugely satisfying and cinematic film. John Hurt, Colin Firth (below) and Benedict Cumberbatch co-star.