Carlos (2010)

(TV-MA)

(TV-MA)

Plot Summary: Over the course of two decades, an elusive Venezuelan terrorist carries out devastating acts of politically motivated violence.

Cast: Édgar RamírezAlexander ScheerAlejandro ArroyoFadi Abi SamraAhmad Kaabour; Talal El-Jordi

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Queue It) The life of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez is extremely interesting in its own right, but the success of this project really depended upon Édgar Ramírez, who rose to the occasion in a remarkable way. Through him, the viewer can see the charismatic, ambitious, inspiring, fiery, driven, obsessed, aggressive, narcissistic, lecherous, hot-tempered, morally and ethically flexible person behind the notorious and fearsome reputation of Carlos the Jackal. One also gains pretty good insight into some of what drives, and the development of, revolutionaries, insurgents, terrorists, etc., and this series begs the question of where the line between those different classifications lies.  The project also calls out how instrumental governments have been in the success of these non-state combatants, and the ensuing hypocrisy of such governments in denouncing these individuals once their services lose enough value. Additionally, viewers can appreciate a fascinating account of the development of the Cold War from the perspective of its “front-lines” fighters and in constantly shifting international settings. In sum, this is a brilliant series about fascinating people and subjects, brought to life by excellent actors.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

(R) 127 mins

(R) 127 mins

Plot Summary: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6.

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Writers: Bridget O’Connor (screenplay), Peter Straughan (screenplay), John le Carré (novel)

Stars: Mark Strong, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t Bother)  It’s not that the movie was poorly done.  It was Oscar bait, so it had a solid cast, with plenty of opportunities for Oldman to deliver strong lines.  The script was intelligent, the camera work was good, the scenery was done well, and a great deal of effort was obviously put into making this movie believable and accurate.  But it was just…boring.  I think this is the most boring spy flick I’ve ever watched.  You really have to pay attention to appreciate the intricacies and twists in this film, and I really had trouble staying engaged.  I actually fell asleep twice and had to restart from the last boring scene that I remembered.  By the end, I didn’t care who the mole was.  Maybe this is yet another case in which the novel was much better.