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<p>Gary Oldman gives good 'little grey man' in the new film version of the famous John Le Carre novel 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'</p>

Gary Oldman gives good 'little grey man' in the new film version of the famous John Le Carre novel 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

Credit: Focus Features

Review: Gary Oldman stars in smart and subtle 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

Director of 'Let The Right One In' makes a stunning English-language debut

If you're a fan of spy fiction, you're pretty much covered this Christmas no matter which flavor you like.  For people who like the big and improbable and outrageous, with action to spare, there's Brad Bird's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," and if you prefer the more thoughtful, quiet, real-world approach, prepare to bask in the glory of Tomas Alfredson's new film version of the John le Carre classic, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

I've been addicted to spy stories, both fiction and non-fiction, since I was very young, and one of the things I remember as a formative event for that interest of mine was the broadcast of the TV version of "Tinker Tailor" that starred Alec Guinness.  I tuned in because of Alec Guinness, who I already knew and adored from "Star Wars" and "Bridge Over The River Kwai," and at first, I was disappointed because I thought all spy movies were supposed to be just like James Bond films.  As the series progressed, though, I got drawn into this world of quiet power plays, a world where the most dangerous men weren't the ones who looked dangerous, but the ones you barely noticed.  I read the le Carre novel, and then read the rest of the books featuring the same character, George Smiley, and that led me to read non-fiction about the history of MI6, and then that led me to reading about the American intelligence community, and a lifelong obsession took hold.

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<p>Thanks for the tears, Sprint!</p>
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Thanks for the tears, Sprint!

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: South Pacific' - 'Ticking Time Bomb'

Ozzy and Cochran Duel, while Brandon ponders messianic 'Survivor'
Pre-credit sequence. Cochran arrives on Redemption Island and a groggy Ozzy musters an unenthusiastic, "I'm sorry, buddy." Cochran is introspective. "The big move I made at the Merge in jumping over to Upolu, in retrospect may not have been the best move," Cochran says, feeling used and insulted. Ozzy tells Cochran that the way he can stick it to Upolu is by voting for him if he makes it to the end. "What if I demolish you at the Duel?" Cochran asks. Ozzy promises to vote for Cochran if, indeed, Cochran makes it to the end and reassures him that he has a chance of taking the Duel. "He really doesn't stand a chance," Ozzy dead-pans to us.
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<p>The &quot;America's Next Top Model: All-Stars&quot; Top 3</p>
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The "America's Next Top Model: All-Stars" Top 3

Credit: The CW

Recap: 'America's Next Top Model' All-Stars Finale - The winner is...

Which model would Tyra Banks crown as most fierce?
We’ve come to the finale of the very first "Top Model" All-Star edition. It’s down to Allison, she of the big googly-moogly Muppet eyes; Angelea, the bus-depot-sleeping, socially challenged Buffalo girl; and Lisa, who is, well, Lisa.
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"Top Chef"

 "Top Chef"

Credit: Bravo

Recap: 'Top Chef' - 'Higher Steaks'

The chefs have to cook for a meaty fundraiser -- but play it safe

We're down to thirteen chefs, and the boys are noticing they're being picked off a little faster than the girls (okay, we've only had guys getting the boot for a while) and suddenly it's the boys vs. the girls. Of course, Heather thinks this is a great opportunity to gloat. Sigh. It's an individual challenge, people. Stop being ten years old for a minute and just cook. I had been feeling that this group of chefs was a little more mature and sophisticated than some we've gotten in past seasons, but I may have to reassess if they keep acting like they're in a fourth grade kickball tournament. 

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Watch: Meryl Steep transforms into Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady' trailer
Credit: The Weinstein Company

Watch: Meryl Steep transforms into Margaret Thatcher in 'The Iron Lady' trailer

Will the actress break her Oscar losing streak with this performance?

If Gregory's recent review of the film is any indication, Meryl Streep looks headed for another Oscar nomination - perhaps even a win? - for her performance as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming historical drama "The Iron Lady". Indeed, judging from the full-length trailer for the film that hit the web today, I'd say that's a pretty safe bet. 

Juding from the mere 2 1/2 minutes of the Phyllida Lloyd-directed film (Lloyd also directed Streep in "Mamma Mia!") shown in the new spot, Streep certainly looks and sounds the part of the Conservative leader - the first and so far only female to hold the nation's top political office - but of course it's the soul of the performance that will secure her a nod come Oscar time.

Known for her often-astonishing ability to mimic accents, Streep has proven time and again that she's capable of not only mastering the technical aspects of playing a role but cutting to the heart of the characters she plays. I have no doubt she'll manage to do that again here, but will it be enough to garner her a third Best Actress Oscar? 

As noted by Gregory in his review, Streep hasn't won an Academy Award since 1983, for her performance as Polish Holocaust survivor Zofia "Sophie" Zawistowski in "Sophie's Choice". Though she's surely the most lauded actress of her generation, it still doesn't seem quite right that it's been so long since she last took home the gold. Will she break her long Oscar "losing" streak next year? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

As for the trailer itself, I found it to be a good mixture of the film's political and human elements (as Gregory points out in his review, it focuses quite a bit on the relationship between Thatcher and her now-deceased husband Denis Thatcher, played here by Jim Broadbent). My favorite moment comes at around the :35second mark, when Streep as Thatcher opens her eyes with a look of astonished consternation after being belittled by a fellow politician. Needless to say, I'd hate to be the poor guy on the receiving end of that particular onslaught.

My grade for the trailer: "A". Check it out below and then rate it for yourself at top left!


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<p>The &quot;X Factor&quot; Top 5</p>
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The "X Factor" Top 5

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - Top 5 Performances Live-Blog

A double-dip of Rachel, Chris, Marcus, Melanie and Burrito Josh

Oh come on, Drew fans... I'm sad too...

But surely it's time to wipe away the runny mascara and settle in for Wednesday (December 7) night's episode of "The X Factor," featuring two performances apiece from the "X Factor" Top 5. Yes, that means two performances from Chris Rene. Sorry about that. but it also means a double-serving of Burrito Josh.

Buckle in for the entire live-blog journey...

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<p>A scene from Frederick Wiseman's &quot;Titicut Follies.&quot;</p>

A scene from Frederick Wiseman's "Titicut Follies."

Cinema Eye honors Frederick Wiseman film with Legacy Award

1967 doc 'Titicut Follies' to receive retrospective recognition

With Oscar season so invariably focused on the new and the now, it's refreshing when the occasional awards body casts a look backward to slightly older releases -- though they don't tend to go back 44 years. Trust the conscientious folks behind the Cinema Eye documentary awards to take up that cause with a Legacy Award for classic individual documentaries that, in their view, still carry resonance and influence today. This year's recipient: Frederick Wiseman's 1967 debut feature "Titicut Follies."

I've never had an opportunity to see Wiseman's film, an exposé of the grim conditions at a Massachusetts prison for the criminally insane, but it'd be interesting to see on what note he started his prolific and still-productive career. I'm familiar only with the director's later works, peaking with his staggering Paris ballet study "La Danse." His work of late has been preoccupied with human movement and performance; his latest, "Crazy Horse," about the titular Paris nightclub, continues in that direction. It opens in the US in January, neatly coinciding with the Cinema Eye presentation.

Edited press release after the jump. 

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<p>Viola Davis in &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Viola Davis in "The Help."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The Long Shot: Vehicle trouble

Why are so many of this year's Oscar-tipped actresses better than the films around them?

It is an unhappy and semi-annual habit among Oscar-watchers to dismiss the Best Actress race as “weak,” a selection of performances that handily distils – either by conformity or exception – Hollywood’s routine neglect of its female performers. That narrative thankfully took a rest last year: with peak-form work by Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams and winner Natalie Portman, plus a genuine revelation in Jennifer Lawrence, all of them in variously meaty, artful films, 2010 will likely be seen as a banner year for the category for some time.

It almost certainly won’t be topped this year – the tone across the blogosphere suggests that accusations of weakness are back in full force with this year’s lead actress race. Which is not to say that the field is thin or even uncompetitive: a look at the fringes of the category reveals a wealth of fine actresses turning in remarkable work in exciting films. Tilda Swinton in “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” Olivia Colman in “Tyrannosaur.” Elizabeth Olsen in “Martha Marcy May Marlene.” Anna Paquin in “Margaret.” Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg in “Melancholia.” Juliette Binoche in “Certified Copy.” Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids.” If this is the standard of the outsiders, how can this possibly be deemed a weak field?

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Watch: Willow Smith and Nicki Minaj ignite on 'Fireball'
Credit: Live Nation

Watch: Willow Smith and Nicki Minaj ignite on 'Fireball'

The pair take to the streets in Hype Williams-directed clip

It’s safe to say that lack of confidence will not ever be an issue with little Willow Smith, the spawn of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.  Really, what other 11-year old has the cojones to start her video in the same style as the legendary opening credits from “Star Wars?”

The Hype Williams-directed “Fireball” featuring, of course, Nicki Minaj, debuted on B.E.T.’s “”106th and Park” on Wednesday.  Smith continues on in her Rihanna mini-me mode in her spoken/sung delivery, although this song, to keep it in “Star Wars” parlance, is from a galaxy far far away from “Whip My Hair” and a far better one at that. (Musically, however, the song features the same military beat as "Run The World (Girls)" from Beyonce).

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Mark Strong, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth in &quot;Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.&quot;</p>

Mark Strong, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Lunch with Oldman, Firth, Strong, Alfredson as 'Tinker' takes LA

The critically acclaimed thriller finally hits the U.S.

"I love this lunch set up," Mark Strong says to me. "It actually allows you to talk [to the press] about the little things."

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<p>Emily Blunt and Jason Segel co-star in the new romantic comedy 'The Five-Year Engagement'</p>

Emily Blunt and Jason Segel co-star in the new romantic comedy 'The Five-Year Engagement'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Watch: Jason Segel and Emily Blunt take it slow in charming '5 Year Engagement' trailer

The new film from the team behind 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' looks great

I've got some great coverage of "The Five-Year Engagement" coming for you in early 2012, and I am really looking forward to the film.  Now, thanks to what I feel is a strong first trailer, you can get a look at what I've been waiting to talk about for a while now.

Jason Segel's got to be feeling good these days about the reception to "The Muppets," which he co-wrote with Nicholas Stoller.  This, though, is much closer to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," their first film together, and it's a film that was Stoller's passion project just as much as the Muppets represented a personal passion for Segel.  I spent a day in San Francisco watching them work, right at the end of the shoot, and you'll see a glimpse of the scene I was there for, the actual proposal that kicks off the movie.  I saw a ton of footage from the film as well, and even in rough form, there were some great moments I saw.

Here, though, we've finally got our first polished look at material from the film, and I think this trailer does a lovely job of selling both the underlying idea about a young couple who experience a string of delays that prevent them from actually having their wedding, and I think it sells the tone as well as some of the more outrageous humor that punctuates their journey.

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Listen: Spiritualized announce 'Sweet' new album, preview tracks

Plus: Fat Possum's Unknown Mortal Orchestra has a fresh video

It was back in March this year that we warned you of the imminent return of Spiritualized. This March, in 2012, the Jason Pierce-fronted band will make its presence known again. The English rock act has announced its new album "Sweet Heart Sweet Light," to drop some time in that thawing month.

The band performed at the Other Voices festival in Ireland last weekend, the set streamed for audiences who couldn't make it. Leftover are two new songs, now available via The Guardian: "So Long Pretty Things" and "Hey Jane."On the latter, I closed my eyes and heard Brendan Benson. On the former, I hear a little soul between the pure rock-pop, mostly with a chorus I can remember.

On neither did I hear a good mix, particularly with those backing vocals. I look forward to the actual song releases.

“When you make a record, it has to be the single most important thing in your world. This time around, I wanted to do something that encompassed all I love in rock ‘n’ roll music. It’s got everything from Brötzmann and Berry right through to Dennis and Brian Wilson," said Pierce, aka J. Spaceman in a release. "I’m obsessed with music and the way you put it together and I don’t believe there are any rules.”

Yeah, OK, but are you actually going to shoot me in a rocket to space with this one again, maaaaan? That's what Spiritualized's "Songs in A&E" partially did for me in 2008.

Fat Possum (Andrew Bird's former roost) will be putting out "Swee Heart Sweet Light": That label already had a pair of amazing releases this year, with Yuck's self-titled set and A.A. Bondy's "Believer." On top of that, I've finally spent some time with Unknown Mortal Orchestra during my top 10 pursuits this month, and can recommend "Bicycle." Lucky for all of us, the high-octane music video for that track dropped today. If Spiritualized doesn't pysch-rock us proper, UMO most certainly will.

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