COMPELLING ACTS OF CUMBERBATCH, NINIDZE MAKE ‘THE COURIER’ A GOOD WATCH - The Daily Guardian
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COMPELLING ACTS OF CUMBERBATCH, NINIDZE MAKE ‘THE COURIER’ A GOOD WATCH

Murtaza Ali Khan

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The late legendary British author John le Carré’s novels over the years have given us films such as A Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), The Russia House (1990), Tailor of Panama (2001), The Constant Gardener (2005), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), and A Most Wanted Man (2014), among others. Dominic Cooke’s directorial The Courier, based on true events and real people, also appears to belong to le Carré’s oeuvre. Written by Tom O’Connor, it is largely plot driven with reasonable scope for character development as far as the major characters are concerned. The little action that it presents appears quite realistic and seems to work well with its plot.

Now, le Carré, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of espionage novels, added a whole new dimension to the spy fiction genre. In his conscious attempt to present spies that appear closer to the real-life, le Carré penned down plausible caricatures that lacked charm, romanticism and heroics of Ian Fleming’s 007. John le Carré’s espionage artists lived routine boring lives plagued by the hardships of a common man. They represent a quintessential breed of anti-Bonds who have very little in common with Fleming’s larger-than-life superspy with the licence to kill.

Born David John Moore Cornwell, le Carré wrote a total of twenty-five novels and one volume of memoir titled The Pigeon Tunnel, which was published in 2016. He sold more than sixty million copies of his work worldwide. During the 1950s and 1960s, he worked for both the Security Service (MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). When his third novel titled The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, published in 1963, became an international best-seller, he decided to leave MI6 and became a full-time author. It remains one of his best-known works till date.

Now, I can say this without an iota of a doubt that John le Carré was a phenomenal storyteller and a penman par excellence, an undisputed master of spy fiction that formed a great parallel to Ian Fleming’s brand of espionage. In fact, the very reason I have come to truly admire the works of espionage is not because of Fleming’s James Bond but because of le Carré’s George Smiley. The latter created Smiley as an intentional foil to James Bond. For, he saw Bond as an inaccurate and misleading version of a spy. Smiley first comes across as innocuously polite, unassuming, and someone you don’t easily feel threatened by. He is clever enough to hide his razor-sharp memory, inner cunning, mastery of espionage, and his ability to quickly detach himself from his human subjects if need be.

It’s difficult to think of a film like The Courier without le Carré’s influence on the genre. The film essentially narrates the story of Greville Wynne, a British businessman who was recruited by MI-6 and CIA to deliver messages to secret agent and Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky, in the 1960s to prevent a nuclear confrontation and defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis. Interestingly, the film’s two leads, Wynne essayed by the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch and Penkovsky portrayed by the Georgian actor Merab Ninidze, have both gained prominence from their association with BBC shows, Sherlock and McMafia, respectively. And it’s really no surprise that their performances are the highlight of The Courier. For, the film certainly lacks in terms of budget. But let’s not forget that The Courier isn’t Bridge of Spies despite the obvious similarities between the two films. Even though Bridge of Spies is a kind of film that one generally doesn’t associate with Steven Spielberg who is ubiquitously renowned for his dazzling filmmaking style, the film ultimately is more in accordance with the American sense of valour and optimism than le Carré’s characteristic cynicism and futility.

However, The Courier, on the other hand, tries to look too gritty and realistic. And, in the process, it somewhere loses the charm that’s generally associated with old-fashioned spy thrillers. But the historical details involving the Cuban Missile Crisis and the lurking threat of WWIII and fact that Oleg Penkovsky was indeed the most valuable asset that the Western Block (the United States and its allies) were able to turn against the Eastern Block (Soviet Union and its allies) nevertheless make The Courier an important film. Also, the conviction with which both Cumberbatch and Ninidze essay their respectively parts actually succeed in elevating the film above the material at hand. As a matter of fact, without these two performances, the film may not have been half as good. Of these two performances, Ninidze’s performance clearly stands as the first among equals. It certainly should have been acknowledged at the major award functions this year but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

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NUSHRRATT SHARES MOTION POSTER OF HER NEW FILM

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MUMBAI: Bollywood actress Nushrratt Bharuccha, on Thursday, shared a motion poster of her new upcoming film ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ on her social media.

Nushrratt took to her Instagram and shared the film’s motion poster, which had a super catchy foot-tapping soundtrack. In the caption, she wrote, “Ek womaniya sab pe bhaari, yeh suchna hai #JanhitMeinJaari.”

Producer Vinod Bhanushali and writer-director Raaj Shaandilyaa had earlier announced the film with a quirky poster. Shaandilyaa has also penned the film’s script, which has been directed by debutant, Jai Bantu Singh.

Produced by Bhanushali Studios Limited and Think Ink Picturez in association with Shree Raghav Entertainment LLP, the movie commenced filming today in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh.

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ANUSHKA SHARES POST-WORKOUT SNAP

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MUMBAI: Bollywood diva Anushka Sharma is back in town with her daughter Vamika after being in the UK with her husband Virat Kohli as India toured England for a cricket series.

Taking to her Instagram story, Anushka posted a surreal sea view picture from the balcony of her Mumbai residence. In the next IG story, she shared a post-workout selfie of herself. Anushka can be seen sporting a lime green t-shirt with her hair tied in a bun, as she hit the workout session. Alongside the picture, she also added a sticker that reads “Sweaty Selfie.” For the unversed, Anushka had gone to the UK with her husband Virat and daughter Vamika in July. She had shared a series of pictures from her English countryside getaway. The star couple had also celebrated Vamika’s six-month birthday in London.

On the work front, Anushka was last seen in the 2018 movie ‘Zero’, co-starring actors Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif.

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KIRTI KULHARI FULFILLS HER DREAM

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MUMBAI: People who love nature should travel in toy trains once in their life to experience the scenic routes that have been carved through mountains. Actor Kirti Kulhari recently fulfilled her dream of taking a toy train ride in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Taking to Instagram, Kirti posted a few picturesque pictures from her toy train journey. “Is the journey more important than the destination??? My answer is a ‘BIG YES’..#toytrain #jutogh #simla #himachalpradesh #traveldiaries. P.S – finally one more thing ticked off in my #bucketlist .. sitting in a #toytrain,” she captioned the post. The Kalka-Shimla toy train is a popular way of reaching Shimla. The particular railway line was declared a UNESCO world heritage line in 2008 and has been a great tourist attraction since then. 

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‘GODFATHER OF BLACK CINEMA’ MELVIN VAN PEEBLES NO MORE

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WASHINGTON: Veteran filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles has passed away at the age of 89. According to CNN, Melvin died at his home in Manhattan on Tuesday night. The news of his demise was announced by his family. “Dad knew that Black images matter. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what was a movie worth? We want to be the success we see, thus we need to see ourselves being free. True liberation did not mean imitating the colonizer’s mentality. It meant appreciating the power, beauty and interconnectivity of all people,” Melvin’s son Mario Van Peebles said in a statement.

Melvin was popularly known as the godfather of modern Black cinema. He had helped champion a new wave of modern Black cinema in the 1970s — especially with his films ‘Watermelon Man’ and ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’. Melvin also was also a novelist, theatre impresario, songwriter, musician and painter.

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RANVEER URGES TO CREATE INCLUSIVE SPACE FOR THE HEARING-IMPAIRED

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MUMBAI : September 23 is celebrated as the International Day of Sign Languages, and on this occasion, Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh has made a special appeal to the youth of the country.

Basically, he urged the youth to create an inclusive space for the deaf community. “If there is anything we all have come to value and embrace in the last year and a half is the power of community and being there for each other. My message to the youth today would be to keep doing the work you are… and if in any way you can create or propagate an inclusive space by working with the Deaf community, please do. From hospitality to education to creative arts. We can only make this change together,” Ranveer said.

Ranveer has been working hard to help the community. He has also been urging authorities to consider and declare Indian Sign Language (ISL) as the 23rd official language of India and also signed a petition aimed at furthering awareness of this cause. 

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Tom Hanks’ sci-fi movie ‘Finch’ drops first trailer

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WASHINGTON: The first official full trailer of Hollywood star Tom Hanks’ upcoming sci-fi adventure movie ‘Finch’ has recently been dropped by Apple TV+, where it will premiere on November 5.

The movie narrates the story of a lone survivor of a global apocalypse who has embarked on a dangerous journey to find a new home for his unlikely family, a dog and a newly created robot. Hanks has portrayed the titular character, a robotics engineer, who is the only survivor of a solar event. Finch creates the robot named Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) to take care of his loyal companion, dog Goodyear, when he’s gone.

The almost 3-minute trailer of ‘Finch’ begins with Hanks’ character saying “It all happened so fast. There was a solar flare. Goodbye crops and food, goodbye everything,” as scenes of a deserted, dystopian America pass by. “So I hid, frightened and so alone, and I found you,” he continues, addressing the sweet dog.

After Finch develops the robot Jeff, it learns its purpose (“Robots must protect dog”), the trio then set out west, embarking on a treacherous journey to beat a deadly storm to safety. “If we don’t go before that storm hits, we’ll die. All of us,” Finch says in the trailer.

During the journey, they experience some lighthearted moments on the road, Finch teaching Jeff how to drive, Jeff learning how to “talk dog”, all while the pressures of the post-apocalyptic world seem to be closing in. Along the way, they navigate through extreme weather phenomena, merciless heat, UV radiation, and other unexpected challenges.

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