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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OSCARS ATTENDEES WILL NOT WEAR FACE MASKS DURING CEREMONY

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WASHINGTON : The 2021 Oscars won’t make face masks a requirement during its live ceremony, which is scheduled to take place this Sunday.

As per Variety, the Academy is not asking Oscar attendees to wear face masks while cameras will rolling during the live ceremony. The news was announced on Monday morning during a Zoom meeting with Academy representatives and nominees, and studio and personal publicists. Because the ceremony—being held at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles—is being treated as a TV/film production, masks are not required for people on camera, an Academy staffer explained.

However, when guests are not on camera, they are being asked to wear masks. Oscars co- producer Steven Soderbergh remained mum on face-mask protocol during a press conference with co-producers Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher. He said on Saturday that masks would play “a very important role in the story”. “If that’s cryptic, it’s meant to be,” he added. “That topic is very central to the narrative.”

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JESSICA BIEL OPENS UP ABOUT HER FAMILY LIFE WITH TIMBERLAKE

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WASHINGTON: Hollywood star Jessica Biel, recently while making an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, opened up about her life at home with her husband Justin Timberlake and their two boys Silas and Phineas. According to E! News, Jessica and Justin are currently sleep training Phineas, which means spending a lot of time listening to a teething, crying baby. The couple had welcomed baby Phineas last summer after a private pregnancy. Jessica explained, “It’s so hard to let them cry for even a few minutes. That’s the sleep training we were doing. Phin did a beautiful job.”

She added, “We never really followed through with Silas in a big way with the sleep training. I think it was because he was a first child, we were nervous, we couldn’t bear the thought. Now it’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re going to be fine. You’re going to make it. You’ll be okay.’” When asked if having two kids is harder than one, Jessica confirmed that it’s definitely not easy. Biel joked, “A very wise friend of mine said, ‘One is a lot. And two is a thousand. That’s exactly the way it feels. You’re like, man-on-man defence, one person’s here, one person is over there. It is a wild, wild ride.”

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AJAY DEVGN REVEALS HIS FIRST LOOK FROM DEBUT OTT SERIES

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NEW DELHI: Foraying into the digital space, Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn on Tuesday announced his first-ever OTT project with crime-drama series Rudra: The Edge of Darkness set to stream on Disney+ Hotstar.

The show will reportedly be a remake of the Idris Elba-starrer hit British series Luther. Ajay took to his Instagram handle and shared the first look of his debut web series, along with the caption, “Happy to announce the crime thriller of the year Hotstar Specials ‘Rudra – The Edge Of Darkness’. This one’s going to be ‘killer’ @disneyplushotstarvip.”

In the first look of Rudra: The Edge Of Darkness, a silhouette of Ajay can be seen standing in front of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The silhouette then turns frame by frame towards the screen, revealing Ajay’s face, as the title of the show appears before the viewers.

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PRIYANKA EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER CURRENT COVID SITUATION IN INDIA

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MUMBAI: As the number of Covid-19 cases is surging across the nation, actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas on Tuesday expressed concern and urged people to stay at home. She took to Instagram Story and shared a post in which she stated that the ‘Covid-19 situation in India is grave.’

“The Covid 19 situation across India is grave. I’m seeing images and stories coming in from different parts of the country that are so scary… the situation is out of control and our medical fraternity is at a breaking point,” wrote Priyanka.

She added, “Please stay home…I beg you to stay home. Do it for yourself, your family, friends, neighbours, community, and also our frontline workers.”

Priyanka also shared a post lauding the vaccination drive to start the vaccination of people above the age of 18 years in India from 1 May.

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AYUSHMANN OPENS UP ABOUT HIS ROLE IN ‘VICKY DONOR’core

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NEW DELHI: Celebrating nine years of the hit Bollywood film Vicky Donor, actor Ayushmann Khurrana on Tuesday revealed how he felt about playing an unconventional hero in his debut movie.

Revealing that he was very jittery about the reaction audiences would have towards him as the film’s lead, Ayushmann said, “It’s been 9 years but it definitely seems like it happened yesterday. I can still feel the rush I felt on release day, nine years back. I was confident of the script but very jittery about the response that I would get from audiences as a lead actor.”

The actor then spoke about the support he got from his family and added, “I remember all the phone calls with my family and friends, how they kept telling me that audiences would welcome me because I have put in my best. I was an outsider just starting to write my own destiny and I was thrilled with the prospect of what life had in store for me. I owe so much to Vicky Donor.”

Ayushmann credited his director Shoojit Sircar for the fantastic debut that became a runaway success at the box office and said, “I owe everything to Shoojit Sircar for his vision and trust in me as an actor. I owe it to Ronnie Lahiri and Juhi Chaturvedi. It was a film that was trying to change the language of cinema in India and I’m so proud to have been a part of it.”

He currently has many projects in his kitty including Anek, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and Doctor G.

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DIESEL SET TO STAR IN MOVIE ADAPTATION OF ‘ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM’ GAME

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WASHINGTON: Popular toy company Mattel’s film division recently announced its plans to develop ‘Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em’, the tabletop game featuring battling robots, as a live-action movie featuring Hollywood star Vin Diesel. According to Variety, Diesel, whose production company One Race Films is working on the current project with Universal Pictures, said, “To take the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em game, with Mattel as my partner, and align it with the kind of world-building, the franchise-making success we have had with Universal, is truly exciting.” Ryan Engle, who wrote the movie Rampage starring Dwayne Johnson and also Liam Neeson’s The Commuter, penned the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em screenplay. The story follows a father (Diesel) and son who form an unlikely bond with an advanced war machine. The role of Diesel’s character’s son has not been cast yet. Robbie Brenner, the executive producer of Mattel Films, said, “We are proud to bring this iconic piece of Mattel IP to life on the big screen with our tremendously talented partners Vin Diesel, One Race Films, and Universal.” 

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