Thursday, July 8, 2010

Joie' De Vivre On Celluloid: The Tailor Of Panama

We open at night, with MI6 agent Andy Osnard standing broodingly at a large window, looking out onto a city bridge in London and pondering. He is getting the "Siberia" of assignments, for a mishap we do not yet have all the details for. Andy get orders for Panama, he's taken a back, we then seem to understand his plight, a company screw-up in deed Andy...

Then we meet the tailor of Panama (Rush). He is giving his finest display of his renowned excellent service to a customer. The kind of service you'd pay to get from an Englishman tailor with a respected, high end boutique shop in Panama. Then we watch him, uh... tailoring? Sizing and cutting, there we go. Sped up a few more frames per second for us as Geoffrey Rush applies the smooth technique of making clothing, and making it very well. He looks every bit a tailor at work, and yet, holds a confidence about himself, that says something else to us as well. I liked how this film started off, not to mention the sultry Spanish orchestral jam, singing in our ear music the whole time.
I didn't mind it at all.

But wait! There's more!

People are alive in this, when lines are delivered, they have, not a weight, the opposite, they flutter out of the mouths of the actors and dance before like the magic you get out of (good) theater. Every time somebody says something in this, it can be taken to be another thing, and fives times out of ten, they revel that entrandra to you eloquently. That's it! The script, it's lines, and the delivery of the actor's at their finest, was simply eloquent.

The first time Brosnan and Rush meet, Brosnan makes a slow but steady incline up the mountain of asshole. He uses harsh, scrutinizing eyes, and employs sometimes heavy, sometimes light, but always there, snark in his voice. Rush takes the train running him over and keeps his smile up and his voice polite and professional. He is a true businessman obeying a rule: right or wrong, the customer should always feel like a million dollars. Which is also a way to say he a skilled liar. Make no mistake of that, because he is. He likes to make money, and does it well. Only with the class, and sass, that an actor of Rush's caliber really does possess could this be pulled off without a hitch. As I often write when I'm impressed: Bravo.

I liked Andy. He had gusto. Moxie. The dripping confidence and crudeness he didn't give to James Bond, he transferred to this man in a way of beauty (and I don't use that descriptive often). He keeps a flask he takes out, for a drink sure. But to show, he's the kinda man, who actually indulges in a flask shot, and then offers it to a woman after a smile from the sip. He smokes (a rarity for a Brosnan picture), and talks with the cigarette in his mouth--only truly cool people get to do that. He's not exactly full of surprises, because, once you think, "Oh wow", next your thinking, "Makes sense actually". Before you know it, Andy has slipped past your defenses and is less than a foot from you, in the same hammock... Watching you with a grin. In a way, he's almost the villain of the picture. Brosnan is the kind of man who relates himself being an MI6 spy with this gem:
"It's dark and lonely work. Like oral sex--but somebody has to do it."
Alrighty then. That's just one of many, many, quotable lines of dialogue from everyone, but Brosnan in particular. He was responsible for my favorite line in this whole film. Which is an accomplishment in itself with a script like this. It. Was. Sublime.

Andy has found a central figure in the community, Harry, in which he can siphon information from him, feed to his bosses back home, and maybe score some cash and ass on the side, repairing his career. Harry, understand his debts, see the opportunity as a way to get himself squared, and maybe one-upped as well.

Brenden Gleeson pops up in this, complete with a tan, a nice goatee and ditching his Scottish vocals for some... Spanish accentation? Oh word... Nice bro. Jamie Lee Curtis plays the wife, working as the assistant to the canal's director. She is smiley and bright, but just as sharp as you'd expect from Curtis. And sexy. Please believe that as well.And how 'bout Daniel Radcliffe in his first role? Eh, whatev.

There are things in this film that give me the Film Noir-heebie-geebies, in such a good way. At times, I felt some, David Mamet coming in with the brains it takes to bounce the dialogue of one character and then onto another just as terrifically written (with thanks being to the actors as well). Or, is it weird I felt some Polanski slipping into the bloodstream of this film? Whatever those things were I was feeling, they were much appreciated either way.

John Boorman has had a lengthy career in which to hone the skills it takes to show us a crafty, intelligent story. Working wisely with the author (co-writer and exec. producer), John le Carré, of the novel on which the film is based. Another thing Boorman did I happen to very much appreciate, was shoot some stuff actually in Panama. Giving us the seedy dark towns, night clubs and steamy exotic locals. I felt Casablanca dipped in salsa, with a margarita on the side... if I can get away with such a description.

Lies are the cup of coffee for this story to keep it flowing until the final scene in a kitchen. With that, I'll use some banter between Harry, and his secretary Marta:
Harry: "I may not have told you everything, but what I've told you is true. There's only so many people you can do that too. Tell the truth. Other people, you know, their different. They need to be--"
Marta: "Tailored."

That's Harry complex for each day. The man who charges $1000 dollars above the Armani price tag. In a related note to that, tailoring, and his suits, are such an important function in Harry's life, that they are not style to him, they are life. They define. He yells at one customer, "You're a disgrace to your suit!" In Harry's world, clothes truly makes or break a man. Good thing for Harry, his suits are always so nice.

 Munki out.

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