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The Little Drummer Girl

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Charlie, a fiery and brilliant young actress, meets a mysterious stranger on the beach in Greece, and he draws her into an international espionage operation.

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*looks around*

Is everyone else watching this later?

I'll start by saying: it took me a year or so and about eight tries before I got past page 30 in the book.  Then I couldn't put it down.  The best thing LeCarre ever wrote.

This is very promising.  Not surprising that, 20 years on, I'm crushing on (Michael Shannon's) Marty -- not (Alex's) Gadi.  Because to buy into the story all those years ago was to fall for "Joseph", but Shannon is hella sexier than Klaus Kinski (original movie).

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I watched about 20 minutes of it this morning, then had to leave for work.

Michael Shannon IS A GOD.  Holy Shit, he just won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Limited Series. 

I cannot believe he's an American actor (which I knew of course)  because he sold me as a German from the first minute. 

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I wanted to like this, I tried watching for about an hour, but then I got bored.  As good as Michael Shannon is, I just couldn't take anymore.  

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15 hours ago, teddysmom said:

I watched about 20 minutes of it this morning, then had to leave for work.

Michael Shannon IS A GOD.  Holy Shit, he just won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Limited Series. 

I cannot believe he's an American actor (which I knew of course)  because he sold me as a German from the first minute. 

Not just American, but from Kentucky, no less.  (I have Kentucky connections.)   He's incredible and Incredibly believable in every role he plays.

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Just like the book, this is improving as the story moves along.  Florence Pugh *is* Charlie.  I'm really impressed -- first time I'd seen her in anything*.  Alexander is terrific.  I've read some reviews, and the critics don't like him in this.  But he's really the Becker of the novel, so I don't get the slams. 

The art direction makes me drool.  I know that's mostly on director Chan-Wook.  

The sex scene was charming.  The book's happened in a different place, and so had a different impact (he comes to the theater where she's been performing & they do it --IIRC -- backstage; maybe the balcony; and he's as obviously hungry for her as she for him.  Also: off-script! but it's under the radar).

Can't wait for the conclusion tomorrow!

*what a mistake to cast her as Amy in the (totally unnecessary) new production of Little Women.  She's so obviously Jo that I think I'll give the movie a hard pass.

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Tiny bit surprised by the lack of Previously people talking about this absorbing series! I'm enjoying it -- the performances are really strong; Skaarsgard, Shannon and Pugh are fantastic portraying three wildly different people. And you really do feel yourself cast back into the late 1970s. Just a good, intelligent production. It really is right up there with The Night Manager, which they've taken pains to remind us. Though a fan of Le Carre's, I've never read this book, so I have NO idea what will happen tonight in the conclusion, but looking forward to finding out. Also looking forward to getting some sleep. As an early riser, I'm not used to staying up past 11 o'clock. :)

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20 hours ago, Ohwell said:

I wanted to like this, I tried watching for about an hour, but then I got bored.  As good as Michael Shannon is, I just couldn't take anymore.  

I watched the whole thing, but I got seriously bored in the second hour too, with the time spent on creating Charlie’s backstory. I never read the book, or remember the Diane Keaton movie, so maybe I was expecting too much from the plot. I will say that normally I find Michael Shannon to wildly overact, but I think he is really excellent in this.

I much preferred The Night Manager.

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Especially now that shit is getting real for Charlie's "acting" gig (you're in the trunk of a car in Lebanon!), I'm just not seeing her...motivation.  I don't know the book, and perhaps I should re-watch episodes 1-2, but I just don't understand why a young actress would have agreed to do this.  I am familiar with other works of Le Carré so I know he depicts human motivation as mercurial and/or obscure, but...you're in the trunk of a car in Lebanon!  Why?   

Why did Charlie agree to do this?

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On ‎11‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 2:52 AM, voiceover said:

*looks around*

Is everyone else watching this later?

I'll start by saying: it took me a year or so and about eight tries before I got past page 30 in the book.  Then I couldn't put it down.  The best thing LeCarre ever wrote.

This is very promising.  Not surprising that, 20 years on, I'm crushing on (Michael Shannon's) Marty -- not (Alex's) Gadi.  Because to buy into the story all those years ago was to fall for "Joseph", but Shannon is hella sexier than Klaus Kinski (original movie).

I had a bit of a Peak TV meltdown Sunday night -- knowing this was coming along Monday and my DVR was already straining at the seams and there are only so many hours in the day -- so decided to watch this (and several other shows!) on demand. Caught the first two hours last night and didn't find it as complex as many critics were noting -- or maybe just the right amount of complex for me. The art direction and costuming are exactly right for the late '70s and I was lapping up the travel porn of that Greek compound. I saw an interview on one of the late night shows with Michael Shannon and the clip they showed didn't do his performance justice; then again, they could have picked any scene at random. I can't believe I only discovered him in the Waco miniseries; now I will watch anything he's in. He elevates it all, even crap like Room 104

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Love this so far, and am excited to see where it goes! Its a great cast, with the always amazing Michael Shannon (seriously, what cant this guy do?!) as the center of a great ensemble. The Greek scenes were making me die of wanderlust (I went to Athens a few years ago, and the ruins really are amazing), and Alexander is actually charming enough that I can buy a woman going off with him to a foreign country on a whim. 

Loving the 70s vibes throughout, and the spy stuff is really interesting and complicated, but in an accessible way, the way Le Carre's stories can do. He does a great job of getting you right into the backrooms where these stories happened. 

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Ok finished watching this.

Can’t  believe the British and other Europeans let the Israelis run all these operations.

Picton expressed objections, through racism — “your kind” — but otherwise let Kurtz decide whether or not or when to apprehend or just kill Khalil, who tried to carry out a major terrorist operation on British soil.

i know the British get all the official credit for foiling the bombing but I can’t believe they wouldn’t demand to take down Khalil rather than let him get away as Kurtz wanted.

Then in the epilogue, they’re assasinating the other members of the cell in European countries.  Why would they let Mossad operate like that in their countries?

I know LeCarre had all this experience with British intelligence.  But why would the Brits and other Europeans let the Israelis violate their sovereignty?

 

In any event, it’s hard to see Kurtz and the Israelis having the moral high ground.  They went heavy on the payback for the bombing which this story opens with by killing at least scores of Palestinians.  In the end, Kurtz didn’t stop terrorism by the Palestinians.

Also, Charlie having to sleep with Khalil to protect her cover being a big deal seems quaint now.  

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Ack, I still have no idea how this story ends! I get AMC through Sling TV and Roku. Social obligations with people who don't live inside the television made me miss the third night, and it is STILL not posted to Sling. No idea whom to blame -- Sling or AMC -- but it's as if they don't want anyone to see the conclusion, and to watch the advertising that you can't fast-forward through. Ah well. SMH, as the kids would say ... 

Now I have to avoid this forum until I see the conclusion. :)

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So I'm one of the very few who has watched this show?  I thought it was great.

I don't know how the book was different from the series (although I bet there are major differences), but I thought it was interesting how the last episode played out.  Khahil coming off as this peaceful, regretful character.  I didn't exactly buy it, but I see why the writers/director wasn't to play it that way.  It made Kurtz's already murky "high ground" even less high and more dodgy.

I really liked the actors who played Kurtz's crew.  I found them mysterious and compelling.

Am I wrong to think that Gadi and Charlie ended up together?  I thought so, but I don't understand the significance of Gadi coming back out of the house to get the tea cup and teapot.

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Kurtz wanted Charlie to be Khalil’s gf indefinitely, as he gained more power among Palestinians.

So she’d be undercover, being his mistress, for years.

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I guess not many people made it through all 3 nights judging from how quiet it is in here? I thought the last installment was fantastic. (Do wonder if 2 hr 40 minute episodes scared away some potential viewers who might have stayed on, were it not for it feeling like a practically-3-hour commitment just when you're traveling to be with family or preparing to host family or making a giant food-coma meal for said family. But audiences aren't strictly real-time anymore, so I hope lots of people will catch it on-demand. It deserves not to be missed.)

Anyway, yeah. Loved it. This was one of those rare modern examples of really feeling like you're seeing a spy novel brought to life, in a time and place, in a way that feels like real espionage -- no superhuman fight sequences, very few explosions; just weary and wary people whose jobs task them with choosing between the tragic and the merely terrible.

On 11/23/2018 at 8:25 PM, KittenPokerCheater said:

I don't understand the significance of Gadi coming back out of the house to get the tea cup and teapot.

Ha - I was wondering about that too! Maybe to show there was a new, enjoyable normalcy to his life? Maybe, by long habit, he doesn't like leaving things with his fingerprints on them? (That was my initial thought when I saw it.) Or maybe ... he just really wanted some tea?

I think it does imply Gadi and Charlie will end up together.

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On 11/24/2018 at 1:42 AM, scrb said:

Kurtz wanted Charlie to be Khalil’s gf indefinitely, as he gained more power among Palestinians.

So she’d be undercover, being his mistress, for years.

Thanks

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I’m so confused by this episode, I had to go back and start all over. I am not an espionage fan and am only watching for Alexander. But I’m really lost. However the period look is spot on (I’m 63, so my era). 

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They (the spies) originally sent Charlie to Salzburg, but when they realized Salim had not been truthful, Kurtz talked Salim into telling him the truth, and the spies intercepted Charlie along her route (she had to drive 800 miles) to give her the right location to park the car.  That was the scene where she was playing scrabble and they were communicating through the tiles on the board.

Charlie's drive with the semtex was to "prove" her loyalty to Salim and his cause.  Of course, the whole thing was a fiction to find out who the other members of the cell were.

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Long opinion short:

The novel is brilliant. 

This series,  being pretty darn faithful to the book, was brilliant.

Gotta pay close attention to the details in both! 

As for the UK and other nations allowing Mossad operations within,  two comments:

1. This book is fiction. 

2. Mossad is successful more often than not,  at least publicly. (See: Eichmann; Entebbe; Munich Olympics Aftermath.) And the "sovereign nations" get plausible deniability. 

scrb, Why must Israel's "payback" for unprovoked terrorism and murder meet some requirement so that it's not "too much"? Rather,  the attackers should simply....not attack! (See: Pearl Harbor; Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)

IMO,  Gadi came back out for the tea in order to sit and share inside with Charlie. Yes,  the implication is that they can now be a real couple, with no spycraft between them. 

Edited by LennieBriscoe
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Kurtz didn't want Khalil murdered but wanted to keep him alive to get at the larger terrorist network.  But the Brits decided to take him out without giving a rat's ass about what Mossad wanted.  And I think I read that Mossad eventually killed every Palestinian terrorist that killed the Israeli athletes so I have no problem believing that scene.  But I didn't quite get the bombing scene.  What did they blow up?  Were the wounded people leaving actors?  This was very well done, with a lot of suspense!  I've never been a spy novel reader, but I did read the book decades ago and I remember liking it a lot.  Didn't remember much of the plot, though.

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The Brits didn't know what Kurtz wanted.  They didn't want the Israelis taking Khalil out of the country; if someone entered their country to bomb innocent civilians, they wanted to make sure that he stayed in the country either dead or alive.  The Brits didn't attack, they just surrounded the property.

I don't think this production was brilliant.  I 'd be hard pressed to even call it very good.  It was way too long.  They strangely paid lots of attention to some production aspects (sets and location) and none to others.  The costumes for Florence Pugh were particularly badly made.  Short women need long flowing gowns cut differently than very tall women do.  She looked like she was playing dress up.  Michael Shannon and the voice were way over the top.  

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On ‎21‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 5:46 PM, Penman61 said:

Especially now that shit is getting real for Charlie's "acting" gig (you're in the trunk of a car in Lebanon!), I'm just not seeing her...motivation.  I don't know the book, and perhaps I should re-watch episodes 1-2, but I just don't understand why a young actress would have agreed to do this.  I am familiar with other works of Le Carré so I know he depicts human motivation as mercurial and/or obscure, but...you're in the trunk of a car in Lebanon!  Why?   

Why did Charlie agree to do this?

Because she is an actress and this is the greatest role she ever can get (to an ordnary person it would be the way to feel herself more important she can ever feel otherwise). Also, she falls for "Joseph" and "Kurtz" is a good salesman (= to recruit an agent). 

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On ‎23‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 9:18 AM, scrb said:

In any event, it’s hard to see Kurtz and the Israelis having the moral high ground.  They went heavy on the payback for the bombing which this story opens with by killing at least scores of Palestinians.  In the end, Kurtz didn’t stop terrorism by the Palestinians.

I don't think neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians got the moral high ground. Both sides believed that it was the other side who attacked their people, so they think they have to defend them by making bad things to others. The Israelis had bombers whereas the Palestinians only had home-made bombs.

Kurtz tried to limit the damage to the Palestinian fighers and Western sympathizers but even if he (partially) succeeded, the operation in Libanon happened because we know it did irl. But at least Kurtz and his boss' disagreement showed the options of the Israelis.    

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On ‎24‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 3:25 AM, KittenPokerCheater said:

I don't know how the book was different from the series (although I bet there are major differences), but I thought it was interesting how the last episode played out.  Khahil coming off as this peaceful, regretful character.  I didn't exactly buy it, but I see why the writers/director wasn't to play it that way.  It made Kurtz's already murky "high ground" even less high and more dodgy.

It's true that Khalil wasn't presented as a fiery-eyed fanatic but a man who was as human as anybody else. 

Still, I don't see Khalil as peaceful nor regretful. He was the leader of the terrorist organization, made the bomb himself and sent Charlie to murder people, just as he had sent other girls before, albeit saying that she didn't have to do it (just as Gadi Becker said earlier) which was perhaps the best way to guarantee that she wanted to do it.

As for Kurtz, he cared for the Israeli lives lost just as Khalili cared for the Palestianian lives lost. 

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On ‎30‎.‎11‎.‎2018 at 2:08 AM, LennieBriscoe said:

scrb, Why must Israel's "payback" for unprovoked terrorism and murder meet some requirement so that it's not "too much"? Rather,  the attackers should simply....not attack! (See: Pearl Harbor; Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)

As Gadi Becker so well presented to Charlie, to Khalil and his brothers had ample reasons to terrorism. As for too much "payback", as the British intelligence chief recalled, by maltreating a Jewish boy, the British had made half of the boys in his village to the members of Irgun who practiced terror attacks on the British.     

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I'm a big John Le Carre fan and have read most of his books and I'm delighted to see the remakes. (Unfortunately I was not a fan of the recent remake of The Night Manager. Somehow it all just felt so improbable, off kilter. Nothing against Tom Hiddleston. Maybe I should try it again.) Anyhow, I recorded this back in November and yet somehow forgot about it and just found it on my DVR. So I finally watched it. I absolutely loved it.  

I did not feel that it was too long: I appreciated how unhurried it was and I think now that compressing it into a 2-hour movie must have been a real challenge.

I am particularly impressed with Florence Pugh. What a brilliant performance! Her face is so expressive. She can say so much without speaking. I will watch for her in the future.

When I saw the film with Diane Keaton back in the day, I was very drawn in by Charlie’s story. Much as I loved Florence Pugh’s performance, there was an emotional neediness in Keaton’s Charlie that was lacking in the miniseries. She was a struggling nobody actor who was singled out for this wonderful opportunity in Greece -- wa hoo! Then this romantic stranger singles her out, seduces her, makes her fall in love with him. She wanted so much to believe it.

Then when she is taken for her "interview" and they systematically destroy the fiction she's adopted about her identity, her life -- they  break her down. Someone here asked that question: Why does Charlie go along with this at all? I must say in the mini-series that is not clear. But in the movie, you can see it plainly: all that hopeful joy, thinking she was having this great good luck, this fairy tale romance – but then boom, the bubble is burst. Keaton visibly deflates, and of course that is when she was most vulnerable, so that's when Kurtz springs the trap. Klaus Kinski was absolutely wonderful. This scene is one of the few quibbles I have with the miniseries: the interrogation and "audition" with Marty fell a little flat for me. But that was minor.

(Fascinating to note the mastermind behind all this is named Kurtz. We know that name from the man who went too far and lost his moral bearings in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now.)

The fact that people argue about the Israeli vs. Palestinian issue after seeing this show tells you how effective it was. I'm sure that was John Le Carre's hope. The book was written at a time when Americans were largely sympathetic to Israel, and Palestinians were seen as terrorists. (I realize that's a blatant generalization.) It is interesting to see this story now, in today's context, where so many people have a more sympathetic attitude toward the Palestinians. John Le Carre did a masterful job of showing both sides of the story, and this miniseries did justice to it.

As the point-of-view character, Charlie shows us very well how both sides make a compelling argument for their positions. If she's searching for moral high ground, she finds none. They all have dirty hands.

I also found the settings, costumes, hairstyles, even eyeglasses were spot on for the era. I felt the direction and cinematography were wonderful. It did get a bit muddled now and then changing locations, how much time had elapsed, etc. but I was able to keep up OK.

My only real quibble is with the last 15 minutes or so: Charlie's reactions in those last few minutes as she was forced to confess to Khalil. Somehow even after all these years, I remember the scene in the film: him demanding from her, “Who are you?” and her tiny voice answering, “I’m nobody.” And then his sudden, merciless murder. It was absolutely devastating to Charlie, to see Khalil basically executed right in front of her eyes. In the mini-series, Charlie's reaction just didn't work for me. Her tears seemed a bit by the book. 

And in the movie, Charlie is literally destroyed emotionally by that climax. She'd been deliberately manipulated into falling in love with Joseph, then sent into a situation where she was again seduced into caring about people, and even developed feelings (if only sympathy and some admiration) for Khalil -- only to see them all killed as a direct result of her actions. It drove her to a breakdown. I found it a bit incredible that Miniseries Charlie seemed to take it all in stride.

I also did not understand the gift box she got while she was recuperating.

And I felt it was bizarre to see her track down Gadi in Germany and go seek him out to resume their love affair, apparently unfazed by her experiences. It felt a little too pat, a bit cliche, and out of character for them both.

But again, overall I absolutely loved it and was blown away by Florence Pugh. My comparisons with the movie are beside the point, but if you did enjoy this miniseries, you might want to dredge up the movie and watch it just to compare.

I remember walking out of the theater back in 1984, standing around in the street with my friends, dazed, more than just a little overwhelmed. It blew my mind how both sides were cold-hearted killers, and how Charlie had been such a pawn.

Edited by lidarose9

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