The first movie weekend of 2012 serves us two movies that dive into all-male enclaves of violence and double-crosses.
The best is "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," a whipsmart adaptation of John LeCarré's classic Cold War spy novel. Gary Oldman shines as the unassuming spymaster George Smiley, brought out of semi-retirement to find a Soviet mole in the heart of Her Majesty's Secret Service, MI6. Director Tomas Alfredson ("Let the Right One In") assembles a solid cast -- including John Hurt, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy -- to dig into the labyrinthine trail of deceit as these spies try to outwit the other side and end up outsmarting themselves.
Also powerful is Takeshi Kitano's yakuza drama "Outrage," in which Kitano (under his acting name, Beat Takeshi) plays a grizzled mid-level Japanese mobster who faithfully carries out his boss's orders -- unaware that his boss is being played in a devious game by the mob family's top boss. Kitano's stately compositions capture the violent yakuza world with artistry and moments of offbeat humor.
Lastly, there's "The Devil Inside," an unpleasant blending of two tired genres: The exorcism horror movie, and the "Blair Witch" style mock-documentary. (The full review will be posted online later today.)