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BetterMost, Wyoming & Brokeback Mountain Forum  |  The World Beyond BetterMost  |  The Culture Tent (Moderator: Sheriff Roland)  |  Topic: London Spy: Ben Whishaw, dreamy lover/genius Ed Holcroft and sage Jim Broadbent 0 Residents and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: London Spy: Ben Whishaw, dreamy lover/genius Ed Holcroft and sage Jim Broadbent  (Read 151970 times)
Aloysius J. Gleek
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2016, 02:25:19 am »

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/london-spy-the-great-gay-espionage-story-almost/425112/

TELEVISION
London Spy
                                                     London Spy
The Great Gay Espionage Story, Almost
The BBC miniseries starring Ben Whishaw is gorgeous, terrifying, insightful, and way too slow.

By SPENCER KORNHABER
JAN 21, 2016


Ben Whishaw in London Spy.  BBC



“No plot but lots of disco dancing!” That was the headline for Christopher Stevens’s deliciously deranged Daily Mail review of the BBC five-part miniseries London Spy when it premiered in the U.K. in December. Some sort of unfortunate natural law dictates that exactly this kind of review must be written by someone, somewhere, for any new show with gay characters. “It’s become impossible to switch the telly on without seeing two men locked in a naked clinch, or in drag, or snogging,” Stevens carped, a statement that takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to make when only now, and only on some networks, is TV beginning to reflect the percentage of queer people in the general population. You can see evidence of this cognitive dissonance in the aforementioned headline: There is no actual disco dancing in London Spy.

Stevens’s review already received some backlash. But it’s worth noting that one argument supposedly in the show’s favor isn’t quite accurate. In an interview with The Guardian, the supporting star Jim Broadbent summed it up: “It’s not a gay story … It’s about these particular guys, who happen to be gay, who are in the midst of this maelstrom of an unfolding tale.” There are, to be sure, many stories where the presence of same-sex romance is merely incidental. But London Spy, which debuts on BBC America tonight, isn’t one of them. Its gayness is the most interesting thing about it.

Ben Whishaw, reconfiguring the ratio of nervous anxiety to dreamy self-possession he displays as Q in the recent James Bond movies, plays the hero, Danny. His drug use, promiscuity, and aimlessness fit the archetype of a “party boy”; the show wants viewers to see those traits as coping mechanisms for something. He meets the mysterious and handsome Alex, who more fits the Alan Turing mold: His long-ignored desires coexist with and maybe even fuel savant-like brilliance (Edward Holcroft’s deep voice and heavy-tongued speaking style even recall Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Turing in The Imitation Game). The two strike up a yin-yang love affair featuring beach walks and slow sex and very laconic conversations. Then something horrible happens, and the show turns from muted romance to terrifying mystery.

Both characters have been deeply shaped by the closet and social expectation, though in Alex’s case there are quite a few more layers of repression to peel back. That’s also true of Danny’s mentor, Scottie (Broadbent, kindly menace incarnate), a bureaucrat whose life story would have been very different had he been straight. All three men are terminally lonely for different reasons with similar root causes; the show’s plot is plausible only because of the palpable desperation that has led them to form iron commitments to one another. There are other sexuality-related factors here, too: the effects of AIDS in the past and present, the exploitative dynamics created when a group must exist on society’s margins, and the eagerness of the mainstream to lump all gay people into one amoral, kinky mass.

On TV, it’s rare for all these currents to converge so smartly. But the medium, at least as it’s approached here by the creator Tom Rob Smith and the director Jakob Verbruggen, doesn’t quite work to London Spy’s advantage, even though the show is visually gorgeous, wonderfully performed, and competently written. The need to occupy almost a full hour per episode seems to have resulted in lots of filler, presented, unconvincingly, under the guise of artful mood-setting. Outside of having potential screensaver value for Whishaw superfans, there’s nothing useful about seeing Danny wander idly through a hedge maze, or gloomily swim in slow motion, or contemplate the Thames over and over again. The time-killing isn’t justified by the central mystery, the solving of which turns out to be neither very shocking nor complex: Of all the possibilities suggested by the show’s inciting incident, one of the least interesting ends up being true. Five episodes might sound like a perfect, lithe treatment for such a tale, but the truth is it really only needed two or three. London Spy should have been a movie.  

To be fair, the storytelling does pay off frequently enough that I don’t regret having sat through the whole thing. Those strong character relationships feel all the more real because of the amount of time spent with them. And the drip-drop pacing allows for some exquisitely terrifying climaxes. The twist of the first episode really isn’t hard to guess at (and has been mentioned in some of the show’s advertising)—and yet it’s unveiled with such deliberation and patience that it feels like something from a great horror film.

Given the potential, though, the show’s flaws are frustrating. London Spy’s innovation is in the way that the sexuality of its characters intersects with a standard spy mystery to explore some concepts that popular culture hasn’t yet fully reckoned with. Yet its lethargy and the unremarkable nature of the underlying plot allow people like Stevens to maintain a false dichotomy: inclusive storytelling vs. entertaining storytelling. Both can coexist. Even within the slog of London Spy, there are plenty of times when they do.


« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 11:10:06 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2016, 02:47:52 am »

AT THIS POINT: POSSIBLE SPOILERS


London Spy Closer Look:
Scottie (Jim Broadbent)


An increasingly paranoid Danny asks Scottie for help.
Published on Nov 10, 2015






Scottie reveals the unnerving hidden message behind a joke.
Published on Nov 17, 2015






Published on Jan 22, 2016




« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 11:10:45 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2016, 02:58:41 am »

AT THIS POINT: POSSIBLE SPOILERS


London Spy Closer Look:
Marcus (Adrian Lester)


Marcus confronts Danny with a different side of his lover's life.
Published on Nov 24, 2015






Marcus tells Danny to destroy his copy of Alex's research.
Published on Dec 2, 2015



« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 11:11:27 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2016, 05:15:04 pm »



London Spy

Alex (Ed Holcroft)

"I was that man. And you
were that someone."

Published on Nov 26, 2015


« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 11:12:11 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2016, 01:55:10 am »





Gay spies are people, too, after all.




http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2016/01/london-spy-bbc-america-ben-whishaw

PREMIERES JANUARY 21, 2016 12:58 PM
London Spy
Is a Gay Twist on a Well-Worn Genre
BY RICHARD LAWSON


Courtesy of BBC



Gay spies?? Yes, gay spies.

In the new BBC America mini-series London Spy, premiering on January 21, two people leading very different lives—one a secretive, buttoned-up type, the other an aimless, hedonistic clubgoer—meet, fall in love, and then are thrown into a knotty intrigue after one of them disappears. As the series’s title would suggest, this is a spy story, and its early beats have the familiar rhythms of many a stately, Graham Greene–ish mystery before it. Only, well, this time the two lovers torn apart by shadowy forces are both men, giving London Spy a fascinating, decidedly modern extra dimension.

What’s satisfying, and commendable, about this series is that it doesn’t simply graft a gay romance onto a traditional spy story, but presents something whose gayness and spyness are wholly intertwined and inseparable—it’s a narrative for which the gay aspect is integral rather than incidental, which feels rare even in our progressive age of television. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the wounded club kid is played by everyone’s beloved British beanpole Ben Whishaw, or that the strapping Edward Holcroft plays his shifty new boyfriend. But the eye candy is beside the point. (Though, gird yourself for Episode 1’s sex scene—yowsers.) The point is that London Spy, which was created by novelist Tom Rob Smith, does not shy away from the particulars of gay male life—sexual mores, H.I.V. fears, various potently lingering prejudices—while also creating a compelling mystery suitable to more than a niche audience. (Indeed, when the series premiered in the U.K. late last year, it earned high ratings.)

I recently spoke with Smith on the phone, curious to hear his take on the gayness and the spyness of it all, and he explained to me why the series’s love affair, between Whishaw’s Danny and Holfcroft’s Alex, had to be built the way that it is. “Clearly the gay thing is central to the story. Not because of any particular agenda that I had, but because I thought the most interesting version of this story is to have a gay couple. Because it’s about someone’s love story being attacked by stereotypes. And I can’t see how that would work with a straight couple, in a straightforward sense.”

As Smith sees it, London Spy’s twisty secret-agent intrigue, particularly involving M.I.6, is a good metaphorical fit for the series’s social themes. “If I was being neat, that’s a way of talking about the show itself: you flip [the M.I.6] building around, on the rear of it, it’s not as iconic, but you have this high wall with security cameras and then directly opposite you have these [Vauxhall] clubs that open at 10 and close at 10. It’s interesting that all the people going into this world, into this very discreet door, are in a sense oblivious of the world opposite them.” But at a time when at least parts of the world have made great strides in advancing gay rights, is homosexuality still something that can be wrapped in that particular metaphorical cloak, something clandestine and secretive, and possibly troubled?

“I have friends whose daughter was struggling with being gay,” Smith told me. “And they’re the most wonderful parents, and they’re living in London, which is now a very tolerant and welcoming city. And they’re struggling to understand why she might be struggling with it. I just said to them, ‘There’s a big difference between a theoretical position of equality and coming to terms with it on a personal level, working out the difficulties and trying to overcome it.’”

In London Spy we see the different sides of that continuing struggle played out not just by closeted Alex and the more free-wheeling Danny, but by Danny’s friend and perhaps lovelorn mentor, Scottie, an aging spook who experienced an altogether more repressive kind of discrimination in his would-be salad days. (Scottie is played—note-perfectly, with a sad sort of wisdom—by Jim Broadbent.) Through its tale of murder, cover-up, and cruelly exploited stigma, London Spy avoids any heavy, obvious messaging, while still remaining unflinching in its queerness. Which, in turn, becomes its own kind of message: yes, gay stories can be vital, and accessible, because they are gay stories, and that’s something we should be O.K. with admitting, and, as the BBC has done, comfortable sharing with a larger audience.

As a mystery-thriller, London Spy might take a few too many contemplative pauses or moody digressions to satisfy viewers simply looking for a by-the-book spy caper, but even as the series veers from internal angst to a modest bit of camp—mostly involving Charlotte Rampling’s wonderfully frigid and withholding lady of a faded house—it maintains its urgency, its value as something odd and alluring and, in its somber way, hopeful about how representation in media might look in the future.

The U.K. and the United States are different countries, of course, but if Britain’s response to London Spy has been any indication, we have reason to hope that the needle on what American audiences will accept from television that features overt, fundamental gay themes could move, or already has moved, to accommodate this series. “We had some articles saying there were all these calls to Ofcom, which is [Britain’s television] regulator, about the sex scene in Episode 1,” Smith explained. “That ran as a big story, and then it turned out there was one complaint to Ofcom. Literally just a single person complained to Ofcom about the scene. So there was a slight discrepancy between the coverage, which implied there was this mass outrage, and the reality, which is that there wasn’t any outrage.”

If there is any genuine outrage to be had, it might be about where the series takes Danny as he is plunged into a web of deceit and coldhearted machinations he’s not well equipped to navigate. By the end of London Spy, some viewers will likely have strong opinions about how the series handles the issue of H.I.V., and how it handles its many red herrings. Though they might gripe about the wild places the series ultimately goes (the implications of its central mystery turn out to be rather grand), hopefully they can still appreciate how the series maintains its admirable sense of conviction—to its strangeness, to its romantic and social inquiry—throughout. London Spy is sad and grim and messy. But there is a crucial bit of real humanity reflected in all that, which makes London Spy as worth watching as any more “traditional” mystery series, for any kind of viewer. Gay spies are people, too, after all.



« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 11:12:47 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

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Aloysius J. Gleek
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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2016, 04:47:40 am »




A  MOST WANTED MAN
Whether conducting his dangerous liaisons on screen or on stage,
London Spy seducer Edward Holcroft is about to blow his cover




FILMING London Spy took Edward Holcroft into uncharted professional territory. The drama, based loosely on the case of Gareth Williams, the MI6 agent found dead in a sports bag, demanded Holcroft’s first ever sex scene - and it was to be with Bond star Ben Whishaw. His approach? “Just jump into it. So I literally jumped on to the bed and was like, ‘Let’s go!”’ recalls Holcroft, who made his name in projects such as Wolf Hall and Kingsman: The Secret Service. “We  had become quite close by that point, so it was quite special. Of all the people I could have dreamed of having a gay sex scene with, Ben would be my number one.”

Holcroft’s lack of inhibition has served the 27-year-old well in his career - he took up acting on a whim after a  university friend suggested he’d be good in a play - but in his younger years it landed him in trouble. “I was f***ing naughty at boarding school.” His escapades included all the classics: creeping out at night, turning up drunk to prayers and getting caught in a girl’s bedroom (despite taking refuge behind a pair of curtains). “It was a Catholic school so that was like the eighth deadly sin.”

Now with a slate including this month’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Donmar Warehouse and a starring role in the upcoming film adaptation of Julian BarnesThe Sense Of An Ending, he is one of a crop of new British actors to emerge from the public school system (indeed, this year he briefly dated Prince Harry’s ex, Cressida Bonas, with whom he’s “still very good friends”). Does his background afford an unfair advantage? “I think you get a lot of opportunities that other people don’t, it would be foolish to pretend otherwise,” he says. “But I’m not taking it for granted. I work hard and that’s the best I can do.”

GQ UK, January 2016, p. 45

« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 11:13:30 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2016, 05:12:45 am »










"Nothing."



« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 05:28:14 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"
Aloysius J. Gleek
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2016, 05:36:38 am »

LONDONSPYFANARTJO
http://j000000.tumblr.com



« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 05:29:05 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"
Aloysius J. Gleek
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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2016, 05:10:15 pm »

LONDONSPYFANART
Cue the London Spy FanArt
(did you imagine it wouldn't happen?)





Taken from:





I was that man, and you were that someONE.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 05:29:25 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"
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« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2016, 06:38:36 pm »

SLASH LONDONSPYFANARTSKYLOCKED
 


           



« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 06:46:31 pm by Aloysius J. Gleek » Logged

"Tu doives entendre je t'aime."
(and you know who I am...)


Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne)
and Pee-wee in the 1990 episode
"Camping Out"
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BetterMost, Wyoming & Brokeback Mountain Forum  |  The World Beyond BetterMost  |  The Culture Tent (Moderator: Sheriff Roland)  |  Topic: London Spy: Ben Whishaw, dreamy lover/genius Ed Holcroft and sage Jim Broadbent « previous next »
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