Thursday, January 14, 2010

Film Review: IN THE LOOP (2009, Armando Iannucci)

Stars: 4.3 of 5.
Running Time: 106 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy, David Rasche, Steve Coogan, Anna Chlumsky, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison.
Tag-line: "The fate of the world is on the line."
Best one-liner: "Within your 'purview'? Where do you think you are, some fucking regency costume drama? This is a government department, not some fucking Jane fucking Austen novel! Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your purview and ram it up your shitter with a lubricated horse cock!"

"So you're not resigning? Are you still playing the hawk?" –"Well, a way I'm playing a much cleverer game than that...I'm a fake hawk." Finally the 'awkward, cinéma vérité workplace satire' which allowed THE OFFICE and EXTRAS to resonate so deeply with viewers has been applied to something timely, weighty, and significant- the ham-fisted, bush league, real-life machinations behind global politics. As Khrushchev wrote in a message to JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction. For such is the logic of war. If people do not display wisdom, they will clash like blind moles and then mutual annihilation will commence." This statement still applies, of course, but with several major addenda– they will clash and slash and parry like blind moles, but instead of the true face of war, they'll see promotion, demotion, an office with glass doors, or perhaps a shabby cubicle. The incompetence which could erroneously destroy an entire nation can easily be corrected when you're re-editing the minutes to your last policy meeting. People with strong convictions? Those who accept accountability? A dying race. Dying because they are no longer fashionable.

This is all rather heavy, but, make no mistake, IN THE LOOP is extremely funny. Non-stop waggish barbs are flung with HIS GIRL FRIDAY-style rapidity. The performances are spot-on: Peter Capaldi's (THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM) foul-mouthed, weaselly Scotsman;

David Rasche's (COBRA, UNITED 93) soothingly ominous warmonger; Mimi Kennedy's (DHARMA & GREG) earnest, outmatched diplomat;

Tom Hollander's (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2) wishy-washy simpleton; James Gandolfini's hot-tempered, peace-loving General (and his face-off with Capaldi is worth the price of admission alone);

Gina McKee's (CROUPIER, THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM) smarmy aide; Anna Chlumsky's (Vada from MY GIRL!) deluged subordinate; and our ostensible 'hero,' the mop-topped, half-assed newbie (Chris Addison). It’s the perfect ‘war movie’ in an era where the top torturer is some pencil-neck writing a policy memo at his desk. Nearly five stars.

-Sean Gill


James said...

This was a great film! I was pleased to see the almost improvisational dialogue and on-the-hoof narrative carried over from the TV series - which I'm currently rewatching.
Great blog you got here, I might stay a while and look around...


Sean Gill said...

Thanks for the kind words! I'm beginning to sift through "Behind the Couch," and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Your forthcoming Argento book sounds intriguing as well!