This week’s Film A Week is either a case of poor planning on my part or perfect timing depending on what kind of person you are. Wih the rising tension once again in America’s favorite battleground in the Middle East due to the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, this is quite a scary event. One hand, we will be striking and possibly entering another Iraq or play it safe with a limited strike and go home Scott free. What better way to make light of these current events in the political comedy all about mis-communication to set up an invasion in the Middle East with In the Loop.
Boy, don’t I know how to pick a film?
Spun off from the popular BBC series The Thick of It, In the Loop feels like another entity separate from the show that is accessible to anyone who has never seen it. I have yet to see the show, but plan on doing so in the future because this film was a stunning and smartly written satire on the background of politics during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq
After the Minster of International Development Simon Foster, played by Tom Hollander, fumbling states war in the Middle East as “unforeseeable.” This creates tension in the British Government with the Prime Minster’s Spin Doctor Malcolm Tucker, played by Peter “Yes, I Am Aware He Is The New Doctor” Capaldi as he tries to make sure Foster does not screw up again with his mis-communication. Foster does again by saying they are to “climb the mountain of conflict” and it is off to Washington along with newbie aide Toby, played by Chris Addison, to see if they can stop a needless invasion over Foster’s stupidity or ignite it with the pressure of the US’ warmongering nature. As one would expect, hilarity does ensue.
It is quite tough to talk about this film. Not because it is bad, but because it is just so damn good. It is rare that a film comes along that just hits every mark. BBC Films managed to create a modern political classic with a tightly knitted plot that goes from being a fascinating and vulgar satire that will make one laugh to diving nearly into a political thriller by the film ends, resulting in a somewhat bittersweet end (let’s just say it sticks quite close to the events of 2003). The performances are just stunning. From Tom Hollander’s dumb yet loveable Foster to the late James Galdofini’s hilarious asshole tough guy Lt. General Miller, everyone was on their A-game. Heck, even former child actress Anna Chlumsky as an aide is terrific in her small role.
Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker steals the show. Showing a wide range of character from a pissed-off man wanting to get the job done to nearly broken in the third act of the film showing both worry and sadness at what may come, Capaldi is quite wonderful and knows how to tackle a quite difficult role. Also, I can hear Peter Capaldi curse everyday for the rest of my life because that man in a wordsmith of the insult game and that is worth sharing in this review.
All fourteen glorious minutes of insults and one-liners.
The dialogue is stellar with characters reacting like real people would in the die situations. Moments that even seem surreal fit perfectly in this manic world of politics capturing the zoo that politics can sometimes be. Never for a moment does the story get dull or steer away from what is wants to convey. Even if one does start to stray, the film manages to pick up quickly and keep going. In the third act where it dives into a thriller elements, it still lingers with its satire nature and ensures that it is still a comedy. Armando Iannuci’s direction is great by sticking with the single camera faux-documentary style that makes it grounded in reality to provide realism without making it seems like a major motion picture project. In the Loop is spectacular comedic fiction and worth a watch at this moment as the world seems to be headed towards hell once again.
Hopefully, it doesn’t.
Next week on Film A Week, time to go silent with the grandmaster himself, Charlie Chaplin in his 1931 classic City Lights. Watch as the beloved Tramp falls for a blind flower girl in a sweet and heartfelt dive into romance on Film A Week’s new Saturday date, September 14th.
Week 36: City Lights (1931)
Saturday, September 14th