Sunday, September 20, 2009

Movie Review: In the Loop

(Sorry, no radio version)

“In the Loop” depicts the build up to a US led invasion of a Middle East country that is analogous, but not exactly, like the build up to the US invasion of Iraq. This film takes place in the days before a UN resolution allows a war and is told from the British perspective.

The movie’s premise is that the build up to war was assisted, or even caused, by mid-level bureaucrats and their assistants. Basically, people more interested in keeping their jobs than doing the right thing.  It’s as if the inevitability of war was the result of laziness, complacency, and the promulgation of bad intelligence to please the president and prime minister. Any hiccups of moral indignation were quickly squelched with the promise of a destroyed career. Neither the bosses nor their assistants fair well. It’s an interesting premise, but I’m not sure I’m buying it. 

Did I mention this was a comedy?

And as a comedy, it is an excellent film.  It begins with a mid-level cabinet minister, played by a sheepish Tom Hollander, providing an honest opinion to the press on the “unforseeableness” of war.  His statement is not in line with official British policy. As such, his honesty is rewarded with a visit from the Director of Communications played by Peter Capaldi. Capaldi’s character, Malcom Tucker, is the highlight of the film as an imaginatively and voluminously profane panther chewing the hide of those who dare cross him; with a Scot’s brogue no less.  Normally, I believe cursing is rather lazy.  But if you can imagine Scotty finally going “R” rated with Kirk after asking for more power one time too many, you get the idea.

The dialougue is rat-a-tat-tat perfect and biting; a joy for those who love language and good writing in film. The performances are equal to the writing - funny, quick, and clever showcasing a boat load of Brit-wit. Some American standouts include James Gandolfini as a dove-ish general, Mimi Kennedy as an administration official with a toothache.  The movie is shot in a quasi-documentary style and feels as if Ricky Gervais wrote and directed it as his “war movie” follow up to his BBC version of “The Office”. And if you knew how much I love Ricky Gervais, that is high praise indeed. I give “In the Loop” three stars

“In the Loop” is playing this weekend at the Gold Town Nickelodeon at 7 and 9:15 PM on Friday and Saturday, and 4 and 7 PM on Sunday.

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