Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movies: In the Loop

Kat and I managed to catch a film recently--the delightfully subversive "In The Loop." Based on a BBC series called "The Thick of It," this film finds a hapless minister (Simon Foster, played by Tom Hollander) making a gaffe on British radio--calling war "unforeseeable"--and landing in the middle of a power struggle on both sides of the Atlantic. Assisted by chilly pro Judy (played by Gina McKee) and an amoral newcomer named Toby (Chris Addison), Foster is the football tossed between pro-war and anti-war factions. He tries to play both sides but... well, suffice it to say he is not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

On the anti-war side is Assistant Secretary of State Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy), whose assistant Liza Weld (Anna Chlumsky, best known for her role in "My Girl") wrote an obscure paper on the pitfalls of going to war. This paper, Foster's harried cluelessness, the machinations of the hilariously obscene Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi)--the Prime Minister's Director of Communications and general troubleshooter--and the ridiculous nature of factional politicking make the movie a joyful chaos of conflicting purposes, double-dealing, betrayal, deceit and the things that make Washington DC and London so much fun to watch. Not to mention Steve Coogan as a local who needs Foster to repair a wall adjoining his property, lest his mother's greenhouse be crushed by falling bricks. Or James Gandolfini as a general who may or may not have political ambitions, but knows how to survive the Washington version of Russian roulette. Or David Rasche as venal Secretary of State Linton Barwick (leader of the pro-war side), whose sleaze is buried under a layer of cold humor and patronizing propriety.

As you can see, there's a lot to like here.

It's about the most foul-mouthed movie I've seen, but it is hilarious to those of us who live in this kind of environment. If you like political satire of a really dark bent, go see it.

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