Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The best new movie you can see on TV right now for $2

Before seeing Kathyrn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" a few weeks ago - in my book the best movie of 2009 so far, with "Sugar" a close second - I was convinced there would never be a great movie about the Iraq war, but now since then I've already seen another one. Well, sort of ...

Though the looming war at the heart of Armando Ianucci's "In the Loop" is never really specified beyond being something "in the Middle East," it's clear from the beginning that it's about the run up to the Iraq war, and it fittingly just trades in utter chaos.

We start, thankfully, with Peter Capaldi, who though he looks much different now will be remembered by many as Oldsen in "Local Hero," which to this day remains easily one of my favorite films (Capaldi was also great as Sid's father in the addictive British teen soap "Skins.") It helps to try and remember him as the innocent young Scot Oldsen as you wither under the never-ending barrage of profanity that spews from his mouth as grizzled political operative Malcolm Tucker.

And if you're a fan of the fine art of cursing, and I certainly am, it doesn't get much better at all than it does in "In the Loop." On paper, Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy ("The Commitments," "The Snapper" and "The Van") comes close, but lacks the bile that propels "In the Loop" to what would be extreme absurdity if it weren't so clearly close to something resembling the awful truth.

As "In the Loop" opens, British Minister for International Development Simon Foster, a perfectly dippy Tom Hollander, sets off a firestorm by referring to the possibility of war as "unforeseeable." And fans of wordplay will delight as it becomes clear that neither he nor anyone else he encounters has any idea what that means, so they're all free to make their own interpretation.

From there our hero, the Chance the Gardener of this piece, somehow becomes a PR pawn for each of the opposing forces in the Washington war machine, as Capaldi's Tucker and other aides try unsuccessfully to keep him under control. As the trailer plays up, the jokes here fly as fast as on any episode of "Family Guy," but thankfully always with a target. One of the best early bits, which I won't spoil for you, has Foster and his aides trying to come up with who he would like to be stranded with on a deserted island (it starts with Keira Knightley and just goes downhill from there.)

And once the action (what there is of it) shifts to Washington, Ianucci's film tests our ability to laugh at ourselves as much as any good satire should. "Wag the Dog" certainly tried in recent years but fell a bit short, and Mike Nichols' "Charlie Wilson War" was even better, but neither of those gets straight to the core of hypocrisy as sharply as "In the Loop."

At Ianucci's version of the State Department, the hawks are led by David Rasche (yes, Sledge Hammer, always welcome) as Linton Banks, the assistant secretary of state for something or other, and the doves are led by Mimi Kennedy as fellow State Department employee Karen Clarke, and their contempt for each other is mined for comedy gold. In the best scene, as Clarke starts bleeding from the mouth during a meeting and is alerted to this by a disgusted Banks, she brushes it off with "don't try to change the subject." Priceless.

There's plenty more going on this war of ideas, and an unrecognizable but very funny Steve Coogan even turns up near the end, but it's best if you discover it all for yourself, which, if you have Cox or I assume some other kind of digital cable, you can do now for just $2. When I saw that IFC was going to put this up on cable while it's still playing in at least a few theaters, I thought it was crazy, but I'm certainly glad they did. To find it, just go to your "on demand" channel (No. 1 for me) and search the movies for the IFC category.

The flick itself, in fact, plays out like an extremely funny episode of British TV, which in a way it is, springing directly from Ianucci's nine-episode TV series "The Thick of It," which I was sad to find you can't yet get on Netflix.

Anyways, if you enjoy a good satire that just doesn't just slaughter cows but splatters the blood all over the place, see "In the Loop" as soon as you can. Peace out.

1 comment:

free movies said...

I truly agree with you! "In the Loop" is a good comedy with the exact amount of satire for the subject...must see!