In the Loop
Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema, October 4th and 6th
Review by: Larry Thomas
Not that it should come as any great surprise, but there are a lot of interesting, well-done films that get almost no exposure, while the most egregious garbage seeps into the multiplexes week after week.
Current case in point: In the Loop. Directed by Armando Iannucci, a Scotsman and veteran of BBC TV series work, In the Loop is a caustic, scatological, and sometimes very funny look at war and politics. The US President and Britain’s Prime Minister want to invade the Middle East, to the point of having a secret “war committee” in place. But there is opposition among a few lower-tiered civil servants, an Army general, and a British Cabinet Minister.
Leading the charge in trumpeting the party line in London is the assistant to the Prime Minister, a manic, angry, and seriously profane individual. As played by Peter Capaldi, he’s likely to make you both cringe and convulse with laughter almost simultaneously, and will introduce you at least ten new ways to drop the “F-bomb.” Capaldi was in two of my favorite 80s films: Local Hero and The lair of the White Worm. Some twenty-five years hence, he’s still great fun to watch.
Other recognizable faces in the cast include Mimi Kennedy, from the long-running sitcom Dharma and Greg, as an undersecretary of state who is having dental distress. James Gandolfini plays the Army General. David Rasche is a self-absorbed, ultra-conservative politician. And Anna Chlumsky…remember her with MacCaulay Culkin in My Girl… is charming as an assistant to the Mimi Kennedy character.
The rest of the cast is pretty much unknown on this side of the pond. Tom Hollander is excellent as the bumbling British Cabinet Minister, who has the best of intentions, but is way out of his league in trying to deal with both the upper echelon and his own constituents.
The dialogue is as fast and furious as anything heard on screen since Howard Hawks made His Girl Friday. You’ll have to pay attention to what’s being said, and even at that, you’ll likely miss something due to laughter.
Iannucci the director handles his cast and crew much in the same style of Christopher Guest’s mocumentaries such as Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show. Iannucci the writer skewers the inept, vain, and clueless politicos and underlings to the point of making the viewer wonder, “Is the system really that broken?” Maybe. Maybe not. But if you’re up for a film that’s a little bit reality, mixed with a dash of Dr. Strangelove, and a generous helping of Monty Python’s “Upper Class Twit of the Year” sketch, In the Loop should satisfy.
The R-rated In the Loop is a presentation of Cincinnati World Cinema’s Global Cinema Series at Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center. Showings are Sunday at 6:30, and Tuesday at 7:30. There’s a cash bar and social hour before the film, and discussion following the screenings.