Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Movie Log: In the Loop

In the Loop, the pseudo-documentary comedy about various US and UK government actors bumbling along during the prelude to a war, plays coy with exactly which war it's supposed to be running up to, but we all know it's Iraq. (Despite the plethora of screaming Scots bastards, led by Peter Capaldi, meant to evoke Gordon Brown and slightly more modern days.)

If you're of the opinion that everyone working for a government is either an ineffectual wanker of a bureaucrat or a screaming bastard with a secret agenda, you will love In the Loop. Capaldi, who plays some manner of high UK official named Malcolm whose title or exact purview I never quite grasped, leads the brigade of screamers with wit, bile, flying flecks of saliva, and copious obscenity. Chris Addison is the fresh face of the ineffectual wanker side, playing Toby Wright, a brand-new office drone in the hive of minor minister Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), who's pretty ineffectual himself.

The movie has a loose structure, adding to the documentary atmosphere -- apparently, it was cut down from a much longer rough cut, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if many scenes were semi-improvised -- as Malcolm and a smug US Undersecretary of State named Linton Barwick (David Rasche, as good at smug as Capaldi is at raw anger) stage-manage everyone towards the war their (offscreen, and generally unmentioned) bosses want. Scenes run on longer than expected, and the whole has that raw, not-quite-scripted feel that ads verisimilitude. (Although, on the other hand, everyone in In the Loop does speak very fluently and at length all the time, which is slightly unlikely, even in these rarefied circles.)

In the Loop is casually anti-war, as we all generally are, but it's really more of a movie about workplaces -- a high-achiever's Office Space, perhaps -- full of snark and back-biting and complaints about meetings. The business of this particular establishment is war, yes, but the point is that it's a lousy product, badly tested and about to be foisted onto a public that no one cares the slightest bit about. For viewers who can tolerate high levels of obscenity and personal assault, In the Loop will be one of the funniest movies of the year. (And I haven't even mentioned James Gandolfini yet, who plays a general with his own nastily cold sense of humor.)
Listening to: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - It's Hard To Kill A Bad Thing
via FoxyTunes

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