IN THE LOOP (Dir. Armando Iannucci, 2009)
Picking up comparisons to DR. STRANGELOVE and geared aesthetically as an "anti-West Wing", Armando Iannucci's directorial debut posits people in power treading water in a sea of political spin. It all comes from a misspoken statement by the British Secretary of State for International Development played by Tom Hollander. Off the cuff, he says that a proposed war in the Middle East is "unforeseeable" on a radio talk show and that causes what one staffer calls "a catastrofuck".
Already strained relations between UK and US officials come to a boil. Hollander finds himself getting in deeper as obscenities fly at a ferocious rate from the Prime Minister's press secretary Peter Capaldi (reprising his role from Iannucci's TV series The Thick Of It), misdirections come from diplomat handlers (Chris Addison and Gina McKee), and then there are the astute observations of James Gandofini (The Sopranos) as a gruff general who when attempting to strategize finds himself musing: "At the end of a war you need some soldiers left, really, or else it looks like you've lost."
The large intertwined ensemble cast also includes Chris Addison (also from The Thick Of It), Steve Coogan, David Rasche, and an all grown up Anna Chlumsky (MY GIRL). With literally over a hundred great lines (most of them coming from the foul mouth of Capaldi) and a wickedly wry tone, IN THE LOOP has enough laughs for several movie comedies. It's a window into the tangled tortured world of policy makers and those who toil in the trenches beneath them. They're all caught in a massive web of manipulation woven from competing self-serving ambitions and it's all rooted in cold sad reality. Such pungent political satire doesn't come around often so this is definitely one to look out for.