I'll declare a shocking secret here and admit that I've never seen his TV series The Thick Of It, but Armando Iannucci's hilarious film debut immediately makes me want to. It's not terribly cinematic but the writing and the acting are both superb, which is more important to me. After seeing it, I had the bad luck to see Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, a choppy story of a woman's disillusionment with men that tried so hard to be visual and different it absolutely bored the hell out of me, since no clear narrative was ever established. In The Loop (pictured), though, is just perfectly constructed and astonishingly sustained. If you like your comedy puerile and stupid but very, very clever, you're in for a treat.
The film it most reminded me of is the Ealing comedy The Man In The White Suit, in that it's about man who's under fire from every quarter. TomHollander, an actor I've never really been bothered about before, is just great as Simon Foster, the UK's Cabinet Minister For International Development. Foster is a well-meaning but self-important gimp, and during an otherwise innocuous radio interview he is put on the spot and asked if he thinks that a recently discussed war in the Middle East is close to becoming a reality. Foster says the war is “unforeseeable”, which outrages the PM's brilliant but sadistic spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (PeterCapaldi), who wants him to remain neutral on the issue. To make things right, Foster gives an interview in the street, telling a camera crew that he's not necessarily against the war and that sometimes a country has to “climb the mountain of conflict”. Foster thinks that's the end of the matter, but it's not. During a fact-finding mission to Washington, both of these comments come to the attention of government peacenik Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy) and military hawk Linton Barwick (David Rasche), both intent on using Foster as a pawn in their attempts to stop and start the war respectively.
In the middle of this mess, Foster bobs hopelessly, aided by his bumbling assistant Toby (Chris Addison) and pursued relentlessly by Tucker. But although the satirical elements are especially strong, particularly an apparently pointless subplot about a garden wall that unexpectedly brings the film to its climax, it's the interaction of characters that makes this such a fabulous comedy. We'll be quoting lines from this modern class for years, whether it's “Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult” or the more punchy “Fuckity bye”. It's the Spinal Tap of New Labour, and as such I must insist you see it.
punchdrunk Posted on Tuesday January 20, 2009, 22:57
I was a little worried when the Wise excitement meter was low for "In the Loop" The show was consistantly great Malcom was a great angry comic figure and Amando Iaanuchi (spelt wrong i'm sure) is a great writer whatever he turns his hand to...But 'Very very very Funny' has me relieved. Tell Us more Damo!
Acho Posted on Wednesday January 21, 2009, 11:24
I hear that In The Loop is going to be shown at the festival I'm working at - fingers crossed that's true now! Although I probably won't get to see it myself.
So, does three 'very's equal three 'ooh's?
bojangles1971 Posted on Wednesday January 21, 2009, 18:15
Who are you?
punchdrunk Posted on Wednesday January 21, 2009, 20:20
I was close with the spelling. BTW Damo if you like creative spelling the tv show (not sure about the film) had a swearing expert they would send the scripts to. Also it was scripted then improvised and then Malcom comes in a bollocks everyone for being useless, It's one of the rare times i've felt sorry for a politician, somehow it justified their sleaze and you almost want them to get away with it, but not without getting a good verbal kicking from Malcom :p
Go and see it Acho!!!!
punchdrunk Posted on Wednesday January 21, 2009, 20:24
* I meant to write, Creative Swearing not "Creative Spelling" :s
Acho Posted on Wednesday January 21, 2009, 23:13
You're the boss Punchy!
I'm festival staff though, so don't get to see the films. Gah!
I like the sound of both Creative Swearing and Creative Spelling though. Would've added a little something something to school time.
nutteronabus Posted on Thursday January 22, 2009, 12:26
Wooh! I've been waiting for this for ages, and to see it getting all this good press is bloody fantastic.
April can't come soon enough.
Blythy Posted on Thursday January 22, 2009, 13:45
hold on, what's chris addisson doing as "Toby"?
I thought he was ollie.... or is this his "twin"?
richCie Posted on Thursday January 22, 2009, 21:58
wow watch out Damo, 8 and now 9 posts, you're in danger of becoming popular!
i've only actually seen the special (was it the last episode or christmas special or sumin...i dont know) of The Thick Of It, but it was very funny, so im confident In The Loop will be up to par.
punchdrunk Posted on Thursday January 22, 2009, 22:31
The "tell us more" bit at the end of my first post was due to the fact there ere only three lines on the page, Damo no doubt enjoying an Obama swearing in party, rather than posting writing about a film containing great swearing. which would be as good a reason as any.
GrantSalvona Posted on Saturday February 14, 2009, 11:22
I saw this at the GFT the other night and it was excellent.
You could watch and enjoy this without seeing the TV series at all.
I'm still wondering why they changed the name Ollie to Toby when the character is essentially the same.
My girlfriend speculated that the name 'Ollie' is America would be tainted by memories of Oliver North.
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