In The Loop, Good, I Love You Man and more reviewed this week
Reviews for this week’s new movies from movie guru Paul Byrne.
IN THE LOOP (UK/15A/106mins)
Movies.ie One To Watch
Directed by Armando Iannucci. Starring Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison.
THE PLOT: In a film full of gloriously foul language (think of it as a tribute of sorts to Alistair Campbell), Peter Capaldi delivers most of the blue language as the P.M.’s director of communications, Malcolm Tucker, on the warpath when the minister of international development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), proves himself far from media-savvy and on-message when he states that “war is unforseeable” during a Today programme interview on BBC Radio 4. Given that the Iraq war is just around the corner, Tucker is determined to spin the news the prime minister’s way. His cause isn’t helped when Washington D.C.’s dove contingent take Foster’s increasingly vague stand (spouting off-the-cuff nonsense such as, “To walk the road of peace, sometimes we have to climb the mountain of conflict”) as a rallying cry against going to war. Amongst the dove’s is Pentagon heavy, General Miller (Gandolfini).
THE VERDICT: Taking the surprising leap from acclaimed BBC TV series to acclaimed big screen outing is a surprise in the case of In The Loop, given that the original series, The Thick Of It, was a behind the scenes look at Westminster. Which, you know, is hardly sexy. Or cool.
Thankfully, British comedy ubermeister Armando Iannucci’s mix of Yes, Prime Minister and, well, some new storylines and actors meant The Thick Of It was one of the better political comedies to come down the pipeline since Anthony May and Jonathan Lynn’s classic 1980s sitcom. But would Iannucci’s brand of biting satire stand up to a big-screen adaptation, when so many other small-screen wonders have failed so miserably? Well, the answer is a resounding yes, In The Loop possessing the comic punch and manic flow of a particularly good episode of The Larry Sanders Show. Or 30 Rock. Only with lots and lots of lovely swearing.
I LOVE YOU, MAN (USA/16/105mins)
Directed by John Hamburg. Starring Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jon Favreau, Jaime Pressly, J.K. Simmons.
THE PLOT: Peter (Rudd) is a nice guy junior realty agent who, having set the date with his fiancee (Rashida Jones) suddenly realises that he has no real candidates for best man. Cue a mad search through the man-dating websites before a meet-cute at an open house leads him to everyslob Sydney (Segel), a man who makes Jeffrey Lebowski look like a go-getter. From there, we get the whole awkward dating game played out from a different angle – How soon should I call? Is it okay to fart in his mancave? Does my penis look small in this?
THE VERDICT: A buddy-buddy movie with a twist – the twist being that it’s really a romantic comedy between two straight men – I Love You, Man is not a million miles away in its premise from the 2006 French comedy My Best Friend, but, hey, when you’ve got a comic ensemble cast as good as this, and they’re all pretty much having a great time, well, it’s pretty much impossible to hold back the snickers. No matter how sniffy a movie buff you might be.
Directed by Vincente Amorim. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Jason Isaacs, Mark Strong.
THE PLOT: An adaptation of Scottish playwright C.P. Taylor’s 1981 stage hit, Good tells the tale of a liberal German professor who, through a mix of moral cowardice and subtle corruption, ends up entangled with the Nazi war machine. An early novel about a husband’s mercy killing of his sick wife finds favour with Hitler and the gang, and our man is soon called in to write a paper on the merits of euthanasia. It’s just the starting point – and I don’t mean just the mercy killing.
THE VERDICT: The moody and look-at-me-I’m-magnificent Viggo Mortensen has recently stated that he’s joining Joaquin Phoenix and (please, please, please!) Nicole Kidman in the Hollywood Retirement Home For The Bewildered by hanging up his acting props for good (what, no Hidalgo 2!?!). So, this is one of your last chances to catch Viggo strut his considerable stuff. Unfortunately though, it isn’t, well, very good. At all. Think The Good German. Only not as funny.
STANLEY KUBRICK at THE IFI
Stanley Kubrick is the subject of a major retrospective at the IFI, with Paths Of Glory (1pm, 7pm) on the 20th; Lolita (6pm) on the 21st; Dr. Strangelove (1pm) on the 25th, 26th; A Clockwork Orange (times tbc) on May 9th, 10th; Barry Lyndon on May 16th, 17th (5.15pm); 2001: A Space Odyssey (1.30pm, 6.15pm) from May 18th to 21st; The Shining and Full Metal Jacket (times tbc) on May 23rd, 24th; Full Metal Jacket (times tbc); Eyes Wide Shut and A.I. (times tbc) on May 30th and 31st. Full details on www.irishfilm.ie.
DRACULA ON SCREEN
As part of the IFI’s celebrations of Dracula On Screen – running from April 17th to the 19th – there will be a free panel discussion on the 19th (at 11.15am) to discuss such topics as sexuality and romance in vampire films; the perception of Dracula in films; and vampire mythology in cinema. Chairing the discussion will be author Brian Showers, and participants include novelist and critic Kim Newman, who writes for Empire – but don’t let that put you off. As stated before, the celebrations also include a special screening of Nosferatu, with live accompaniment from 3epkano, plus a series of films based on the Dracula legend. Full details on www.irishfilm.ie.