In the Loop

At the SIFF Opening Night Gala on Thursday, I saw how a knack for insult humor could be elevated to an art form!

Scotsman Peter Capaldi ("The Best Man" and LOTS of British TV) plays a hot-headed governmental functionary who ricochets from target to target, berating any and all victims within range! And his insulting threats are lewdly funny (I won't even try to paraphrase them here). His character is trying to do spin control on a bungle by an inept official played by Tom Hollander ("The Lost Prince" and "A Good Year").

In my opinion, Hollander does a delicious turn as this pivotal character: he talks out of turn, makes ill-advised candid remarks and generally starts a deadly down-hill skid toward an international declaration of war. In reality, this poor schmuck doesn't WANT war but his remarks are so oblique and open to interpretation that the tabloids have a field day. Hollander is subtle, but perfect; watch his face as he gropes for a way out of each quandary in which he finds himself. Coworkers in his chaotic office are, in turn, helpful, angry, loyal, insulted (by the spinmeister) and resigned.

James Gandolfini ("The Mexican" and "The Sopranos" on TV) is an American Army general who is opposed to war because he has actually fought in one. In the insult wars however, he only comes in second ― even though he's pretty good, too. I loved it when he and the Scot went nose to nose, matching insult for insult...

Because we are "in the loop" we get to watch politics in action: the maneuvering, manipulating, leaking, editing, reediting, lying, seducing, and floundering, that makes up both domestic and foreign policy. Like taking a tour of a frankfurter factory, maybe some things are better left unseen...

But this movie is really funny!