“In the Loop” is a scathingly funny satire about politics and politicians. While it names no names of individuals or countries or conflicts, it is inspired by the British and American government in the run-up to the Iraq war. But it is perpetually timely for its take on the pettiness and thuggery of complex organizations. Think “Dr. Strangelove” meets “The Office.”
I spoke to actor David Rasche and director Armando Iannucci, who also co-wrote, when they came to Washington DC for a screening and question and answer session.
Rasche has shown a skill for deadpan comedy as the title detective character in “Sledge Hammer!” But this is not his first political role — he played a CIA staffer in “Burn After Reading” and the President of the United States in “DAG” and “The Sentinel.” He is a confirmed political junkie and was really looking forward to seeing the movie with a Washington D.C. audience.
What do you think will be special about showing this film in Washington?
Various cities have various characters but I’ve found my group here. My wife can’t wait to go to the screening and see Washington look at itself in the mirror.
How did you prepare for this role of a State Department official who is both hawkish and bureaocratic?
I’ve been preparing for this role for eight years, five hours a day watching CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. So I brought all of my ammunition to that character, and made him arrogant, self-serving, condescending and belittling and supercilious. If that reminds you of Rove, Rumsfeld, or Addington, well….
Mimi Kennedy [who plays his anti-war State Department adversary] is also very, very political, and she also spent five hours a night watching the news. She was very familiar with the terrain not just through watching the news but through her own work with Truth in Voting.
The script gave us an adversarial relationship. It told me a lot of what I thought about her. And we drew some of our performance from Washington itself. This place is fierce! People will talk to you as long as they are interested. And everyone is always like “My take on this is smarter than yours is,” or “Bob told me, he didn’t tell you??” Every moment is a contest. As they say, Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.
This is a British film that shows the contrasts — and similarities — between the UK and the US. Is there a difference in audiences or styles of humor?
There’s no difference in humor. This is a British film but it has the same two strains of DNA as in American comedy, the verbal wit and the situational.
Your character seems to believe that facts would only distract him from the truth.
I think there’s some Illinois in that. My dad was a little like that. You’d say, “Want to try this new kind of curry?” And he’s say “Nope! Nope! Nope!” I think that is just what [one-time Illinois Congressman] Rumsfeld felt. He already had everything he needed. I’m from Illinois, too! I can sing the state song!
You cannot talk about this movie without discussing the astonishingly inventive invective, the avalanche of profanity and insult.
The funny thing about it is that it is volcanic but somehow innocent because of the sheer magnitude. There’s so much of it, it’s silly. This is ornate, it’s oriental, it’s unbelievable, embroidered. In London, if you have less than three c-words in a movie it’s 13 and under. One of the writers specialized in this and when they needed some sort of over-the-top rant they would ask him for it.
The Absolutely Mindy Show on Sirius/XM’s Kids Place Live is in big time need of an official theme song and is inviting everyone to write one for her. Send in your submission of between 30-60 seconds on a CD by snail mail postmarked by August 14 to:
Mindy Thomas-Kids Place Live
Sirius/XM Satellite Radio
1500 Eckington Place, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Mindy will try to air all entries received throughout the week of August 17 to the 20, and a final song will be chosen on Friday, August 21. The winning songster will be interviewed on The Absolutely Mindy Show, and have their winning song played every afternoon, from coast to coast on Kids Place Live.
All songs become property of the Sponsor, SIRIUS XM and XM Radio. See Official Rules for details and how to enter by going to www.sirius.com/kidsplacelive or www.xmradio.com/onxm/channelpage.xmc?ch=116.
My dear friend and fellow critic Tim Gordon always has something interesting to say about movies. I love to talk to him after screenings about what we’ve just seen and how it compares to some of our favorites (and least favorites).
He has posted his list of 21 top romantic movies and it has some great choices, mixing popular classics like “Titantic,” “Love Actually,” and “Bull Durham” with neglected gems like “Love and Basketball” and “Jason’s Lyric.” Every one on the list is well worth seeing — and sharing with someone you love.
The 40th anniversary of Comic-Con is this week and I am thrilled to be attending. It long ago expanded its range from the original gathering of comics fans and now includes sneak peeks at everything that is going to be cool in the popular arts over the next year or two. We will see previews of the big movies (including “iron Man 2” and “Toy Story 3”) and get a chance to hear from the performers and creators. Joss Whedon will be there. So will Tim Burton. I’m hoping to get to interview one of my favorite actors, Eric McCormack. And, yes, many Klingons and Han Solos and Harry Potters. Last year’s most popular costume was the Joker. Any predictions on what this one’s will be?
I will be tweeting and posting blog updates. Take a look at the schedule and let me know if there’s anything you think I should not miss.