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" Job’s wife is my favorite character from the Bible because she chose death over life with that obsequious masochist "
— Larry David, Whatever Works

MRQE Top Critic

Pearl Harbor

A new epic DVD allows audiences to revisit the film and rethink their skepticism —Marty Mapes (DVD review...)

One of the stars of Pearl Harbor

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Those who love sausage and respect the law should not watch either one being made. — Murphy

With a great ensemble cast, In The Loop shows how matters of grave national interest are decided by selfish, distracted, and vain politicians. Maybe the fact that these conniving prima donnas went into politics hints at a kernel of duty and service in their hearts, but in the bustle of doing their work, that kernel gets stepped on and crushed.

Capaldi tries to keep his bosses in line
Capaldi tries to keep his bosses in line

Though neither the time nor the foe is ever specified, imagine that it is 2002 and the U.S. and Britain are considering whether to invade Iraq.

It all starts when a British Member of Parliament (Tom Hollander) deviates from his politically approved script and says that war is “unforeseeable.” That phrase is picked up by the media and interpreted as a hint that the U.K. approves of an invasion.

The MP’s media coordinator, a foul-mouthed, short-tempered, arrogant man (Peter Capaldi, who played the geeky romantic sidekick in Local Hero), scolds the MP and tries to get him to fall into line. Meanwhile, an American senator (Mimi Kennedy) hears a slip at a meeting that implies a war committee has already been established, and that war is a foregone conclusion. Her hawkish counterpart tries to foil her on-target sense. She tries to use the MP — whom she knows to be a dove at heart — along with a dovish general (James Gandolfini), to bolster her cause.

The cynical black comedy is presented documentary-style, with hand-held cameras and fly-on-the-wall access to even the most intimate of moments. The pacing is frenetic. There is a constant stream of dialogue containing anger, frustration, and machinations. Backstabbing is de rigeur, and if someone suffers an occasional pang of regret, you can be sure it will not go unpunished.

The more naïve and untainted is your faith in government, the more uncomfortable In The Loop will make you feel. But if you can laugh at the power grabs of petty tyrants, even when lives are at stake, you will appreciate and maybe even enjoy this British import.