Dir Armando Iannucci US (15+)
Smallness is something a good actor can use, and as played by the extraordinarily meek Tom Hollander (who seems two feet shorter than everyone else), the minor British minister Simon Foster is like dinner to the savage operators of the profanely funny In the Loop. Simon warbles uncertainly on the radio; younger aides compare him to poultry. Later, he is a ‘prime cut’ of meat. One thing he is not: capable of independent thought. ‘No, you do not think that!’ one vexed publicist screams upon hearing Simon stumble into trouble.
In the Loop is a spin movie, and as such, feels a little late with its verbal evasions and march to unsubstantiated war, as spurred by Simon’s casual comment. (Director Iannucci’s original 2005 BBC show, The Thick of It, on which this material is largely based, is much sharper). But you don’t mind the curdled cynicism when it lets James Gandolfini puff out his chest as a shark-like US general straight from Dr Strangelove. Our minister hero finds his way to Washington, in thrall of his hotel’s room service more than the brewing crucible of misunderstandings.
In the Loop is deep satire, but you wouldn’t want to start a fight with the Scottish Peter Capaldi, as an ferocious British flack. His tirades are glorious.