In the Loop (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 21-Jun-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Satire Audio Commentary-Director and Cast
Deleted Scenes
MoreÖ-Webisodes
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-UK
Theatrical Trailer-US
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 102:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Armando Iannucci
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Peter Capaldi
Harry Hadden-Paton
Samantha Harrington
Gina McKee
Tom Hollander
Olivia Poulet
Chris Addison
James Smith
Zach Woods
Case ?
RPI $44.95 Music Adem Ilhan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (3254Kb/s)
English Linear PCM 96/24 2.0 (4608Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Descriptive Audio Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† It all starts with the slightest slip of the tongue. In Armando Iannucci's sharply funny political satire , In The Loop, words and their meanings and half-meanings are as powerful as actions. Falling into the wrong hands words can even start a war.

†††† Whilst being interviewed on radio the bumbling British Minister for International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) describes war in the Middle East as "unforeseeable". Everyone on both sides of "the pond" goes ballistic - not least spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Tucker has been in politics too long to let politicians mess it up and he tells Foster so in one of his trademark profanity ridden tirades. Fosterís Director of Press Communications (Gina McKee) is pushed aside for crisis management. New boy in the Ministry of International Development, Toby Wright (Chris Addison) finds himself elevated to front row status. Foster is dispatched (with Toby) on a fact finding mission to the US. Surely he can't get into too much trouble over there?

†††† Of course, Washington is the worst place for the hapless minister as he falls into the clutches of a series of US politicos, each intent on using him to push their agenda. There is Karen Clarke, US Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomacy Mimi Kennedy who wants to prevent an insane war. She has a strange ally in Lt. Gen. Miller, Senior Military Assistant at the Pentagon James Gandolfini who has seen enough of wars to know that he doesn't want the nation to get into another. He says:

†††† General Miller: This is the problem with civilians wanting to go to war. Once you've been there, once you've seen it, you never want to go again unless you absolutely f##king have to. (Pause) It's like France.

†††† The other side is marshalled by Linton Barwick, US Assistant Secretary of State for Policy (David Rasche). He is confident that the only way forward is conflict. The only problem? His war committee, officially know as Future Planning Committee, lacks the actual evidence needed to send in the troops. He is also troubled by a report written by Karen's assistant Liza Weld (My Girl star all grown up Anna Chlumsky). The report sets out the pros and cons of war and, unfortunately for Linton, the cons outweigh the pros!

†††† As meetings progress, and the shenanigans intensify, Foster finds he has trouble at home. In true English fashion one of his constituents (played by a gloriously funny Steve Coogan) is having a problem with a council wall that is threatening to fall on his motherís greenhouse. With war just around the corner Foster and the team have to battle on every front to keep their heads above water.

†††† In the Loop is like Yes, Minister with real teeth. Whilst Sir Humphrey Appleby steered the Minister with cunning and diplomacy, the Director of Communications here (and the Senior Press Officer Jamie McDonald (both Scots!)) are serious ferals; sharp, vicious and unrelenting. It is probably closer to Barry Levinson's Wag the Dog in generating laughs from situations that occasionally ring so true that they catch in the throat. The story, of course, derives from the lead-up to the Iraq war and the Weapons of Mass Destruction mystery, through the film does not use actual names.

†††† This film was a real head-scratcher at the 2010 Oscars when it got a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. Trouble is, In The Loop drew inspiration and a couple of characters from Iannucci's BBC TV Series The Thick of It although the script was entirely original and the director encouraged the actors to improvise.

†††† Political satires come along rarely, and good ones are like henís teeth. In the Loop is an excellent addition to the sub-genre because it never loses sight of the twin aims of being entertaining and horrifying. The tirades of Tucker and McPherson, as leaks threaten to derail the war process, are freewheeling and funny: who has leaked the report?

Malcolm Tucker: Was it you, the baby from Eraserhead?
Toby Wright: No, no.
Malcolm Tucker: Then it must have been you, the woman from The Crying Game.
Judy: It wasn't me.

†††† Capaldi played the Tucker character in The Thick of It and is all over the savagery and wit of the character. He received a number of acting nominations for his performance. The film was really made in the editing room as it moves between improvised scenes and scripted moments. The original cut ran for over four hours. Who knows how many different stories are there to be told?

†††† Those who don't like political satire will find nothing to like in In The Loop. The film didn't do all that well at the Box Office (like most other such films), perhaps because America had put all the bad warmongering stuff of the Bush Era behind it and moved on into the Obama Administration, with all its promise for the future.

†††† Very much worth a watch - but with a warning for those who don't like profanities!

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† In The Loop was shot on digital video at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It was transferred to 35mm film for cinematic release. This Blu-ray is in the original aspect ratio.

†††† In the cinema the film looked slightly rough and ready, with digital noise about. The effect was to suggest a fly-on-the-wall documentary style.

†††† The good news and bad news is that this Blu-ray release looks like a crisper and clearer version of the film in the cinema. It is still noisy and the image quality is soft at times. The flesh tones are accurate and the level of detail in the close-ups is better than the cinema (and probably the DVD). But this is still no film to show off the capabilities of your home theatre system.

†††† Aside from noise there are no technical problems with the transfer.

†††† There are Descriptive Audio Subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† There are two English audio tracks provided for In The Loop.

One is a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track and the other and 2.0 LPCM track. Truth be told either is acceptable. Whilst the higher bit-rate of the High Definition audio track is always appreciated, this is almost documentary-like in its sonic palette, with very little for the track to do than convey the dialogue. It does (both do) that job well, although it has to be said that the dialogue flows so thick and fast, particularly for the Scots, that it can be hard to keep up.

†††† There is really nothing for the surrounds to do and less for the sub-woofer. This is no criticism of the fidelity of the track.

†††† Music is by English composer Adem Ilhan. On his website, Ilhan explains that he used mallet instruments and a string quartet to provide a minimalist accompaniment for the film that would not interfere with the hand-held documentary style of the film. Mission accomplished. Subtle but effective.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† There are a number of good extras on this Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary

†††† It can be a worry when there are 5 people sitting in on the commentary track as everything can merge into a blur. Director Iannucci is joined by actors Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Chris Addision and Gina McKee. It is actually a fairly laid-back affair with the cast chipping in at various moments and the director really leading the comments. It is also pretty funny. Discussions about the cast improvising according to the conditions on a particular day of shooting leads to a story on how John Hurt improvised the chest bursting scene from Alien because he had a real alien burst through on the day of filming!

†††† There is not an enormous amount of "intelligence" to be gained from the commentary but it is a fun listen.

Deleted Scenes (26.59)

†††† According to actors and director the original cut of the film ran for four and a half hours. It is perhaps no surprise then that there should be a pile of deleted scenes on offer. The scenes are presented in chronological order and consist of snippets bundled together without a description. Just go with the flow.

†††† Some nice moments here including a stare-off between "the crossest man in Scotland" and Gina McKee which gives some measure of fight back against the forces of darkness!

Interviews

†††† There are four interviews included:

†††† The interviews with the actors follow a similar format - what do you bring to the project, how was it working on the film, how did you develop your characters? The interview with the director goes deeper into his comedic and satiric influences including the development of The Thick of It. A little lightweight but long enough to get a real idea of the actors and the project.

Webisodes (12.33)

†††† There are three sets of webisodes on offer:

†††† Almost all (I think) of the material here can be found in the movie or the deleted scenes but it does make a handy gathering of some favourite bits.

UK Trailer (1.51)

†††† A fun trailer for the film.

US Trailer (2.17)

†††† How does the US trailer differ from the UK? It is longer, has William Tell Overture as a theme and features lots of animations.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††This is a Region B Blu-ray. It has not been released in Regions A and C yet.

Summary

†††† In the Loop is a funny but also sometimes relentlessly savage satire on the ease with which nations can go to war - with the people who are charged with making the actual decisions being mere puppets.

†††† It is probably not an ideal candidate for the wonders of Blu-ray but the transfer is consistent with the source both in sound and vision terms.

†††† The extras are extensive and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
A bit over the top - penguin (there is no bio)