Movies »In the Loop

in the loopAmazingly crafted insults and innovative swearing may not be exactly what you seek out in a film, but the hilarious In the Loop might change that. Based on the superb series that I've raved about here, The Thick of It, this British comedy takes the faux cinema verite style and pokes it's cameras into the workings of the corrupt and idiotic governments that rule us.

If you've seen the series and are a fan, you'll be happy to hear that Malcolm is back and as vitriolic as ever. But really, the entire cast is golden, including Steve Coogan whose all too brief appearance as an irate constituent made me forget all his missteps (see Hamlet 2 and having gross sex with Courtney Love).

It will be difficult to find a comedy as intelligent and thought provoking as this one this year. And the best part is that you can watch it at home on IFC on demand while it's playing in theaters.

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Posted on August 31, 2009

TV Shows »The Thick of It

the thick of it tv showWhy do I mention it now?

Because an American film version was just screened (and sold out) at The Tribeca Film Festival. It's called In the Loop and stars James Gandolfini and will be in limited release the end of July.

Here's what I said back on 7/31/06

To say The Thick of It is like a British Office, only about government might be fairly accurate, but it seems unfair to the creators, espcially Armando Iannucci, whose fabulously waggish show The Day Today feature faux-verite segments that predate the Office and seemed to have been an inspiration for Ricky Gervais.

It may take a couple viewings to get into the show, the accents are thick and the government set up is slightly different from our own, except for the fact that it is crookedly run by people who don't seem to know what they are doing.

I would love to see an American version, perhaps about Albany's mess, but in today's political climate, I will not be holding my breath. A brilliant comedy that deserves a following.

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Posted on June 15, 2009

Hunks »Idris Elba

idris elbaThere's one man who stalked the low rises of Baltimore that was sure to give all the women hot pants, just the mention of his name can prompt blushing, sometimes even shrieking. Stringer Bell. Or, as he is gradually becoming known, Idris Elba, the handsome intelligent type who only becomes more attractive once one discovers out that he's actually British, swoon.

His recent addition as a no nonsense office wrecker with an unintended effect on women in the Office has only broadened the actor's profile here in the states, probably much more than the subway posters for the Beyonce/ Ali Larter vehicle Obsessed that foolishly hide his beautiful mug up in the top corner. Oh, and my sister just told me he's great in The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.

With IMDB there to jog my memory, I now remember that Idris and I are old friends: he starred in the abbreviated 1998 UK vampire show (with British Bob Odenkirk looky-likey Jack Davenport) Ultraviolet, a show that I enjoyed immensely before I began this blog, which is the only reason why I've failed to recommend yet – but it's worth seeking out.

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Posted on April 13, 2009

TV Shows »The Sandbaggers

the sandbaggersJim and I espouse the virtues of the incredible George Smiley TV adaptations (based on the John Le Carre novels) every chance we get. And, even though very few people have taken our advice and actually watched these complex spy dramas, they're just so good that we can't help but keep pushing them. Spy aficionado and good friend Matthew over at Double O Section has been just as persistently forceful with us about The Sandbaggers, a late 70's British television series that I feared would be a dated and possibly even corny show for spy lovers only but, I'm thrilled to report, that it is in fact the closest thing to the Smiley shows I've ever seen.

It's a serious and seemingly realistic look at the world of the British secret service in the late golden years of the Cold War. Neil Burnside, played by Roy Marsden, is the dashing and acutely intelligent director of an elite unit of “Sandbaggers”, special agents that get things done. Burnside's a man who means business and the show, which is surprisingly mature and intricate, means business too.

Fighting the secret war, Burnside sends Sandbaggers Willie Caine, Jake Landy and Alan Denson behind enemy lines; out to haul in potential defectors to be tried; parachuting out of planes; and plans political assassinations. But this is absolutely not James Bond, something the characters actually declare early on. Like the work of Le Carre, the traditional fictionalized spy universe of high-ttech gadgets, world travel, and easy strangers who are incredibly hot is totally debunked. These spies are real people forced into high stakes situations by petty political pressure and commands from higher ups who haven't got the slightest idea what they're doing. The war's fought behind desks through extensive planning and re-planning – not in the driver's seat of an amphibious Lotus with a rocket launcher.

The show was created by Ian Mackintosh, who had been a Scottish naval officer before devoting his talents to writing for the small screen. The tone of the show was so authentic that it sparked speculation over possible espionage-oriented experiences Mackintosh may have taken part in during his naval career. Speculation that only grew when Mackintosh and his girlfriend mysteriously vanished while flying near the Alaskan/Russian border in 1979.

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Posted on April 6, 2009

TV Shows »Jeeves and Wooster

Jeeves and Wooster with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry Amusing with lively wit and humor, a very charming adaptation of the P.G. Wodehouse books. This is the kind of show that cheers you up on a gray day. It also boasts outstanding performances from Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.


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Posted on January 30, 2006

TV Shows »I, Claudius

I, Claudius Widely considered one of the best miniseries ever made. The cast is amazing, including John Hurt as Caligula (that alone should entice you to watch). Jim and I watched all thirteen episodes in one weekend. Shot without locations on sound stages, all on video no less, it still puts HBO's extremely expensive Rome to shame. This page has a ton of clips.

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Posted on December 26, 2005

Movies »Withnail and I

Withnail and I To say this is a comedy about two actors who leave the city to go to the country where hilarity ensues would be misleading. Even though this statement is true – this movie is much more than you might expect. Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann are flawless and I laughed out loud during this movie more than any other; but it is also an extremely bittersweet story about an end of an era (the sixties) and the inevitable end of the friendship between two men growing up. Please watch this movie. See a trailer here.

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Posted on December 12, 2005

TV Shows »The Brass Eye

The Brass Eye with Chris Morris Chris Morris makes one of the most controversial shows in BBC history.
The pedophilia “special” was taken off the air mid-show.

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Posted on November 28, 2005

Style Icons: Male »Sebastian

brideshead revisited sebastian High waist.
White sweaters.
Rich and bored.
If men only looked so good.

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Posted on November 7, 2005