At the movies

If you have some free moments in between work experience and revision there are several new films on release which are entertaining and also give some useful background to some of the things we have already talked about and which will come up next year. "In the Loop" is a feature film version of the Armando Ianucci series "The Thick of It." (already in the library). This is a hilarious and well judged (if extremely foul mouthed) piece about political spin, based on a scenario similar to the Iraq war and the dodgy dossier. The Alistair Campbell character is truly repulsive. "State of Play" also arises out of a (British)TV series and is a thriller which  the perils and pressures of investigative journalism - unfortunately in the translation to the big screen the location has shifted  from London to Washington but at least Helen Mirren has a starring role. Thirdly "Fifty Dead Men Walking" is another thriller set amidst the Nothern Irish troubles - which we will be covering next year. Enjoy.


I watched it last week and thought it was great. Not an instant classic of the genre, but an excellent example in the vein of All the President's Men and the Pelican Brief.

One minor criticism is that, as Philip French points out in yesterday's Observer review, it "ultimately places the greater moral blame on fallible human beings rather than larger political forces. This rather weakens the denouement."

Definitely worth a watch, though. And I can't wait to see In the Loop.

By johnsaunders


State of Play struck me as the kind of film that gives thrillers a bad name and I must say that I resented spending well over two hours of my life watching it.

Warning: discussion of plot follows.

This movie features big stars, none of them particularly well cast, and ludicrous plot twists piled one on top of each other. The Russell Crowe hero-reporter character has a startling knack of always being present when the plot needs to turn another corner. Mind you, he is best friends with one principal, and sleeping with the other. That would be it, then. Impressively, Crowe also survives repeated confrontations with the military-trained, armed psycopath.

Actually what really irked later was I had forgotten that walking out on a movie is sometimes a great option.

Now what I am really looking forward to at the moment is the newsroom series of The Wire, which will no doubt feature complex characters we can all believe in negotiating morally ambiguous situations. 

In the Loop has great word of mouth too, and I'm anticipating eagerly.

By richardpendry