In the Loop gets right down to business mock-documenting an unlovely world of drab cubicles, glass-box offices, generic hotel rooms, and badly-lit conference rooms peopled by pasty-faced shills and high-powered grotesques who live on greasy take-out food, job-related cocktail party fare, and stress. Young aides and interns (Chris Addison, Olivia Poulet, Anna Chlumsky, Zach Woods) learn the ropes of lying, back-stabbing, and pompous rationalizing in a facile monkey-see, monkey-do manner, and are immediately involved in criss-crossing secret deals themselves.
This is all building up to the climactic UN vote to go to war which, in a burst of directorial confidence, Iannucci doesn’t even bother to show us. We remember the official version, after all. So the film ends with a whimper, a lull after the vote, as various characters take in What Just Happened. It gives us a chance to ponder it too, now that we’ve seen the entirely believable “inside baseball” version.
One final point: you might suppose this Iannucci is some sort of weak Johnny-come-lately who dares to satirize the run-up to the Iraq war now, many years and scandalous revelations later, when it’s safe to do so. But here’s a quick sample of a piece for The Observer written by Iannucci and Chris Morris in March 2002, only six months after 9/11 (and thanks to Mark Ames for sending it along):
Six months that changed a year
Introducing an absolute atrocity special by Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris
Sunday March 17, 2002
9/11: The planes strike – as Martin Amis memorably describes them – ‘sleeking in like harsh metal ducklings’.
Tony Blair publicly drains every drop of blood from his wife to help the injured of New York.
Taking his time, George W. Bush formulates a measured response – which turns out to be the most expensive bollocking ever unleashed against shepherds.
But are we starting to forget?
Figures show that even as the second tower fell, people were switching off their televisions, complaining they’d seen it all before.
Today in these pages, we help you make up your own mind about the absolute necessity of fighting the ongoing war that is Operation Improving Bloodbath….
Terror’s march backwards
9/11: The attacks change forever the British convention for placing the day before the month in dates.
12th: Washington informs Tony Blair of attack on US.
13th: The immediate aftermath of the attacks generates fear and paranoia across America. Angry shoppers beat up a woman who’s put a towel on her head to dry her hair, while people whose faces look like aeroplanes are subject to 24-hour curfew….
14th: Airlines report no one willing to fly. Bush insists this is a sign of defiance and commissions Hollywood to make films in which being scared to go on an aeroplane is an act of bravery. Filming immediately commences on an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie called Absolute Refusal about a businessman who cannot face boarding a plane but heroically makes a meeting in Cairo by crossing the Atlantic on a pedalo.
16th: Speculation about US retaliation grows. Expert opinion is divided over whether the ‘medievalist’ regime of Afghanistan should be bombed back to the Stone Age or forward into the twenty-first century. The prevailing Hawk argument runs: ‘There’s a big stone at the back of the Stone Age and we’ll bomb them so hard back into that, they’ll bounce all the way forward to 2002.’
19th: The pop singer Michael Jackson is refused permission to lie down and sing songs from his new album into the World Trade Centre rubble….
26th: Bush cheers American nation by launching Operation Death Unto Allah. Concern from coalition partners that this might constitute some sort of gaffe.
27th: There are delays in sending American special forces to Afghanistan when the entire air force refuse to fly in a plane.
30th: Twelve days after the collapse of the World Trade Centre, amazed rescue workers uncover an entire office floor that is still doing business. Despite falling 890 feet and being buried under 12,000 tons of rubble, all workers at Leeman Sachs Trading Inc are unharmed. They have remained at their desks since the bank’s Tokyo HQ saw television pictures of the burning towers, called them up and ordered them to keep working. ‘We were still sitting at our desks when we landed in the rubble,’ said one dealer. ‘I actually completed three transactions on the way down.’ In fact trading at the buried floor has been so good since 11 September, the bank may sue the New York Fire Dept for digging them out….
And relentlessly on and on it goes through six months of cretinism, cowardice, and pseudo-patriotic bullshit. If you remember, Bill Maher lost his TV show for much less than this.
All hail Iannucci!
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