8:00 PM, 3rd June, 2010
I’ll start this review with a confession: in 1970, during an ANU Bush Week visit to Bungendore, I was arrested for using obscene language in the pub. Four hours in a cell waiting for bail, two court appearances, a fine and I haven’t sworn since. Well, not often. How times change.
Politics, and comedies with a political theme, also change over time. I loved “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” from the BBC in the 1980s. I loved “The Hollowmen” which updated the genre with an Australian flavour in 2008.
This film, however, is the best of the lot. I came out of the theatre amazed by how good it was. Non-stop and right up to date where British politics meets US politics in the context of a Middle Eastern conflict. Peter Capaldi plays Malcolm Tucker, Director of Communications for the British Prime Minister in a role acknowledged as being based on the Alastair Campbell/Tony Blair partnership. The beauty of this satire is that it is so believable – especially for us living in Canberra, where everyone knows a senior public servant who can tell us about their dealings with power. And we know how some politicians swear – Gareth Evans, John Faulkner, Kevin Rudd to name a few.
See how Peter Capaldi has changed since his 1983 appearance in Local Hero (surely you’ve all seen that classic), another study of how Scots deal with Americans. Capaldi was born in Glasgow in 1958, so you can see the Billy Connolly influence. He is overwhelmingly good in this and supported by an excellent cast including James Gandolfini. Don’t miss it.