[EDITOR'S NOTE: Watching this Region 2 DVD requires an international DVD player in the United States and many other parts of the world.]
A desperate desire to see the 2017 "ripped from the headlines" dark political comedy "The Death of Stalin" by Armando Iannucci of "In the Loop" and the HBO comedy series "Veep" prompted the desperate measure of ordering the DVD of this film from the U.K. The good news is that it seems that this "funny because it is true" film finally is getting a limited U.S. run.
The best aspect of this "Strangelove" for the 2010s is that it is one of the bravest movies to come along in recent years. Pulling back the curtain in a manner that shows national heroes as buffons mostly by recounting their actual exploits is only the tip of the iceberg. Out of respect for this boldness, this review is going to explicitly state that Iannucci knows that he goes to far in the verbal and physical humor but clearly does not give a fuck.
The fun extends beyond providing the most entertaining history lesson ever. "Stalin" is the equivalent of an ideal extended pilot of a Russian version of "Veep," complete with idiotic incompetent bickering bureaucrats. The major difference is that titular pol Selena Meyer can only cause the career of a vexing rival to go up in flames.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Stalin" trailer (complete with profanity and dark humor) provides a strong sense of the aforementioned greatness.
"Stalin" opens with the titular future corpse holding a high-level meeting with the Russian equivalent of a presidential cabinet. This elite group includes "Number 1" Georgy Malnkov (Jeffrey Tambor), future "Captain" Nikita Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), and diplomat Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin) of "cocktail" fame.
Seeing these agents of harm acting like political leaders across both time and the world is only the warm-up act. The action soon shifts to a concert at which the aforementioned officials comically scramble to stage a repeat performance (complete with a captive audience) in response to a demand from Stalin. The general idea is that the boss may not always ship you to Siberia, but he always is the boss.
This command performance leads to Stalin experiencing the highly embarrassing episode that ultimately leads to the titular demise. The antics in the interim include a "Weekend at Bernie's" moment and learning that a particular purge has negative consequences regarding the current situation.
Entertainment that is highly relatable in 2018 comes via the offspring of Stalin. His daughter is a clearly favored child who belongs to his inner circle, and his son is a loose cannon black sheep.
The titular demise drives the remainder of the film as the job of planning the funeral is humiliatingly assigned, implementing reforms being hindered by someone effectively not receiving the memo, and power grabs leading to hilarious confrontations and more humiliation. In other words, business as usual regarding running a nation.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Stalin" is strongly encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.