The Death of Stalin (2017)
Chosen by me because I'm a long time fan of Iannucci
and it had one of the funnier trailers I'd seen in quite some time.
Iannucci is one of the UKs finest comedic minds. Sharp, satirical but also very, very silly he covers it all and has helped deliver some amazing shows over the years - Alan Partridge (created by others but firmly stamped on by him) may be a lasting legacy but his other works like the Day Today or The Armando Iannucci Show are strange offbeat works and The Thick of It (also the terrific spin-off In the Loop and sort of sequel Veep) are masterpieces of their kind.
There was no doubt he couldn't handle the farcical aspects of Stalinist history (downplayed slightly in this film as time is contracted is just how long old Joe went without proper medical assistance hindered by the fact he had the doctors in Moscow rounded up and tortured shortly before becoming ill) but thankfully he doesnt loose sight of the horror of it all.
Especially as this is Iannucci's first time with real figures and not analogues a concern could have been that by highlighting the bufoonery and absolute narcissism inherent in the Soviet political system (not a stretch to apply this to modern times and differing countries at all, because political satire will always be relevant) it would downplay the brutality and be a disservice to the many who died.
Well on the first part it does not lack. The people here are all monsters, Jeffrey Tambor may be playing the most Jeffrey Tambor type possible, but he is still edged with horror, these scared little men projecting out their insecurities onto everyone around them, infesting the country from the top down.
The victims here are perhaps given short shrift, occasionally punchlines - like those in an Siberian prison half of whom are shot just before the order comes through to halt the killings, the other half disorientated but alive. It cant quite make sense of the outpouring of grief from a populace hammered by an oppressive regime as factual as that might have been.
Instead it offers up a talented pianist as the only voice daring to confront Stalin, and though well played by Olga Kurylenko she is a touch too slight a character to register much (Kurylenko seems to excel at giving underwritten roles a touch of grit and personality and deserves more).
It is often incredibly funny, though not as much as In the Loop say, but the over-riding tone is more bleak and the final punchline grimly cynical as a black fuzzy eyebrowed man looks down at the current leader of the USSR, plots whirling in his mind and the cycle of political bullshitery continues.