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Wick's Review

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Created Aug 03, 2018 11:39PM PST • Edited Aug 12, 2018 01:02AM PST

  1. Quality Help-l
  2. Good 3.0

    Cults of personality hit peak absurdity when their object dies, as vividly satired in The Death of Stalin. Unfortunately, this political comedy is more smart than funny. Hence, its LOLs are few and far between.

    Stalin funny? Yeah, even though he stands nearly alone in megalomaniacal evil, being directly responsible for the deaths of somewhere between six and 60 million people. His poor victims were mostly political recalcitrants of his Communist regime. Thus, he’s more like Mao (60 million dead) than Hitler among the three genocidal dictators who formed the 20th century’s supreme triumvirate of tyrannical socialism.

    Such banality of evil, writ small, creates potent material for powerful satire. And yet the movie never achieves liftoff, probably due to the futility of non-Russians playing Russian characters. Granted, the powerhouse cast never stumbles, yet even Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin & Jeffrey Tambor can’t overcome their Western accents and mannerisms. Valkyrie was similarly tripped up by its British and American cast.

  3. Good 3.0
    • Adrian McLoughlin is curiously insipid as “Uncle Joe” Stalin.
    • Steve Buscemi paints Nikita Khrushchev as more sniveling than sinister.
    • Simon Russell Beale also cuts a limp figure as the ghastly secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria.
    • Jason Isaacs cuts a legitimately commanding figure as Army Chief of Staff Georgy Zhukov.
    • Michael Palin almost disappears as Vyacheslav Molotov, Mr. Molotov Cocktail himself.
    • Jeffrey Tambor is droll as usual as Georgy Malenkov.
    • Olga Kurylenko jumps offscreen.
    • Gerald Lepkowski appears as Leonid Brezhnev, as does Dave Wong as Zhou Enlai.
  4. Male Stars Very Good 3.5
  5. Female Stars Good 3.0
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Writer-director Armando Iannucci is the creator of Veep, hence his penchant for high level political satire.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Great 4.0
  13. Content Help-l
  14. Sordid 2.6
  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Brutal 3.5
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.6
  18. Glib 1.2
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.7
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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