The Death of Stalin ★★★★

I've seen some criticism of this film that mentions how few female characters there are and how poorly they get treated. On one hand, there truly weren't very many women in the inner circle around Stalin, or really in any leadership positions for decades after this film is set. On the other hand, the one or two women that are in this film are either domesticated or sexualized, which can be frustrating, too. But I'm not sure that's a sufficient enough critique to take this movie down more than a peg or two. The story it intends to tell -- about a transition of power, about the pettiness of politics, about the follies of central planning -- are still well told.

Armando Iannucci has proven himself, across multiple projects, to be a master political satirist. I'm a huge fan of VEEP. I love In the Loop and I look forward to seeing more of THE THICK OF IT when I get a chance. This film suffers, slightly, from having actors who are less adept at the kind of thing Iannucci is good at, snappy, acerbic, boisterous dialog and gags. Jeffrey Tambor, for example, never seems as in control of the material as Peter Capaldi did in any scene in In the Loop. But Steve Buscemi, Michael Palin, and especially Simon Russell Beale as Beria are all delightful to watch on screen.