Armando Iannucci is one of the greatest satirists currently working. Over the course of series such as Alan Partridge, The Armando Iannucci Shows, Thick of It and Veep, he has honed a styled defined by hilarious wit and biting social critique. So, tackling the backroom squabbling of Soviet Russia would be a natural fit for his talents. Adapted from the French graphic novel of the same name by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, The Death of Stalin is a comedic look at the power struggle following the dictator’s demise and features some top notch talent.
The Death of Stalin stars Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Simon Russell Beale, Jason Isaacs and Michael Palin. After debuting at the Toronto Film Festival, IFC Films plans a fall US release.
In 2010 Drawn and Quarterly released Wilson, the first original graphic novel by the acclaimed writer/artist Daniel Clowes. Despite this distinction, Wilson possesses a serial vibe, often feeling more like a collection of episodic comic strips than a plot driven narrative. This impression is reinforced by Clowes’ decision to vary his art style throughout so that loose cartoons rest opposite pages of more naturalistic detail. What the book lacks in narrative or artistic unity, it gains in thematic cohesion. Wilson displays a biting, if loving, critique of its protagonist as he stumbles through the tribulations of life. The story and the visuals blend to create a very specific ambiance. This mix of comedy and drama was probably what appealed to director Craig Johnson whose previously film, The Skeleton Twins, was focused on a pair of suicidal twins. On paper, Johnson’s sensibility would appear to be a good match for Clowes’. Unfortunately the film Johnson and Clowes, who wrote the screenplay, have produced is an amusing one which fails to live up to its complete potential.
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