The Death of Stalin
2017
**½
Director: Armando Iannucci
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Paddy Considine, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, Andrea Riseborough, Paul Chahidi, Dermot Crowley, Adrian McLoughlin, Paul Whitehouse, Jeffrey Tambor

When Stalin, the long-serving leader of the Soviet Union, suffers a stroke and dies in 1953, a mad scramble for power ensues between the first secretary of Moscow Committee Nikita Khrushchev and the head of NKVD Security Forces Lavrentiy Beria. This very bleak comedy paints a picture of a regime which is both incredibly brutal and totally ridiculous, and it nicely captures the paranoia among the members of the Council of Ministers who know that one misplaced word to a wrong person can put them on the purge list. Armando Iannucci has made his name with scathing, hilarious and sometimes exhausting political satires like In the Loop and The Veep on HBO. Despite a promising start, his second full feature is tedious rather than funny. At best, Iannucci writes razorsharp and deliciously obscene dialogue, but this time it doesn’t have its usual pizazz. Loosely based on facts and mostly on the French graphic novel La Mort de Staline by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin.