When I saw a scathing review of Armando Iannucci's latest film "Death of Stalin" on Artforum I knew I hit gold. This was one of my favorite films of the year and I feel that Howard Hampton's review is hypocritical at best. Hampton's thesis; "This crew of vile ideologues and heartless Communist party hacks jostles for position and power in the foreground while catastrophic historical events flap in the distance like blood-soaked banners and show-trial balloons" has him place this film as apolitical and apologetic of the Soviet Regime. He even compares this film with Veep, saying, "But equating deadly purges and police-state torture with the foul-tongued squabbling and figurative backstabbing of endearingly misanthropic TV characters hardly does justice to the level of injustice, state violence, and atrocity Stalin and his associates specialized in". What about the level of injustice, state violence, and atrocity that our own nation engages in? Is Veep not as reprehensible as this film when it refuses to acknowledge the cost of American Hegemony and instead exclusively focuses on the bullshit? Theres a plot point in a recent season of Veep that creates a joke out of the "Me Too" movement by having a male character be sexually assaulted by an older male figure and the punchline is that the assaulted character looks vaguely like the female previously assaulted. He later goes on to accept his rapist's support in a political campaign. Hampton ends his review by hyper focusing on the difference between a historical text on the death of Stalin and the film's portrayal, saying; "Thus we are left stuck in Sitcom-istan, snug as a bourgeois bedbug in a comforter, wondering: Where have all the millions upon millions of corpses gone?" Jesus fucking christ Hampton thats pretty heavy.
Hampton in this review touches on the genius of Death of Stalin while failing to recognize it. The film's adoption of Veep and the countless other political, comedy shows that now dot the television landscape for the Communist party shows the similarities between the two. It forces you to look at these shows like you do with Death of Stalin. Yes Death of Stalin is incredibly funny but its also incredibly disturbing and in part its the similarities between 1950s Russia and the current U.S. I think Hampton had a mirror placed infront of his face and he didn't like what he saw.