The Death of Stalin (2018)
(R) 107 mins

The opening scene tells you all you need to know. Thereís a concert in Moscow being broadcasted over the radio. Joseph Stalin is listening. After itís over, he sends a telegram to the club owner requesting a recording. Of course, there isnít one. Not wanting to disappoint the General Secretary, the owner scrambles to reassemble the entire orchestra to rerecord the entire concert. So it doesnít sound empty, he grabs some randos from the street to fill up the audience. And once the conductor is, well, unavailable, he has to scramble for a backup. Sure, itís hilarious, but thereís also a darkness to the events; if they donít comply to Stalinís whims, it could mean the gulag. (And before you ask, yes, this is a true story.)

Of course, the above has very little to do with the larger plot of the film. The real story of the film begins with (spoiler alert) the death of Stalin. The ensuing power grab is straight out of an episode of ĎVeepí, with everyone incredibly incompetent, greedy, and, well, scheming. The end result is a hilarious, fascinating, black political satire. (And one that is largely taken straight out of history books.)

+3