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Review: Friday, 17th October, 2008

Ian Lacey | 15:39 UK time, Friday, 17 October 2008

Here's Martha with a look ahead to what's coming up in tonight's Newsnight Review:

This week I had that rather bizarre experience of being a journalist on the red carpet, waiting for the stars to arrive for a premiere. I dutifully put on an LBD and glittery jacket for recording the opening of tonight's programme, but the cold got the better of me and I put my parka coat on top which slightly dented any chances of a glamorous entrance.

The film was Frost/Nixon, based on Peter Morgan's terrific play about those iconic 1977 interviews. Before our review tonight you can see my interview with Sir David Frost about his screen persona (which is, in some ways, an unflattering portrayal).

My guests this week are Mark Kermode (who better for our special programme about the London Film Festival), the journalist Rosie Boycott, and the playwright Neil LaBute.

There's an interesting trend at the film festival towards biographical films reappraising characters from the 1960s and 1970s. So alongside Frost/Nixon we've chosen two other rather retro bio-pics to discuss from the festival line-up.

The Baader Meinhof Complex traces the lives of the group of German revolutionary students who ended up as notorious terrorists. There has been an ambivalent attitude towards the gang in Germany over the years - there was even a Prada Meinhof T shirt on sale recently - and this film has been accused of being an overly sympathetic portrayal.

Our next movie is Telstar, a biopic of the sixties record producer Joe Meek, known as the Phil Spector of the British music industry.

And then, away from the London Film Festival, we will be looking at the big general release of the week Burn After Reading, the new Coen Brothers movie. A screwball comedy with a camp Brad Pitt, it couldn't be further away from their last film, No Country For Old Men, with that Manichean struggle between Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem.

So all that should make for some lively discussion - do join me at 11pm, and let us know what you think about the programme by adding your comments here.

We'd also like to know what you think is driving the recent trend towards biographical films about controversial political figures, and political movements. As well as Frost/Nixon and The Baader Meinhof Complex, the London Film Festival is also screening Stephen Soderberg's Che, about the life of Che Guevara, and Steve McQueen's Hunger, about IRA hunger striker, Bobby Sands. Why do you think directors are attracted to projects like these?

Let us know what you think below.

Best wishes



  • Comment number 1.


    Now that all news reporting is 'art', should not Review and Newsnight be merged?
    After Tracy Emin's bed-in-the-vertical with full wacko-colour and wandering shades, as the back/side-drop to 'The Trial' and two-speed Susan Watts, video clip on green economics (here a nod to Ray Ling, your cameraperson from the obscurantist school) the division is without merit. Not forgetting to mention psychedelic Kirsty, whose diction is definitely some sort of performance art!

  • Comment number 2.

    ...Why do you think directors are attracted to projects like these? ...

    probably for the same reason bbc churns out endless bronte?

    lack of imagination? No risk rusks?

  • Comment number 3.


    Barrie (#1) That was a very non-politically correct thing to say, but accurate, and I second you. Far too much attention is paid to production gimmicks and exciting 'argument' (gossip) at the expense of what Newsnight used to be respected for.

    Sadly this is now true almost everywhere. Even schools have to be stimulating, interesting, engaging etc.

    It's sad, but life just isn't like that, nor can it be made so. It's worth pondering that at least one in five females will have a major (psychotic) depressive episode at some point in their lives (twice the male prevalence) and that men, are ...well...boring ;-)

  • Comment number 4.

    This programme is becoming totally incomprehensible.
    All this talking over and interrupting each other, high pitch voices trying to out talk each other is just so self indulgent.
    You are supposed to be informing the viewer about what is happening.
    The viewer seems irrelevant, you all want to be heard and yet nothing is heard. We can't understand you if you all talk at once!
    Have some manners, please.
    Find some one who can keep a bit of order please.

  • Comment number 5.


    Not just the viewer - the blogger too. You would think a producer or two could come on here and say - in time honoured, Radio 4 'Feedback' style - "(You pathetic worm) I think we are getting it about right."

  • Comment number 6.

    Not too sure anyone reads anything they have posted once it's up. Why bother? The majority have moved on.

    We are in the media of the new.

    You get ratings by dashing out something, sucking it dry for any superficial value, and then dropping it like yesterday's news.

    Where's the value in defending whatever has been done, or its consequences, when in a culture without accountability there is really nothing to gain bar prolonging possible pain?

    Every so often some professional pride is pricked, or a Charter Review looks like having a nasty nibble cropping up, but for the rest there's ... Newswatch.

    'It didn't happen. If it did we don't think it matters. If it does matter so what?"

  • Comment number 7.


    Amen to that Junkk.

    On Radio 4 this morning, a monk was commenting on the error of a lady who had chosen 'the promiscuous path'. Where to start . . ?

    Not only can the centre not hold, it never wanted to be the centre in the first place and is damned if it sees why it should bother. What is a centre anyway? Innit.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is there any chance of your film reviews being transcribed and put on the Newsnight Review site? I can't (for a variety of reasons) listen to or view your reviews, and reading reviews is quicker and easier. Sadly the BBC dumped the excellent section of the site (no new reviews) and I have nowhere to turn for advert-free, intelligent, British reviews of films (written, that is). Help!

  • Comment number 9.

    if the new edition was uploaded we might be able to comment on it. the current 'latest episode' link still gives last week show?


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