Talk about Newsnight

Newsnight Review

Newsnight Review, 15 December, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Dec 06, 06:44 PM

flags203i.jpgGermaine Greer, Johann Hari, Anna Blundy, Paul Morley join Kirsty to discuss Flags of our Fathers, This Life + 10, the Chapman Brothers' Bad Art for our People, and Merry Wives The Musical.

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  • 1.
  • At 11:50 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Susan Cooper wrote:

Is anyone else as irritated as I am by the increasing number of occasions on whcih contributors and Krsty Wark when she is presenting, spend most of the time talking over each other, their voices getting louder and louder, completely ruining the viewers' ability to enjoy or get anything out of the programme. Presenters and contributors should be reminded that they are there to give their views for the interest/edification of the viewer - not to have a loud dinner party type conversation

  • 2.
  • At 11:59 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Simon Ward wrote:

Why is it that the cultural part of the is not available in full on the net?

  • 3.
  • At 10:59 AM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Stephen Cook wrote:

Newsnight Review used to review the latest literature, why has this ceased?
Now it's all about films, plays, exhibitions. What about books?

  • 4.
  • At 12:03 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Tony Bland wrote:

Does anyone else find trendy swearing really annoying? Last night's Review was like one of those tedious dinner parties where nice middle class people flaunt the f word like a badge of street cool, and revel in images of excrement and buggery. It reminds of those sketches in Monkey Dust about the pretentious north London dinner parties where they'd all end up having group sex or murdering each other...

I swear quite a lot in my everyday speech, but in the context of Newsnight Review it's just a bit embarrassing and naff.

  • 5.
  • At 05:31 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • margaret williams wrote:

It was very nice to see Germaine Greer on the programme last evening,
another treat would be to see Tom Paulin. I thought it was a good programme particularly the reviews of Klint Eastwood's film . I felt that perhaps it told me more about the reviewers than the film which I don't wish to see though I am very sympathetic to the ideas which appear to be behind it. M.W.

  • 6.
  • At 11:46 AM on 17 Dec 2006,
  • Andrew Hannan wrote:

Germaine Greer wonderful, Johann Hari terrific, Anna thing okay, Paul Morley awful. Morley never says anything of substance, he just sneers.

Greer and Hari's comments were fascinating though. More of them both please!

Apart from a few sycophants, many people sense that the Newsnight Review is going to the dogs.

I agree with Susan Cooper that the panellists are all yelling and over-talking one another. We viewers are grown-ups, and like to be treated as such. Not all grown-ups want to spend their lives listening to a permanent locking of the horns of overweening egos in dinner party atmosphere.

And I agree with Stephen Cook that there should be more literature - especially as BBC2 doesn't have a decent books programme where they review and debate, say, four books in one hour. The Newsnight Review tends to get rather boringly bestsellerish authors nowadays, then let them read a dreary passage from their own work. There's no real analysis, just a subjective babble, as the panel all vie to say the wittiest piece of hot air.

  • 8.
  • At 09:08 PM on 17 Dec 2006,
  • Howard wrote:

I suggest the editor thinks deeply about this programme. Is it about informing the viewers or for the benefit of the presenter and guests? The editions I have watched lead me to the latter. Wark and the guests are so self absorbed, that the viewers get little out of the review, added to the fact they all talk over each other. Think again Newsnight.

  • 9.
  • At 10:20 PM on 17 Dec 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

This awful shouting thing seems to mainly be when Kirsty Wark "chairs" the programme. The awful Greer shouted all the way through, as if she somehow thought herself on a stage, and eventually Wark was shouting her exit words! Did Greer make it a condition that homosexuality was not mentioned in her presence? How they managed to "overlook" how revolutionary 'This Life' was in portraying male homosexuality otherwise astounds me.

  • 10.
  • At 09:27 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Bert wrote:

I disagree with the comments about Newsnight Review being dummed down. I'm 17, and recently started watching the review because it is the only time of the week that I can listen to intelligent people (who are not afraid of using polysyllabic words) discussing art, culture and literature.

I thought last Friday's review was excellent. Particularly enjoyed the reviewers' interpretation of the Chapman brother's new expo. (Also I don't see what the problem is with Kirsty Wark's presenting.) Keep it up Newsnight Review. You are doing nothing wrong.

  • 11.
  • At 06:28 PM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • Ida Reynolds wrote:

Does it ever occur to the review that they might get more bloggers if the network link wasn't so bad? Yesterday I tried it an unbelievable twenty times-I wanted to catch it before it went off,but no joy.

  • 12.
  • At 11:45 AM on 24 Dec 2006,
  • chris wrote:

Think the chapman brothers re-took their "A" levels, think one of um got grade "D" - just about where they are at really, the rest is about the rich and powerful protecting their interests.

  • 13.
  • At 04:44 PM on 28 Dec 2006,
  • Bonnie wrote:

Bert who is 17 - I feel sorry for you that you missed Newsnight in its heyday. I'm 21 and I discovered the show at about your age, but then it was constantly Germaine, Tom, Mark and Bonnie - amazing! The problem is that the Julie Myersons of this world don't have any interesting opinions because they aren't very interesting themselves. Thus Newsnight can sound like a particularly tedious dinner party, with everyone falling all over themselves to make superficially witty 'banter' without delving into the actual subject matter with any depth or insight. That's why they agree much more than they used to. I remember a particularly groundbreaking episode where they all agreed that Brett Easton Ellis's new book was 'edgy' - thank God for that revelation!

They should scrap the music and get back to the books, like they used to do. I know this sounds very grumpy but it used to be an unbelieveable show and now it's like some awful Islington dinner party.

Also - Kirsty Wark is a terrible chair, I'm sorry but Mark Lawson was in a different universe.

  • 14.
  • At 06:16 PM on 31 Dec 2006,
  • Nick Jones wrote:

I agree with the comments about the over-talking thing, but this is not down to Kirsty Wark, since it is a relatively recent thing. I have only seen it when Johann Hari is on. He is terrible. Obviously intelligent, but he has no grace, it seems that he is extremely anxious to prove how widely read he is, and thus is always butting in and hectoring. Get him off.

It seems that there is a shift in personnel - and some of the newbies are trying extremely hard to cement their places on the couch. Long live Germaine, Tom Paulin, Mark K, Paul Morley, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Ian Rankin, Tim Lott and Bonnie Greer!

  • 15.
  • At 12:01 AM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • Andy P wrote:

I totally disagree with Nick. I think Johan Hari is the best pannelist. He actually has opinions and is brimming to say things, instead of people like Paul Morley and Julie Myserson who think muttering some bland comment for ten seconds justifies their place there. Get him off? Get him back.

  • 16.
  • At 11:31 PM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • Norman wrote:

My View about the Last King of Scotland;

Dear Review

Forest Whitaker returns to the silver screen with The Last King of Scotland, a portrait of the late Uganda dictator Idi Amin. Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, The Last King of Scotland reveals the story of an ordinary man who’s poor past is a far cry from his later life of power and wealth, filled with fast cars, fast women and fast times---The film star alleges that, by the time he was deposed 300,000 of his countrymen were dead. Whitaker breathes the role of Idi Amin. His powerful performance is strikingly similar to that of the charming once powerful Uganda president.

Was Uganda’s Idi Amin (1924-2003) merely a monomaniacal misanthrope as suggested by the generally accepted myth, or was he a diabolical despot with more of a method to his madness?

Forest Whitaker himself knew he wasn’t the caricature he seemed to be. Whitaker just only had this image of what was given to him.

The conventional caricature created over the course of his eight-year reign of alleged tyranny dismissed the sadistic strongman as a laughingstock among world leaders.

This was based on an array of increasingly bizarre, mostly unsubstantiated rumors circulated in the Western press depicting him as a depraved character indulging in erratic behavior ranging from a childlike narcissism to outright cannibalism.

Conveniently overlooked, in the rush to dismiss Amin simply as a paranoid lunatic who is alleged to have slaughtered '300,000' of his own people without rhyme or reason. To the neutrals this still perceived as a fact that he was a Muslim and that much of the sectarian violence, which he visited upon Uganda in the wake of his 1971 coup, was along religious rather ethnic lines.

For example, soon after assuming power, not only did he create death squads comprised primarily of trusted Nubian and Sudanese Muslims, but he also broke off diplomatic relations with Israel, while cultivating closer ties with Arab countries.

This could explain to why, in 1976, the pro-Palestine, Amin allowed the PLO to land a hijacked airliner at Uganda’s International Airport at Entebbe. And why, when he was ultimately exiled in 1979, he was granted asylum by Saudi Arabia. So, given the recent rise of radical Islam, one might expect a new biopic revisiting the life of the alleged despicable dictator to take a fresh look at his motivations as possibly one of the early proponents of an emerging ideology.

Unfortunately, The Last King of Scotland presents Amin as essentially that creepy, cartoonish persona we are already familiar with, rather than from a more complicated perspective.

The problem undoubtedly emanates from the source material, since the picture is based on the historical novel of the same name written by Giles Foden, a Scotsman who was a child at the time that his subject was in power.

The book explores similar themes as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, sharing that literary classic’s inclination to paint Africa as a frightening, godforsaken land of unimaginable bloodlust. The novel is narrated by a fictitious character purely a creation of Foden’s imagination, a naive Scottish doctor with an uncanny, Forrest Gump-like knack for appearing at memorable moments in Ugandan history.

This fairly faithful adaptation of the best seller was directed by another Scotsman, Kevin MacDonald, who coaxes an Oscar-quality performance out of Forest Whitaker, though sadly in service of a mediocre melodrama.

For while Whitaker’s interpretation of Amin is admittedly mesmerizing, what’s nevertheless disappointing is the script’s reluctance to humanize its antagonist, settling instead to portray him as that stereotypical mental patient, ala Hannibal Lector, who alternates unpredictably between the polar opposites of a refined charm and sheer brutality.

The picture co-stars James McAvoy as Dr. Nicholas Garrigan, a recent med school graduate who arrives in the country planning to practice among the poor. However, after being recruited as the head-of-state personal physician, he soon finds himself at the beck-and-call of Amin, serving also as a confidante, sidekick and stand-in at the presidential palace.

Enjoying the Mercedes convertible and other considerable perks of his plumb position, Garrigan initially has no problem with his job. But as evidence of the wholesale ethnic cleansing unfolding across the countryside is gradually revealed, he becomes acutely aware of his boss’ penchant for the alleged cruelty and of his own implied complicity as a medical mercenary.

Then, when members of the cabinet start disappearing, too, the doctor suddenly has a reason to fear for his own safety, since he’s become infatuated with one of Amin’s neglected wives, played by Kerry Washington. Though no longer able to feign ignorance, he inexplicably chooses to remain in Uganda, with dire consequences.

The Last King of Scotland is likely to be worthwhile if approached not as an historical epic, but as an unlikely-buddy flick about a carefree adventurer completely compromised and corrupted by the embodiment of evil.

Recommended for the work of Forest Whitaker alone, even if the gifted actor was restricted by a screenplay which squandered a golden prospect to instill his character with a complex range of motivations and emotions.

Though the film seem to be good the fact is that the family of Amin has never been consuilted to make a good film.

Say Sarah Amin is here in the UK.

The Film and a book about Amin themselves are full of inaccuracies!

But then it is a novel and film by definition fictitious: Using an actual person as the chief character does not change this. Amin had his faults but no worse than some present and past African leaders,” says Bob Astles, adding that,

Certainly, Amin was never a cannibal or the mass murderer as described.

Even the person who took the part of Amin, Forest Whitaker, having done some research of his own, has found that the facts differ markedly from the popular presentation of his character and while not whitewashing him at least shows him not to have been the monster of popular mythology. In particular he appreciated Amin’s virulent abhorrence of European colonialism in Africa; He has some actions to his credit”

It not true that Amin ever sipped a glass of wine nor alcohol, he was a devoted Muslim portraying Amin as a drunken is a total misleading..

Lastly, It is surprising that to this date even respectable journalists openly still being fed on the propaganda theories that, Amin killed 300,000.

You need to get facts and make researches to find out the facts.

One question should be; The number of people Amin chased away from Uganda and those killed which is big?

You should try to get this facts by making an independent investigation. Which place in the country do we find the 300,000 skulls?

Best regards,

Norman S. Miwambo


  • 17.
  • At 11:59 PM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Late Review as I remember it was great in the days of Mark Lawson,Tom Paulin, Alison Pearson and Tony Parsons.

Some of their debates made for fantastic viewing and subsequently I saw many films and read many books on the back of their reviews.

  • 18.
  • At 06:30 PM on 17 Feb 2007,
  • ron foley wrote:

That claim by Mike on 12/1/07 is a valid one. I still watch the show when I can but I never missed it when Lawson, Paulin, Parsons and Pearson did it. They were wonderful but all very different. Lawson seemed to know much more about the Arts than any of the current presenters. I don't think any of those individuals were very likeable on their own but somehow it worked perfectly as a team. Of course the familiarity of seeing these guests every week made the show more enjoyable. It's exactly the way ' This week ' is now on Thursday nights. When ever there is a change in the personnel on that show, it just doesn't work as well. Andrew Neil, Dianne Abbott and Portillo have created a perfect atmosphere. So why did Late Review change? Many of today's guests are very good and I like Kirsty Wark but you have never beaten the consistent quality of the original team. I believe the show is shorter now too. Bring them back. Especially Parsons and Paulin. Parsons could be quite an obnoxious wide boy and Paulin cringe worthy but I miss them the most.

People that I know who rush to the doctor for every little sniffle usually end up having more health problems because of drug complications from the drugs the docs push on them. WBR LeoP

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