Talk about Newsnight

Newsnight Review

Newsnight Review, 13 April, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Apr 07, 07:16 PM

The Lives of OthersThe panel discusses: The Lives Of Others - a Cold War paranoia film set in 1980s East Berlin; Joe Penhall's last play Landscape With Weapon; BBC Four's Diary Of A Nobody by Andrew Davies; and Joshua Ferris's debut novel Then We Came To the End.

Details on the Review website.

Martha is joined by Matthew Sweet, Nikki Gemmell, Sarah Churchwell and Johann Hari.

Watch on BBC Two at 2300BST after Newsnight and on the Review website from Saturday.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:30 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Dr. I. D. A. MacIntyre wrote:

Well, 1 out of 10, not bad. I mean 1 Friday out of 10 when there hasn't been any exceptional news and so, tonight. Newsnight is only worth half an hour.

But in the previous 9 week (count them) there has been shattering news each Friday and Newsnight hasn't had the time to do it justice.

Just why do you see Friday as a no news day? Its a hang over from Parliament going home. But news happens on Fridays these days.

Worse still from 10.30 - ish onwards BBC1 and 2 both run 'lovvies' programmes covering approx. the same stuff. I've seen Elvis Costello on the Review and up market actors, comedians and singers on Ross. Why is it on Friday? Who expects to get a theatre ticket for that weekend on a Saturday morning even if they do live in London? Who arranges with friends to go to the cinema at such short notice? I ask because on Thursdays there's the other sort of clash - you with Question Time (QT) Week after week we get the same discussion running simultaneously on the two channels. Sometimes we get discussions on QT that encompass stuff yet to be seen on that evening's Newsnight but already shown to the cogniscenti on the panel.Its a silly and irritating clash. As is tonights of the Review and Ross as it is usually. Tonight Ursula Andress is on. A retrospective at the Gate or the NFT or at Hamstead? Cos she's retro enough to justify it? No, she's on Ross.

So why continue with those silly clashes. Put the Review on Thurdays, cos Friday is USUALLY a big news day these days and QT versus opinionated luvvies talking about a book they've managed to get through a film they've misunderstood and a TV programme they... I'm surprised they dont review the Ross show on the other side having seen the preview recording.

C'mon Newsnight and the BBC and QT. Admit that programme scheduling is shit and you should do something about it.


  • 2.
  • At 11:02 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Dr. I .MacIntyre wrote:

Nuclear: The lobby is just a bunch of clever clogs exploiting their arcane knowledge (have you ever heard a clear account of the General Theory of Relativity? I could give you one but the first step is to recognise htat nuclear physicists try to keep their knowledge private and so sell it dear. Whether from East or West or India. (TheIndians got palmed off with this tosh from the West instead of a proper development programme. 9In hte 50's + 60's India was told by us her poverty problems were unsolvable but a few savants could be given a decent education in nuclear physics here. So, starvation in Calcutta but a 1000 Bose's in Dehli. If we all understood the processes their salaries would plummet. Then they'd come clean that it is outrageously dangerous.

And what has happened to HEP? With tide flows like ours we could be self sufficient in power by that alone. So where is it, Miliband? EH? Where is it? Stop being imprseed by all the self publising pretend Einsteins in the nuclear industry you burke. (And don't listen to Stern who is the same breed underneath it all.(Maths + phys @ Cambs))

Why haven't YOU publicised the new HEP plant in the Scottish highlands which opened recenttly? You lot are probably as mesmerised by atom scientists cleverness as every one else. WISE UP

  • 3.
  • At 11:33 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I can't believe that on tonight's panel for Newsnight Review of 'cultural experts' only one of them had read Diary of a Nobody. That's shameful.

  • 4.
  • At 06:52 AM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • debbie davies wrote:

Please stop wasting my money making expensive films of your reporters. A far better way to cover the Wolfowitz story would be to publish the memos. Self indulgent shots of vain reporters up against a wall who condescend to turn to camera and explain to us what we need to know is such a 1980s outdated style of reporting. Just give us the information, please.

  • 5.
  • At 07:24 PM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • Csharp wrote:

Diary of a Nobody should be on anyones list of must do. Or if you are the hostage of time get the excellent audio book read by iain cuthbertson.

In the days when people had to make their own entertainment books were designed to be read aloud and heard rather than skimmed and sped read to extract what little emotional moisture might exist in the modern books designed for the solitary and secret titillation of the mind. The Edwardian might ask 'Why be tittillated alone when by reading aloud you can be titillated in company?'

Diary of a nobody examines with razor wit the daily task of how to entertain yourself.

  • 6.
  • At 11:38 PM on 15 Apr 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Uh, this is meant to be a page to discuss Review, not Newsnight in general.

I thought it was an excellent show. Nobody spoke over each other, and Churchwell, Sweet and Hari were all excellent. (Gemmel was a bit bland). They actually seemed to have done some research and to know something about the subjects, which was impressive.

  • 7.
  • At 09:18 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • james Leech wrote:

The Lives Of Others.
On Friday 13th's programme, one reviewer, had problems understanding why Wiesler, the Stasi officer given the task of spying on playwright Georg Dreyman; allows himself to be influenced by events which lead him to a conclusion that doesn't coincide with his established convictions to the contrary. Then the historical accuracy debate was argued out among the Intelligencia in the studio. This was well before any mention of trifling matters like dramatic tension or narrative. At this point my fingers tightened around the brick I keep at the side of my armchair. Why should they have been so much troubled by a matter of secondary importance I wondered. Does anybody apart from those people attempting to justify there wages from the Beeb care about that? Do we see films in the drama category for tension, suspense and emotional highs and lows? Or do we place plausibility, probability and historical accuracy first I wonder?

Wiesler was at the beginning, sidelined into a teaching position where his perspective had become theoretical almost abstract; which made him, despite his instincts, unsuitable for work in the field. Even though the idea to spy on Dreyman was Wiesler's, it was informed by a mixture of experience and idealism.

In the words of Wiesler's boss, Minister of Culture Hempf: It's not teaching now Wiesler, it's results that count, not marks!

Wiesler became gradually turned by the accumulation of events, the sincerity and artistry of those he was spying on. But mostly, by Hempf's crassness, and hypocrisy; which run counter to the bedrock principles of the DDR, where the integrity of the system and those that run it are chief.

Where I felt it fell short of being a masterpiece was that it needed a narrative leap here and there across time. It felt that every development every idea, was played out a little too much for me. The film would have benefited from allowing a word or an action to hang in the air at times, and by doing that allow that gap to be filled by the imagination, rather than playing out scenes to demonstrate; this made it too long, and a little too literal for my taste. Where I did agree with one of the reviewers was that at several points the film found its natural end only to be prolonged with another explanatory sequence.

Despite that, a very good film, exquisitely shot and performed.

  • 8.
  • At 06:51 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Dennis Yeoman wrote:

I've been watching Newsnight Review for many years. Here are my criticisms:

1. The subjects up for discussion have declined in quality. It is not uncommon for an entire show to consist of pop culture items. For example, a new album by the Arctic Monkeys, a new series of Extras, a Hollywood film. It used to be that there would be one pop culture item. It is rare these days for more than one of the following to appear in the show: books (literary novels, poetry), classical music, art, theatre.

2. The guests have declined in seriousness. It is a surprise these days to see Germaine Greer or Tom Paulin or Prof Carey on the show, and when they are on the show, the other guests do not give them a chance to finish their points. Johann Hari is typical or today's guests: loud, interrupting, shallow.

3. There are too many guests. 4 is too many as they do not get a chance to speak in depth. Stick to 3.

4. There are too many items. It seems there are 5 or 6 items sometimes. This results in a quick dash round the 4 pannelists to give a sentence or two each.

5. The sofa system is too informal. I think the desk used to inforce a certain seriousness and concision. Now, the guests appear to relax too much and not consider their words as carefully.

6. The Culture Show occupies an almost identical position to the newer Newsnight Review. Both are informal, predominantly pop cultural, light hearted and disparate discussions of art and culture. Newsnight Review was already in that position when The Culture Show started, but it should have taken that into account now The Culture Show has been going for about 2 years. It should have become a more serious programme, in order to distinguish itself.

Here are more specific criticisms relating to the various panellists:

1. Paul Morely: Carried away with his own sense of 'post-modernism' he thinks he can make a case for any piece of trashy television being actually terribly fascinating just by referring to 'what it tells us about our culture'. It's actually a lazy intellectual approach and hides a lack of willingness on his own part to consider seriously creative output.

2. John Harris: A second rate music journalist with an affected accent (dropping Ts and Hs) and a similar intellectual approach to Morely.

3. Johann Hari: Believes that the level of his enthusiasm is directly related to the power of his argument. Interrupts guests and has shallow opinions.

4. Kirsty Walk: Believes that the purpose of the show is for her and her guests to have fun. Allows debate to deteriorate and doesn't question opinions of guests rigorously enough.

  • 9.
  • At 01:55 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

I agree with Dennis about Paul Morley, who is appallingly shallow, but disagree strongly about Harris and Hari, who are my favourite pannellists along with Churchwell and Gove.

I'm fraid his argument sounds a bit fusty, criticising the two young pannellists.

  • 10.
  • At 02:12 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Lyn Burden wrote:

Please can the Newsnight Review team remind the guests on the show not to divulge any plot lines/incidents in the films they are reviewing that may spoil the film for viewers.

e.g. Friday 13th's programme when Matthew Sweet discussing The Lives of Others, mentions a specific character in the film and explicitly says they are "disposed of". (Unfortunately I recalled his comment just as I started to watch the film on Saturday night)

  • 11.
  • At 11:31 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • james Leech wrote:

Well said Dennis Yeoman.. I agree 100% with you, about the level of debate or rather lack of, on Newsnight review of late. Above all I couldn't agree more about Kirsty Wark, who clearly isn't up to the job, and whose approach is to make the show sort of dinner - party light.

  • 12.
  • At 10:19 PM on 18 May 2007,
  • Rychard Carrington wrote:

Congratrulations and thank you to Dennis Yeoman (post no. 8) for such an excellent critique

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