Talk about Newsnight

Newsnight Review

Friday, 9 November, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Nov 07, 04:17 PM

This week’s programme comes from New York where Kirsty Wark is joined by Patricia Cornwell, Joe Queenan, Maureen Dowd and Sam Tanenhaus.


An interview with the comedian during filming of his first leading role in an American movie. He's playing Bertram Pincus, a dentist who dies for a few minutes and when he is revived realises he can hear the dead talking to him.


The latest film from British director Ridley Scott starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington.


Former EastEnders star Michelle Ryan who has been re-engineered into the 21st century Bionic Woman.


Re-engineering Young Frankenstein from the 1974 Oscar nominated black and white movie into a Broadway musical has given Mel Brooks the chance of another hit second time around.


Last year's movie Little Children starring Kate Winslet was based on the Massachusetts writer Tom Perrotta's novel, and it won Perotta an Oscar nomination for the best adapted screenplay.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:29 AM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

Where are the Newsnight Review blogs for December,pray?

  • 2.
  • At 09:15 AM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • Yossri wrote:

When asked to name the flm of the year on Newsnight Review of the Year 2007, Michael Gove named "300". A quick look at below lines help us understand why the conservative ideologue uses an art review programme to promote items close to his aspirations and idelogy.

In the opinion of Apollo Guide critic Brian Webster, the fans of this sort of movie don’t understand that finding heroic cutting and slashing artful is itself a statement of a person’s values, of their politics. And 300, which celebrates toughness, disregard for the rule of law, death as glory, and ‘no forgiveness’ above all else, is every bit a political film. In fact, the simpleminded black and white of 300 very much reflects a value set that’s evident in 21st century politics. While far from sophisticated in its ‘no retreat, no surrender’, freedom-as-the-product-of-brutality, ‘I have filled my heart with hate’ messaging, this film resonates with the ‘us versus them’ worldview that’s wildly popular in some circles these days.

300 is about a particular brand of heroism, hard inflexible heroism that’s easy to understand and well suited to slow motion set-pieces that show off rippling muscles, guttural shouts of the team at kick-off, and culminating with a Christ-crucified image and the distinctly Bush-like assertion that “Today, we rescue the world from mysticism and tyranny!”

Glenn Kenny airs pretty strong comments in his Premiere review: Denials that this is some kind of policy paper in celluloid disguise are flying fast and furious; Whatever political analogs one wishes to draw aside, the picture's grandiosity, worship of bloodshed and valorization of the old "dulce est decorum est" credo — not to mention its utter humorlessness — are all in keeping with what can only be called a fascist aesthetic...
I know, I know — "Never mind that," a lot of you might be thinking; "how does it work as an action movie?" Well that's the damnedest thing, and it does kind of tie in with fascist aesthetics as well, particularly its fondness for tableaux. Expanding in his blog, Kenny adds: you'd have to be mighty dense not to see 300 as an exemplary example of fascist aesthetics. The grandiosity, the worship of combat, the worship of death in combat, the horror of putatively aberrant sexuality, and so much more is in there.

It may be interesting to note that other panelist didn't find any artisitic or aesthetic appeal to back Gove's choice.

Reviewing "300" Peter Rainer, film critic of The Christian Science Monitor remarks: "Just about everything in this pea-brained epic is overscaled and overwrought – it's a cartoon trying to be a towering triptych. The dissonance between the film's heroic ambitions and its grindingly coarse treatment is rather amusing. It pays to remember that the film's target audience is teenage boys."

Although Empire's reviewer, Will Lawrence, finds the film visually stunning, he dubs it as: thoroughly belligerent and as shallow as a pygmy’s paddling pool, this is a whole heap of style tinged with just a smidgen of substance. What made Lawrence make this opinion runs as follows: The film shoots for epic from minute one, demanding our awe before it’s been earned and painting with strokes so broad that it’s hard to make out such niceties as character, motivation or period detail. Snyder came to the fore with 2004’s Dawn Of The Dead remake, after learning his trade in the world of commercials, and 300, at times, looks a little like a heavy metal video. At one point, when the Spartans trudge forward to engage their enemy, it sounds like one too, a raging torrent of testosterone that is as merciless in its stabbing delivery as the Spartans themselves. In truth, the music is more than a little overcooked throughout, especially in the Gladiator-lite scenes amid the waving barley. For all Gerard Butler’s verbal anguish and warrior dexterity, he and his 300 are cartoon characters, simple archetypes of ancient epic, spitting vitriol and wielding weapons but ill-equipped to connect to those watching them on screen. The result is that the conclusion of this, one of the greatest stories ever told, is sadly fumbled.

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