Newsnight Review, 14 November, 2008
Body of Lies
International cultural conflict has been a pressing concern for director Ridley Scott who, after Black Hawk Down and Kingdom Of Heaven, returns with a third film in which Western forces do battle with a Muslim foe. I'll be asking Ridley Scott whether he intended Body of Lies - which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a CIA agent in the Middle East and Russell Crowe as his Washington handler - as the final part of a trilogy. And I'll be asking our panel whether 'geopolitical thriller' is a contradiction in terms. Watch a clip here and read more on Body of Lies here.
David Hare is another artist who likes to get his teeth into the big issue. In the 90s his 'state of the nation' plays tackled the Church, the judiciary and the Labour Party. More recently he's borrowed real-life characters and phrases to discuss railway privatisation and the war in Iraq. His latest play Gethsemane is about political fundraising and the betrayal of ideals. There's a rock-fan prime minister, a Cabinet member whose husband is up to his neck in dodgy deals abroad, and a party fundraiser who made his money in the music biz. It may all sound familiar but according to David Hare Gethsemane is a work of "pure fiction". Yeah, right. There's more on Hare's Gethsemane here.
It was once the greatest city in the world, a towering metropolis in which spectacular gardens may (or may not) have hung. After the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam, the ruins of Babylon were turned into a military base, incised with deep trenches. The desecration of one of the original wonders of the world is a sad coda to a series of amazing historical and mythical tales retold at the British Museum exhibition Babylon: Myth and Reality. Read more about the Babylon exhibition here.
In the early 1970s, just as I'd stopped hiding behind the sofa when Dr Who came on, along came another scary television thriller from the pen of Timelord writer Terry Nation. Survivors imagined a deadly plague wiping out most of the world's population. Now there's a contemporary take on the scenario, a series in which flu results in more than a shiver and a sniffle. More on the new Survivors here.
Hope you can join us at 11pm.