In this week's programme presented by Martha Kearney :
Sarah Churchwell |
Johann Hari |
David Aaronovitch |
Comment on this programme
For Your Consideration
With For Your Consideration, the latest film from Christopher Guest, the writer/director/actor moves from the world of dog shows (Best in Show) and folk music (A Mighty Wind) to independent film; in particular, a small film that is generating a lot of interest during the Hollywood awards season.
Moving away from the 'mockumentary' style of previous films using the device of a documentary crew following the action, the film follows a straight narrative, but picks up similar themes to the previous films: those of delusional hope over reality, of egos and ambition, and of small town talent with ideas beyond ability. There is a film within a film element as director Jay Berman (Christopher Guest) directs his cast in a small budget period drama period 'Home for Purim'. The same band of actors are used: Catherine O'Hara as a washed up actress renewed by the sniff of an award, Ed Begley Jnr as a make-up artist - almost directly reprising his Best in Show role - Harry Shearer, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy (who shares the writing credit as in their previous collaborations) also feature. There is a brief part for Ricky Gervais, again suggesting his acting range is limited to playing himself and slightly more annoying versions of himself.
Within the film there are some very funny moments, but it does smack of the same gags being re-hashed for the loyal Guest audience. But as a "recognised comic genius" is Guest allowed to get away with it, or should he be working a bit harder for the rest of us?
For Your Consideration, Certificate 12A is on general release
Hogarth, Tate Britain
Opening this week at Tate Britain is a new exhibition showcasing the work of eighteenth century artist William Hogarth, famed for his moral commentaries and satires such as A Harlot's Progress and A Rake's Progress. This exhibition examines his entire career and his unique contribution to the development of British art. It gives a visual documentary of eighteenth century life through his moral and satirical images, conversation pieces, portraiture and history painting. Personal observation and experience were the cornerstone of his practice. The themes he explores; urban life, sexuality and behaviour, social integration, crime, political corruption, charity and patriotism all still preoccupy us today. Therefore the exhibition aims to reveal Hogarth as a truly modern artist and shows the relevance of his work to British art now. His influence on contemporary living artists is revealed with the inclusion of photographs by Yinka Shonibare and paintings by Paula Rego.
The exhibition is broadly chronological and themed in structure, each gallery functioning in its own right as a focussed introduction to a particular genre of his work. Visitors to the gallery should particularly enjoy his range of paintings and etchings in the final room where patriotism, portraiture and politics are portrayed. Most significant is his Election Series, where Hogarth tackles the notion of electoral corruption with vivid detail.
Hogarth continues at Tate Britain, London until 29th April 2007
The Verdict, BBC TWO
The discussions in a jury recess room have always been considered sacrosanct but now a new series aims to observe for the first time the dynamics of how a jury reaches its decision.
The Verdict features twelve celebrity jurors deliberating on the rape trial of a internationally famous footballer, Damien Scott, and his friend, James Greer. Whilst the defendants, victim and witnesses are fictitious characters, in the weeks leading up to the trial, the actors have experienced what it is like to be arrested, interviewed by real policemen and examined by real forensic experts. The courtroom is presided over by a real judge, with real barristers prosecuting and defending.
Among the celebrity jurors are former footballer Stan Collymore, head of the Ann Summers empire Jacqueline Gold and actress Patsy Palmer. The jury also has two members - former MP Jeffrey Archer and rapper Megaman - who have both experienced prison themselves.
The trial is totally unscripted and producers hope that when witnesses appear in the witness box the evidence they give will seem all too real. Our panel will discuss whether they've achieved their aim.
The Verdict starts on BBC TWO on Sunday 11th February at 9.00pm
The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer
Pulitzer prize winning author Norman Mailer has never shied away from tackling taboos. His last work of fiction, ten years ago, was The Gospel According to the Son, a first person narrative of the life of Jesus. In his latest work he stays with the Christian concepts to explore the workings of Satan ('the Maestro') and God's emissaries the angels (known as Cudgels here) on the mind of the young Adolf Hitler. The narrative begins before Adolf's birth by describing the incestuous back-story of the Hitler family. By the time of Adolf's conception Satan is already taking a keen interest in his potential for evil and a particular agent, known as DT is assigned to monitor and manipulate the boy. Blending fact and fiction, Mailer follows Adi, as he's known by his family, through until he leaves school in an attempt to answer the questions that continue to haunt us - who was Adolf Hitler and where did the depths of his hatred come from?
The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer is published by Little Brown on February 15th
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