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BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Last Updated: Friday, 30 November 2007, 19:19 GMT
Friday, 30 November, 2007
In this week's programme presented by Martha Kearney:

THE PANEL:
Paul Morley | Michael Gove | Rowan Pelling

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film
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Brad Pitt as Jesse James
The clue is in the title. The latest in a string of westerns released this year, Brad Pitt plays the outlaw Jesse James, and Casey Affleck plays Robert Ford.

The film is a lengthy 160 minutes, chronicling the last few years of the all American icon, Jesse James, revealing the criminal man behind the heroic stories. Robert Ford has grown up on the Jesse James legend. Desperate to share in his fame and command some authority after being endlessly teased as a child by his five older brothers, he relishes his chance to join the James boys on one last robbery. When Frank James, Jesse's older brother, gives up the gangstering game for a quiet life Bob seizes the opportunity to ingratiate himself with his childhood hero.

The relationship between the two men is fascinating and increasingly uncomfortable. Robert's adoration, when spurned, turns to hurt and jealousy. By assassinating the man he admires he immortalises himself with the title we see him in today.

Shot by the admired British cinematographer Roger Deakins, director Andrew Dominick took the decision to film at Fort Edmonton in Canada, a location full of authentic period architecture, and capturing the harsh and isolated landscapes.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford investigates how history remembers its heroes and villains. What will the panel make of its efforts?

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, certificate 15 is on general release.


    television
    Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work

    The furore surrounding the autumn press launch of Monarchy: The Royal Family At Work means that the programme has a lot to live up to.

    Peter Fincham, the then Controller of BBC One showed a section of the film which it later emerged had been re-edited so that it appeared as if the Queen stormed out of a shoot with the photographer Annie Leibovitz. Unsurprisingly Buckingham Palace protested about the false fit of pique and the Controller and Stephen Lambert, Chief Creative Officer of RDF, the independent production company which was making the film, both left their jobs.

    Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work

    After this inauspicious start, there was some speculation about whether the programme would ever see the light of day but the first episode of the five-part series aired to 6.7m eager viewers on 26 November. It covered the Queen's recent state visit to the US and not only features the much-discussed Leibovitz shoot, in its correct sequence, but also lots of insights into the preparations that go into making such a massive event happen.

    President Bush reveals his thoughts on the Queen, "Behind an important title is a very kind and compassionate woman," adding "She's got a neat twinkle in her eye. She's very savvy and she makes you feel at ease." But will the panel agree?

  • Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work is on Mondays on BBC ONE at 9pm


    culture
    Active Resistance to Propaganda by Vivienne Westwood

    Dame Vivienne Westwood seems to cause a stir no matter what she does, whether it's being at the forefront of the Punk movement in the 1970s or recently announcing the transfer of her loyalties to the Conservative Party.

    Dame Vivienne Westwood

    Despite all of this she is one of Britain's best-loved fashion designers and has a clutch of industry awards.

    Now 66, Dame Vivienne has lost none of the fire in her belly. In September 2005 she joined forces with civil rights group Liberty and launched a range of t-shirts bearing slogans like "I am not a terrorist" and "Liberty, throw away the key".

    Always a human rights campaigner, she has now gone one step further and written a manifesto - Active Resistance to Propaganda. In her essay, Westwood urges us to take up the fight against the three evils of the world which she believes constitute Propaganda. Borrowing Aldous Huxley's words she defines these as "Nationalistic Idolatory, Non-Stop Distraction and Organised Lying". Presented as a dialogue between a cast of characters including Alice in Wonderland, Aristotle and Whistler, the manifesto urges us to pursue Culture as the antidote.

    Westwood read from her manifesto at this year's Hay-on-Wye festival but officially launches it amid the beautiful surroundings of the Wallace Collection on December 1st. But how will it be received?

  • Vivienne Westwood's Active Resistance to Propaganda is launched at the Wallace Collection, London on 1 December


    television
    Sleeping and Dreaming at Wellcome Collection

    One of Laura Ford's 'Headthinkers'
    Laura Ford 'Headthinker' featured in the exhibition
    We spend a third of our lives sleeping but know very little about the purpose and mechanisms of the process.

    The Wellcome Collection aims to bring together contributors and artefacts from across the disciplines to shed new light on medical subjects. So in this exhibition we get artwork on the theme of sleep and dreams from Goya to Dali and through to modern artists like Rodney Graham and Jane Gifford alongside scientific machinery from the early study of sleep, documentary photographs of beds being delivered to high Swiss pastures and cases full of cultural artefacts like snoring aids and caffeine drinks.

    The result is a very broad look at the importance of sleep throughout the ages and the progress which has been made in deciphering its mysteries. Will the panel find it illuminating or will it send them to sleep?

  • Sleeping and Dreaming is at the Wellcome Collection, London until 9th March 2008.


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