BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 17:45 UK

Friday, 12 September, 2008

Presented by Martha Kearney with guests
Tony Parsons | Dotun Adebayo | Rachel Campbell-Johnston

FILM | Tropic Thunder

ART | Francis Bacon at Tate Britain

BOOK | Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

MUSIC | Everything is Borrowed by The Streets

Join this week's debate:
No Laughing Matter



Ben Stiller is no stranger to gross-out comedy with his role in There's Something About Mary and last year's less successful Farrelly Brothers' film - The Heartbreak Kid.

Clips from Tropic Thunder which stars Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black and Ben Stiller. Stiller has also co-written and directed the film.

Tropic Thunder is the first film Stiller has directed, co-written and starred in since Zoolander and is a war movie spoof which sees a group of Hollywood stars become the soldiers they are playing when a shoot goes wrong.

Stiller is Tugg Speedman, an action star whose career is in freefall after an ill-judged role as Simple Jack, a film which uses the tagline "Once upon a time there was a retard.."

Robert Downey Jr plays Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor, who undergoes a "pigment alteration" to play an African American soldier and Jack Black is Jeff Portnoy who feels constrained by his roles to date in fart-comedies such as The Fatties.

Stiller says the film is about actors and the absurd lengths they will go to for a role but it has mainly garnered controversy from disability rights groups because of its use of the word "retard" and because Downey Jr plays a white method actor who wears blackface makeup for his role.

The film has just topped the US box office for the second week in a row so Stiller must be doing something right but will the panel agree?

Tropic Thunder, certificate 15, is out on 19 September



Painting by Francis Bacon
Part of Francis Bacon's work In Memory of George Dyer
British artist Francis Bacon was celebrated during his lifetime. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and the Tate gallery staged two retrospectives of his paintings.

His popularity has not waned since his death in 1992 - earlier this year his Triptych, 1976 sold for 44m.

Now the Tate is to stage a third show of his work to celebrate his centenary in 2009.

The exhibition gives an opportunity to reassess his work and thoughts as archive material from his studio has only become available since Bacon's death.

Celebrated triptychs such as the dark Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, which shot Bacon to fame in 1945 and a posthumous portrait of his lover In Memory of George Dyer sit alongside the photographs, sketches and research material used by the artist as inspiration.

Francis Bacon is at Tate Britain until 4th January 2009.


By Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

Paul Theroux is a prolific American novelist and travel writer who made his name in 1975 with The Great Railway Bazaar - a book which detailed his epic journey by train across Europe, the Middle East and Asia in the dying days of the Vietnam War.

Over thirty years on, he took the decision to retrace his steps because, he told Review, he feels travel writers never do that.

The book shows up how the world of his original journey has changed - he was refused a visa for Iran, unable to go through Afghanistan, saw a transformed Vietnam and found that wherever he went, the Iraq war was on people's minds.

It also looks hard at how Theroux himself has changed, from eager but tormented young man to a more contemplative man of letters.

Travel writing, he says, is mostly attention seeking - will our panel feel he gets the balance right here between personal history and journalism?

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux is published by Hamish Hamilton


The Streets

Album cover
everything is borrowed is by The Streets

Ever since his 2002 debut album Original Pirate Material, Mike Skinner's aka The Streets' lyrics have reflected the lives and pastimes of young British urban men - getting drunk, clubbing and in his 2004 no.1 Dry Your Eyes, splitting up with their girlfriends.

The Birmingham rapper's latest record, Everything is Borrowed, is a departure from the familiar day to day though and deals with much bigger subjects from the title track about making the most of life's possibilities, to religion (Alleged Legends), evolution (The Way of the Dodo) and biological destiny (On the Edge of a Cliff).

Musically, the album is much less musically dark and world-weary than its predecessors with Skinner moving beyond the sampler to work with a full orchestra in Prague.

Skinner has already said that this album will be his penultimate as The Streets and is described as "music to help Britain through the credit-crunch" but will it bring a smile to the panel's faces?

Everything is Borrowed is out on 15 September on the Sixsevenine label

Protesters gather at Stiller film
12 Aug 08 |  Entertainment


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