BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 17:20 UK

Newsnight Review: 17 April 2009

In a week of astonishing political intrigue at Westminster, the panel take two very timely films as a starting point for a debate about how politicians are portrayed in on-screen satire and drama.

The panel also discuss Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra's residency at the Southbank Centre, and Tate Britain's restaging of William Blake's 1809 solo exhibition.

FILM | In The Loop

Could In The Loop be any more timely? The feature length comedy based on the award-winning BBC TV series The Thick of It, depicts an inept minister and his advisors in a fictional government department.

Watch the panel talk about In The Loop

The film features many of the same characters as the cult TV series, including Peter Capaldi as the prime minister's aggressive communications chief, Malcolm Tucker.

It follows a ministerial delegation to the US in the run up to a crucial United Nations vote to go to war in the Middle East.

Tom Hollander plays Simon Foster, a British government minister who inadvertently backs the war when ambushed by a group of reporters, bringing him into conflict with the PM's foul-mouthed press secretary.

In The Loop also features James Gandolfini, Steve Coogan, and Gina McKee - and The Thick of It star Chris Addison as the British minister's new advisor.

In The Loop opened in cinemas on Friday 17 April 2009.

FILM | State of Play

Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck star in this political thriller inspired by writer Paul Abbott's 2003 British TV series about a team of journalists investigating the mysterious death of a political researcher.

Watch the panel discuss State of Play

In the film the action has been transposed to Washington DC, where a dishevelled veteran reporter (Russell Crowe) investigates the death of an aide to a congressman (Ben Affleck).

Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void), State of Play also stars Dame Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman.

Screenwriters Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, the Bourne films) and Billy Ray (Breach) were hired to flesh out the original story, which now also looks at the decline of print journalism and the rise of blogging.

The film was beset by casting problems. Former lead Brad Pitt pulled out of the project a week before filming was scheduled to start and Edward Norton was also replaced after the delay to filming caused him to pull out.

State of Play opens nationwide on Friday 24 April 2009.

CLASSICAL | Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

The Venezuelan youth orchestra led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel are performing a series of concerts at Southbank Centre, in London.

Zoe Martlew, Ian Hislop, Michael Portillo, Clemency Burton-Hill and Kirsty Wark discuss the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra

The orchestra was born out of El Sistema, Venezuela's publicly financed music-education programme which consists of 220 youth orchestras created to help children in extreme poverty.

The scheme was established by economist Jose Antonio Abreu in 1975 and has since seen the orchestra gain worldwide recognition under their artistic director Gustavo Dudamel who entered the system at five-years-old and took up his current post in 1999 aged just 18.

The series of concerts sold out a year in advance, and performances were streamed live into The Clore Ballroom in the Festival Hall.

Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra played the Southbank Centre on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 April 2009.

ART | William Blake

Tate Britain sheds light on William Blake's failed solo exhibition by reuniting paintings which went unregarded in their time.

Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels 1805. Copyright: V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London
William Blake's Christ in the Sepulchre, Guarded by Angels (1805)

The original exhibition took place in 1809 above the shop of Blake's brother in Soho and contained 16 works.

Regarded by many as eccentric, Blake was largely overlooked as an artist during his lifetime and the exhibition attracted little notice. It is often cited that the only review generated by the 1809 display was hostile.

The exhibition's centrepiece was said to have been an engraving of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which was the topic of some professional envy and had caused a rift between Blake and fellow artist Thomas Stothard.

To accompany the exhibition, Blake wrote the "descriptive catalogue" a commentary on his artistic aspirations. The Tate will be presenting the catalogue in a new edition to accompany the exhibition.

The display is part of the BP British Art Display at Tate Britain, London from Monday 20 April until Sunday 4 October 2009.

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