Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (21st to 27th January 2023)

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is an international day of remembrance on January 27th, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The day is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, as well as the victims of other genocides, and it is an opportunity to learn about the Holocaust, its causes, and its lessons. Consequently this week there are a number of educational programmes being screened and we’ve highlighted some of those.

On 29th of December 2022 our nation lost Vivienne Westwood. We’ve highlighted two programmes about this remarkable woman. Westwood: Punk: Icon: Activist and Vivienne Westwood Talks to Kirsty Walk.

Saturday 21st of January 2023

Profumo Confidential 8pm BBC RADIO 4

A radio program directed by Tom Mangold, a journalist who covered the Profumo Affair in 1963 for the Daily Express. The Profumo Affair was a political scandal involving the British Minister of War, John Profumo, and his affair with Christine Keeler, who was also allegedly having an affair with a Russian spy. The scandal led to Profumo’s downfall, hastened the departure of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and led to the suicide of Stephen Ward, a society osteopath who had friendships with all the players and a louche lifestyle. Ward was hounded to trial on flimsy allegations of living on immoral earnings.

The program is based on the new documents that Mangold acquired, including the private notes of Lord Denning’s right-hand man, who investigated the scandal, and the full manuscript of Ward’s unpublished autobiography. The program offers an extraordinary insight into the behind-the-scenes of the Denning investigation and a vivid snapshot of Britain in the early 1960s as one aging generation fought desperately to keep the swinging sixties at bay. It also features an exclusive broadcast interview with Mandy Rice-Davis, Christine Keeler’s erstwhile companion. The program is a Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4, it’s informative and engaging, it reveals new facets of the event that more than any other etched the shape of a generation and changed the face of Britain forever.

Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World (first of four) 9pm BBC2

This documentary series that premiered on Netflix in 2021. The first episode, “The Foundation,” provides an overview of the origins of Hip Hop and its impact on the culture, society, and politics.

The episode is well-produced, with a mix of archival footage, interviews with Hip Hop legends, and commentary from experts in the field. It covers the early days of Hip Hop in the Bronx, New York, tracing its roots back to African American communities in the South Bronx during the 1970s. The episode explores the cultural and social impact of Hip Hop, highlighting the role it played in giving voice to marginalized communities and the way it has been used as a tool for political and social change.

The episode features interviews with Hip Hop pioneers such as Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kool Herc, who provide insight into the early days of the genre and the way it has evolved over time. Additionally, the episode features commentary from experts and cultural critics who provide context and analysis of the significance of Hip Hop in the larger cultural and political landscape.

It’s definitely worth watching for fans of Hip Hop and anyone interested in understanding the genre’s significance in shaping modern culture and politics.

Triple 9 2016 Film 11.05pm Channel 4

“Triple 9” is a crime thriller directed by John Hillcoat and starring an ensemble cast including Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Clifton Collins Jr., and Woody Harrelson.

The film follows a group of corrupt police officers who are coerced by a powerful Russian crime lord to pull off a heist by creating a “999” situation, police code for “officer down”, as a distraction. The plot is complex, with multiple characters and subplots, but it is well-written and keeps the audience engaged throughout the film.

The acting performances are all strong, with stand-out performances from Affleck, Ejiofor, and Harrelson, but the film is elevated by the direction of John Hillcoat who creates a tense and gritty atmosphere that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The film also features some intense action sequences that keep the audience engaged.

It’s not for the faint-hearted, as it is violent, but it’s definitely worth watching for fans of the genre.

Sunday 22nd of January 2023

Westwood: Punk: Icon: Activist 9.15pm BBC4

Dame Vivienne Westwood in 2008

This 2018 documentary film directed by Lorna Tucker that explores the life and career of British fashion designer and activist Vivienne Westwood. The film delves into Westwood’s early days as a punk designer in the 1970s, her rise to fame in the 1980s, and her continued influence on fashion and activism today.

The film is well-made, with a mix of archival footage, interviews with Westwood and her friends and colleagues, and commentary from experts in the field. It provides a comprehensive look at Westwood’s life and work, highlighting her unique vision, creativity, and boldness as a designer. The film also explores her political activism, her support for environmental and social causes, and her influence on the fashion industry.

Westwood herself is a charismatic and fascinating subject, and the film does an excellent job of capturing her energy and passion. Additionally, the film features interviews with some of the biggest names in fashion and culture, providing a diverse and interesting perspective on Westwood’s impact.

During her lifetime I often saw Westwood hanging out at the V&A museum in South Kensington. She drew inspiration from the designs there. My mother, who had been a seamstress had brief conversations with her there. Westwood was a fascinating woman.

Overall, “Westwood: Punk: Icon: Activist” is a well-made and informative documentary that provides a comprehensive look at the life and work of one of the most influential figures in the world of fashion. It’s definitely worth watching for fans of fashion and anyone interested in the story of one of the most iconic and inspiring figures of our time.

Vivienne Westwood Talks to Kirsty Walk 10.35pm BBC4

This 2021 documentary film features an interview between fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and journalist Kirsty Walk. The film is a conversation between the two women that covers a wide range of topics, including Westwood’s background, her rise to fame, her political activism and her views on the fashion industry.

The film is well-structured, with Walk guiding Westwood through her life and career, and allowing her to speak at length about her experiences and her views. Westwood is a charismatic and passionate speaker, and the film does an excellent job of capturing her energy and her unique perspective on the fashion industry. Her views on the environmental impact of the fashion industry, her political activism and her artistic vision are also covered in depth.

The film also features archival footage and photographs, giving viewers a glimpse into Westwood’s past and the evolution of her designs. Walk, as the interviewer, is a skilled journalist and she guides the conversation with Westwood with tact and professionalism.

Walter Presents: Grow 11.20pm Channel 4

“Grow” is a Danish crime drama series screened on Channel 4 and can be streamed on More4. The show follows the story of two brothers, Adam and Jakob, who are caught up in the world of organized crime in Denmark. Adam, a junior analyst at a successful brokerage, inherits his father’s criminal empire after his death, while Jakob, a young police officer, is recruited to a task force that aims to take down the trafficking gangs and reduce crime in the country. The show explores the themes of family, power, and the cost of ambition, and features strong performances by the cast, particularly Andreas Jessen and Lars Mikkelsen. “Grow” is a well-made crime drama that is sure to be enjoyed by fans of nordic noir.

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Kramer vs Kramer 4.50pm Great!movies

“Kramer vs Kramer” is a powerful and emotional drama film directed by Robert Benton and released in 1979. The film stars Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep as a couple, Ted and Joanna Kramer, going through a bitter divorce and custody battle for their young son. The performances of both Hoffman and Streep are outstanding, and their chemistry on screen is electric. The film does an excellent job of exploring the complexities of marriage and the impact of divorce on both parents and children. It also deals with the themes of gender roles, parenting, and the balance between career and family. “Kramer vs Kramer” won numerous awards including five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The Boat Smugglers 8pm BBC RADIO 4

Sue Mitchell joins forces with Rob Lawrie, a former British soldier and aid worker, to uncover the process of obtaining boats for migrant Channel crossings and the significant profits being generated from it.

The US and the Holocaust (3 of 3) 10pm BBC4

We should have mentioned this series in Culture Vulture previously as we are now on the final episode. Previous episodes can be found at the BBC websites though. It’s a 2019 documentary series directed by Richard Trank that explores America’s response to the Holocaust during World War Two.

The series has a mix of archival footage, interviews with experts in the field, and testimony from Holocaust survivors. It provides a comprehensive look at America’s response to the Holocaust, highlighting the country’s political and social climate during the time and the factors that influenced the US government’s decisions. The series also explores the role of American Jewish organizations and the media in shaping public opinion and the US government’s response to the Holocaust.

This episode deals with how the first reports of the mass killings reached the US.

The series is both informative and emotional, providing a detailed look at the Holocaust from the perspective of the United States. It is a powerful reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the importance of bearing witness to the past. The series also provides a sobering reminder of the dangers of extremism, hate and anti-Semitism, and the importance of speaking out against them.

Tuesday 24th of Juanuary 2023

Super/Natural 8pm National Geographic (first of six)

An exploration of super senses from the natural world. This first episode looks at alliances between different species who collaborate to find food, flee foes and produce the next generation.

Denial 11,15on BBC2

“Denial” is a 2016 drama film directed by Mick Jackson and based on the true story of Deborah Lipstadt’s legal battle against Holocaust denier David Irving. The film stars Rachel Weisz as Lipstadt, Tom Wilkinson as her lawyer, and Timothy Spall as Irving.

The performances are strong, particularly Weisz, who delivers a powerful and emotional portrayal of Lipstadt’s struggle. The film skillfully explores the themes of Holocaust denial and the importance of historical truth. It also delves into the personal and emotional toll that Lipstadt’s legal battle takes on her.

The film’s direction and pacing are also noteworthy, as it keeps the audience engaged throughout the legal proceedings, making it both informative and suspenseful.

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Angelou on Burns 10pm BBC4

This documentary film that explores the relationship between Maya Angelou, the famous African American author and poet, and Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet. The film delves into the impact Burns had on Angelou’s life, particularly during her childhood, when she was raped and stopped speaking for five years after her community killed the perpetrator. She believed her naming of him had caused his death.

The film shows how reading Burns’ poetry helped Angelou regain her voice and heal from her trauma, and how his poetry had a profound impact on her life and work. The film is a love story, showcasing Angelou’s admiration and affection for Burns and his poetry, as well as her own life and legacy. It features Maya Angelou as the main subject and star of the film, and it captures her love for Burns through her storytelling and her emotional reactions to recitations of his poetry.

Beyond Burns 10.50pm

Directed by Jackie Kay this documentary explores the life and legacy of Robert Burns and the other overlooked poets of Scotland. The film delves into the work of poets who have influenced Jackie Kay, such as Robert Fergusson, Margaret Tait, Liz Lochhead, and Norman MacCaig, and it features interviews with writers such as Val McDermid, James Robertson, Hannah Lavery, and Kevin MacNeil. The film also explores the themes of identity and belonging that have been at the heart of Kay’s work, and it candidly shares some of the personal stories and events from her past that have shaped her life and work. The film highlights the richness of Scottish poetry, the nation’s poets and their work, and its breathtaking landscapes.

Thursday 26th of January 2023

Baloon (2018 film) 12.05am BBC4

“Balloon” is a 2018 German historical thriller film directed by Michael Herbig. The film tells the story of two families who attempt to escape East Germany in a homemade hot air balloon in 1979.

The film is well-made and engaging, with a strong cast that delivers powerful performances. The story is tense and suspenseful, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the film. The film is also visually striking, with beautiful shots of the East German landscape and the hot air balloon in flight. The attention to detail and the use of accurate historical costumes and settings are also noteworthy, they give the film a sense of authenticity, making the audience feel like they are in the middle of the action.

The film also deals with the themes of freedom, family and the power of hope and determination. It’s a heartwarming and emotional story that will resonate with audiences of all ages.

Friday 27th of January 2023

Is Psychiatry Working? 11am BBC RADIO 4

As the demand for mental health treatment increases worldwide, what is known about the available treatments? How were they developed, how reliable is the evidence that they work, and what is the future outlook for mental health care?

Selections by Pat Harrington

Find more reviews at our YouTube Channel here

Picture Credit: Mattia Passeri, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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