Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (28th of January to the 3rd of February 2023)

Selections by Pat Harrington.

Highlights this week include The Stasi: Secrets, Lies and British Spies, Emily Atack: Asking For It? and The Ku Klux Klan: An American Story.

Listen to the Culture Vulture podcast of this guide and subscribe to our channel

Saturday 28th of January 2023

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

This third episode, “Culture Wars,” begins in the aftermath of Los Angeles. Hip-Hop is reaching new heights and bringing fresh perspectives to a wider, primarily white audience. But as the genre’s popularity grows, its artists become targets of a backlash. Ice-T is among the first to face the backlash from authorities over his song “Cop Killer.” This is just the beginning of a larger cultural war that erupts. In the 1992 Presidential election, Bill Clinton had been courting the Black community, but he suddenly turns against Hip-Hop activist Sister Souljah, a member of Public Enemy’s collective. Rap music becomes a political pawn. Out West, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac are producing ground-breaking music that draws even more criticism for its hardcore misogyny, prompting Queen Latifah to release her Grammy-winning track “U.N.I.T.Y.”

Sunday 29th of January 2023

Why Coups Fail 1.30pm BBC RADIO 4

Natalie Haynes asks why overthrowing a government by force is not as easy as it was in Ancient Rome, or even the 20th century – and examines the newer, quieter threats to democracy.

The Stasi: Secrets, Lies and British Spies 10.15pm ITV1

For four decades, the Stasi secret police force in East Germany was one of the most powerful and feared organizations in the world, with a vast network of spies and informants spanning the globe. Even after the fall of the Berlin Wall, many of these agents were still active in the United Kingdom. Using newly-opened court records, journalist Julie Etchingham uncovers some of the Stasi’s operations in the UK and investigates why the identities of many suspected British informants are still being kept secret 30 years after Germany made its files public.

The Man With The Iron Heart (2017 film) 12.05am BBC2

A 2017 French-Czech war drama film directed by Cédric Jimenez and starring Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, and Jack O’Connell. The film is based on the true story of Operation Anthropoid, a World War II mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, a key figure in the SS.

The film is well-acted, with Clarke and Pike delivering strong performances as their respective characters. The film also features impressive production design, particularly in its depiction of Nazi-occupied Prague. The action sequences are well-choreographed and intense, and the film’s depiction of the Holocaust is both brutal and sobering.

However, the film does have some flaws. The pacing is a bit uneven, and the film’s focus on character development sometimes comes at the expense of its historical accuracy. Additionally, the film’s ending feels a bit rushed and unsatisfying.

The Man With the Iron Heart is a solid war drama that is worth watching for its performances and production design. But those looking for a historically accurate account of Operation Anthropoid may be disappointed.

Monday 30th of January 2023

Panorama 8pm BBC1

Healthcare workers, who were celebrated as heroes during the pandemic, are now claiming that they are being neglected by the National Health Service (NHS) and the government. Many are suffering from long Covid and report that it is having a devastating effect on their personal and professional lives. For the BBC’s Panorama program, health correspondent Catherine Burns interviews staff who are struggling to return to work and uncovers how some are now facing financial difficulties and may have to retire early or even face termination.

Phantom Thread (2017 film) 11.15pm BBC2

An American period drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville. The film is set in 1950s London and follows the life of Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), a renowned dressmaker, and his relationship with Alma (Krieps), a young waitress who becomes his muse and lover.

The film is a masterful work of art, with a stunning attention to detail in its costume design, production design, and cinematography. Day-Lewis gives an outstanding performance as Woodcock, capturing the character’s obsession with perfection and his complex emotions. Krieps also delivers a strong performance as Alma, bringing depth and nuance to her character.

Additionally, the film’s score, by Jonny Greenwood, adds to the film’s atmosphere with its rich and immersive quality. The film also explores themes of love, power, and control in a unique and thought-provoking way.

On the downside, some viewers may find the film’s slow pace and lack of traditional plot structure to be a challenge. The film’s ending is somewhat ambiguous, which may leave some viewers feeling unsatisfied.

The film is a visually stunning and emotionally powerful film that is a favourite among art-house audiences.

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Emily Atack: Asking For It? 9pm BBC2

In the documentary, Emily shares her personal journey of dealing with escalated abuse during lockdown and how it led her to realize that she was not alone. Women from all backgrounds came forward to say that they too were experiencing the same thing, and that they had normalized this type of behaviour for far too long.

Emily seeks to understand why the blame for unwanted male attention is so often placed on the victims of abuse and questions whose responsibility it is to put a stop to this behaviour.

The film follows Emily as she continues her fight to make cyber-flashing illegal and explores the measures being taken to protect young women and girls online.

She examines the psychology behind this behaviour, reaching out to men who have sent her explicit content and delves deep into her own experiences and how they have shaped her. She speaks to her parents about this for the first time and reflects on how these incidents have shaped her in the hope that she can finally stop blaming herself.

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019 film)  11.45pm BBC2

A French romantic drama film directed by Céline Sciamma and starring Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, and Luana Bajrami. The film is set in 18th-century France and follows the story of a painter, Marianne, who is commissioned to paint a portrait of a young woman, Héloïse, who is to be married off to a wealthy Italian nobleman.

The film is a masterful work of storytelling, with excellent performances from its leading actresses. Merlant and Haenel have a powerful on-screen chemistry, and their performances are nuanced and emotionally powerful. The film also features stunning cinematography and production design, which captures the beauty and isolation of the coastal setting.

Additionally, the film explores themes of female desire, sexuality, and autonomy in a thought-provoking and honest way. The film is also a love letter to the art of painting and its ability to capture both the beauty and complexity of the human experience.

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

The Ku Klux Klan: An American Story (one of two) 8.30pm PBS America

This is a powerful documentary that explores the history and legacy of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. PBS does an excellent job of presenting a comprehensive and unbiased account of the organization, tracing its origins in the aftermath of the Civil War and its evolution throughout the decades. The film also examines the impact of the Klan on American society and its influence on politics, race relations, and civil rights.

The documentary features a wealth of historical footage and photographs, as well as interviews with experts and historians who provide valuable insights and context. It also includes first-hand accounts from former Klan members and victims of Klan violence, which adds a personal and emotional dimension to the story.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is how it illustrates the Klan’s ability to adapt and evolve over time, from its early days as a secret society to its resurgence in the 20th century as a more public and politically active organization. The documentary also delves into the Klan’s lasting impact on American society and the ongoing efforts to combat its hateful doctrine.

It’s a well-researched and well-produced documentary that provides a comprehensive and nuanced look at one of the most notorious and controversial organizations in American history. It is a must-watch for anyone interested in understanding the origins and legacy of the Ku Klux Klan and its role in shaping American society.

Part two airs tomorrow.

Lapsis (2020 film) 11.50pm Film4

An independent science fiction film that tells the story of a man who becomes a “cabler” for a new technology that is revolutionizing the world. The film is directed by Noah Hutton and stars Dean Imperial, Madeline Wise, and Babe Howard. The film explores themes of technology, labour, and class, as the protagonist is forced into a situation where he must choose between his own survival and his principles. The film also has a unique visual style, with a mix of live-action and animation.

The performances from the cast are good, especially from Dean Imperial as the protagonist. The film’s story is interesting and thought-provoking, raising questions about the future of technology and the impact it has on society and the individual. The film’s visuals are also well done, adding to the overall atmosphere and tone of the film.

“Lapsis” is a well-crafted indie film that offers a fresh perspective on the impact of technology on society, and the individuals caught in the middle of it. It’s a small but important film.

Thursday 2nd of February 2023

In Our Time: Tycho Brahe 9am BBC RADIO 4

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the innovative 16th century Danish astronomer, renowned for the accuracy of his observations, all taken before the invention of the telescope.

Cold Case Forensics (one of three) 9pm ITV1

A three-part series explores the work of renowned forensic scientist Dr. Angela Gallop and her team as they uncover previously undiscovered clues to solve heinous crimes. Through the examination of cases such as the 1988 murder of Lynette White in Cardiff, the 1992 death of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, and the Stephen Lawrence murder case, the series delves into the ground breaking techniques and forensic advancements used by Dr. Gallop and her team to bring justice to these tragic events.

Friday 3rd of February 2023

Vice (2018 film) BBC2 11.05pm

A biographical drama film directed by Adam McKay and starring Christian Bale as former Vice President Dick Cheney. The film tells the story of Cheney’s rise to power and the impact he had on American politics during his tenure.

The acting in “Vice” is superb, with Bale delivering a transformative performance as Cheney. He fully inhabits the character, capturing his mannerisms and speech patterns perfectly. The supporting cast, including Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney and Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld, also give strong performances.

McKay’s direction is bold and unflinching, as he doesn’t shy away from depicting the controversial actions and decisions made by Cheney and his team. The film also uses a unique and non-linear narrative structure, which keeps the audience engaged and on their toes.

The film’s screenplay is also noteworthy, as it effectively balances humour and satire with serious political commentary. It provides a thought-provoking and entertaining film that offers a fresh perspective on a significant chapter in American history.

Music in this podcast is by Tim Bragg. We hope that you’ve enjoyed this week’s Culture Vulture. To get our weekly guide why not subscribe?


1 Comment »

  1. Alan said

    Thanks. Would have missed both KuKluxKlan and Vice


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