Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (4th-10th March 2023)

Selections by Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Highlights this week include:

Trying It On: David Edgar by the award winning playwright and political activist on BBC Radio 4,
Parasite on Film4 and Becoming Frida Kahlo on BBC2.

Saturday 4th March 2023

Lawrence of Arabia (1962 film) 2.30pm GREAT! movies

“Lawrence of Arabia” is a sweeping epic masterpiece that captures the essence of one of history’s most enigmatic figures – T.E. Lawrence. Directed by David Lean, the film is a remarkable achievement in cinema, featuring stunning cinematography, a brilliant script, and an outstanding cast.

The film follows the story of T.E. Lawrence, a British officer who was sent to Arabia during World War I to assist in the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. As Lawrence immerses himself in the Arab culture, he becomes a key figure in the revolt and develops a deep understanding and respect for the people he is fighting alongside.

However, the film does not shy away from portraying Lawrence’s disillusionment with British policy, adding to the complexity of his character. Additionally, the film hints at Lawrence’s possible Fascist sympathies, a controversial topic that has long been debated among historians. This aspect of his character is portrayed with a subtle touch, leaving it up to the viewer to form their own opinion.

Moreover, the film suggests Lawrence’s homosexuality, which was a taboo subject at the time. While not explicitly stated, it is hinted at throughout the film, adding another layer to the already complex character.

Despite the controversies surrounding T.E. Lawrence’s life, “Lawrence of Arabia” remains a cinematic masterpiece. Its epic scope, brilliant performances, and stunning visuals, particularly Peter O’Toole’s nuanced and powerful portrayal of Lawrence, make it a must-see for any lover of cinema.

Trying It On; David Edgar 2.45pm BBC Radio 4

David Edgar, an award-winning playwright known for his political activism, will be performing in his solo show “Trying It On” on BBC Radio 4 at 2.45 pm. In the Winter 2003 edition of “anti-fascist” magazine Searchlight, he was praised for his contributions as a regular writer on issues related to the British far right, the US new right, and other political topics. Edgar’s play “Destiny,” about the National Front, was also broadcast on the BBC in 1978. “Trying It On” explores the background behind his landmark play “Maydays,” which recently became a three-part series on Radio 4. The play follows a 70-year-old Edgar confronting his younger self 50 years after his political views were shaped by the events of 1968, questioning whether they still share the same beliefs and what has changed since then. The play also tackles issues such as Brexit and whether Edgar has sold out or sold in.

Archive on 4: The Story of Lobotomy 8pm BBC Radio 4

Lobotomy, once hailed as a miracle cure for mental illness, involved destroying healthy brain tissue and was adopted worldwide by doctors to treat seriously ill psychiatric patients. Sir Wylie McKissock, the most prolific lobotomist in the UK, carried out around 3,000 lobotomies and was widely praised by the media. However, the procedure often left patients docile, incontinent, and affectless. Using archival material from the 1940s to 2010 and new interviews, a program explores the history of lobotomy and its eventual decline.

Sunday 5th March 2023

Paul Whitehouse: Our Troubled Rivers (one of two) 8pm BBC2

Comedian and actor Paul Whitehouse hosts a new TV series, investigating the environmental issues facing rivers and waterways in England and Wales. The show delves into the problems caused by water companies, intensive farming, and a growing population, as well as what measures can be taken to protect these precious resources. In the first episode, Paul examines the impact of water companies on rivers in the North of England, examining changes since privatisation in 1989 and the regulations regarding sewage discharge. He meets locals in Yorkshire who are concerned about the state of the River Wharfe, a conservationist who warns of the ecological decline of Lake Windermere, and Feargal Sharkey, a leading advocate for waterway conservation.

Dispatches: Undercover Ambulance 9pm Channel 4

Over the course of the winter season, a paramedic has surreptitiously captured his daily work on film. The footage portrays him and his fellow crew members grappling to save lives in the face of mounting ambulance wait times and overcrowded A&E departments that leave patients stacked in hallways with insufficient medical attention. This documentary exposes how the NHS’s inadequate response to emergency calls is inflicting anguish, lasting damage, and potentially avoidable fatalities, as supported by additional real-life examples investigated by the programme’s producers.

We Want the Light: Jews and German Music 10.40pm BBC4

What is the complex but fruitful relationship between Jewish people and German music?

The Crying Game (1992 film) 11.10pm Film4

“The Crying Game” is a compelling and thought-provoking film that explores themes of identity, loyalty, and deception. Directed by Neil Jordan, the film was released in 1992 and quickly became a critical and commercial success.

The story centre around a British soldier named Jody, played by Forest Whitaker, who is captured by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. One of Jody’s captors, Fergus, played by Stephen Rea, begins to develop a bond with him, and promises to look after Jody’s girlfriend, Dil, played by Jaye Davidson, should anything happen to him.

However, things take a surprising turn when Jody is killed during an attempted escape, and Fergus goes to fulfil his promise to Jody by seeking out Dil. As he spends time with her, Fergus begins to develop feelings for Dil, but soon discovers a secret that will challenge everything he knows about himself and those around him.

The film is a masterclass in storytelling, as it explores complex themes with nuance and sensitivity. The performances are outstanding, particularly Jaye Davidson’s portrayal of Dil, which earned the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The chemistry between the cast is palpable, and the tension and emotion are expertly conveyed throughout the film.

The film’s soundtrack, featuring a haunting rendition of “The Crying Game” by Boy George, adds to the film’s atmosphere and emotion, and serves as a fitting accompaniment to the story.

“The Crying Game” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. Its exploration of identity, loyalty, and deception is handled with intelligence and sensitivity, and the performances and direction are outstanding. It is a film that should not be missed by any lover of cinema.

All The Money In The World (2017 film) 11.30pm C4

“All The Money In The World” is a gripping and intense drama based on the true story of the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the grandson of the wealthiest man in the world at the time, J. Paul Getty. Directed by Ridley Scott and released in 2017, the film stars Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, and Mark Wahlberg.

The film follows the harrowing ordeal of John Paul Getty III’s kidnapping, and the frantic efforts of his mother, Gail Harris (Michelle Williams), to secure his release. However, she faces an unexpected obstacle in the form of her former father-in-law, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), who refuses to pay the ransom and seems more concerned with his wealth and reputation than his own grandson’s safety.

The standout performance in the film is undoubtedly Christopher Plummer’s portrayal of J. Paul Getty. Plummer stepped in to replace Kevin Spacey, who was originally cast in the role, and delivers a powerful and nuanced performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Michelle Williams also delivers a strong performance as Gail Harris, portraying a mother’s desperation and determination to save her son.

The film’s direction by Ridley Scott is masterful, with tense and suspenseful scenes that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. The cinematography and production design are also noteworthy, transporting the viewer to the opulent world of the Getty family and the dark underworld of the kidnappers.

“All The Money In The World” is a compelling and well-crafted film that tells a riveting story of greed, power, and family. The outstanding performances, direction, and production design make it a must-see for fans of true crime dramas and anyone looking for a gripping and intense film.

Monday 6th March 2023

Parasite (2019 film) 12.35am Film4

“Parasite” is a riveting and darkly comedic thriller from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho that explores themes of class inequality and the struggle for upward mobility. Released in 2019, the film was a critical and commercial success, winning numerous awards including the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The story follows the impoverished Kim family, who scheme their way into the lives of the wealthy Park family by taking on various roles as tutors and household staff. As the Kims become more entrenched in the Park family’s world, their plan begins to unravel in unexpected and disturbing ways, leading to a shocking and unforgettable climax.

The film is a masterclass in storytelling and direction, with Bong Joon-ho expertly balancing tension, humor, and social commentary. The cinematography and production design are also stunning, with the stark contrast between the cramped and cluttered Kim family apartment and the sleek and modern Park family home underscoring the film’s themes of class divide.

The performances are outstanding, with the cast fully embodying their characters and delivering nuanced and captivating portrayals. In particular, Song Kang-ho stands out as the patriarch of the Kim family, bringing depth and humanity to a character who could easily have been reduced to a caricature.

“Parasite” is a masterpiece of filmmaking that deftly explores complex themes while keeping the audience on the edge of their seat. It is a thrilling and thought-provoking work of art that deserves all of the accolades it has received.

Tuesday 7th March 2023

Who Killed Ivan the Terrible? 9.35am repeated 3pm and 7.25pm; PBS America

Leading criminologist David Wilson reopens one of the most compelling mysteries of all time: the death of Russia’s first dictator.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Betrayed: Surviving an American Concentration Camp 10.40am repeated 4.10pm and 8.35pm PBS America

Betrayed recounts the tale of a community of Japanese Americans who were forcibly incarcerated by the U.S. government during World War II. Survivors from Minidoka, a concentration camp situated in the Idaho desert, share their poignant stories, giving voice to their experience of unjust incarceration and the erosion of civil liberties.

Little Womwn (2019 film) 6.15pm Film4

“Little Women” is a delightful and heart-warming adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Directed by Greta Gerwig, the film tells the story of the four March sisters – Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy – as they navigate the challenges of growing up in 19th-century America.

The film’s ensemble cast is outstanding, with Saoirse Ronan delivering a standout performance as the feisty and independent Jo March. Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen also shine as the other three sisters, each bringing their unique personalities and struggles to life. Timothee Chalamet rounds out the cast as Laurie, the charming neighbour and friend of the March sisters.

Gerwig’s direction is masterful, seamlessly weaving together the different timelines of the story and highlighting the strong bond between the sisters. The film also explores themes of gender roles, creativity, and the pursuit of love and independence.

The cinematography and production design are equally impressive, capturing the warmth and nostalgia of the era while also incorporating modern touches to give the film a fresh and contemporary feel.

“Little Women” is a beautiful and uplifting film that captures the spirit of the novel while also standing on its own as a cinematic masterpiece. With its exceptional cast, stunning visuals, and heartfelt storytelling, it is a must-see for anyone who loves classic literature and great cinema.

Thursday 9 March 2023

Room (2015 film) 12.10am Film 4

“Room” is a hauntingly powerful film that explores the bond between a mother and her son in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, the film is a heart-wrenching story of survival and love that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

The film revolves around Jack, a five-year-old boy who has spent his entire life confined to a small room with his mother, Ma. As Jack and Ma try to escape from their captor and adjust to the outside world, they both grapple with the trauma of their past and the challenges of their new reality.

Brie Larson delivers a stunning performance as Ma, capturing the raw emotions of a woman who has endured unspeakable horrors and the fierce love she has for her son. But it is Jacob Tremblay, who plays Jack, who steals the show with his innocent and heartbreakingly honest portrayal of a child trying to make sense of the world around him.

The film is masterfully shot, with Abrahamson utilizing tight, claustrophobic shots in the first half of the film to convey the suffocating nature of Jack and Ma’s captivity, and then switching to a more expansive and open visual style once they are free. The score by Stephen Rennicks is also exceptional, heightening the tension and emotions of the story.

“Room” is a deeply moving and thought-provoking film that explores themes of trauma, resilience, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her child. With its exceptional performances and powerful storytelling, it is a must-see for anyone who appreciates great cinema.

Friday 10 March 2023

Solaris (2002 film) 6.55pm GREAT! movies

“Solaris” is a thought-provoking and visually stunning science fiction film directed by Steven Soderbergh. Based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem, the film tells the story of a psychologist, Chris Kelvin, who is sent to a space station orbiting the planet Solaris to investigate strange occurrences.

As Kelvin delves deeper into the mystery, he finds himself confronting his own past and the memories he thought he had left behind. The film is a meditation on the nature of consciousness, grief, and the human experience, told through a mesmerizing and surreal narrative.

The cinematography by Peter Andrews is breath-taking, with stunning visuals that create a sense of otherworldly beauty and isolation. The film’s score by Cliff Martinez is equally impressive, adding to the eerie and haunting atmosphere.

The performances in “Solaris” are outstanding, particularly that of George Clooney as Kelvin. Clooney delivers a nuanced and introspective performance, capturing the complex emotions and inner turmoil of his character with subtlety and depth. Natascha McElhone also shines as Kelvin’s wife, Rheya, bringing a sense of vulnerability and emotional depth to her character.

While the film is a slow burn, it rewards the patient viewer with its thought-provoking themes and stunning visuals. It is a profound and introspective work that challenges the viewer to contemplate the nature of reality and the human experience. “Solaris” is a masterful science fiction film that deserves to be seen and appreciated by fans of the genre and cinephiles alike.

Becoming Frida Kahlo (one of three) 9pm BBC2

Frida Kahlo remains a captivating figure even 69 years after her death. Her flamboyant traditional dress, iconic monobrow and rollercoaster life, filled with passionate affairs, personal tragedy and dangerous political intrigue, have turned her into an international celebrity and feminist icon. However, art historians argue that this has overshadowed the significance of her work. Kahlo’s paintings, often self-portraits or inspired by Mexico’s nature, artifacts and popular culture, pushed boundaries with their visceral representations of passion and suffering.

And streaming

I (Patrick) have been watching You on Netflix. You is a psychological thriller television series based on Caroline Kepnes’ books. Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager in New York who becomes obsessed by women, stalks them and is not above removing rivals for their affection. It’s dark but extremely well-written and oddly philosophical. Luther: The Fallen Sun is available from 10 March also on Netflix. In the BBC series Luther, a psychological crime drama, Idris Elba stars as the brilliant but troubled detective, John Luther. The show follows Luther’s investigations into gruesome and complex cases that often blur the lines between good and evil. In Luther: The Fallen Sun, a feature film continuation of the series, Luther finds himself in prison as a result of his own actions. While he is locked up, a serial killer is on the loose in London, and Luther is haunted by his failure to catch the perpetrator. When the killer begins to taunt him, Luther makes the bold decision to break out of prison and take matters into his own hands. As he navigates the murky waters of the criminal underworld, Luther will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice, even if it means crossing the line himself. With its intense action, gripping storyline, and outstanding performances, Luther has become a fan favorite and critical darling, and Luther: The Fallen Sun promises to be no exception.


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