Culture Vulture: your guide to the week’s entertainment (15-21 April 2023)

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Highlights this week include the 1985 political thriller, Defence of the Realm, the 2019 alternative road movie, Queen & Slim and Can Psychedelics Cure from PBS America. Selections are by Pat Harrington and music is by Tim Bragg.

Saturday 15th of April 2023

Walk The Line (2005 film) GREAT!movies 6.20pm

“Walk the Line” is a biographical drama film released in 2005, directed by James Mangold, and based on the life of Johnny Cash, the legendary American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. The movie primarily focuses on Cash’s early life, his rise to fame, his relationship with June Carter, and his battle with drug addiction.

The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon as June Carter. Both actors delivered outstanding performances that earned them critical acclaim and numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Witherspoon’s portrayal of Carter.

One of the things that make “Walk the Line” an exceptional film is the fantastic soundtrack that features many of Cash’s famous songs. Phoenix’s singing voice was so convincing that it almost seemed like he was lip-syncing to the real Johnny Cash.

Another highlight of the movie is the chemistry between Phoenix and Witherspoon. The relationship between Cash and Carter is at the center of the film, and their on-screen chemistry is palpable, which makes the love story all the more engaging.

Furthermore, the movie does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the music industry in the 1950s and 60s. The film showcases Cash’s struggles with addiction and his relationships with family members and bandmates, giving the audience a glimpse into the life of a music icon.

Lyra 9.25pm C4

Lyra McKee was a Belfast investigative journalist who gave a voice to silenced communities and shed light on neglected injustices in Northern Ireland. She was shot dead at the age of 29 by Dissident Irish Republicans while observing a riot in Derry. The film “Lyra” is an intimate portrayal of her life, narrated through salvaged voice recordings and interviews. It interweaves text messages, home movie footage, and archive to capture Lyra’s personality, with contributions from her family and partner. The film reflects on contemporary Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Peace Agreement.

Sunday 16th April 2023

File on 4: Police Complaints: A Crisis of Confidence 5pm BBC RADIO 4

Can police be trusted to investigate themselves? File on 4 hears how complaints are regularly dismissed.

Defence Of The Realm (1985 film) 7pm

“Defence of the Realm” is a political thriller film released in 1985, directed by David Drury and starring Gabriel Byrne, Denholm Elliott, and Greta Scacchi. The film tells the story of a journalist who uncovers a government cover-up while investigating the mysterious death of a young woman.

The film features a solid cast, and the performances are excellent, particularly Gabriel Byrne’s portrayal of the troubled journalist. The plot is gripping and keeps the audience engaged throughout the film.

“Defence of the Realm” is an intriguing exploration of the relationship between the media and the government, and how those in power can manipulate the truth to their advantage. The film’s theme is still relevant today, making it an essential watch for anyone interested in politics and the media.

Queen & Slim (2019 film) 11.30pm BBC1

“Queen & Slim” is a romantic drama film released in 2019, directed by Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe. The film stars Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya as the titular characters, who go on the run after a traffic stop gone wrong.

The film’s standout feature is the incredible performances by Turner-Smith and Kaluuya. They both bring depth and emotion to their roles, making the audience invested in their journey and relationship.

The cinematography and visuals are also stunning, with the film showcasing the beauty and complexity of Black culture in America. The soundtrack is also exceptional, featuring a mix of contemporary and classic tracks that complement the film’s themes and tone.

“Queen & Slim” is a timely and powerful film that confronts issues of police brutality, systemic racism, and the struggles faced by Black people in America. It is a moving and thought-provoking film that offers a fresh and unique take on the road movie genre.

Monday 17th April 2023

Who Killed Ivan The Terrible 7.40pm PBS America

The 16th-century Russian ruler leaves behind a blood-soaked legacy and one of history’s greatest murder mysteries.

Tuesday 18th April 2023

Can Psychedelics Cure 6.30pm PBS America

Hallucinogenic drugs—popularly called psychedelics—have been used by human societies for thousands of years. Today, scientists are taking a second look at many of these mind-altering substances – both natural and synthetic – and discovering that they can have profoundly positive clinical impacts, helping patients struggling with a range of afflictions from addiction to depression and PTSD.

Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Hunter S Thompson 9pm Sky Arts

Step inside the mind-bending world of gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson in this stylish doc. Follow him through the most creative period of his life.

Wednesday 19th April 2023

The Trials of Heather Mills 9pm Channel 5

Documentary charting the life and career of Heather Mills, the model and charity campaigner who became a figure of hate after her very public divorce from Paul McCartney. The programme follows Heather from her tough childhood and suffering a life-changing injury, to the global fame of marrying Paul McCartney and vindication at the Leveson phone hacking inquiry. The tabloids continuously picked her apart, but did she deserve it?

The Assistant (2019 film) 1.25am Film4

“The Assistant” is a drama film released in 2019, written and directed by Kitty Green. The film stars Julia Garner as a young assistant to a powerful film executive who becomes increasingly aware of the systemic abuse and harassment that takes place within the industry.

The film is a slow-burning character study that offers a sobering look at the toxic work culture in the entertainment industry. Julia Garner delivers a remarkable performance as the titular assistant, conveying her character’s frustration, anxiety, and moral dilemmas with subtlety and nuance.

The film’s minimalist approach to storytelling and its focus on the mundane tasks and routines of the assistant’s job offer a sobering contrast to the glamorized image of the industry. The film’s exploration of the insidious nature of workplace harassment and abuse is timely and important, and it raises essential questions about accountability and power dynamics in the workplace.

Overall, “The Assistant” is a thought-provoking and quietly devastating film that shines a light on the pervasive culture of abuse and exploitation in the entertainment industry. It is a must-see for anyone interested in exploring the issues of workplace harassment and power dynamics in the modern workplace.

Thursday 20th April 2023

Woke: The Journey of a Word (part 4 of 10): The Women’s March 9:45BBC RADIO 4 FM

Matthew Syed traces the origins and evolution of the word ‘woke’, a term that’s become synonymous with our era of angry debate.

In this episode, Matthew looks into how the the adoption of ‘woke’ at the 2017 Women’s March aided the term’s movement away from black communities and into the mainstream.

Friday 21 April 2023

Unreported World: Your Phone’s Dirty Gold 7.30pm C4

Guillermo Galdos investigates how illegal Amazonian gold could be in your smart phone, as he follows Brazilian police cracking down on mining in protected Indigenous regions.

A Most Violent Year (2014 film) 12.55am GREAT!movies

A Most Violent Year, directed by J.C. Chandor and released in 2014, is a tense and compelling crime drama set in New York City in 1981. The film follows the story of Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac), an ambitious businessman who runs a heating oil company and is trying to expand his operations while also dealing with threats from his competitors and investigations from the district attorney’s office.

Isaac delivers a powerful and nuanced performance as Morales, who is determined to maintain his integrity and build a legitimate business despite the violent and corrupt environment in which he operates. Jessica Chastain also gives a standout performance as Morales’ wife, Anna, whose family connections to organized crime bring an added layer of tension to the story.

The film is visually striking, with a muted colour palette that emphasizes the bleak and dangerous atmosphere of New York City in the early 1980s. Chandor’s direction is restrained yet effective, allowing the tension to build gradually throughout the film.


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