Culture Vulture your guide to the week’s entertainment (22nd-28th of April 2023)

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Highlights this week include: The Alehouse Sessions on BBC4, 2019 film, The Whistlers on Film4, and Unreported World: Inside Little North Korea on Channel 4. Selections this week are by Henry Falconer and Pat Harrington. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Saturday 22 April 2023

American Psycho (2000 film) 11.40pm Film4

American Psycho (2000) is a psychological thriller directed by Mary Harron, based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. The film follows the life of Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker in New York City during the late 1980s. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Bateman is not only obsessed with his physical appearance but also with material possessions and status symbols. He is portrayed as a product of the materialistic society he lives in, where success is measured by what you own, how you look and where you go.

The film is a critique of the shallow and empty values of consumerist culture that was prevalent in the 80s. It is a commentary on how the desire for material possessions can consume an individual, leaving them devoid of any real emotions or empathy. Bateman’s obsession with materialism is not just limited to his own possessions but also extends to the people around him, who he views as mere objects to be used and discarded as he sees fit. This is highlighted in the famous scene where he brutally murders a homeless man, treating him as nothing more than an inconvenience.

Throughout the film, we see how Bateman’s fixation with materialism and his inability to connect with others leads to his descent into madness. The scenes where he obsesses over his designer wardrobe or gives detailed descriptions of his morning grooming routine serve to underline the emptiness and superficiality of his existence.

American Psycho is a chilling and thought-provoking film that explores the dark side of materialism and the dangers of being consumed by the desire for possessions and status. It is a stark reminder that there is more to life than what we own, and that true happiness and fulfilment come from connections with others and a sense of purpose beyond mere accumulation of wealth and material possessions.

Sunday 23 April 2023

The Reunion: Abu Ghraib 11:15an BBC RADIO 4

In April 2004 it emerged that US military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, were using so called “enhanced interrogation techniques” on prisoners. A series of lurid photographs appeared featuring detainees on leashes, manacled, piled on top of each other, hooded and wired to electrodes.

The actions were condemned as human rights violations and war crimes against detainees, including physical abuse, sexual humiliation, physical and psychological torture and rape.

President George W Bush, and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld apologised for the actions of American military at the prison, and a total of eleven soldiers were court-martialled and dishonourably discharged from service.

In this episode, Kirsty is joined by:
Sam Provance, the former U.S. Army military intelligence sergeant who blew the whistle on Abu Ghraib.
Former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was in command of the prison at the time.
Haj Ali Abbas who was hooded and electrocuted, and is believed to be the famous “hooded figure” in the images that emerged.
Lawyer Kate Gallagher, who represents several other former detainees.

The Reinvention of Germany 5pm BBC RADIO 4

Anne McElvoy goes on the road talking to Germans from all walks of life about the deep identity crisis engulfing their country.

The Alehouse Sessions 9pm BBC4

A joyful celebration of 17th-century folk music, fiddle tunes, drinking songs and sea shanties, brought vividly to life by virtuoso musicians Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene.

Kes (1969 film) 11.45pm Talking Pictures

Kes is a 1969 British drama film directed by Ken Loach and based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. The film follows the story of Billy Casper, a young boy from a working-class family in Northern England, who forms a bond with a wild kestrel he trains and cares for.

At its core, Kes is a poignant exploration of the class divide and the struggles of working-class life in Britain during the 1960s. It portrays the bleak reality of life in a northern industrial town, where opportunities for escape or advancement are few and far between. Through the eyes of Billy, we see how poverty, neglect, and lack of guidance can have a profound impact on a young person’s life, shaping their future and limiting their potential.

The relationship between Billy and his kestrel, which he names Kes, serves as a symbol of hope and freedom. It is a stark contrast to the constraints and pressures of his everyday life. As he trains Kes, Billy gains a sense of purpose and self-worth, and for a brief moment, he is able to escape the harsh reality of his surroundings.

The film is a masterpiece of British cinema, with stunning cinematography that captures the beauty and brutality of the landscape and a powerful performance by David Bradley as Billy. It is a moving and thought-provoking film that speaks to the universal human experience of longing for connection, purpose, and freedom. Even after more than five decades since its release, Kes remains a timeless and relevant film that continues to captivate audiences

Thinking Allowed: Poverty 12:15 (quarter past midnight) BBC RADIO 4

Laurie Taylor explores the causes and consequences of poverty in the UK and US. What are the solutions?

Monday 24 April 2023

Book of the Week; The Earth Transformed by Peter Frankopan 9.45am BBC Radio 4 (one of five)

Hugh Bonneville reads Peter Frankopan’s epic and acclaimed history on how the changing climate has shaped the rise and fall of civilisations.

This will also be broadcast Tuesday-Friday inclusive.

The Whistlers (2019 film) 1.15pm Film4

The Whistlers is a 2019 Romanian crime thriller directed by Corneliu Porumboiu. The film follows the story of a corrupt Bucharest police officer named Cristi who is hired by a group of criminals to help them break a notorious criminal out of prison. In order to communicate with his partners without being detected, Cristi must learn a secret whistling language used by the criminals on the island of La Gomera.

At its core, The Whistlers is a stylish and inventive thriller that blends elements of film noir, dark comedy, and suspense. The film’s unique premise, which revolves around a secret language used by criminals, adds a layer of intrigue and mystery to the story, keeping the viewer engaged throughout. The characters, particularly Cristi, are well-developed and multi-dimensional, with hidden motivations and allegiances that are gradually revealed as the plot unfolds.

The film is also notable for its stunning visuals, with beautiful shots of the rugged landscape of La Gomera, as well as its inventive use of sound design, with the whistling language serving as both a plot device and a musical element. The pacing is deliberate, with a slow burn that builds to a satisfying conclusion, and the film’s themes of betrayal, loyalty, and corruption are explored with nuance and depth.

The Whistlers is a smart and entertaining thriller that showcases the talent of Romanian cinema. It is a testament to the power of storytelling and the ways in which language and communication can shape our perceptions of the world around us.

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time 9pm Sky Arts

Portrait of the remarkable life of the author Kurt Vonnegut, who penned Slaughterhouse-Five. Directed by his close friend Robert B Weide.

Locke (2013 film) 11.05pm Film4

Locke is a 2013 British drama film written and directed by Steven Knight. The film follows the story of Ivan Locke, a successful construction manager who receives a phone call that changes the course of his life. Over the course of a single night, Ivan drives from Birmingham to London, navigating a series of personal and professional crises while trying to maintain his composure and make amends for his past mistakes.

At its core, Locke is a minimalist and introspective film that explores the themes of responsibility, accountability, and redemption. The entire film takes place inside Ivan’s car as he drives, with the focus on his conversations over the phone with his family, colleagues, and a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. The dialogue is sharp and poignant, with each conversation revealing more about Ivan’s character and the decisions that led him to this moment.

The film’s strength lies in its powerful central performance by Tom Hardy, who carries the weight of the film on his shoulders with remarkable skill and nuance. Hardy’s portrayal of Ivan is complex and layered, with a sense of quiet desperation and vulnerability that makes the character relatable and sympathetic.

The film’s direction is also notable, with Knight using inventive camera angles and lighting to create a sense of claustrophobia and tension, despite the minimalist setting.

Overall, Locke is a masterful piece of filmmaking that showcases the power of simplicity and restraint. It is a meditation on the human condition, and a reminder that even the smallest actions can have profound consequences.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

The Mysterious Mr Lagerfield BBC2 9pm

With unique access to Karl Lagerfeld’s inner circle – many having never spoken publicly before – and his beloved cat, this film opens up the extraordinary world of the man known as Kaiser Karl.

Thursday 27 April 2023

Crossing Continents Laos: the most bombed country on earth 11am BBC RADIO 4

It’s been 50 years since the last American bombs dropped on Laos. But they’re still killing and maiming, as Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent discovers.

Sweat (2020 film) 1.50am Film4Sweat is a 2020 Polish drama film directed by Magnus von Horn. The film follows the story of Sylwia, a popular fitness influencer who has gained a massive following on social media. As Sylwia prepares for her big comeback after a hiatus, she finds herself struggling to maintain the façade of perfection and deal with the pressures of modern celebrity culture.

At its core, Sweat is a powerful critique of the vacuous nature of modern celebrity culture, and the toll it takes on the individuals who are caught up in it. The film explores the themes of identity, authenticity, and self-worth, as Sylwia grapples with the pressure to constantly perform and maintain a certain image for her followers.

The film’s direction is notable, with von Horn using a combination of handheld and static shots to capture the sense of detachment and alienation that Sylwia feels from her own life. The cinematography is striking, with vibrant colors and sleek, modern visuals that contrast with the film’s underlying themes of emptiness and superficiality.

The acting is also impressive, with Magdalena Kolesnik delivering a nuanced and compelling performance as Sylwia. She captures the character’s conflicting emotions and internal struggles with authenticity and grace, making her a relatable and sympathetic protagonist.

Sweat is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant film that speaks to the complexities of modern life in the digital age. It is a powerful reminder of the pitfalls of fame and the importance of staying true to oneself, even in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform.

Evicted (one of four) BBC3 9pm

Priced out, pushed out – the young renters fighting for their rights and facing homelessness. Dealing with impossible decisions, what can they do, and where do they end up?

Friday 28 April 2023

Unreported World: Inside Little North Korea 7.30pm Channel 4

Reporting on the challenges facing a community of North Koreans in Japan. As international tensions rise their way of life is under threat.

And finally, if you are a Royal soap opera junkie you are spoilt for choice this weekend in the run-up to the Coronation of Charles Windsor. On Saturday on Channel 4 at 7.15pm you can see Charles: Our New King, you could record Countdown to the Coronation: Inside Westminster Abbey at 6.20pm on Channel 5 and Secrets of the Queen’s Coronation on More4 at 9.20pm and then finish with William and Harry: An Uneasy Truce at 9.20pm on the same channel. For a more insightful view you could try Panorama’s, Will King Charles Change The Monarchy?, on Monday, BBC1 at 8pm.


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