Culture Vulture: your guide to the week’s entertainment (13th to the 19th of May 2023)

Welcome to Culture Vulture, your guide to the week’s entertainment from and alternative perspective. Highlights this week include a BBC Radio 4 programme on the artists Gilbert & George, 2021 film, The Mauritanian and the 2016 film, Moonlight. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Saturday 13th of May 2023

This Cultural Life: Gilbert & George 7.15pm BBC RADIO 4

The artist duo Gilbert & George discuss their formative influences and career with John Wilson.

Who Do You Think I Am (2019 film) 2.05pm BBC2

“Who Do You Think I Am” is a 2019 French film directed by Safy Nebbou, starring Juliette Binoche, Nicole Garcia, and François Civil. The film tells the story of Claire Millaud, a middle-aged professor who, after being left by her younger lover, creates a fake Facebook profile to spy on him.

Binoche delivers a remarkable performance as Claire, conveying both vulnerability and strength as her character navigates the challenges of middle age and the complexities of love and desire. The film raises questions about identity, gender, and power dynamics in relationships, and offers a nuanced exploration of the ways in which technology shapes our lives and relationships.

The supporting cast, including Garcia and Civil, deliver solid performances, but the film is undeniably anchored by Binoche’s commanding presence. Nebbou’s direction is effective, with the film’s slow-burning tension building to a satisfying conclusion

Sunday 14th of May 2023

Tea With Mussolini (1999 film) 1.15pm BBC2

“Tea With Mussolini” is a 1999 film directed by Franco Zeffirelli, starring an ensemble cast that includes Cher, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Lily Tomlin. The film tells the story of a group of English and American women living in Florence, Italy on the eve of World War II, and their experiences as they navigate their lives in the face of social and political changes.

Cher plays the role of Elsa Morganthal Strauss-Armistan, a wealthy American widow who is initially portrayed as a vulgar and materialistic outsider. However, as the film progresses, Cher’s character undergoes a transformation, revealing a more complex and sympathetic side.

The film is beautifully shot, with stunning locations and a sumptuous attention to detail that captures the elegance and beauty of Florence in the 1930s. The ensemble cast is strong, with Dench, Smith, and Tomlin delivering memorable performances.

“Tea With Mussolini” is ultimately a poignant and timely reminder of the importance of solidarity and compassion in the face of societal changes. While Cher’s character may initially come across as a stereotypical “vulgar American,” her arc is ultimately a testament to the transformative power of empathy and understanding.

The Mauritanian (2021 film) 10pm BBC2

The Mauritanian is a powerful film that shines a light on the inhumane treatment of prisoners by the US government. Based on a true story, the film follows Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian man who was detained in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years without ever being charged with a crime. The film depicts the brutal torture tactics used by the US government in the name of national security, and the devastating impact it had on Slahi’s life and mental health.

The film highlights the importance of due process and the immorality of treating prisoners in such a manner. It’s a sobering reminder of the dark side of the war on terror and the human cost of such policies. The Mauritanian is a film that challenges us to question the actions of our governments and demand accountability for the mistreatment of individuals, regardless of their perceived guilt. It’s a difficult but necessary watch, and a reminder that we must never lose sight of our humanity, even in the face of the most heinous acts.

Tolkien (2019 film) 1am C4

“Tolkien” is a 2019 biographical drama film directed by Dome Karukoski, starring Nicholas Hoult as J.R.R. Tolkien, the beloved author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” The film explores Tolkien’s formative years, including his time as a student at Oxford University, his friendship with a group of fellow writers and artists, and his experiences serving in World War I.

The film places a strong emphasis on the impact of Tolkien’s wartime experiences on his work and life. Through a series of flashbacks, we see Tolkien serving on the Western Front, struggling with the horrors of war, and ultimately falling ill and being sent home. These experiences are woven throughout the film, informing Tolkien’s writing and shaping his worldview.

Hoult delivers a strong performance as Tolkien, capturing both his youthful exuberance and his inner turmoil. The film’s supporting cast, which includes Lily Collins as Tolkien’s wife Edith and Colm Meaney as his guardian Father Francis, are also excellent.

While the film takes some liberties with the historical record, “Tolkien” is a poignant and thought-provoking tribute to a literary giant. By highlighting the profound impact of Tolkien’s wartime experiences on his work and life, the film offers a fresh perspective on one of the most beloved and enduring literary figures of the 20th century.

Monday 15th May 2023

A War On Trial (one of two) 8.35pm PBS America

30 years after the Yugoslav Wars broke out, and the Siege of Sarajevo, we trace its story and impact, with full access to insiders and the tribunal’s archive. Did the ICTY succeed? Can it be a model for bringing justice to the victims of other wars?

The Stones and Brian Jones 9pm BBC2

At just 14 years old, Nick Broomfield met Brian Jones by chance on a train. Six years later, the Rolling Stones founder would be dead. The Stones and Brian Jones examines the band’s formative years, exploring the 60s era of rebellion, sexual turmoil, and intergenerational conflict that still resonates today. With revealing interviews and unseen archive footage, director Nick Broomfield uncovers the musical genius of Jones and how he was left behind in the shadows of history. The documentary sheds fresh light on a remarkable musician and his tumultuous times, making it a must-watch for music fans

Colette (2018 film) 11.15pm BBC2

Let me tell you about “Colette,” the 2018 biographical drama film directed by Wash Westmoreland and starring Keira Knightley. Get ready to be swept away by this charming and empowering story of a young woman’s journey to becoming a literary icon.

Set in late 19th century Paris, the film follows the life of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a young woman who marries a famous Parisian writer and is thrust into the world of high society. But Colette is no ordinary lady, and she refuses to be confined by the rigid gender roles of her time. With the encouragement of her husband, Colette begins writing novels under his name, and soon becomes a literary sensation in her own right.

Knightley delivers a fantastic performance as Colette, bringing her wit and intelligence to life in every scene. The film’s supporting cast is equally impressive, with Dominic West as Colette’s husband Willy and Fiona Shaw as her mother.

With gorgeous costumes and stunning cinematography, “Colette” is a feast for the eyes. But what really makes this film shine is its celebration of female empowerment and creative expression. Colette’s journey from a meek housewife to a bold and successful author is an inspiration to us all, and the film does a fantastic job of capturing her spirit and energy.

So grab some popcorn and settle in for a fun and feminist ride with “Colette.” It’s a must-see for anyone who loves a good period drama with a twist of rebellion.

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

File on 4: Affirmative Action on Trial 8pm BBC RADIO 4

US affirmative action policies are under scrutiny once again. Are they a helping hand or an unfair handout?

A War On Trial (one of two) 8.35pm PBS America

Conclusion of the examination of the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Moonlight (2016 film) 11.15pm BBC2

Bary Jenkins’ Moonlight is a beautifully crafted and emotionally resonant film that tells the story of a man, Chiron, at three different stages in his life. The film is a masterpiece in its portrayal of a complex and nuanced African-American experience that avoids falling into clichés or stereotypes.

Chiron is struggling to understand his sexuality at all three points in his life, and the film does a great job of exploring the many layers of this issue. He is also dealing with the tough reality of growing up in a Miami project with a drug-addicted and prostitute mother. But the film is not just about his struggles; it’s also about his journey towards self-discovery and acceptance.

The characters in Moonlight are all multifaceted, with even the drug pusher Juan being a sympathetic and complex character. The film deals with issues of drugs and power, and how they affect people’s lives. It also explores the importance of not letting others label you or impose an identity on you, as Chiron tries to reject his dismissive nickname ‘Little’.

Despite its heavy themes, Moonlight is ultimately a positive film that shows the power of empathy and love. It’s beautifully filmed and has a dreamlike quality that adds to its emotional impact. The story is universal, and it’s about how we develop our identity as humans, and more specifically, as men.

Moonlight is a socially conscious film that should be watched by a wide audience. It’s a testament to the creators of the film that it can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of their background or experiences. It’s a film that opens our hearts and minds, and gives us a glimpse into the reality of others. It’s a film that deserves to be watched, and even rewatched, for its depth and beauty.

Wednesday 17th May 2023

Matt Willis: Fighting Addiction 9pm BBC1

Matt Willis, a successful musician and actor, opens up about his battle with addiction in a documentary that explores the roots of his addiction and his daily struggle to stay sober. The film follows his personal journey as he speaks with other addicts, revisits his childhood home, and visits rehab units and research teams studying addiction. It also highlights the support he receives from his bandmates, friends, and family, including his wife Emma. As he prepares for his reunion tour with Busted, Matt faces the challenge of remaining clean and sober. Through his exploration of addiction, he hopes to help others find peace in their daily struggle with addiction.

Thursday 18th May 2023

Mussolini: The First Fascist (one of two) 8.30pm PBS America

The Word and the Cosh. This film explores the mechanisms of Fascist power, the cult of violence and state political repression, as they lead Italy towards disaster.

Friday 19th May 2023

Mussolini: The First Fascist (two of two) 8.30pm PBS America

Downfall of a Dictator. This film explores the mechanisms of Fascist power, the cult of violence and state political repression, as they lead Italy towards disaster.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami 11pm BBC4

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami is an electrifying documentary that follows the iconic singer and performer as she embarks on a world tour and reflects on her life and career. Directed by Sophie Fiennes, the film combines concert footage with intimate behind-the-scenes glimpses, showcasing Jones’ unique style and persona both on and off stage. The documentary is a fascinating exploration of an artist who has always defied expectations and pushed boundaries, and it’s a must-watch for fans of Jones and anyone interested in the intersection of music and art.


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