Culture Vulture: your guide to the week’s entertainment (20th to 26th May 2023)

Welcome to Culture Vulture, your guide to the week’s entertainment from an alternative viewpoint. Highlights this week include: Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland, Inside Kabul and Do The Right Thing. Music is by Tim Bragg.

Saturday 20th of May 2023

Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017 film) 9.55am BBC2

Newsies: The Broadway Musical, Filmed live on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood and adapted into a film in 2017, is an absolute triumph that brings the vibrant energy and infectious spirit of the stage production right into our homes. Directed by Jeff Calhoun, this cinematic rendition captures the essence of the iconic Tony Award-winning musical and delivers a mesmerizing experience that will leave audiences exhilarated and inspired.

The film tells the story of the newsboy strike in New York City in 1899, when a group of young newspaper sellers takes a stand against the powerful publishing titans. The plot, based on real-life events, is both historically significant and profoundly moving, highlighting themes of unity, resilience, and the power of the human spirit.

One of the greatest strengths of Newsies: The Broadway Musical lies in its incredibly talented cast. Jeremy Jordan shines in the leading role of Jack Kelly, capturing his charisma, determination, and vulnerability with precision. His powerhouse vocals and magnetic stage presence anchor the film, making it difficult to take your eyes off him. The chemistry between the entire ensemble is palpable, creating a genuine camaraderie that brings the story to life.

The film’s choreography, originally created by Christopher Gattelli for the stage production, is nothing short of breathtaking. The dance numbers are executed flawlessly, seamlessly blending athleticism and grace. From the exhilarating “Seize the Day” to the emotionally charged “Santa Fe,” every dance sequence is a feast for the eyes, displaying the incredible talent and dedication of the performers.

Alan Menken’s music and Jack Feldman’s lyrics are a match made in musical theater heaven. The score is filled with memorable songs that range from rousing anthems to poignant ballads. Classics like “Carrying the Banner,” “The World Will Know,” and “King of New York” are brought to life with passion and gusto, leaving viewers humming the tunes long after the film ends.

The production design is another standout element of the film. The sets authentically capture the gritty streets of turn-of-the-century New York City, while the costumes evoke the period’s style and social hierarchy. The attention to detail creates a visually immersive experience, transporting the audience back in time.

While Newsies: The Broadway Musical is an adrenaline-fueled spectacle, it also manages to touch on deeper issues. It explores the plight of child laborers, the importance of workers’ rights, and the indomitable spirit of those who refuse to be silenced. These themes, combined with the stellar performances and production values, make for a film that is not only entertaining but also thought-provoking.

If there is any drawback to the film, it is that some of the intimacy and immediacy of the live stage production may be lost in the transition to the screen. However, the filmmakers compensate for this by utilizing close-ups and dynamic camerawork that provide a more intimate connection to the characters.

Newsies: The Broadway Musical is an electrifying and uplifting film that captures the magic of live theater. It is a celebration of passion, perseverance, and the strength of community.

Poster attribution: Original Broadway artwork by, Fair use,

Dune (1984 film) 11pm Film4

David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi masterpiece, Dune, remains a visually ambitious film that showcases the director’s unique style. However, it falls short of capturing the intricate depth and grandeur of Herbert’s novel. While the recently released 2022 film, which we are big fans of, took a more measured approach, this earlier adaptation attempts to cram the entire epic story into a single movie, resulting in a somewhat convoluted and rushed narrative.

One of the film’s undeniable strengths lies in its stunning visual design. The desert planet of Arrakis, with its vast dunes and exotic landscapes, is brought to life with meticulous attention to detail. The production team’s efforts in creating the futuristic world of Dune are commendable, from the ornate costumes to the intricately designed sets. The film’s artistry is a testament to Lynch’s creative vision and his ability to transport viewers to a unique and visually striking universe.

The cast of Dune is good, with notable performances from Kyle MacLachlan as the protagonist Paul Atreides, and supporting actors such as Francesca Annis, Max von Sydow, and Patrick Stewart. Each actor brings their own charisma to their respective roles, but due to the film’s condensed narrative, character development is sacrificed, and many intriguing aspects of the book are left unexplored.

The biggest hurdle faced by the 1984 adaptation is its attempt to encompass the vastness of Herbert’s complex work within a single film. As a result, the plot feels rushed, and important storylines and character arcs are not given the time they deserve. The intricacies of Herbert’s richly imagined world and its political dynamics are glossed over, leaving some viewers confused or disconnected from the story. The film’s pacing suffers from the overwhelming amount of material it tries to cover.

In comparison, the 2022 adaptation of Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve, wisely decided to split Herbert’s saga into multiple films. This approach allows for a more in-depth exploration of the story, its characters, and the grand themes that make Dune such a beloved and enduring work. Villeneuve’s film is a testament to the power of patience and storytelling precision, allowing the narrative to unfold organically and creating a stronger connection with the audience.

While the 1984 film’s ambition and Lynch’s distinctive style make it an intriguing watch for fans of the novel or Lynch’s body of work, it falls short of doing justice to Herbert’s intricate world-building. Its attempt to cram the entirety of Dune into a single film results in a disjointed and overwhelming experience, lacking the narrative cohesiveness that would truly immerse audiences in the epic tale.

Picture attribution: The poster art can or could be obtained from Universal Pictures., Fair use,

By The Grace of God (2018 film) 1.05am BBC2

By the Grace of God, directed by François Ozon, is a powerful and thought-provoking film that delves into the disturbing true story of a sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. With its sensitive handling of a deeply troubling subject matter, the film serves as a poignant reminder of the courage and resilience of survivors, while shedding light on the systemic issues that allowed such abuse to persist.

The film follows the lives of three men, Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud), François (Denis Ménochet), and Emmanuel (Swann Arlaud), who were victims of a priest’s abuse when they were children. Years later, they find each other and decide to come forward, seeking justice and hoping to prevent further harm to others. By the Grace of God meticulously chronicles their journey as they confront their painful past and confront the powerful institution that betrayed them.

One of the film’s greatest strengths is its authentic portrayal of the emotional turmoil and psychological impact experienced by survivors of abuse. The performances by the lead actors are outstanding, capturing the vulnerability, anger, and determination of their characters with incredible depth. Melvil Poupaud, in particular, delivers a standout performance, conveying the internal struggle of Alexandre as he grapples with the weight of his past and fights for justice.

François Ozon’s direction is restrained yet powerful, allowing the story to unfold organically without resorting to unnecessary sensationalism. The film’s pacing is steady, providing ample time for reflection and allowing the audience to fully absorb the gravity of the situation. Ozon successfully balances the personal stories of the survivors with the larger societal and institutional implications, creating a multifaceted narrative that resonates on multiple levels.

By the Grace of God also serves as a scathing critique of the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse allegations. It exposes the layers of secrecy and manipulation within the institution and raises important questions about accountability and the protection of the most vulnerable members of society. The film does not shy away from confronting the uncomfortable truths surrounding the issue, shedding light on the complex dynamics at play and demanding a call for change.

While the subject matter of By the Grace of God is undeniably heavy, the film is a necessary and courageous exploration of an issue that demands attention and action. It stands as a testament to the power of cinema in shining a light on societal injustices and providing a platform for survivors to share their stories. By the Grace of God is a moving and impactful film that will leave a lasting impression on those who watch it.

By the Grace of God is a compelling and emotionally charged film that tackles the sensitive subject of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church with nuance and authenticity. The remarkable performances, skillful direction, and unflinching examination of the systemic issues make it a must-watch for those seeking thought-provoking cinema that addresses significant social concerns.

Picture attribution:, Fair use,

Sunday 21st of May 2023

Imagine… Tracey Emin: Where Do You Draw the Line? 10.55pm BBC4

Artist Tracey Emin talks to Alan Yentob about her life, from her troubled early years in Margate to a series of breakthroughs in the 1990s.

Picture attribution: Piers Allardyce, CC BY 2.0,

The Art of Political Murder 3.10am Sky Documentaries

“The Art of Political Murder,” executive produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged documentary that meticulously traces the tragic murder of Bishop Gerardi, a fearless human rights activist who fell victim to the perils of political violence.

This gripping film skillfully unravels the layers of corruption and power dynamics surrounding Bishop Gerardi’s assassination, providing a harrowing glimpse into the dark underbelly of a society plagued by injustice. Through a combination of compelling interviews, archival footage, and expert analysis, the documentary sheds light on the complexities of the case and the relentless pursuit of truth and justice.

One of the film’s strengths lies in its ability to portray the profound impact of Bishop Gerardi’s work and his unwavering commitment to social justice. The personal testimonies and intimate insights from those who knew him offer a glimpse into the indomitable spirit of a man who fearlessly fought for the voiceless, making his untimely death all the more tragic.

The narrative unfolds with great intensity, capturing the audience’s attention from the beginning and holding it throughout. The filmmakers’ meticulous attention to detail and their dedication to presenting a comprehensive account of the events surrounding Bishop Gerardi’s murder are evident in every frame.

“The Art of Political Murder” not only exposes the heinous crime committed against Bishop Gerardi but also delves into the subsequent investigation, revealing the profound obstacles faced in the pursuit of justice. It lays bare the systemic attempts to silence those seeking truth and underscores the importance of shedding light on human rights abuses.

The involvement of George Clooney and Grant Heslov as executive producers adds weight and credibility to the documentary, highlighting their commitment to using their platform to amplify important stories that demand attention.

“The Art of Political Murder” is a compelling and emotionally charged documentary that uncovers the dark realities of political violence. It serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggles for justice and the courageous individuals who risk their lives to expose the truth. This film is a must-watch for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding human rights activism and the relentless pursuit of justice in the face of adversity.

Picture attribution: By Studio and or Graphic Artist – [1], Fair use,

Monday 22nd of May 2023

Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland (one of five) 9pm BBC2

A time of relative peace in Northern Ireland escalates to full-blown conflict. When tensions between Protestants and Catholics explode, the British Army is deployed.

Do The Right Thing (1989 film) 11.15pm BBC2

Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, released in 1989, remains an unflinching and timeless masterpiece that boldly confronts issues of social injustice and racial tension. With its raw storytelling, powerful performances, and thought-provoking themes, the film serves as a rallying cry for social change and an urgent call to address the systemic injustices that plague our society.

Set on the hottest day of the summer in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Do the Right Thing paints a vivid portrait of a community on the brink. The film follows a diverse cast of characters, each with their own hopes, frustrations, and struggles, as racial tensions escalate throughout the day. Spike Lee’s masterful direction captures the intensity and simmering anger that permeates the streets, creating an atmosphere that feels both authentic and palpable.

At the heart of Do the Right Thing is its unwavering exploration of social justice themes. Spike Lee fearlessly examines the deep-rooted racial prejudices and systemic inequalities that continue to divide communities. Through powerful dialogue and nuanced character interactions, the film exposes the complexities of racial dynamics and challenges viewers to confront their own biases and preconceptions.

The performances in Do the Right Thing are nothing short of exceptional. Spike Lee delivers a standout portrayal of Mookie, the film’s central character caught between conflicting loyalties and moral dilemmas. The ensemble cast, including Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, and John Turturro, among others, brings their characters to life with authenticity and depth. Their performances skillfully navigate the complexities of race and identity, highlighting the often-painful realities faced by marginalized communities.

One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in its ability to provoke and engage audiences on an emotional level. Spike Lee’s screenplay is a masterclass in blending humor and tragedy, creating moments of levity that punctuate the film’s more intense and devastating scenes. The climactic sequence is a testament to Lee’s directorial prowess, skillfully capturing the escalating tensions and the explosive release of frustration, leaving viewers with a lasting impact.

Do the Right Thing’s visual style is vibrant and visually arresting, complementing the film’s narrative and themes. Ernest Dickerson’s cinematography captures the vibrant colors and cultural richness of the neighborhood, emphasizing the diversity and complexity of the community. The film’s iconic use of music, including Public Enemy’s powerful anthem “Fight the Power,” further enhances its message, amplifying the urgency and power of the social justice themes it explores.

Decades after its release, Do the Right Thing remains as relevant as ever. It serves as a stark reminder that the fight for social justice is ongoing and demands our attention and action. Spike Lee’s uncompromising vision and unapologetic approach make it a seminal work of cinema that challenges viewers to question societal norms, confront their own biases, and actively strive for a more equitable world.

Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

Inside Kabul 10pm BBC4

A Storyville documentary. Animated film based on the voice notes that two young Afghani women, Raha and Marwa, exchanged in the months that followed the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.

Vice (2018 film) 11.15pm BBC2

Adam McKay’s Vice is a scathing and unapologetic examination of the life and career of former Vice President Dick Cheney, portraying him as a toxic warmonger driven by a thirst for power. With its sharp writing, stellar performances, and compelling storytelling, the film sheds light on Cheney’s political machinations and highlights key moments that underscore his role as a catalyst for disastrous policies and global turmoil.

Christian Bale delivers a transformative performance as Dick Cheney, capturing his calculated demeanor and Machiavellian nature with eerie precision. Through Bale’s portrayal, Cheney is portrayed as a man driven by a relentless pursuit of power, often at the expense of human lives and global stability. Bale’s nuanced performance lays bare the complexities of Cheney’s character, leaving audiences both mesmerized and repulsed by his actions.

Vice skillfully explores Cheney’s rise to power, focusing on key moments such as his tenure as Secretary of Defense under President George H.W. Bush and his influential role as Vice President during the George W. Bush administration. The film highlights Cheney’s instrumental role in shaping the post-9/11 policies, particularly the controversial decision to invade Iraq under false pretenses.

The screenplay by Adam McKay does not shy away from criticizing Cheney’s policies and their disastrous consequences. The film presents a damning critique of the Bush-Cheney administration’s handling of the Iraq War, exposing the manipulation and deception employed to justify military action. Vice confronts the viewer with the devastating human toll of war, emphasizing the catastrophic consequences of Cheney’s warmongering.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with Amy Adams delivering a compelling performance as Lynne Cheney, Dick Cheney’s ambitious and politically astute wife. Sam Rockwell portrays President George W. Bush with a mix of charm and naivety, highlighting the dynamics between the two men and Cheney’s influential role in shaping the administration’s policies.

Visually, Vice employs innovative techniques to enhance its storytelling. The film incorporates elements such as documentary-style footage, fourth-wall breaking moments, and rapid-fire editing, creating a sense of urgency and adding layers of complexity to the narrative. McKay’s directorial choices effectively emphasize the film’s critical stance on Cheney’s actions, inviting viewers to question the motivations and ethics of those in power.

While Vice offers a compelling critique of Dick Cheney’s political career, it does face criticism for its sometimes heavy-handed approach and the potential for bias in its portrayal. Some argue that the film may oversimplify complex political events and neglect to provide a comprehensive examination of Cheney’s entire career. However, it succeeds in raising important questions about the abuse of power and the moral responsibility of those in positions of authority.

Vice is a powerful and provocative film that presents Dick Cheney as a toxic warmonger, unafraid to exploit his power for personal gain. Through its sharp writing and compelling performances, the film highlights key moments in Cheney’s career that underscore his role in perpetuating disastrous policies and global turmoil. While it may not offer a comprehensive portrait of Cheney, Vice serves as a cautionary tale, urging viewers to remain vigilant and critical of those who wield power, especially when it comes to matters of war and international relations.

Picture attribution: Image from the U.S. Air Force website, but likely made by office of the President. –, Public Domain,

Wednesday 24th of May 2023

Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor 7.30pm BBC4

George McGavin investigates the dramatic life of the oak tree – a species that makes extraordinary transformations as it meets the challenges of the four seasons.

Thursday 25th of May 2023

The Color Purple (1985 film) 9.30pm BBC4

The Color Purple, a film adaptation of Alice Walker’s renowned novel, is a cinematic masterpiece that takes viewers on an emotionally charged journey. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the 1985 film delves deep into the lives of its characters, tackling themes of race, gender, abuse, and resilience with an unflinching and raw intensity.

One of the notable aspects of The Color Purple is how it stays true to the source material. Alice Walker’s novel is known for its uncompromising portrayal of the harsh realities faced by African American women in the early 20th century. The film captures this rawness, delivering a compelling narrative that doesn’t shy away from exploring the pain and struggles of its characters.

At the heart of the story is Celie, brilliantly portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg in a transformative performance. Her portrayal of Celie’s journey from a meek and submissive woman to a resilient and empowered individual is nothing short of extraordinary. Goldberg’s nuanced acting brings depth and authenticity to the character, evoking a range of emotions from the audience.

The supporting cast is equally exceptional, with standout performances from Danny Glover as the abusive and oppressive Mister, Oprah Winfrey as the resilient and fierce Sofia, and Margaret Avery as the bold and independent Shug Avery. Each actor brings a unique energy and depth to their respective roles, making the characters come alive on screen.

Steven Spielberg’s direction adds a touch of sensitivity to the film, capturing both the beauty and brutality of the story. The cinematography beautifully portrays the rural landscapes of the South, contrasting them with the starkness of the characters’ lives. The film’s soundtrack, composed by Quincy Jones, perfectly complements the narrative, adding emotional resonance to pivotal moments.

The Color Purple is a poignant exploration of love, survival, and self-discovery. It confronts the audience with the realities of racism, sexism and domestic abuse while also celebrating the strength and resilience of the human spirit. The film’s unapologetic portrayal of these issues, coupled with the outstanding performances of the cast, creates a deeply impactful cinematic experience.

However, it is important to note that due to the heavy themes and intense subject matter, The Color Purple may not be suitable for all viewers.The film addresses sensitive topics with unflinching honesty, making it a challenging watch for some individuals.

The Color Purple (1985 film) is a remarkable adaptation that stays true to the rawness of the source material. With its stellar performances, powerful storytelling, and thought-provoking exploration of social issues, the film stands as a timeless testament to the strength of the human spirit. It is a must-watch for those seeking a cinematic experience that is both emotionally gripping and socially relevant.

Picture attribution: The poster art can or could be obtained from Warner Bros.., Fair use,

Friday 26th of May 2023

Secret Wars Uncovered: Cambodian Civil War 9pm Sky Historey

Sky HISTORY presents a compelling series shedding light on the lesser-known military operations since World War II. The show delves into the hidden truths behind these controversial battles, exploring archives, consulting experts, and engaging journalists to provide a comprehensive understanding. Through captivating animated graphics, the series investigates the sophisticated weaponry and covert strategies employed in these clandestine missions. Military specialists, diplomats, and former army personnel offer their insights, uncovering the true activities of special forces like the SAS and CIA. The series delves into the depths these countries have gone to protect their beliefs or reclaim what they consider rightfully theirs. It also explores the reasons and methods behind the secrecy surrounding many of these operations.


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