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January 16, 1989 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-16

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The Michigan Doily - Monday, January 16, 1989-- Page 15

Radio broadcasts bleak view

There is danger in your neighborhood, at your local
movie theater. I fear for all of you as this danger
prowls the silver screens in search of victims to
depress, anger, and disgust. It's called Talk Radio, and
it's the latest film from Oliver Stone (Platoon, Wall
Street). Sounds pretty innocent - certainly the 'R'
Rating won't keep anyone away - but 'R' isn't
strong enough. Talk Radio is an intensely disturbing
motion picture that bombards the audience with the
dregs of society and plays on our fear of the people
next door.
Eric Bogosian stars in Talk Radio , his first major
film project. He wrote the film's script and performed
Through the forum of a radio show,
Talk Radio creeps up into our hearts
and places there a grisly fear of the
neighbor who could be the crackpot
who just called Champlain. This is not
for those with weak stomachs.
in its off-Broadway production. The story is based on
the life of the controversial Denver radio talk show
host, Alan Berg. The only difference between the film
and the Berg story is that the setting is Dallas and the*
* talk show host is named Barry Champlain. Bogosian
is the entire film; his energy and emotion give the
film the power it feeds on and the power which can

damage and overwhelm an unsuspecting audience.
As Champlain, Bogosian hosts the most popular
radio show in Dallas. His personality belongs to
Morton Downey: rude, obnoxious, insensitive,
manipulative, and offensive. That's what makes him
so popular. People call to be mimicked and belittled,
and then Champlain hangs up on them. The listening
audience is filled with people who love to hate him.
They send him dead rats, bomb threats, and tons of
hate mail. Talk Radio is more, though - it's a harsh
look at all of the hatred and violence in society as a
whole. Through the forum of a radio show, Talk Radio
creeps up into our hearts and places there a grisly fear
of the neighbor who could be the crackpot who just
calledChamplain. This is not for those with weak
Much of Talk Radio flashes back on Champlain's
early career and marriage. He starts off as a clothing
salesman and ends up as the hottest thing on the radio.
The formula for his success is no secret: the more
people he offends and pisses off, the higher his ratings
become. His callers represent the fear and outcast in
the world, and each has another gut-wrenching story to
tell. In this respect, Talk Radio is graphic and intense.
It punishes the audience as Champlain's callers punish
him. He becomes our social crusader and as society
brings him down, we are brought down.
The film contains a couple of side stories to the
central focus of the talk show, but they are clearly
overshadowed and somewhat insignificant. As Talk
Radio progresses, the calls and paranoia start to get to
Champlain. He starts to break - and we start to
break. A female caller asks him in a gripping moment,
"Why are you so angry?" He is unable to answer the
question and lashes out instead at the listeners in a
flurry of hatred and pain, shouting at his audience, "I
despise each and every one of you." Talk Radio is
numbing and exhausting, an emotionally trying film

that will anger you for having seen it; it angered the
hell out of me.
Bogosian is excellent, turning out a memorable and
fine-tuned portrayal. His experience with the role is
obvious and it significantly allows the film to affect
the way it does. His "off-radio" scenes are slightly
weaker and more awkward, but his "on air" time more
than compensates. The radio is his forum and in it, he
can do no wrong. Stone's calculated direction is sharp
and brutal, and the photography is simply
unbelievable, mixing unbalanced close-ups with an
abundance of circular camera work. Stone is an expert
at bringing his audience to a new world and building
character development to a climax. Champlain's
character is built up throughout the film to his
predictable destiny, and we are not suprised, but
liberated from the grip of hatred that just enveloped us

of society
for an eternity.
Talk Radio is not a pleasant movie-going
experience. It is, in fact, most unpleasant and most
unnecessary. Yet, it is a brilliant film in Bogosian's
performance alone, but in this case, the ugliness of the
film is bigger than its brilliance. All of the calls are
filled with sorrow and anger and become
uncomfortably overwhelming after a while. Talk Radio
appeals to no one, yet it is about all of us. It's an
angry film with no message or moral and it terrifies
more effectively than any horror film because it is so
real. Don't see this film. You'll get nothing in return
except visions of the rotten world we already know we
live in, and no one deserves this punishment.
TALK RADIO is now showing at the State Theater
and at Showcase Cinemas in Ann Arbor.

Vincent paints backdrop
of Van Gogh's passions


Michigan Alumni work here:
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Detroit Free Press
The Detroit News
NBC Sports
Associated Press
United Press International
Scientific American
Sports Illustrated
Because they worked here:
G~b SiIwu flaiI

The life of Vincent Van Gogh has
an important element that makes an
interesting movie: a hero who leads
a passionate life filled with angst as
well as pleasure. The movie indus-
try has twice addressed Van Gogh's
amazing life. First there was Lust
For Life , starring Kirk Douglas in a
tour-de-force performance as Van
Gogh; it dealt mainly with his torrid
friendship with'Gaugin. This year's
release ofVincent takes a very
different view of Van Gogh's life by
showing the 19th century world
through his own eyes.
Actor John Hurt (1984, The
Elephant Man ) narrates Van Gogh's
letters written to his younger
brother, Theo, against the backdrop
of the landscapes that inspired Van
Gogh's art. Although this technique
of narration is somewhat problem-
atic, it succeeds nonetheless, mainly
due to Hurt's evocative language and
raspy tone of voice which reflect
Van Gogh's inner turmoil. Van
Gogh was alienated from his family,
and was distressed by his inability to
sell any paintings to support his
work. His letters to his brother are
eloquent and expressive - much
like his paintings. On an informa-
tive level, his letters also provide
fascinating insight into his love of
color and other artistic decisions.
The narration throughout the film

proves a little overbearing after a
while. There is a constant flow of
great thoughts which the viewer
must ponder while being bombarded
by beautiful scenery and paintings. It
is nearly impossible to fully appre-
ciate both the narration and images.
The images prove to be positively
dizzying because of director Paul
Cox's use of montage. For example,
in order to show that Van Gogh
traveled between many countries,
Cox shoots the landscape from a fast
moving train and shows about two
seconds of each landscape. There are
also many montages of Van Gogh's
paintings that Cox uses to show
decades of work. About three quarters
into the movie, I had the same feel-
ing I get after being in a museum
too long. One can digest and appre-
ciate only so many stimuli in one
sitting, and overall, Vincent suffers
from too much of a good thing.
There is so much good stuff in
Vincent, however, that it seems
silly to criticize it for being "too
good." Despite the film's stylistic
flaws, you begin to empathize with
Vincent's loneliness, and Cox effec-
tively shows how this emotion was
transferred to canvas through the use
of color and texture. You do get the
feeling of being inside the artist's
head, feeling the urgency of his need
to paint. These are difficult emotions
to evoke, and Cox executes this
In recent years, Van Gogh's work

has set auction records. His
"Sunflowers" sold for something
like $30 million. This fact shows
how ironic Van Gogh's life was. He
bemoans his poverty and in fact sold
only one painting during his life. At
one point Van Gogh writes, "A can-
vas I have covered is worth more
than a blank canvas - this much I
know." Though Vincent never
mentions Van Gogh's posthumous
success, part of the power of the
film is the knowledge of the present
value of his work. Cox shows the
life of a tortured artist whose poverty
was caused by his art - and there-
fore, in turn, by his own passion.
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Cover letters and resumes should
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Kelly King
Alex. Brown & Sons Incorporated
135 E. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
No later than: January 23, 1989



The Library can be a
real jungle. Especially at
a large university like the
University of Michigan.
That's why Peer In-
formation Counseling, a
service of the Under-
graduate Library, is r
offering the Library
Survival Kit.
Inside you'll find I
-w m .c ------ . 1s m -

the Reserve Desk, the Micro-
computer Center, and the
Academic Resource Center.


You'll also find valuable n
tips on how to effectively use c
the library for research. t
So avoid getting lost in
Good for one freeI
RAd -Pm t the Reference Thpsk_

he stacks! Hunt down
hose books and periodi-
cals you so desperately
need! Locate those resour-
ces for that all-important
erm paper!
Just clip the cou-
* pon shown here and
present it to the UGL
I Reference Desk.
I Pick up a Library


A book describing the Alex. Brown & Sons Analyst Program
can be found in the library of the Office of Career Services.


I !

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