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Movie Reviews of Talk Radio

These are short summaries of reviews of the film Talk Radio that were published around the time of the release of the movie.  Their origin is listed, so the reviews in full can be accessed.

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Pallock, Joe.  “Behind a Destructive DJ’s Microphone: Talk Radio.”
 Everyday Magazine.  January 13, 1989. P.3.
 

This review is excellent for several reasons.  To begin, Pollack suggests that the inspiration behind this movie is the origins of the “talk show” phenomenon that we have come to know and love.  Most other resources claim that Alan Berg’s murder was Bogosian’s inspiration for writing this play/film.  According to Pollack, however, Bogosian had already begun writing Talk Radio before Berg’s murder. 
Another particularly interesting point that Pollack mentions is that Barry Champlain is merely an announcer.  Pollack claims that Champlain sees himself as more than that, almost as a crusader against the horor of human nature.  Pollack mentions the fact that it is his boss, played by Alex Baldwin, who reminds Champlain of what his job actually is…to answer phonecalls.Based on his review, it is fair to say that Pollack respected this film.  To put it in his own words, “Still Talk Radio remains a gripping- - sometimes frightening- - motion picture.”
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Howe, Desson.  “All Talk and No Show.”  The Washington Post.
 December 23, 1988.

Howe did not have a favorable view of the film Talk Radio.  In this review, Howe claims that this nearly two-hour-long film could have been cut to  “two minutes of Morton Downey, Jr. or Geraldo Rivera.”
Another, perhaps valid, point that Howe makes is that Stone and Bogosian were successful in writing hate speeches in this film, but did they really hit on the psyche of the American people?  It seems as though Stone and Bogosian have a lot of complaining to do about what happens in our country, but do they make an offical call to action?

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Weis, Susan L. “He Talked Himself to Death.” The Jerusalem Post.
 March 24, 1989.

Weis begins her review by commenting on the fact that Stone put this movie together in four weeks.  Weis is obviously disappointed by Stone’s efforts in this film.  She displays this point with the following statement: “This film was so obviously slapped together that one wonders what could have been accomplished if more time had been put into this project.”
This review comes from Israel. There is a part in the film in which an anti-Semetic caller complains about how the US government pays $10,000 to each Israeli family every year.  Weis, in good humor, responds to this comment by saying, “How did he find out.”

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Kauffmann, Stanley.  “Talk Radio: Movie Review.”  The New Republic.
 February 13, 1989. P. 26.
 
Kauffmann’s review goes beyond summarizing this film.  Rather, it points out some intriguing qualities.  Kauffmann claims that it is Stone’s direction that makes this film interesting, making the most out of the radio studio setting.  Kauffman points out a few essential details in the following statement, “Stone works even harder to keep the camera mobile….by cutting close-ups of mike and mouth, close-ups of red bulbs flashing- - and with reflections, many reflections.”  These symbols represent themes in the movie.  The reflections of his friends are representing them watch over Champlain.  The red-light flashes in order to foreshadow a tragic event.

Kauffmann makes another crucial statement in this review: “Stone has a liking for large subjects: Latin American ferment (Salvador), Vietnam (Platoon), stock-market high-rollers (Wall Street).  Here he has missed the point.  The real subject is the talk-show host himself, not his topics nor his adversaries.”  One can not watch the film Talk Radio without noticing its blatant difference from Stone’s other films.

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Williamson, Bruce.  “Talk Radio” Playboy Magazine.  January, 1989.
P. 28

Williamson’s review gives a basic summary of the film.  He gives this film three stars, believing it was a worthy effort.  One element that Williamson likes about this film is the fact that it is so raw.  He describes Barry Champlian as “a Lenny-Bruce-style master of insult.”
In addition, Williamson analyzes Bogosian’s performance in the film, noticing that his strongest work is in the radio studio.  He thinks that the flashbacks into Champlain’s life add “superfluous touches of soap opera to an otherwise mesmerizing vision of an American landscape awash in racism and despair.”

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