Talk Radio Reviews
"The last neighborhood in America"
Talk Radio is one of my favorite Oliver Stone films, and is one that few actually know about. It's an underrated and under seen film of immense power. It has a simple, straightforward narrative, but the actual material is anything but simple. This is a movie that will stick with you; one that is unforgettable. I just watched this for the second time, and I'm still amazed by how Stone and Bogosian suck me in with the character of Barry Champlain. The film is at its most interesting when only the character of Champlain is talking, and luckily, that is most of the movie.
Talk Radio follows a talk radio host named Barry Champlain. Champlain's character is based on a real life host name Alan Berg, who was murdered after a show. Champlain has a night time show where rants his opinions to the people of Dallas, and most of them hate him for it. Yet they still listen and call in. Soon, Champlain's show is going to go national, so everyone in America can hear his opinions on drugs, racism, and anything else you can think about. Champlain is a character that you think would have a lot of strength. His voice and his opinions show strength. Yet, he starts to unravel with all of the hatred from callers.
Most of the film takes place in the talk room. There's a few scenes outside of the room, but very few. We are left with Bogosian as Champlain and all of his callers. Bogosian more than exceeds standards. He is simply amazing as Champlain. He wrote the original play, and co-wrote this script with Stone. The two of them brought the play perfectly to screen with a lot of power and a lot of intellect. The ending will leave you haunted more than anything. I don't think there's any better word to describe this film with, then haunting.
I wouldn't know what genre to put this into. The closest one there is is drama, but even that doesn't fit it all that well. It has no real genre limitation. It's funny, it's sad, it's scary, it's honest. It's everything in one film and I love it for that. Talk Radio is a must see, and not just for film buffs, but for everyone. It's one of Oliver Stone's best achievements and pretty much no one has heard about it. Track this movie down and give it a look.
With Talk Radio we get to take a look at Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian), a nigh time talk radio host who is no holds barred and tells it like it is even though most of his listeners don't like it. Most callers hate him. When he goes out in public his ridiculed. But his shows popular as hell. So popular he's about to go national. But is that what he really wants? National hatred.
Barry's main argument to people is to turn off the damn show. That may be what you and I have in mind. But you have to remember the old story about a car accident. It's disgusting, it's horrible, but you sure as hell can't look away. You may hate what he says, but you just can't not stop listening to him because you have to know what he's going to say next.
Oliver Stone directs this film base on Bogosian's play and the film does have some of Stones flourishes, but it's really a claustrophobic piece. By the end of the film you're ready to get the hell out of that studio. You feel as stuffy and confined as the characters and during the times you do get out it's not for a breath of fresh air or freedom, it's more of how the disease from the radio has spread. Excellent performances throughout featuring Bogosians best work to date.
So many years late and Jim White's retired from the night time airwaves and the Cardinals aren't on KMOX anymore. I'm sure there's another guy at night buy he probably isn't as abrasive as White. Talk radio today is more user friendly with hosts chanting the mantras of the demographic they're designed for. Talk radio is a time capsule of those days when guys said what they though on the radio, not what was expected of them.
Taking place predominately in one setting, a radio studio, Stone was able to create a very noticeable level of intensity and earnestness, albeit a very confined intensity. This is a testament to his style of scene building, with an especially keen sense of framing that both underscores the emotion of the scene, and creates great tension. This works, as the film is essentially a character study, and an exploration of the medium of radio as well, a medium both intensely personal and yet also impersonal.
The performance by Eric Bogosian really anchors the film. His manic energy, his seeming callousness, his cynicism, embodies the role perfectly. Through the progression of the film, we see his character arc, which is done in both an authentic and organic way.
The themes explored in Talk Radio are done well. It captures the societal fascination with decadence and the mundane in powerful way, while also being a commentary on our modern media culture. Some of the dialogue used in the radio scenes can be stilted at times, but it's always sold well by Bogosian.
An overall underrated and overlooked smartly executed gem by Stone.
This is a good move for Champlain but things start to take course due to his erractic personality. The film also involves his former wife, his days as a bachelor, the co-worker he is sleeping with, and overcourse the feeling of being watched and heard from his controversial listeners. I enjoyed this film because it takes on the subject using macho satire, it's not a long film and rushes by fast, Stone and his cinematographer Robert Richardson uses lovely colors and light to give it a style, and the production designer, the late Bruno Rebeo with the studio moving 360 degrees while Barry Champlain's mind goes into an abyss.