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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Talk Radio
Directed by Oliver Stone
Universal Studios Home Video 12/88 DVD/VHS Feature Film

Talk Radio is about Barry Champlain, the shock jock star of a popular late-night call-in show in Dallas, Texas. He is a verbal spritzer in love with the sound of his voice and his ability to handle the loneliness, anger, stupidity, and exhibitionism of those who talk to him over the airwaves. When his boss works out a deal to syndicate his show nationally, Barry asks his ex-wife to return to Dallas to offer him moral support. Under the watchful eyes of Chuck, a representative of the syndicator, Barry takes his insult tactics to the limit. He even invites a drugged out kid to be a guest at the microphone in the studios. Near the end of the show, Barry berates the mendacity of his listeners: "I'm here to lead you by the hand through the dark forest of your own hatred and anger and humiliation."

Talk Radio is a firecracker of a film, and Eric Bogosian's performance as Barry Champlain lights up the screen with explosive power and emotional heat. Director Oliver Stone's latest report on the soulscape of America — based on Bogosian's play and Stephen Singular's book Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg — offers a searing portrait of disappointed citizens whose rage, bigotry, and neuroses have been tapped to generate big bucks for radio stations. This volatile film holds up a disturbing image of a consumer culture where trash is viewed as treasure and excess spells success.


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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