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Talk Radio (1988)
Best American film of the 80's
Talk Radio is of course, probably not the most well known of Stone's films, but don't let that put you off, this film is ripe for discovery, I defy anyone not to be entranced by it. Along with the best performance of 80's cinema by Eric Bogosian, for me (along with JFK)this remains Stone's finest moment. Stone doesn't seem to comment much on it these days and didn't do a director's commentary on DVD like all his other films. Stone has nothing to be ashamed of, most directors would kill to get a shot @ a film like this.
The claustrophobia of the studio is intense and the opinions of Champlain are still very crucial arguments for today. The "legalise all drugs" speech is powerful and you might find yourself agreeing with him.In my opinion the film is about freedom of speech and how sometimes people don't like hearing things they don't agree with.The speeches and conversations with the listeners are very compelling, even disturbing, a chill ran down my spine when a crazed man calls Champlain saying he has to rape again because the city drives him crazy is totally shocking.The tension is sometimes unbearable with a scene when Heavy metaller Kent becomes unhinged, of course Champlain does himself no favours by ridiculing him. Champlain(or should I say Bogosian) is fearless in film and performance, totally mesmerising, a shame th@ Bogosians other big role was the villain in Under Siege 2(dear god!!)One scene th@ didn't ring true was when Barry's boss Dan(Alec Baldwin) gets him to calm down, Barry doesn't seem to be the kind of person who shuts up and does as he's told, it seemed a bit contrived and clichéd.The scenes outside the studio are criticised for being too formulaic, it's true because Stone is trying to make the film more cinematic and allow the viewer to see Champlains beginnings but it doesn't entirely work.
It is a brilliantly cinematic film with extreme close-ups, deep focus, extremely fast cuts a fantastic 360 set which is used for the final breathtaking monologue. Must see cinema, it makes it rare because it was ignored @the time but is now receiving attention again which it so richly deserves. A classic th@ should be studied by generations of film students.
10 out of 10 for inventive use of "Bad To The Bone" before T2, brilliant supporting cast including John C Mcginley(Dr Cox from Scrubs) as the sleazy Stu, Leslie Hope(24)as Champlains girlfriend, John Pankow and Alec Baldwin as the suits and Micheal Wincott who plays three roles( a very underrated actor), the tension between the listeners and Champlain which is very heart-racing @ times and of course kudos to the stars Bogosian and Stone for such a fantastic piece of cinema. Enjoy!