Talk Radio (1988) Poster

(1988)

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7/10
Anonymity brings out the beast
bkoganbing17 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Oliver Stone had the good sense to bring Eric Bogosian on board to adapt his play Talk Radio into a film. Probably the most claustrophobic of his work, Talk Radio is set almost entirely within the radio studio in Dallas, Texas of controversial Talk Radio host Barry Champlain. By the way the original play was set in Cleveland, Ohio, but I'm figuring that Stone that Dallas with all it represents in American life is the best place to show an assassination.

As it is his work Bogosian turns in one bravura performance of the protagonist character Barry Champlain. His confrontational style is winning him a lot of audience and he's got a sponsor ready to take him national. He's also got some personal problems including an ex-wife who won't let go, a boss in Alec Baldwin who's trying to put on some breaks and always his family of callers.

The sheer anonymity of Talk Radio allows some really strange people to call in and express their views that they would never do over a polite dinner table. And like the people who enjoyed the Roman circuses we listen and enjoy and occasionally participate. Bogosian is getting his own kind of high with the power of the microphone and even more the power of the on and off button where he's guaranteed the last word.

Stone was a prophet about Talk Radio. Even while this was in theatrical release Talk Radio was getting more and more powerful as an audience participation entertainment. For myself I want to be entertained, but television does that more than radio now. And if I want to be informed I'd better listen to all manner of views on all manner of stations and not just Fox radio or television.

His confrontational style brings out the anonymous beast and Bogosian pays for it in the end.

Talk Radio was based in part on the assassination of host Alan Berg from the Denver, Coloradio area by white supremacists. His killers were brought to some justice, one wonders if that will happen to Bogosian's assassin.

In the supporting roles I best enjoyed Michael Wincott who played this metal head kid who on a whim Bogosian invites on his show. He's right in that if that is our future God help us.
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9/10
hard talk
SnoopyStyle29 December 2016
Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian) is a hard-talking Jewish radio late-night show host in Dallas. Laura (Leslie Hope) is his latest young producer and sex partner. Stu (John C. McGinley) is his long-time call screener. It's Friday night. His boss Dan (Alec Baldwin) has just negotiated a nation-wide deal with Metro Wave. Their representative Dietz (John Pankow) is observing his show. With the new pressures, Barry begs his ex-wife Ellen (Ellen Greene) to help him. She was there from the very start when he was just a slick-talking suit salesman and she arrives for his big Monday night debut. It's a nightly onslaught of racist Chet, dim-witted Debbie, druggie Kent (Michael Wincott) who claims his girlfriend has OD, and many many others.

This is an intense hard-talking thriller from Oliver Stone. Bogosian's performance is something special. The verbal gymnastic is incredible. It's the wonderful cesspool of human fears and loathing.
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8/10
Love to Hate
nogodnomasters25 May 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Barry (Eric Bogosian) is the star of late-night talk radio in Dallas. He appears to have a libertarian point of view, although he is contrary to nearly every caller. Barry has a sense of grandeur. He is similar to a combination of Howard Stern if he was on AM Coast to Coast. His personal life has fallen apart and on the brink of going nationwide, he gets calls that affirm that he is just a loudmouth entertainer people find funny and couldn't care less about what he says.

Guide: F-word. No sex or nudity.
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9/10
PC it ain't
kosmasp6 April 2007
Oliver Stone is not one to shy away from a movie or theme for that matter. He is eager to confront people with their fears or show them their ugly faces in the mirror. Look on his CV for proof! This movie is not an exception, quite on the contrary, it is another gem, that unfortunately not many have seen.

As controversial movies go, this is one that you should be thankful for. A movie that should encourage you to think about you, the people next to you. The prejudices that do exist and that everyone of us has in one form or another. Either we like to admit it or not, but it is easier to categorize people and be like "Ah he's 'xyz', yeah he must be like ...". Now I might be reading too much into it, but I don't believe that. I believe that Oliver Stone is a very intelligent filmmaker and that he was aiming for those things. And if that's something you want to explore (as a movie or within yourself), than watch this film and be excited!
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7/10
Solid Work From Oliver Stone
gavin694213 July 2016
A rude, contemptuous talk show host (Eric Bogosian) becomes overwhelmed by the hatred that surrounds his program just before it goes national.

This seems to be a very divisive film, both loved and hated. Personally, I think it is among Oliver Stone's best work, primarily because it lacks his extreme, conspiracy-minded point of view. (Not that I mind his point of view, but it does make many of his films less mainstream.) This is a story of a man who is hated and sort of thrives off of being hated... but how far can he push it? In away, I think the film was both timely and prescient. Sure, it was roughly / loosely based off of something that had already happened. But, I feel it also was ahead of the curve so far as the "shock jock" craze goes. Howard Stern didn't really reach his peak until the mid-90s, or maybe even later. Today (2016) this form of radio host seems to be on the decline, but it's not so long ago that I can't relate.
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8/10
radio days
lee_eisenberg26 October 2005
Oliver Stone, always ready to make politically-themed movies, makes another one here. "Talk Radio" is loosely based on the career of Alan Berg, a radio talk show host in Denver who was murdered by white supremacists. In this case, the character is Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian), an outspoken talk show host in Dallas who loves nothing more than to irk the people who call in. As it is, most of the people who call in are a bunch of pigheaded racists. And things may be heating up more than anyone realizes.

Bogosian's performance brings a light comical tone to an otherwise serious movie. I really liked the scene where he jabs at a redneck who calls in. Granted, I wouldn't call this Oliver Stone's greatest movie ever, but it's a good reference in an era when media gets more and more concentrated. Good performances by Ellen Greene and Alec Baldwin also help.
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9/10
Riveting stuff
Woodyanders19 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Abrasive shock jock Barry Champlain (a bracing and bravura performance by Eric Bogosian, who also co-wrote the biting script with director Oliver Stone) has an exceptional dexterity when it comes to pushing people's buttons and eliciting the most vehement positive and negative reactions from his motley assortment of callers. Over the course of a weekend Barry gets offered a national syndication deal, but instead decides to push the limits of what his co-workers and audience alike are willing to put up from him. Stone and Bogosian do a masterful job of crafting a fascinatingly dark and despairing portrait of a self-loathing and self-destructive egomaniac whose abusive love/hate codependent relationship with his lonely and loopy listeners skirts danger and disaster at every turn. Indeed, the alarming and eye-opening expose of the fear, anger, confusion, ignorance, and instability existent in the troubled heartland of America possesses a profoundly unsettling sense of deep-seated hostility and misanthropy that still resonates strongly today in this age in which people have easy access to web boards that enable them to spew off all kinds of nasty vitriol and foul invective at everyone and everything. While Bogosian clearly dominates the picture with his dynamic acting, he nonetheless receives excellent support from Alec Baldwin as hard-nosed station manager Dan, Ellen Greene as Barry's sweet ex-wife Ellen, Leslie Hope as Barry's caring and concerned producer girlfriend Laura, John C. McGinley as loyal engineer Stu, John Pankow as pesky advertising executive Dietz, and Michael Wincott as zonked-out stoner fan Kent. Robert Richardson's restless and energetic cinematography keeps the movie humming. Stewart Copeland's spare moody score likewise does the trick. A really edgy and provocative knockout.
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6/10
Interesting Character, But Not A Fun Guy
ccthemovieman-12 June 2007
I found this fascinating when it came out. How I would feel about it now might be different, knowing Oliver Stone's beliefs and how he likes to put them on film. Back then, I didn't care. I just looked at this as a character study of a nasty and very disturbed radio talk show host who had nutty callers and was nuts himself.

I have to warn viewers - and this has nothing to do with politics - after the riveting first 30 minutes, this lead character "Barry Champlain" (Eric Bogosian) wears thin big-time. He is so obnoxious that he makes this movie uncomfortable to watch in a number of areas. This is not fun to witness, folks, but Bogosian does a super job in the lead role.

Personally, this story is so full of anger, hatred and sordidness that I wouldn't watch it again. However, if you know all this in advance and appreciate fine acting and different kind of story, it's worth checking out. Just don't expect to be uplifted!
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10/10
Still one of Oliver Stone's directorial triumphs; Bogosian is captivating
Quinoa198410 August 2005
In one of the more under-seen films of the late 1980's, at a time when Oliver Stone was riding high with Platoon and Wall Street (and before his opus Born on the Fourth of July), he co-scripted and directed this look at the world of radio, specifically one radio host in the middle of Texas. This man is Barry Champlain, in a once-in-a-career turn from Eric Bogosian, who wrote the original play and also co-wrote the script. Barry is like a mix of Howard Stern and one of those pundits you hear on the radio stations many of us might turn off. He's got ideas on his mind, opinions, and he's not only un-afraid to speak them, but also to stand up against the phone callers. The callers, indeed, are the driving force in the film, as Barry has to combat against the mindless, the obscene, the racist, and the purely absent-minded. As this goes on, he also has to contend with his boss (Alec Baldwin) and a hit or miss deal to go nationwide, outside the confines of the Southern way station he's in.

While after seeing the film I felt curious as to see how it would've been done on stage (I'd imagine it was a one-man show, as Bogosian has had several on the side), the direction of the film is phenomenal. Stone has been known, almost typecast, as a director who loves quick cuts, the limitless effects of montage, and effects with the styles of camera-work and other little tricks, that give his films in the 90's a distinctive, almost auteur look. But in the 80's he had this energy and feverish quality to the look of the film, and wasn't as frenzied as the other films. In order to add the proper intensity that is within the studio and head-space of Barry Champlain, he and DP Robert Richardson make the space seem claustrophobic at times, gritty, un-sure, and definitely on edge. The scenes in the middle of the film, when Barry isn't in the studio, are fairly standard, but the style along with the substance in the radio scenes is among the best I've seen from the Stone/Richardson combination.

And one cannot miscalculate the performance of Bogosian, who can be obnoxious, offensive, angered, passive, and everything that we love and hate in radio show hosts. There is also a funny, near distracting supporting role for Michael Wincott as Kent/Michael/Joe, who prank calls him one night, and the next gets invited to the studio. These scenes are a little uncomfortable for a viewer, but it does get very much into the subculture head-space of the 80's that Barry is as intrigued as he is critical of. The stoner may not 'get it', but as he says to him "it's your show". Indeed, it's hard to cover everything that goes on within the talk, and there is a lot of it. But it's never boring, and like Champlain himself, it's not easy to ignore. And when Bogosian goes into his climactic tirade on air, with the background panning around in a continuous 360 spin, it becomes intoxicating, and a reason why freedom of speech is so powerful.

Stone has been synonymous as a filmmaker of hot-button issues, who takes on subjects that were or still are controversial, and gives them a life-force that isn't always great, but is all his own. Here his skills and ambitions don't get in the way of Bogosian's- it's boosted, if anything, making an extremely skilled vision of what is essentially a near one-man show, which in and of itself is already well-written.
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7/10
Ba-ba-bad to the bone!
michaelRokeefe26 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
TALK RADIO is directed by Oliver Stone and based on the play created by its star Eric Bogosian and Tad Savinar. The movie takes place in 1988 at KGAB radio where Barry Champlain(Bogosian)rules the Dallas-Ft. Worth area airways with his late night acerbic venom talk-show insulting any and everyone that gets in the way of his caustic humor and controversial political views...political correctness has yet to be theorized let alone be honored. Champlain's antics have already started wearing thin with his chain-smoking engineer Stu(John C. McGinley). His producer girl friend Ellen(Ellen Greene)is but a doormat to the ego-swollen and pompous shock jock. His love is deflating his many callers daring to be cut down before being hung up on. The self-loving and larger-than-life air personality starts to spiral out of control when he finds out with practically no forewarned notice that "his" show it to go national after the weekend. Hiding his insecurity he phones his ex-wife(Leslie Hope)and wants her by his side as a crutch. Barry re-enters his control room to the sounds of his theme song "Bad To The Bone" by George Thorogood and begins to amp up his anger filled rants to further fearlessly irritate ethnic groups and listeners in general. Parts of this film is based on the assassination of talk radio host Alan Berg in 1984.

Bogosian appears flawless in his characterization. Also in the cast are: Alec Baldwin, John Pankow and Zach Grenier. Caller voices are provided by the likes of: Alan Corduner, Michael Wincott, Park Overall, Earl Hindman, William De Acutis, Frederica Meister, Michelle Mariana and Rockets Redglare, who plays a pivotal role in the finale. Being in radio once myself for several years, I admit to several twinges of jealousy. It wasn't long lived. Every time I watch this movie I find something new.
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6/10
Hot Air
writers_reign4 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man who hosts a talk show in the media must be a son of a bitch. In subsequent years (1956/57) half a century ago we were treated to hatchet jobs on a radio (The Great Man) and TV (A Face In The Crowd) host, both of whom bore a striking resemblance to the real Arthur Godfrey and both adapted from respectively a novel (The Great Man) and a short story (Your Arkansas Traveller) by two fine writers, Al Morgan and Budd Schulberg, both of whom adapted their original works for the screen. We never got to see Herb Fuller, the radio personality, because he was killed off-screen at the start of The Great Man and Jose Ferrer (who also directed the movie) was assigned to do a memorial tribute during which time he discovered just how big a son of a bitch the late Herb Fuller actually was. Lonesome Rhodes on the other hand was very much alive in the person of Andy Griffith in Gadg's A Face In The Crowd and turned out to be just as obnoxious as Fuller, hardly surprising since, as noted, both were based on Arthur Godfrey, who worked in both radio and television. It was a while before someone opened this same can of peas again and Talk Radio is essentially The Great Man/A Face In The Crowd with the f-word. This doesn't necessarily make it bad, merely repetitive and though the screenplay is good as far as it goes no one is seriously going to compare it with the top-drawer Morgan and Schulberg or if they do they risk being laughed out of Pretentious School. In Talk Radio's favor is the fact that its target audience would have barely been around at the time the two superior films were released and if you haven't seen - or possibly even heard of - either then Talk Radio talks a good game. Worth catching as a freebie with a newspaper but not shelling out for on DVD.
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7/10
Interesting social commentary
grantss21 August 2015
Interesting social commentary, adapted from a play by Eric Bogosian.

Plot is good, and insightful. Solid direction from Oliver Stone, in a more low-key movie that is better than many of his more well-known offerings.

However, the movie maybe feels too much like a play: long speeches, basic set.

In addition, the social commentary is pretty much rammed down your throat. There is hardly a likable character in the movie. A bit more subtlety and shades of gray would have been good.

This said, it makes a good point, and the performances are solid. Eric Bogosian reprises his role in the play to great effect.
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7/10
Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern had a baby
view_and_review4 March 2020
"Talk Radio" is an Oliver Stone directed movie that is akin to the radio version of the movie "Network." The star of the movie, Eric Bogosian, plays this shock jock character with a radio name of Barry Champlain (pronounced Sham-plain). He's a cross between Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh. He ridicules almost everyone, especially The System, and considers just about everything a joke. He operates out of Dallas where his ratings are high, but it seems to be only his haters and detractors that listen. It's as if he has an audience of masochists that listen to him just to be angry and upset. His goal is to get national syndication like any radio program, but it may require him to tone down his act for a more palatable flavor of himself. It's all a matter of if he will comply or not.

Most of the movie takes place inside the cramped radio studio. We get a little exposition on Barry just to give us an idea of his origins and his backstory. Alec Baldwin plays his boss Dan. Baldwin is perfectly suited for the boss role. He has a natural condescending and authoritative air about him. It's no wonder they chose him for the movie "Boss Baby."

Champlain's life, even if enviable in some respects, is not all together. He is not a likeable guy, but he'd fit in perfectly on the airwaves today.
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3/10
Barry signing off.
bombersflyup10 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Talk Radio is a soulless film, with nothing to say.

It's something different and it isn't dull. Barry's a strong character, it's baffling though that such a film would be made with a solid lead and have no substance or purpose or any method in which to evoke any feeling whatsoever. They bring in these characters; the girlfriend, the ex-wife, the network management guy and the caller who comes in, all for what? It would of been the same had they just started and finished on the air, they had no impact.
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9/10
Compelling, packs a punch, prescient, foreboding
safenoe11 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Unforgettable. But in a way the civil discourse in Talk Radio is somewhat mild compared to now, believe it or not.

Eric Bogosian owns the role (it's based on his stage role) and you either love him or hate him, or you cheer for him as he's the head of his late night community of listeners. You wonder if he encourages them, or despises them. But he needs them for ratings and to broadcast to a bigger market.

This movie should be shown at any journalism school, particularly those seeking a career in talk radio.

It's a cautionary tale for sure, back then and now.
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7/10
One of Stone's lesser-knowns, but no less noteworthy
Mr-Fusion8 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I imagine that back in '88, "Talk Radio" was pretty outlandish; a media satire in the "network" mold. Something that's fringe and probably won't ever happen. And even today, with a deluge of incendiary media "personalities", it hits home, strikes a nerve. and that is mostly due to Eric Bogosian's whirlwind performance. He beautifully captures the character's inner angst, turmoil; a man with such loathing, not only of himself but outwardly directed. The guy's a basketcase, on the verge of snapping while still goading the crazies that patronize his show.

As the movie wends through its closing moments, you know this will end either in Bogosian exiting the radio station to face another day of this insanity, or suffer the wrath of an unhinged listener. You just get that feeling. It's inescapable. But it's still a surprise, either way. This movie has an unbelievable knack for amping the tension (in an enclosed studio, no less) and getting under your skin.

7/10
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10/10
A masterclass of pulpy thriller filmmaking
StevePulaski28 May 2015
Barry Champlain (Eric Bogosian) is a contemptuous talk radio personality in the Dallas area, boasting a caustic sense of humor his listeners love and his detractors loathe. Most of his phone calls involve loners, drunks, sex fiends, neo-Nazis, and many other unique souls, all of whom finding themselves cut down several sizes when they are placed on air with Barry, who gives them a far-left rant they never anticipated. Barry gets off on lambasting the public, often ignoring the instructions of his stressed boss Dan (Alec Baldwin), his long-suffering producer/girlfriend Laura (Leslie Hope), and powerless program director Dietz (John Pankow), all of whom preparing themselves for a national broadcast for Barry's program due to commence very soon.

Oliver Stone plunges us into the lives of this soul in Talk Radio, arguably his most underrated film, and a soul, for that matter, who most of us would probably hate if we came in contact with in real life. There are hints of self-loathing on Barry's behalf throughout the entire film. Consider the scene when a sensuous caller dials into Barry's program and questions why he uses his intelligence to belittle people for their opinions and goes on to say it's because he is scared and fickle. Barry's face becomes void of any expression; the cool guy smirk and upturned eyebrows are traded for a blank stare and moistening skin. Barry is often greeted with so many strange, incompetent, sometimes incoherent callers that never question his personal ethos that when he finally finds a caller who does such a thing, he is momentarily silenced.

Yet, despite infrequent setbacks like this, Barry persists on, turning talk radio dialogues into personal monologues driven by condemnation of culture, societal ethics, and misfit culture. When he has the mic, he is in charge above all and his greed monopolizes the entire scenario. He's like a more politically charged and less charismatic Howard Stern. He's stripped of every inherent thing likable about radio personalities, and yet, I found him to be one of the most fascinating anti-heroes and despicable characters I had ever seen committed to film. This very idea is what's exposed throughout Talk Radio; we are fascinated and entranced by people like Barry, who give us what we need to fulfill our ugliest human desires, metaphorically cleansing ourselves of deprivation, and yet, dirtying us up with a whole new layer of muck and rancid human hate.

Writers Stone, Bogosian, Tad Savinar, and Stephen Singular (author of Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg, concerning the life of radio personality Alan Berg, whom Barry Champlain is based upon) deeply consider this notion whilst fleshing out Barry into a thoroughly watchable presence. If Barry endlessly spewed hate without a shred of wit, we wouldn't buy it. However, Barry is smooth in his conversation, immaculate in his diction, and his ability to go off on two to three minute monologues, featuring a plethora of adjectives and complex political ideas, is nothing shy of entrancing. Bogosian gives an Oscar worthy performance in one of his few film roles (and only starring roles), making incredible use of the smallest film setting next to an elevator. His impeccable vocal delivery, which manages to send shivers down spines when he goes from casual conversation to intense, politically/racially-charged monologue, and his subtle, but very noticeable, mannerisms are all on point with every scene in the film.

Talk Radio is also a film of sublime aesthetic quality, thanks to Stone and cinematographer Robert Richardson (who later went from working with Stone to working with Martin Scorsese on films like The Aviator and Hugo) making the most out of the tight-knit radio room. Every square-inch of the room is at Stone and Richardson's disposal, as they allow the camera to linger on shots of the radio switchboard, the yellow/red ON-AIR light, which becomes a blinding sight during a couple extreme closeups, the TV screen, which shows which callers are on hold, and, probably the most mesmerizing of all, as stated, Bogosian's facial expressions. These small transitory scenes allow for a huge impact on the overall project in terms of effectively creating a darker, more sinister mood and Stone and company certainly don't skimp on them. It's inclusions like these that make a good film into a great film, or even make a great film an incredible film.

Above all, Talk Radio catches Stone in a mood of critiquing the media's influence on culture, even before Stone was haled for directing Natural Born Killers; what happens when dark, perverse programs like Barry's become the staple for a nation's culture? The opening monologue of Barry's has him condemning American culture as predicated upon pornography and slasher films, and Stone, in turn, spends the next one-hundred and forty-six minutes examining this idea. Through vivid camera angles, a magnificent and deep central performance, an immersing story and character at the core that do nothing but make the audience turn a mirror onto themselves, and gripping pacing throughout the entire film, Talk Radio is a masterclass of pulpy thriller filmmaking masquerading, though occasionally operating, as a drama.

Starring: Eric Bogosian, Alec Baldwin, Leslie Hope, Ellen Greene, and John Pankow. Directed by: Oliver Stone.
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7/10
Strangely fascinating
=G=13 June 2003
"Talk Radio" peers into the studio and life of a late night talk/shock jock who has to keep the on-the-air patter going while juggling other issues. The film, which received good marks from critics and public alike, capitalizes on that same kind of strange fascination that turns motorists into lookie-loos at traffic accidents. Stone and Bogosian manage to deliver dramatic intensity in spite of a thin plot and little more than some of the usual love/hate Howard-Stern-esque talk radio repartee with a bunch of late night freaks and weirdos in this pseudopsychodrama which will play best with talk radio devotees (eg: Howard Stern fans), Jerry Springer audiences, Roger Ebert and the like. (B)
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The Oliver Stone Show
tieman6418 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
More fast talking macho pyrotechnics from "Oliver Stone", a director whose love for alpha men borders on the homo-erotic.

"Talk Radio" revolves around Barry Champlain, a self loathing radio host who molests his callers through a microphone. Though he spends the entire film seated at a desk, Barry exudes pure sonic physicality, using his alpha dog swagger to simultaneously masturbate his listeners and cut them apart like a radio DJ rapist. In between these acts of audio sex, Barry indulges in doing what Oliver Stone's filmography does best; ranting about political and social corruption in the most didactic and obvious ways possible.

"Radio" is fast, fun and gripping, the audience watching as Barry explodes, implodes, yells and reveals – rarely – glimpses of his own wounded psyche. Like the stage play upon which it is based, "Radio" then launches into a subplot about 1960s styled social passion being repackaged for 80s styled profit. Barry is himself your typical hippie truth teller, albeit one who has been seduced by power, adopting ridiculously cartoonish (and wholly constructed) personas in order to both connect to viewers and convey an illusion of potency. But this potency, and Barry's very identity, is based on self-delusion, the film drawing parallels between Barry's alienation, cynicism, impotency, hypocrisy and anger, and the very bigots who call and listen to his show.

As it was based on a stage play (by Eric Bogosian), it's no surprise that "Radio" takes place at one location and unfolds on a fairly small, single set. Still, Stone keeps the pace fast. Though at times goofy, he, like Barry, inserts enough energy and muscular trickery to keep us entertained.

8/10 – Stone's films tend to age badly, but "Talk Radio" has held up very well. Whilst most of his films are overproduced and self-important, this one is sparse and self-depreciating. It's also Stone's most autobiographical film, though perhaps unintentionally so. Worth two viewings.
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8/10
Talked to Death
sol-kay14 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** For some strange reason Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio" based on the Stephen Singular book "Talked to Death" and the films star Eric Bogosian's play, about the 1984 murder of Denver talk show host Alan Berg, has never gotten the recognition that it so rightfully deserved. The 1988 movie was prophetic enough to recognize the underground movement that was developing in the farm and hinterland of America. A movement that spawned, some seven years later, the likes of an angry and disgruntled Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh who's hatred for the US governments actions in Wacco Texas lead to his and friend,Terry Nichols, detonation of the US Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 that took the lives of 168 people, the worst act of terrorism on US soil up to that time.

The movie is, as far as I know, the first time that any major branch of the entertainment media mentioned and elaborated on the rural militia novel "The Turner Diaries" by the late William L. Pierce, that has since become a chilling underground classic. "The Turner Diaries" forecast a domestic and utterly disastrous terrorist attack, like the Oklahoma City bombing, on a US Government Federal facility which was the FBI Building in Washington D.C.

Dallas radio station KGAB talk show host Barry Champlain, Eric Bogosian, is the top rated show in the Dallas listening area and is now about to go national. Barry get's his high rating by his razor sharp wit and abusive behavior when he's on the air. Taking on all comers and ducking no issues, no matter how unpopular or taboo they are, has gotten Barry to be the most listened to as well as hated man on radio. Barry being a showman at heart and not thinking that his talk can lead to violence keeps up his abrasiveness to his call-in listeners as his rating go up to the celling. But there are those in the listening audience, mostly ultra right wing types, that don't take too kindly to his in your face attitude. One of them decides to take matters into his on hand at Barry's expense.

Powerhouse performance by Eric Bogosian as the tragic Barry Champlain who crossed the line from entertainment to hard reality in his actions on the radio. Thinking that he's not that important to be sought out and murdered for his on the air opinions which is enemies dislike he found out only too late that there are those out there who are crazy enough to do to him on the outside. Also in the movie "Talk Radio" is a very young Alic Baldwin as Barry's boss Dan who tries to have him soften his tone but in the end goes along with his talk show style since he's killing the competition not realizing that in the end it's him that he'll end up getting killed.

Both Ellen Green and Leslie Hope are the two women in Barry's life his ex-wife Ellen and now lover and talk show producer Laura whom Barry uses to his advantage and almost ends up losing both of them at the same time. The 1988 film "Talk Radio" is so far ahead of it's time that even if you watch it now in 2005 you still think that it's too disturbing to be shown to an over sensitive and delicate American public.
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8/10
Dramatic & Humorous Entertainment,
lesleyharris307 March 2017
Talk Radio is a great movie with a very well developed plot and an excellent cast. It is a very engrossing film mainly because of how character based it is. The main focus is on Barry, who is an immensely well written character, by the end of the movie we gain a very clear and concise understanding of how his mind works.

I did find it to be a tad too Barry based, I understand that the play is obviously that way and they wanted to stay true to it. However, I think with a film it would be a lot more effective for us to gain a deeper understanding on his relationship with other characters, rather than merely how he thinks and feels. It would have been to have seen more scope to the likes of Ellen or Stu.

The closing monologue is the most effective part of the film, it is hard hitting and delivered with pure passion by Eric Bogosian. He delivers each line with great power and clearly put a lot of thought in to this character he created, it is the icing on the cake of a film experience that is truly unique.

It makes you think about the world and can also make you laugh, I love a movie that can do that. Dramatic, well written and acted, Talk Radio is worth the watch for anyone looking for a good drama.

A controversial radio talk show host soon becomes shock by the hatred he receives.

Best Performance: Eric Bogosian
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9/10
My brief review of the film
sol-31 December 2005
Eric Bogosian is excellent in this film that he co-wrote, playing a fascinating, clever character whose motivations are always a bit hard to decipher. It is interesting to watch how he acts, and marvel at the wit that so easily rolls off his tongue. Smart editing and some very good photography help to capture the intensity and the wry claustrophobia of the setting. Some of the sound work is interesting too, and Stone generally does a good job directing the material, although the flashbacks do look rather poor. More insight into Bogosian's character could have been good, and the film starts to become a bit repetitive in the final third, but it is mostly very solid stuff, with a power to draw one in. The lead performance tends to dominate, but John C. McGinley should not be forgotten. He played an important role in Stone's 'Platoon' and he is absolutely great here. This may not be such a great film if compared with 'JFK' and 'Platoon', but it certainly is something very good either way.
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7/10
One man constantly upping the stakes and living the American Dream in his numerous promotions and career born out of free speech; but at what cost?
johnnyboyz4 February 2010
Talk Radio sees a man somewhat accidentally stumble through life, indeed the American Dream, from whatever bog-standard and everyday job he has in a store; to presenter of a local radio show before going right the way through to the same job only later syndicated nationwide. It's a role he adopts out of his own aggression and natural mannerisms, a frothing mad approach to freedom of speech as he attacks just about everyone and everything, even those that often call up to agree with him or compliment him. His role as a man that rants on all things good, evil, right, wrong, political, religious, moral and immoral is something that people seem to take to in one form; that of 'it's entertaining and worth tuning in for', but additionally on a plane of rejection and antagonism – two things born out of the very things seemingly encouraged in professional working life in the Western World. This, towards a man as he gets to the very top of his game by way of the American Dream and dealing in freedom of speech as people take to a man but do anything but take to what it is he says.

Talk Radio begins with a montage of tall, towering buildings in a business based area of Dallas, Texas. The skyscrapers are shot from a ,ow angle and tower over the viewer plus everything else in the general vicinity as this voice of one man tears through the images, belting out statements and information on items as these monolithic buildings dominate out screen. They are the very physical representation of capitalism, while the voice of what we learn to be a radio DJ is the oral representation of the free west; personal speech and opinions on anything and everything. Stone will finish his film in the exact same manner in which he started it, although the film is anything but a circular journey of any sort as the characters undergo monumental changes in both what they witness and their general livelihood. Rather, the shots of the buildings act as an anchor around which the study is observed. The ideologies and ideas of a way of life exist; people subscribe to them, but it does them more harm than good; before the re-establishment that this proud way of life still exists and will continue to exist in churning out the sorts of people on display in the film until someone or something drastically changes things.

The DJ is Barry Champlain, a man with a radio show on a local Texan station dealing with just about anything. Champlain's somewhat carefree attitude to some pretty explosive content is established when he flies from one call with a bigoted man whom recently visited a Holocaust museum to a young drug addict whose girlfriend has supposedly overdosed and onto both the berating and mocking of a pizza shop. To us, the content comes across as quite shocking; to these people, everything seems to be business as usual which plants some serious seeds of both doubt and horror within the minds of us, the newcomers to all of this.

What Barry's show is about, nobody ever seems to really establish: everything and nothing. Indeed, time is taken in the form of either jingles or dialogue that the shows immediately pre and post Champlain's show are on specific subjects; gardening, for instance, and are hosted by calm speaking and methodical people whom, I'm sure, do not flit from one random or extreme to another all the time raising the stakes. One wonders what Barry's jingle is, the kind that plays around about lunch time during someone else's' show: "Coming up later, the Barry Champlain show! Featuring the village idiot and psychotic drug abusers!" Indeed, his show's introductory piece carries a matter-of-fact tone, a shouting at the audience, as a loud rock track accompanies it.

Barry's success arrives in the national syndication proposal. It's born out of confrontation and a relationship built on the contempt he has for his listeners and that they have for him. The furthering of the material and the upping of the stakes ought to call into question just how far they think they can take this, and whether this progressing down a track for sake of entertainment is really worth it. It is when the show reaches this level of broadcast that Barry seems to come unstuck for the first time in his broadcasting life, when a supposed serial rapist calls in and leaves mostly everyone slightly stunned. It's at this point the camera pauses on Barry, and by way of depth of focus, encompasses those same looming, towering buildings the film began with which stand outside of the window, directly behind Barry. They remain tall and proud. Specifically, of the ideologies they've been built on and this furtherance of freedom of speech in broadening Barry's show nationwide as one man climbs his profession's ladder suddenly clashes with the sort of content that's being offered. Everything reaches a point too far, and that with freedom, ought to at least come a sense of clarity rather than a mere revelling.

Oliver Stone made Talk Radio right in the middle of both a fascinating and explosive period of film-making he had in the late 1980s. In this time, he produced a series of really well received films in a pretty short space of time; beginning with one of my favourite war films in Platoon before continuing with the quite brilliant Wall Street and eventually finishing with 1991's JFK. One might even say that this run continued on into the mid-nineties with Natural Born Killers. Talk Radio is like its lead character in the sense it's loud, booming, stark and confrontational. It isn't anti-capitalism, as much as it is focused on drawing a line between what is perceived as entertainment and what is just going too far for sake of popularity and riches. Talk Radio is certainly a film that sticks in the memory.
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9/10
A movie that talks to ya
videorama-759-8593918 October 2016
He's toured Vietnam, sent the stock market, and streets of New York shaking with Wall Street. Now he's visiting the talk show arena, making one hell of an impact. Talk Radio is riveting viewing, from the get go. Not a mainstream film like Platoon or Wall Street, this one is just as good, (to some infinitely better) where shock jocks would definitely relate with this film. It features an electrifying and certainly, underrated performance, by much less known actor, Bogosian, in one breakthrough performance to end all breakthrough performances. He'll hook you like candy. You won't be able to divert your attention away from this actor's intense performance. Trust me. If you can remember, He was the eccentric nutter in Under Siege 2 (again a masterpiece performance) as well as that unbalanced, bad arse drug dealer in Wonderland. Here he's a devoted and zealous talk show host, rude, crude, ill respect of people's feelings, and heading on one dangerously evident path to self destruction as well his own demise, where despite these unlikeness's, we still feel worried and concerned for this guy's welfare, while liking him too. That's how I felt about this character. Among a sea of haters, whether shock jocks, Trumps, whatever, they're are devoted lovers too. We know 'em, these controversial talk show hosts, who like to take it one notch higher, push the envelope, what have you. An Adelaide'n, I used to love listening to our own Bob Francis, putting d..kheads back in their place, or being too harsh with some callers, cutting them off, unfairly, or being way out of line, with others, where on that rare occasion, they warranted fines, court cases, even arrests. One such incident, I especially remember, involving an 81 year old women. These kind of hosts, whether Big Bad Bob, Hinch, or Laws, the most controversial Aussie talk show Hosts, the ones who tell it like it is, and aren't afraid to play dirty, and dish it straight back at them, are the ones that reel us in. We lap it up. Right near the end of the piece, Bogosian, at his finest moment, showing balls, tells his listeners, that exact point, while also candidly, if bravely admitting his real self truths and faults, as well as how he feels towards his listeners, which for me was the part of the film, that really blew me away, and shone the brightest. Unpredictable moments, those brash moments of self admittance, in characters that aren't particularly likable, though not always, mind you, I really admire. John C. McGinley, a seasoned character actor, lends great support as Bogosian's good friend and colleague, where we know what Baldwin's selfish intentions are, which first don't come to light, as Bogosian's boss, a much cliché'd traits in bosses. Baldwin gves a nice, mellow, not overplayed performance, where another particularly impressive performance, came from John Pankow (a very good actor) as the boss of a bigger radio station, L.A style, scouting out Bogosian, at probably what could be the worst time, only it doesn't go that way. Surprise, surprise. Michael Wincott just cracked me up, as Bogosian's drug crazed No 1 listener (what a wild and remarkably versatile actor this guy is) who Bogosian invites onto the show. I know why too. It's not that hard to figure. Wincott who gets second acting dibs, went onto to star in Stone's next pic, The Doors, playing Jim Morrison's manager. Ellen Greene, another great actress, again delivers a top shelf performance as Bogosian's suffering ex wife, where we take a trip back in time through sepia to happier times between the two, Bogosian, sporting long curly hair. You couldn't ask for a more perfect cast of actors here, where Stone has a gift for assembling the right ones. He's a f..kin' genius for again bringing a none finer flawless film to us, the much appreciated viewer, considering too, this went straight to video, which I much more than suspect, criminally undersold this film. The finale has a stinging and shockingly affecting tragedy to it, yet a foreboding in the moments leading up to this, like a knowing fate. What follows, in a manifold of reactive caller ins, going into the end credits. This and beyond that, is a wonderfully executed end sequence. Again flawless, one of a few film endings that have left their mark. If you haven't seen ten "Must see" films, Talk Radio should be one of em'. And any shock jock, who hasn't seen this movie, needs to be shocked. It's real. This is how these loud hosts take it. I could especially relate, in what was just another moment of great acting, when Bogosian was overwhelmed, by the chain of hate callers, where we felt like a pressure cooker, about to pop it's top. Electrifying entertainment. Unmissable. Thanks Mr Stone. These are how movies should be.
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7/10
Good, not great
jadavix14 May 2019
Barry is a shock jock who entertains the undemanding public by fielding calls from assorted nutcases, racists and ignorami. He keeps them at arm's length with an acid tongue and quick wit.

His show goes national, and the threats he gets on the job seem to intensify. He gets suspicious packages sent to the studio, and one of his weirder callers shows up for an up-close-and-personal interview. He has a downward spiral.

"Talk Radio" is an interesting one. Most of the movie is Bogosian as Barry talking into a microphone. The voice talents on offer are extraordinary, but the biggest stand-out of all is Michael Wincott, when he finally appears as the dark side of the "Bill & Ted" or Jeff Spicoli type of stoned heavy metal fan. This might be his best performance.

The movie is not without its flaws, however. For one thing, it doesn't seem to have a clear narrative focus. I was surprised when Barry lost it. The climactic scene comes out of nowhere. We actually get very little of what he thinks and feels about his bottom-feeding profession. He acts the scene well, but it doesn't connect.
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