DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

TALK RADIO (director/writer: Oliver Stone; screenwriters: from the play by Eric Bogosian/based on the books "Talked To Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg" by Stephen Singular; cinematographer: Robert Richardson ; editors: David Brenner/Joe Hutshing; music:  Stewart Copeland; cast: Eric Bogosian (Barry Champlain),  Alec Baldwin (Dan), Leslie Hope (Laura), Ellen Greene (Ellen), John C. McGinley (Stu),  John Pankow (Dietz ); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: ; producer: Edward R. Pressman; MCA Universal Home Video; 2000)

"The monologues are chilling, but too many subplots interfere with them."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Oliver Stone's ("Natural Born Killers"/"Platoon"/"Nixon") nonstop talk radio drama has something caustic to say about rude shock radio talk show hosts and American public opinion. It's based on the one-man play that starred performing artist Eric Bogosian. who also stars in this updated film version. The play was based on the books "Talked To Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg" by Stephen Singular.

Eric Bogosian plays the edgy insulting to his listeners controversial nighttime radio DJ Barry Champlain, who works at KGAB in Dallas. The self-destructive misanthropic DJ spews hatred against everyone, and his ratings soar. This leads to a push for his local show to go national. Meanwhile his ex-wife (Ellen Greene) arrives in Dallas. This calls for flashbacks on how the unhappy and twisted witty DJ got started.

The monologues are chilling, but too many subplots interfere with them. There's also the add-on of the real-life story of Alan Berg, the Denver talk-show host who was murdered in 1984 by a white supremacist group.

The subplot I enjoyed most was Michael Wincott playing a druggie fan, who is invited to the show for a live talk with his idol and things become explosive.

Insignificant parts are played by Alec Baldwin, as Barry's boss, and Leslie Hope as his girlfriend.

Too bad there's no payoff, as the pointless film just sits there as some record is made of when disenfranchised Americans listened to hate radio and got a chance to vent on the air (not that different from today).

REVIEWED ON 5/11/2015       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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