Plot: What’s it about?
This could turn out to be the best few days of Barry Champlain’s (Eric Bogosian) life, or they could end up being the very worst. He works as a radio show host and after some work on other shows, he has had his own format show for some time now. His opinions are obvious to all that listen, as Barry pulls no punches and makes sure everyone knows just where he stands on the issues. As it turns out, this pulls in a ton of listeners, but not all of them like Barry and his antics. Sure, Barry has a nice fan base that loves his show, but then there are also those who hate him and seek to make sure he is never heard on the air waves again. But now Barry has learned that thanks to his show’s success, he might be picked up for national syndication and that means exposure and cash. This is good news, but Barry worries he will have to change his show and as such, begins a total tirade against his boss, friends, listeners, and even his own ex-wife. It seems like Barry has more to talk about than ever, but a lot of people tuned in have plans to make sure Barry is shut up once and for all.
Talk Radio is one of the movies I have owned on one format or another for years, but often would pass it by when it came time to watch a movie from my collection. I think the movie is terrific and all, but I hardly ever took the title off the shelf when it came time to make a choice. But each time I found it on cable television, I set the remote down and started watching. I am unsure what that means, but I do know this movie is excellent and represents one of my favorite Oliver Stone films. This is a minimalist storyline on the surface, but as you get to know more about the characters and such, you can tell there is more to this than the basic premise. A cast loaded with solid performances and of course, Oliver Stone before he started using Michael Bay style cuts and insane camerawork. His new style wouldn’t work well for this film, so I am pleased it was made when it was. If you’re a Stone fan or just need something to watch, I recommend this movie highly. But with a supplements lacking disc, a rental is going to take care of most of your needs.
As I mentioned above, Talk Radio was made back when Oliver Stone had some control and didn’t hack his movies to pieces, only to paste them back together in a jumbled heap. Now I still like Stone’s more recent efforts, but his new approach wouldn’t work with some of his older films and Talk Radio is one of those. Here Stone uses more refined and minimal tactics and creates an effective, isolated atmosphere. That is what fuels the tension within this movie for the most part, is the small & confined space within which most of the events take place. He also guides us within the characters well and makes sure the performances hit the nail, never going too over the top. Stone is one of my favorites directors to be sure, but I hope he returns to his previous style choices in the future. Other Stone films include Platoon, Any Given Sunday, Born On The Fourth Of July, Natural Born Killers, JFK, and Heaven and Earth. The cast of Talk Radio includes Eric Bogosian (Gossip, Deconstructing Harry), John C. McGinley (Office Space, Nothing To Lose), Alec Baldwin (The Edge, The Hunt For Red October), Leslie Hope (Men At Work), and Ellen Greene (Little Shop Of Horrors, Leon: The Professional).
Video: How does it look?
Talk Radio is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This image does look a little soft at times and some grain is evident, but in the end this is a solid visual presentation. The colors don’t suffer because of those flaws though, which is good. The hues seem bold, with no smears and natural, warm flesh tones. The contrast is good on the whole, but some of the darker scenes look a little too bright to me. The grain is also more evident in the dark sequences, but I was never put off by the minimal problems with the black levels. I also saw no signs of compression problems, another solid transfer from Universal.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a dialogue driven movie and as such, the included 2.0 surround track is more than up to task in this case. I didn’t detect much surround use, but the musical score does come across well and sounds much better than I’ve ever heard it. A few instances of activity can be found, but this movie is fueled by dialogue and so little in terms of dynamic sound is needed. And with all these words, you need clarity and crispness and thankfully, you’ll find that in spades with this mix. The vocals have a smooth and clean sound, with no volume problems in the least. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains production notes and talent files.