Talk Radio

Oliver Stone directs a taut and effective drama about an aggressive radio talk-show host and the hatred he manages to project at and elicit from his call-in listeners. Stone and Eric Bogosian adapted the screenplay from Bogosian’s play of the same title and Stephen Singular’s book Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg. Stone does a very capable job of handling the theatricality of the piece without making it seem unduly stagy, but Bogosian himself plays the lead, and it’s essentially his show all the way. The overall effect is disturbing yet mesmerizing; most of the movie takes place in the radio studio while the hero is on the air, and the moral questions raised by his incendiary brand of broadcasting are left provocatively open. (An extended flashback that has been added to the original material, purporting to give us the psychological lowdown on the hero, tells us even less than we already know about him, and its overall usefulness is questionable.) With Alec Baldwin, Ellen Greene, Leslie Hope, John C. McGinley, and John Pankow. (JR)

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