Fri 25 July 2008, BBC News

Newsnight Review, 25 July

By Brian Thornton
On Review, summer fun with superheroes, star-crossed lovers, fakers, and dictators. Here's Kirsty's look ahead to the programme: "Paul Morley, Natalie Haynes and John Carey (and later in the programme for reasons that will become clear, Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger) spend two-and-a-half hours in the company of Batman and The Joker in The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan returns to direct a second time, teaming up again with Christian Bale in the hell that is Gotham City - and Batman just isn't prepared for the evil force of this Joker - the late Heath Ledger's fiendish psychological monster with the hellish grin. Will his performance deliver a posthumous Oscar? Once upon a time James Frey wrote a shocking memoir about the middle class Ohio boy who plumbed the depths of drug and drink addiction, and ended up in jail for three months - it was a knockout! It sold more than five million copies. It was feted by Oprah. And then the author of A Million Little Pieces was exposed on the chat queen's show as having faked the tougher parts of the story. Frey and his wife apparently went into hiding - there had been follow up memoir too by then - but now the audacious author is back with his tales of Los Angeles - the rag tag of people who arrive, seeking fortune and sometimes fame. In Bright Shiny Morning Frey peppers the pages with historical facts about the City of Angels - and many of them seem like the real deal - but there's a disclaimer at the front of the book about its unreliability. What is fiction and what is fact? We know only so much about Saddam Hussein - his brutality towards his own people, his vicious psychopathic son Uday, the torture chambers, the gassing of the Kurds - but what was it like inside Saddam's family and his inner circle? Alex Holmes spent three years preparing a four-part series for the BBC and HBO talking - sometimes indirectly - to key figures including Saddam's deputy Tariq Aziz, endeavouring to see the world as they did. The House of Saddam is like an evil Dallas - except many people really do die and in dreadful ways. Saddam is played by the Israeli actor Yigal Naor, and his first wife by Shohreh Aghdashloo. The so-called Baghdad Blogger Salam Pax made a series of films for Newsnight during the war and its aftermath: his father was a member of the Iraqi parliament. He will join the discussion and tell us what he makes of the portrayal of Saddam's world view. Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno are forever seared in many people's minds when they think of West Side Story - the film version won 1 0 Oscars, but the stage version celebrated its 50th anniversary last Autumn and a new American touring production en route from China and Germany opened at Sadler's Wells in London this week. Such is the iron grip of the estate of Jerome Robbins - the original choreographer of the show - that the dances and style, to a score written by Bernstein and Sondheim are little changed from the 1957 production. A good thing or a bad thing? Do watch to find out what our reviewers think. Kirsty"
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