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The Independent Culture
Halfway through Message to Love (BBC2), Murray Lerner's entertaining film about the Isle of Wight festival (twice as entertaining if you fast- forwarded through the music), Kris Kristofferson turned warily to his backing musicians and said: "I think they're going to shoot us." He was joking, but only just. You could hear, vying with the PA, an ugly rhythm in the background - the pounding of hands on corrugated iron as those without tickets attempted to tear down the security walls surrounding the stage. Joni Mitchell appeared in tears to accuse the audience of behaving like tourists. The vibes, as they used to say, were not good. "We worked for one year for you pigs," bellowed the master of ceremonies, "and you want to break our walls down - well you go to hell!"

His bad temper was forgivable. Backstage, the organisers had already gone pale - the dirty grey complexion of men who hadn't slept for days and now found themselves trapped between 600,000 kids demanding a free show and some very expensive entertainers demanding cash in hand. Up on Desolation Row, the slope of heath which dominated the festival site, the ticketless were gathering, determined to break through the outer perimeter, past the police dogs and uniformed security. The organisers' initial answer to this problem was to invite the besiegers to paint the castle walls - Murray's camera toured the result, a splatter of obscenities and exhortations to local insurrection.

Unlike the documentaries about Woodstock last year, there was no "now" to set against that dope-dazed "then", no middle-aged interviewees looking back on the eagerness of their youth, no explanation that the spaced-out hippie was now a tax-lawyer. This was a pity, I think, not because you wanted those high aspirations brought down to earth but because the atmosphere needed sweetening, and some fond recollection might have done it. In Lerner's film a sense of sour disappointment hung over the site like woodsmoke. "This festival business is becoming a psychedelic concentration camp," yelled one of the excluded, invited, in a gesture of sweet ingenuousness, to express his grievances from the stage. But not everybody can have felt like that, surely.

Taxicab Confessions (BBC2) was a simple idea. Select six or seven sympathetic drivers, fit their cabs with tiny hidden cameras, and screen the results. These rolling confessionals proved surprisingly successful, either because people feel more comfortable talking to the back of someone's head, or because New Yorkers are already well-practised at personal revelation. The result was engrossing and strange - like improvised auditions for a Scorsese movie or a Mamet play. Watching some of the passengers (who didn't know they were being recorded until after the journey ended), you half suspected they were actors. Then some little detail would spring out to persuade you that this was life, not art. "I mean I'd rather not talk about it," muttered one man, after a torrential, twitchy explanation of why he was living on the street. He had talked without stopping for five minutes. A beautiful lesbian, slurred and woozy, leaned forward on the bench seat and tried to seduce her female driver. "I have a kind of urge to see you naked," she said, with sweet insinuation. I kind of felt the same way myself, but the image went to black before anything else could happen. One wonders what British reserve would do to such a conceit: thousands of feet of film showing people making that non-committal grunt you give when you want to be neither rude nor encouraging.

Runway One (BBC1), a comedy thriller about Irangate, was pretty good at both elements, but a little unsettling when the two collided. The plot is a little langorous, too, but the script is limber and Peter Capaldi is very good as a smitten, cowardly policeman who finds himself on the run from American spooks. It's worth catching episode two.

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