Andrew Stone

Morgan's Not a Free Man

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Review of ’Cypher‘, director Vincenzo Natali

’I‘m not meant to live in the suburbs!‘ cries Morgan Sullivan during one of several identity crises in the sci-fi tinged thriller Cypher. His exasperation at his continuing normality is the deadpan humorous base on which director Vincenzo Natali builds an engaging, hyper real story of industrial espionage.

Appealing to Racists

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New Labour‘s descent into the gutter continues apace, with plans to further tighten already draconian anti asylum seeker legislation.

David Blunkett wants to reduce the right of appeal against the Home Office‘s notoriously arbitrary asylum decisions. Even with barriers such as the government‘s ’white list‘ of countries, which it automatically assumes never commit human rights violations, 21 percent of appeal cases are upheld. As Imram Hussein of the Refugee Council has commented, ’If any other government department had a failure rate of one in five that would be a significant cause for concern, and here you are often dealing with matters of life and death.‘

Orwell Centenary: From 2003 to 1984

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George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Andrew Stone assesses the relevance of Orwell's most famous novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Whenever a politician says one thing but means another, we think of 'Newspeak'. Whenever we need shorthand for the intrusive power of the state, the media or big business - such as the RMT's dispute with PPP contractor Metronet over a CCTV camera at Baker Street - the spectre of Big Brother is raised. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is ensconced in our political (and - in the case of the facile gameshow Big Brother - not so political) vocabulary, synonymous with rampant authoritarianism and oppression.

Poets Delight

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Review of 'Red Sky at Night', eds. Andy Croft and Adrian Mitchell, Five Leaves £9.99

Socialist poetry: two words to conjure images of earnest but artless efforts by would-be Woody Guthries. But this is a collection to dispel such prejudices, with two centuries worth of poems ranging from the melancholy to the inspirational, the whimsical to the sharply satirical.

Education: Time to Teach Clarke a Lesson

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Education minister Charles Clarke's idea of school life as a 'magical experience' is not one that many school students - or their teachers or parents - would recognise.

His vision of education as a narrow instruction in the needs of big business lies behind both his attack on 'irrelevant' medieval history and his obdurate defence of Standard Attainment Tests (Sats).

It's a Marvel

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Review of 'X-Men 2', director Bryan Singer

It's safe to assume that Bryan Singer's superhero sequel will not only dominate the multiplexes for the next couple of months. This $100 million-plus blockbuster also comes with the full array of merchandise tie-ins--figurines, magazines and no doubt promotions at a fast food chain near you soon. But is there anything of artistic merit to be gleaned from a comic book adaptation about mutant superheroes (and villains) with such implausible names as Cyclops, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike?

Our Friends in the North

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Review of 'Born under Punches', Martyn Waites, Simon & Schuster £10.99

1984: Coldwell, a fictional north east mining town, is under siege by the police. Stephen Larkin, a passionate young journalist, wants to expose the truth about the miners' strike--what's at stake for Coldwell and the country, and what Thatcher and the police are prepared to do to win.

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