Beccy Reese

Woody Sez

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Until 2 April 2011, Arts Theatre West End, London

Woody Sez could be categorised as a jukebox musical. But, unlike We Will Rock You or Mamma Mia, there's no glitz or glamour. Refreshingly, there are no microphones or belting voices, just the intimate experience of four musicians messing about on a dozen or so instruments and singing through the hard times of the life of Woody Guthrie.

The Infidel

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Director: David Baddiel, Release date: 9 April

On paper this shouldn't work. David Baddiel, who worked with Frank Skinner on the dubious 1990s TV show Fantasy Football League, has written this comedic satire about the consequences of a British-born Pakistani Muslim, Mahmud, discovering that he was adopted and his birth name is Solly Shimshillwitz. Mahmud finds his dying father in a Jewish care home but his access is barred by Matt Lucas's devout rabbi, who insists he must demonstrate some Jewishness before he can see his father.

The Lucky Strike

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Kim Stanley Robinson, PM Press, £8.99

Science fiction offers alternative futures and sometimes also explores how the past might have played out if something, trivial or not, was different.

Kim Stanley Robinson's 2002 novel, Years of Rice and Salt, takes this onto a large scale, imagining that the plague of medieval Europe wiped out 99 percent of the population instead of 30 percent.

In Lucky Strike the arena is the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, where a different crew goes out to drop the bomb and the man with his finger on the trigger has doubts about the necessity of the mission.

Crude

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Director: Joe Berlinger, Release date: 15 January

In a sparsely populated but richly resourced corner of the world the land is plundered with no care for the consequences for the local inhabitants or the environment that sustains them. The story of the exploiter versus the exploited is as old as capitalism and it is certainly the story of oil companies around the world in the 20th century. Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni people fought Shell in Nigeria in the 1990s. Now 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorians are conducting a legal battle against Chevron, formerly Texaco, for the impact of oil pollution on their lives.

Persepolis

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Marjane Satrapi, Vintage, £7.99

First published five years ago this reissue brings together both parts of the story of Satrapi's childhood and of her return to Iran. Satrapi's adolescence was in some ways like many other girls growing up in the early 1980s - jumping around her bedroom singing, making friends and lovers, trying to establish who she is. But for Satrapi the question of identity becomes crucial. Sent out of Iran, during the confining years of the Islamic Revolution, she arrives in Germany at the age of 14.

Havana Blues

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Directors Alberto Yoel, Roberto Sanmartin, Yailene Sierra and Benito Zambrano; Release date: out now

A band gets together to record a demo. The studio is a small, cramped flat. While the drummer beats his rhythm alone, the bongos are banged in the kitchen and the guitars strummed around the coffee table. A fan cools a computer and Granny sings her moody vocals lubricated with a glass of rum. This opening scene is fast paced, cutting between scenes of the recording and the band members in the streets of Havana, with their upbeat pop rock providing the soundtrack.

In Response

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I wholeheartedly agree with Paul O'Keeffe that criticism of Zionism must be separated from anti-Semitism.

I had no intention of implying (nor did I mention) that "Jewish cabals" are behind Israel's history. The invisible hand referred to "Israel within a wider capitalist sphere in terms of its relation to the US."

It is this relationship between Israel and the US that is sometimes hidden and needs exposing.

Beccy Reese
London

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