Nick Grant

Mind Games Revisited

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Review of 'The Manchurian Candidate', director Jonathan Demme

The First Gulf War, 1991. An armoured vehicle on night patrol in Kuwait. Major Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) is knocked unconscious in a sudden fox-fight. Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), it appears, saves his and the platoon's lives, for which he is commended.

Some years later Marco is struggling to come to terms with recurrent nightmares of treacherous murder, which it seems other veterans share. Shaw, on the other hand, has built a blossoming political career. Or rather his mother has. Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep) dominates both her party and her son.

The Beat to Beat Bush With

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'As concerned mothers, women and most importantly concerned Americans, we are compelled to do what we can to inspire other voters to get involved in this year's election. We hope our participation in the Vote for Change Tour will be a catalyst for positive change.'

This is The Dixie Chicks explaining why they are gigging with James Taylor in the swing states during October. Headlined by Bruce Springsteen, REM, Pearl Jam and Jackson Browne, and coordinated by MoveOn.org, big name line-ups will play several areas simultaneously where the votes really count.

Republicans mounted a news offensive after this tour was announced on 4 August, claiming that Springsteen had grown very rich from the American way. This only recruited more acts.

Picture Imperfect

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Review of 'Photographing the Holocaust', Janina Struk, I B Tauris £13.95

It's not so much that every picture tells a story, more a case that any picture tells many stories. The simple point that most of our familiarly atrocious Holocaust images were gathered by Nazis hoping to celebrate the success of Hitler's 'Final Solution' in a Prague Museum coldly subverts their predominance in thousands of school history room displays, textbooks and TV documentaries ever since.

No Big Brand

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Review of 'Goodbye Swingtime', Matthew Herbert Big Band, Accidental Records £13.99

Being any kind of conscious artist under 21st century imperialism is fraught with contradictory tensions. Aesthetics v politics? Art v propaganda? Individual v the masses? Local v global? Innovation v tradition? Particular v genre?

Not a Force for Good

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I fear for the sanity of Joseph Choonara when he sees 'sheer beauty' in an 'extremely violent film' like Matrix Reloaded (June SR).

Such dumbing-down of aesthetic sensibility is a triumph for the corporate sledgehammer that has so bedazzled him.

For all the technical, genre-bending promise of The Matrix, Reloaded marks a regression, especially in its production design.

Myth or Reality

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Review of 'Shooting People', Sam Brenton and Reuben Cohen, Verso £12

I'm a socialist ...get me out of here!' was the 'Guardian' TV critic's verdict on 13 May, writing about Clare Short's resignation performance in the House of Commons. In the self consuming world of print and electronic media this was the umpteenth pun on the title of LWT's latest variant of the 'reality TV' strain. It became a toss up as to which was more infuriating; the 'I'm A Celebrity ...' show itself, or the lazy journalism which sought to bathe, pathetically, in its referential glory.

Meme Me Up Scotty

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Review of Adbusters

'The commodity is, first of all, an external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind. The nature of their needs, whether they arise from the stomach, or the imagination, makes no difference. Nor does it matter here how the thing satisfies man's need, whether directly as a means of subsistence, ie an object of consumption, or indirectly as a means of production.'

Two Sides of New York Collide

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Review of 'Changing Lanes', director Roger Michell

In synopsis 'Changing Lanes' could sound crude and sentimental. It's about two New York men living very separate lives which literally collide on the FDR driveway. Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck) is the Young Turk of Stephen Delano's up-market law firm. Handsome, lean, married to the boss's daughter, he has it all. Doyle Gipson (Samuel L Jackson) is a recovering alcoholic, holding down a job tele-selling insurance and desperate to fix a mortgage for his estranged wife and two sons to forestall her move out of his life to Oregon.

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