Rhys Williams

I Am Not Your Negro

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At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement's influence is showing in popular culture, such as hit horror film Get Out, Rhys Williams looks at the urgent relevance of black civil rights campaigner James Baldwin's words today, as presented in Raoul Peck's documentary, I Am Not Your Negro.

Raoul Peck’s new documentary film, I Am Not Your Negro, sets the words of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House, against archive footage of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Sprawling and epic in scope — setting in its sights the whole of the black experience in America, from slavery to the Black Lives Matter movement — it is poetic and almost romantic, yet very angry. It arrives at a time when audiences are being enthused by the anti-racism of Get Out, a more mainstream and comic movie, but just as sharp.

Son of Saul

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Son of Saul

It is a truism for revolutionaries that people make their own history but not in circumstances of their own choosing. But what of the men, women and children who have history thrust upon them, with cataclysmic consequences for their own personal circumstances?

Son of Saul tells the story of a man’s struggle to hold on to family and personal relationships and obligations in the hideous organised chaos of the Nazi gas chambers.

Bypass

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Bypass is a moody and gritty thriller set on a council estate. There is definitely as much grit here as there are thrills. The action is never allowed to overshadow the well-researched and brilliantly realised social realism.

George MacKay gives a stunning performance as Tim, a boy trying to make ends meet by whatever means he can. At the same time he is trying to hold his disintegrating family together. Donald Sumpter makes fleeting appearances as Tim’s granddad. He represents a long lost world of stable employment and working class solidity.

A Most Violent Year

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This is the story of Abel and his struggle against organised crime and the unions to make his fuel company a success. From this brief description it would seem to be a right wing story of the individual’s fight against “vested interests”. However, the film plays around with this common sense bourgeois morality and explores the inevitable corruption that a life lived according to capitalist ideals will lead to.
It is a gangster movie that isn’t a gangster movie. Abel is familiar with the world of organised crime but refuses to be a part of it.

Slavoj Zizek - The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

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Director Sophie Fiennes
DVD - Out now

Often funny, mostly fine and sometimes a bit dodgy, Slavoj Zizek explores the concept of ideology through a psychoanalysis of cinema. It is never entirely clear why.

The renaissance man of social theory meanders around famous film scenes, weaving an essay on the nature of ideology as he passes through.

The mainly psychoanalytic view of ideology leaves the role played by social forces in shaping ideas largely untouched. It produces a shallow picture of how ideology develops and operates. This is particularly noticeable in his discussion of how Nazi ideology works.

Command and Control

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This well-researched, fascinating and terrifying book is a history of nuclear weapons told through the story of a nuclear accident. The narrative alternates between an emergency at a nuclear facility storing a Titan II missile and the history of the development, use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Souzou: Outsider Art From Japan

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Souzou presents works that are often of a very personal nature, not always intended for exhibition or the art market. This is a collection of drawings, paintings and sculptures produced by people using art therapy as part of their treatment for "a variety of different cognitive, behavioural and developmental disorders". But it is much more than that, and a hugely enjoyable show in its own right.

The exhibition is arranged into three groupings: "Language and Making", "Representation and Relationships" and "Culture and Possibility". The boundaries of these categories are fairly loose, and a lot of effort has gone into creating a continuity of themes throughout the exhibition.

The Least of all Possible Evils

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Eyal Weizman

Eyal Weizman's last book, Hollow Land, was a groundbreaking study of the occupation of Palestine. In it he outlined how settlement building has always been at the front line of the war against the Palestinians, how land is taken by force and justified at a later date in the courts.

In his new book he is at his strongest when discussing Israeli "humanitarian violence" in Gaza. The title is a quotation from an Israeli court case that was brought by Palestinian landowners who were told that the apartheid wall was set to go through their village.

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