Sasha Simic

Wolf Hall

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Hilary Mantel, Fourth Estate; £18.99

This is the story of how, between the years 1525 and 1533, Henry VIII secured a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry his lover, Anne Boleyn.

War and Peace in the Caucasus

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Vicken Cheterian, Hurst; £25

In 1992, as the former Yugoslavian Republic tore itself apart in a series of bloody ethnic conflicts, the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic put forward the following explanation for why Serbs, Croats and Muslims were killing each other: "Tito threw us together. We are like oil and water. While he shook us, we stayed together. Once we were left alone, we separated."

This was a simple explanation which was shared by many in the West and it became a template used to shed light on the conflicts which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Che: Part 2

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Director: Steven Soderbergh; Release date: out now

The second part of Steven Soderbergh's biographic film of the life of Che Guevara is much more straightforward - and depressing - than the first. It concentrates almost wholly on the debacle of Guevara's final campaign fought in Bolivia between 1966 and 1967, a campaign which ended in his tragic death.

Waltz with Bashir

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Director: Ari Folman; Release date: 21 November

"Memory is...not disinterested. Not rarely it suppresses or regulates to an obscure corner episodes which go against the grain of the individual's controlling vital instinct" - Leon Trotsky, My Life.

This is a film about a war crime. On the night of 15 September 1982 Lebanese Christian Phalangist militias entered the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in West Beirut looking to avenge their leader, Bashir Gemayel, who had been assassinated the previous day.

Iron man

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Director: Jon Favreau; Release date: out now

Andrea: "Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero."
Galileo: "No, Andrea: unhappy is the land that needs a hero."
Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht

Iron Man is the latest superhero to get his own film as Hollywood continues to loot the pages of comics in a desperate search for a blockbuster. In box office terms a blockbuster is what they've produced, as it's one of only ten films ever to have taken more than $100 million in the first three days of its release.

Taxi

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Khaled Al Khamissi, Aflame Books, £8

Some 80,000 taxis ply their trade on the streets of Cairo. The battered black and white cars which thread their way through the chaotic roads of Egypt's capital are so ubiquitous it's easy to forget that each of them carries at least one human story.

Last year the Egyptian journalist Khaled Al Khamissi collected 58 conversations he had with taxi drivers while being ferried across Cairo into a book. The result - Taxi - was an instant bestseller. It's a wonderful work which captures the daily struggle of working people in modern Egypt in their own words.

Cairo's calling

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The articles on the strike wave that has been rocking Egypt's ruling class were brilliant (Feature, Socialist Review, January 2008).

The importance of this movement can't be stressed enough. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, with the cheerful approval of the US and its allies, has ruled Egypt as a police state for over 27 years. In recent years the regime's enthusiasm for neoliberalism has gone into overdrive, heralding cuts in wages and an increase in work.

Reverse the Polarity

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Review of Doctor Who, BBC1

In 1989 after 26 years the BBC finally cancelled Doctor Who. Sixteen years later the show has returned to our screens. Previously notorious for feeble special effects and flimsy sets, the new series isn't science fiction on the cheap any more. A multimillion pound budget and an extensive advertising campaign helped the first episode, aired on 26 March, attract ratings of 9.9 million viewers. The following week's episode got more viewers than Tony Blair's interview with 'Ant 'n' Dec' could muster over on ITV.

Giant Robots and Dunkin Donuts

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Review of 'Wrong About Japan', Peter Carey, Faber £12.99

In 2002 the distinguished Australian novelist Peter Carey took his 12 year old son Charley on a trip to Japan. Charley, like a growing number of western kids, was obsessed by Japanese popular culture - in particular by manga (Japanese comics) and anime (animated films). Enthused by this interest, Carey used his literary contacts to arrange a series of meetings with top manga creators and leading figures in the anime studios in Japan.

Pressing Charges

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The person that Orson Welles based Citizen Kane on certainly did go 'to extraordinary lengths to try and get the film shelved', as Stephen Philip wrote in his review of The Aviator (Movie News, December SR).

But Stephen wrongly identified that person as Howard Hughes. The film was actually based on the life of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

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