Culture

What the Tourists' Eyes Don't See

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Review of 'Life and Debt', director Stephanie Black

Get a taste of anti-capitalism Caribbean style. 'No money, no job. Borrowing money to lend. Too much foreign debt'--these are the words of the Jamaican reggae artist Mutabarka in the powerful documentary 'Life and Debt'.

This film exposes the harm capitalism inflicts on a nation and its people by looking at Jamaica, where the IMF has had its claws into the country for over 25 years.

Crossing the Divide

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Review of 'Crossing Jerusalem', by Julia Pascal, Tricycle Theatre, London

It's possible to interpret this riveting drama in various ways. Playwright Julia Pascal has created a fiction rooted in 'the everyday lives of Israelis and Arabs during the second Intifada' set in Jerusalem in March 2002, before the mass killings by Israeli occupying forces in Jenin. Specifically, she aims to examine the perspective of a generation of Israelis critical of their parents' Zionism and questioning Israeli government policy.

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.'

Man about the House

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Review of 'Pure', director Gillies Mackinnon

Gillies Mackinnon's new film 'Pure' opens with a ten year old boy, Paul, preparing a fix of heroin. He puts it on a tray with flowers and cigarettes, and takes it upstairs to his mother as 'breakfast in bed'. Paul thinks that all he is doing is helping his mum with her 'medicine'. She is sick--so sick she has forgotten it is his birthday. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, in which Paul's mother Mel's drug addiction is seen through his eyes.

Oh Ye of Little Faith

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Review of 'Trembling Before G-d', director Sandi Simcha DuBowski

This beautiful, moving, perplexing documentary describes the lives of Orthodox Jews who are lesbian or gay. Orthodox Jews, a minority among Jewish people, live deeply conservative lives centred on the Bible and the family. Their attitude to homosexuality starts from the biblical judgement that sex between men is an abomination. Members of the Orthodox establishment have opposed any mention in America's Holocaust Museum of the fact that gays died in Nazi concentration camps.

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?

Picture the Suffering and Struggle

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Review of 'Exodus: an exhibition of Sebastiao Salgado's photographs', Barbican Gallery, London

A man sleeps under a dirty blanket beside a vast rippling expanse of water. A woman, perhaps his wife, waits, her arms wrapped around her sari. In the distance a modern city stretches across the horizon. A bird, blurred and flapping, swoops down behind the pair.

The photograph, one of the many striking images in Sebastiao Salgado's new exhibition, depicts poor migrants on Marina Drive, overlooking Bombay, waiting for food handouts. It epitomises one of the major themes in the Brazilian-born photographer's work--the cycle of displacement and migration in the developing world.

All Style and No Substance

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Review of 'Art Deco' exhibition, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Art Deco embraced the modern world. The exhibition blurb tells us that Art Deco 'reflects the plurality of the contemporary world, unlike its functionalist sibling Modernism, it responded to the human need for pleasure and escape'. So not unreasonable then to expect fun, excitement, excess and speed. It is billed as something of a blockbuster show, and it costs £8 to get in.

Paler Sun

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Review of 'Solaris', director Steven Soderbergh

The first film version of Stanislaw Lem's science fiction story 'Solaris' was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. Thirty years later Steven Soderbergh--the man responsible for 'Erin Brockovich' and last year's re-make of 'Ocean's Eleven'--gives us his version. Both films use the bare plot of Lem's story and develop themes implied in it, but the difference between the two films is startling.

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