TV / DVD

House of Saud: A Family at War

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The British ruling class has for many years made a habit of grovelling to the Saudi royal family. The reason for this is clear: huge amounts of money. The Saudis have spent billions on British weapons. This trade has been recently given a great boost by the Saudi war on Yemen.

Consequently one was entitled to expect that the BBC4 three-part series, House of Saud: A Family at War, would be very much an apology for the Saudis, celebrating the supposed huge strides that have been made in liberalising the regime in recent years.

The Battle of Algiers

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The Battle of Algiers is a war film based on the Algerian War of national liberation (1954–62) against French colonial rule.

Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, a star of the Italian neorealist cinema, in 1966, it is shot using newsreel-style footage mainly with amateur actors. One of the central characters, Ali la Pointe, was spotted in an Algiers market. Many of the French soldiers were played by Europeans who were on holiday in North Africa.

The State

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Channel 4’s The State is a four-part drama following two British men and two British women who decide to go to Syria and join Islamic State. As you can expect, the subject matter itself is incredibly divisive. The harrowing drama was not an easy watch, but an important one.

The first episode feels like an adventure film as four Britons leave their everyday lives to join Isis. One man hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps and persuades his best friend to accompany him along the journey.

The Handmaid's Tale

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If you’ve read Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, published in 1985, you likely will have called it to mind frequently in recent years — and perhaps especially since last November. The book depicts a fascist US society that responds to ecological destruction with oppression, using the language of Christianity to hide and justify the real structures of power.

Revolution: New Art for a New World

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This is a great film for socialists with an interest in art. Written, produced, directed and narrated by Margy Kinmonth, the film focuses on the artistic avant-garde that flourished in advance of and following the 1917 Russian Revolution.

It moves on to discuss the changes in art subsequent to Stalin’s consolidation of power. The film gives a basic political history of the 1917 Revolution and the events that followed.

The Deuce

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The world of 1970s porn is the subject for David Simon’s new HBO series, The Deuce, which premiered on 26 September. Co-written with George Pelecanos, who also worked with Simon on The Wire, this semi-fictional dramatisation looks at the legalisation and rise of the porn industry in New York.

While the first season promises to look at themes such as the drug epidemic, associated violence and its impact on various communities, the pilot episode establishes the conditions of prostitution, women’s oppression and mob rule out of which the porn industry emerged.

Black and British: A Forgotten History

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As part of the BBC’s Black and British season, running throughout November, historian David Olusoga presents this four-part documentary on the black presence in Britain.

The programme opens with repeated images of the quintessentially green and pleasant British landscape. Olusoga’s aim is to project black presence not onto but into this scene. In a sweep from Roman Britain to the present, he describes how black and British history are intertwined.

Cleverman

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For any politically engaged viewer, the fierce social criticism at the core of the television series Cleverman will be immediately apparent. The series pulls no punches in its attack on the Australian government’s racist policies towards Indigenous people and asylum seekers, while commenting on very real debates among these communities and their allies over how best to resist them.

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