TV / DVD

The Yorkshire Ripper Files: A Very British Crime Story

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It is interesting that, after many years of media obsession with serial killers, a new book, opera and TV documentary share an emphasis on the social conditions and attitudes that made some women more vulnerable to assault and allowed the killers to get away with it for so long.

Hallie Rubenhold’s book The Five uncovers the impoverished lives of the victims of the infamous Victorian killer, Jack the Ripper. She highlights the material circumstances which drove them into prostitution to keep themselves and their families alive.

Hitler’s Hollywood

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What does cinema know that we don’t? That is the intriguing question posed by two powerful documentaries about the cinematic legacy of the Nazi era and the Weimar Republic respectively.

Inspired by the work of critical theorist and film critic Siegfried Kracauer, Hitler’s Hollywood investigates Nazi cinema as a style unto itself, completely under the control of the Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

Rosa Luxemburg

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We first see Rosa Luxemburg in a snowy prison yard, guards patrolling the walls high above her. As she walks a raven hops beside her, the first of many references to Rosa’s affinity with nature. It’s 1906 and Rosa has been locked up in Poland for her involvement in the 1905 Russian Revolution.

Bodyguard

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New BBC series Bodyguard is high octane from the opening moments, as the lead, Specialist Protection Officer David Budd (Richard Madden) helps locate a suicide bomber on a London-bound train and talks her down from detonating her device. The following day Budd is promoted and begins work protecting the home secretary, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes).

Killing Eve

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Eat your heart out George Smiley, here comes Eve Polastri, earthily played by clever Sandra Oh.

Connecticut-raised and London based, Eve’s on the staff of MI5 with a routine job in security, but her background in criminal psychology drives her to look more deeply than her boss likes into a string of professional assassinations across Europe — and begin to draw some connections.

Luke Cage, season 2

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Harlem super hero Luke Cage (Mike Colter) has cleared his name, but is broke and wondering whether to accept a sponsorship deal from Nike as the show’s second season opens.

The first season came out before the film Black Panther with its largely black cast and concerns. In fact it links much more into the radical traditions of black nationalism, Malcolm X and the Panthers. Unlike Black Panther, Luke Cage is not rich. Another character says “just because you’re woke, you don’t have to be broke!”, advising him to become a “hero for hire”.

The Handmaid’s Tale, season 2

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The Handmaid’s Tale is back for a second season after a wildly popular and dramatic first. The first season ended with June (Elisabeth Moss) being bundled into a van, to an uncertain fate. The second season happens just after this. For those who have read Margaret Atwood’s brilliant novel this is where June’s narrative ends so this season is now continuing without the framework of the original text.

Westworld, season 2

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Epic soundscapes, fearsome landscapes, and the meaning of life; the second season of Westworld opens with the same intensity with which the first one closed.

Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), our hero, is on a bloody quest for justice and survival, having discovered that her repeated lives and deaths have all served to amuse rich humans at the Westworld theme park.

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.

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