TV / DVD

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.

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.

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