TV / DVD

The Corner

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Director: Charles S Dutton; Writers: Ed Burns, David Simon and David Mills

Made in 2000, two years before The Wire, The Corner has never been shown on British television. It is only being released on DVD now because of the success of David Simon's later work. Indeed there are so many similarities between The Corner and The Wire that they simply have to be discussed together.

Bill Douglas Trilogy

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Director: Bill Douglas

Bill Douglas is almost a legend among British filmmakers. Google his name and you find a flash-flood of superlatives. Lindsay Anderson calls him "the poet of British cinema" while the Observer's Philip French sees his Trilogy (My Childhood, My Ain Folk, My Way Home) as "one of the heroic achievements of British cinema".

Law and Order

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Director: Les Blair; BBC DVD

Those impatiently awaiting the final series of The Wire might like to check out Law and Order. Over four episodes Law and Order tells the story of the British criminal justice system - a robbery, a police investigation, a trial and a prison sentence.

When it was first shown in 1978 it created a firestorm of political controversy. Furious questions were asked in parliament, newspaper editorials attacked every episode and the governor of the BBC was summoned to explain himself to the Labour home secretary.

Havana Blues

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Directors Alberto Yoel, Roberto Sanmartin, Yailene Sierra and Benito Zambrano; Release date: out now

A band gets together to record a demo. The studio is a small, cramped flat. While the drummer beats his rhythm alone, the bongos are banged in the kitchen and the guitars strummed around the coffee table. A fan cools a computer and Granny sings her moody vocals lubricated with a glass of rum. This opening scene is fast paced, cutting between scenes of the recording and the band members in the streets of Havana, with their upbeat pop rock providing the soundtrack.

The Golden Door

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Director: Emanuele Crialese

Postcards picturing chickens as large as pigs and plate-sized golden coins growing on trees in the new world across the Atlantic reach a wind-beaten village in Sicily at the beginning of the 20th century. Salvatore (Vincenzo Amato), a farmer whose family has tilled the stony land for generations, sees them as a sign to pack up his home, two sons and old mother, to head for the boat that will take them away from drudgery forever.

The Caiman

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Director: Nanni Moretti; Optimum Releasing, £17.99

Hopes were high when Nanni Moretti's The Caiman was released in cinemas to coincide with Berlusconi's 2006 re-election bid. The stage was set for battle between Italy's premier left wing comedian and Italy's right wing premier - the most hated and the longest continuous ruler since Mussolini.

Tapping into the system

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The camera pans across a row of dilapidated and boarded up vacant properties. Stencilled across the doors is the message, "If animal trapped call 410 396 6286." Yet there are no trapped animals, just abandoned children living on their wits.

Welcome to the world of West Baltimore USA, and the setting of HBO's powerful television series The Wire.

Over the course of its four series (a fifth and final is in pre-production) The Wire takes you into the world of drug dealers, cops, politicians and junkies. In doing so it opens up the maggot-riddled carcass of US capitalism.

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