TV / DVD

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.

Masterful Montage

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Review of 'Notre Musique', director Jean-Luc Godard

As a modernist simultaneously challenging the conventions of both society and cinema, veteran French cine-artist Jean-Luc Godard has produced this short but dense work, which rewards the multiple viewings afforded by the DVD format.

Losing It Last Time

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Review of 'Hearts and Minds', director Peter Davis

'The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who live out there,' proclaimed Lyndon Johnson when speculating on the possible outcome of the war in Vietnam. Borrowing its title from Johnson's quote, Peter Davis's Hearts and Minds - an Academy Award winning documentary that highlights the hypocrisy and brutality of the US's war in Vietnam - is a powerful and compelling film and its influence is apparent in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

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