TV / DVD

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.

Making Waves

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Review of 'The Making of Rocky Road', director Paul Duane and 'Rocky Road to Dublin', director Peter Lennon

In 1968 the world appeared to have been turned upside down. The students and then the workers of Paris brought France to near revolution. The anti Vietnam War movement raged throughout the United States, radicalising students throughout the Western world, including Britain. Blacks in the US were fighting back against their oppression, people in Czechoslovakia were in revolt, and in Northern Ireland a civil rights movement was set to turn the entire state on its head.

Dignity from the Gutter

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Review of the Complete Jean Vigo DVD box set, director Jean Vigo

Jean Vigo is best remembered for his masterpiece L'Atalante, a conventional romance presented in his unmistakably anarchic fashion. However, L'Atalante was a production whose plot was largely dictated to Vigo by his production company and distributors. It was chosen by these bastions of bourgeois censorship for its conventional sentimentality, which left little scope for any originality or controversy. It is a mark of Vigo's genius for presentation that such a plot has endured, and retains its vitality, 70 years after its first screening.

Screwball Success

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Review of 'Hail the Conquering Hero', director Preston Sturges

An anthology of the best films made by American director Preston Sturges will be released for the first time on DVD over the next few months. None of these movies are very well known outside the film world and that is not entirely surprising since most of them were made over a very short period between 1940 and 1945.

Reverse the Polarity

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Review of Doctor Who, BBC1

In 1989 after 26 years the BBC finally cancelled Doctor Who. Sixteen years later the show has returned to our screens. Previously notorious for feeble special effects and flimsy sets, the new series isn't science fiction on the cheap any more. A multimillion pound budget and an extensive advertising campaign helped the first episode, aired on 26 March, attract ratings of 9.9 million viewers. The following week's episode got more viewers than Tony Blair's interview with 'Ant 'n' Dec' could muster over on ITV.

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