Art and Culture

Is Hollywood Turning Left?

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LA film critic Ed Rampell argues that the movement is generating a new wave of progressive cinema.

Are the movies getting more radical? Hollywood has experienced three key progressive periods: New Deal/Popular Front films during the Depression and through the Second World War; 1960s/1970s 'power to the people' pictures; and, in my opinion, the post-9/11 era. The latter is epitomised by the anti global warming special effects blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, a big budget studio feature; the Che Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries, an indie executive-produced by Robert Redford; and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary.

Harold Pinter: Prize Fighter

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Theatre critic Mark Brown welcomes an unexpected Nobel Prize laureate.

When it was announced on 13 October that Harold Pinter, who recently turned 75, was to be the 2005 Nobel laureate for literature, there was surprise (not least on the part of Pinter himself) followed by celebrations and recriminations, according to one's cultural and political tastes. Deliciously, it also cast a shadow over Margaret Thatcher's eightieth birthday party, which was held on the same day.

Iran: A Cinema Born Out of Poetry and Resistance

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Iranian films reflect the contradictions of their society, argues Naz Massoumi.

The initial international acclaim received by Iranian cinema in the 1990s presented a paradox. The western media's portrayal of post-revolution Iran painted a picture of war, repressive mullahs and fundamentalism (and even more so now, as Bush's hypocrisy reaches new levels when we are told that Iran has a fundamentalist, nuclear-proliferating, unelected government). In this context, the films of childlike innocence and rural landscapes showed a very different, poetic image of Iran, and thus seemed to present a big contradiction.

Obituary: 'In the Tail of Trotsky's Comet'

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Susan Weissman pays tribute to the Mexican artist and son of Victor Serge, Vlady Kibalchich, who died recently.

Vlady Kibalchich, born in Petrograd in June 1920, died on 21 July 2005 at home (in his studio) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, after a difficult battle with cancer which began as a melanoma but spread to his brain. He was 85. It is customary to say that someone of that age had a 'full life', but in Vlady's case it is an understatement. The 20th century was his life. La Jornada headlined his death by saying 'a subversive creator and critic of power has died'.

Frida Kahlo: a Life

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There is much power and beauty in the work of Frida Kahlo, says Mike Gonzalez, who examines the life of this remarkable artist.

There are two houses in almost neighbouring streets in the Mexico City district of Coyoacan. One is spare and dark and surrounded by high walls; there is very little colour to break the monotony and its gate is usually locked. This was the house where Leon Trotsky lived and was murdered in 1940.

Different Ways of Seeing

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Julian Stallabrass reviews the work of John Berger.

There are two books that the Courtauld Institute of Art recommends prospective BA students to read before they begin their studies - Gombrich's Story of Art and Berger's Ways of Seeing. They could hardly be more opposed theoretically and politically. Ways of Seeing is a highly accessible demolition of the bourgeois history of art, which insists that a privileged minority uses that history to justify its existence, and can only do so through consistent mystification.

Interview of the Month: Reliving the War in an Irish Town

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Journalist and playwright Richard Norton Taylor tells Pat Stack about his dramatisation of the Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday.

On the face of it, inquiries seem unlikely settings for dramas, but they've worked very well for you. What drew you to the idea?

Nicholas Kent, a committed director at the Tricycle theatre, first had the idea when I was covering the Scott arms to Iraq inquiry. Writing a few hundred words one day, and then a few hundred more a couple of days later, was getting disjointed. We thought we'd put it all together into one package with an audience, and it would lead to a much greater understanding of the whole thing.

What attracted you to the Bloody Sunday inquiry?

Obituary: A Miller's Tale

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Arthur Miller lit up the darkest days of the 20th century.

When I heard that Arthur Miller had died I felt a pang which I normally only feel for people I knew personally. I have known of his work since I was a teenager. My school play in 1967 was Death of a Salesman, generally recognised as Miller's masterpiece. And we knew that Miller's other most famous play, The Crucible, used its subject of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in the 1690s to attack that modern US witchhunt, the McCarthy hearings.

Interview: The Pen is Funnier Than the Sword

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Satirical cartoonist Michael Leunig discusses art and politics with Peter Morgan.

Can you tell us some of your personal and political history?

I was born at the end of the Second World War in the western industrial suburbs of Melbourne; I grew up in a working class family - my father worked in an abattoir - and I grew up with a left wing outlook. My father was a communist in the 1950s when the Communist Party was illegal in Australia. I also grew up surrounded by migrants - people who'd been through the Second World War and were traumatised refugees.

Sound of the Underground

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Asian Dub Foundation is one of the most radical and vibrant bands to have appeared on the music scene over the last decade. In May they premiered an original soundtrack to the classic film The Battle of Algiers. Pandit G, founding member of ADF, spoke to Tom Hickey and Ian McDonald about their project, music and politics.

Why did you choose to do a soundtrack to The Battle of Algiers?

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