IT SEEMS we can't get enough of costume dramas on TV. The new ITV adaptation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga is proving to be a big hit with critics and audiences alike. Some 40 percent of the audience for terrestrial TV tuned in to watch the first episode last Sunday.
THE STREETS' Original Pirate Material is the amazing debut album of Mike Skinner, a West Midlands UK garage MC. Original Pirate Material has been getting all the headlines in the music press. It is hailed as the bright new hope that will save the music industry.
THE FIRING is Richard MacSween's first novel. It explores the emotions and to some extent the politics surrounding those mistakenly identified as sex offenders. A wave of hysteria about paedophilia swept Britain last year following the murder of eight year old Sarah Payne, ignited by the News of the World's "name and shame" campaign.
THE NEW film Bend It Like Beckham is a funny, entertaining look at multiracial relationships and football. Jess, a young Sikh woman, is obsessed with football, especially "that skinhead boy", as her parents call David Beckham.
WHY DID you write Fast Food Nation?
PAUL ROBESON Jr is presenting a new series, Lena Horne: A Force of Nature, on Radio 2. It looks at the black woman described as a living legend. The programme is great-a real musical feast, and much more. It describes the life of Lena Horne, the performer, artist and singer. There are real gems of information about the influence of the organised black middle class in the US.
COMEDIAN and activist MARK THOMAS's new TV series started on Channel 4 this week. Socialist Worker spoke to him.
Anti-Capitalist activist Kevin Danaher is as powerful and persuasive a writer as he is a speaker. His new pamphlet, Ten Reasons to Abolish the IMF and World Bank, shows why only the end of these institutions can begin to challenge the injustice and inequality of global capitalism.
How many rappers from the US would describe themselves as socialists and advocate "millions of people moving, organising and making something happen-a revolution"? Boots Riley of the anti-capitalist band The Coup has done just that. The Coup came to notoriety after the 11 September attacks in the US last year. The original cover of their latest album, Party Music, was a picture of Boots holding a detonator in front of the exploding Twin Towers.
If you are looking for an intelligent political novel you should definitely pick up a copy of In the Blue House by Meaghan Delahunt. It is a fictional account of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's last years in exile in Mexico.
Walter Salles, who made the acclaimed Central Station, has created a very different but equally compelling new film, Behind the Sun. It is about two families divided by a blood feud in harsh, remote northern Brazil in the early 20th century.
The latest album by Nigerian musician Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force has it all-politically and musically. The title track is a rallying cry all socialists will applaud. "Fight To Win" addresses the endless suffering of the African masses, and Femi sees the struggles of the people as a positive action.
This year marks the centenary of the birth of John Steinbeck. He is one of the US's most passionate, poetic and socially conscious writers. His novels often give voice to those denied it, especially in the Depression years before World War Two in the US. His stories are those of the dispossessed.
"The real John Nash Jr was schizophrenic, and he did win the Nobel Prize, but that's where the similarity ends". So said a mathematician discussing A Beautiful Mind on the radio. Most biopics I've seen are either wildly inaccurate, boring, or so whitewashed as to strip the humanity out of their subject. This one falls in to the first and last categories, while also managing to be boring.
Nitin Sawhney recently received an award in Radio 3's celebration of world music. His response was to criticise the idea of world music: "The whole category of 'world music' is about apartheid in record shops. "Terminology which marginalises people on the basis of their cultural heritage I find deeply racist and condescending."
The "War on terrorism" has projected Islamism into the centre of political debate. The right wing equate Islam with evil fanaticism.
Set in occupied France during the Second World War, Charlotte Gray tells the story of a young Scottish woman who is recruited to the Special Operations Executive. Charlotte, played by Cate Blanchett, wants to defeat fascism and search for her missing lover. She is sent to work with the French Resistance.
Monsters, Inc is the latest film from the creators of Toy Story and A Bug's Life. It is set in Monstropolis, home to a population of monsters of all shapes and sizes. The Monsters, Inc scream processing unit supplies the town with its power.
The US ruling class would probably rather we watch the gung-ho war film Black Hawk Down than Ali, a biopic about a black American Muslim who took on the system. But as Muhammad Ali himself said in 1967, "I am America. I am the part you won't recognise, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky-my name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me." The film begins in 1964, when the civil rights movement moved from pacifist protests in the apartheid Southern states to riot and rebellion in the North.
Gosford Park, the new film from director Robert Altman, is a whodunit-style murder mystery set in a stately home in Britain in the early 1930s. It has a cast list that reads like a who's who of top British actors. But Gosford Park is more than an Agatha Christie-ish murder mystery.