Tom Jennings's blog

Futures, by John Barker

An expertly crafted crime novel exploring cocaine trafficking in Thatcherite London, Futures also serves as a parable of neoliberalism with considerably broader resonance.

Utopia, by John Pilger

A comprehensive and impassioned denunciation of Australia's policies towards its aboriginal people.

The Selfish Giant, directed by Clio Barnard

This carefully crafted rites of passage drama contests mainstream contempt for the poor while pulling no punches regarding their increasingly desperate circumstances.

Clampdown: pop-cultural wars on class and gender, by Rhian E. Jones

A superb addition to Zero Books' list of slim volumes reaching the sociocultural-political parts other publishers can't reach

Top Boy, series 2, by Ronan Bennett, Channel 4

Rather than glamourising, demonising or stereotyping ghetto criminals, this carefully crafted ensemble drama projects anti-social labelling back onto those with power and wealth

Top of the Lake, by Jane Campion, BBC2

This bewitching imaginary of symbolic expression and obscene realism has far more depth than your average TV police drama.

The East, directed by Zal Batmanglij

A rare cinema fiction tackling radical environmentalism ties itself in knots trying to offer a 'balanced' argument

The Spirit of '45, directed by Ken Loach

This elegy to the gains for ordinary people made in the UK after 1945 – now largely clawed back – fails to inspire due to its lack of analysis of what went wrong.

One Mile Away, directed by Penny Woolcock

Exemplary engaged film-making and an award-winning account of faltering attempts to turn around apparently implacable inner-city negativity.

Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino

Despite wilful ignorance, gross error and prejudicial omission, this 'full-blooded' film entertainment speaks volumes about the hurt and rage of injuries past and present as well as the yearning for renewal.

Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and Complicit, by Guy Hibbert, BBC2

Tom Jennings considers the new softcore torture porn entertaining justifications of crimes against humanity in the name of its greater good.

Ill Manors, directed by Ben Drew, and The Angels' Share, directed by Ken Loach

Official 'truth' being more dishonest as well as stranger than fiction, Tom Jennings looks instead at feral youth fairytales screened since last August's riots.

Reacting to Reality Television, by Beverley Skeggs & Helen Wood

A welcome and invaluable critical analysis of some of the effects of the genre on its viewers.

UK screen representations of youth in austerity

Two decades-worth of British poverty porn reveals more than might be thought.

The War on Terra, by Verbal Terrorists

“Rhyming for a reason, we ain’t here for the hell of it: Fuck ya deficit!” (Efeks, ‘Mass Production’)

Wuthering Heights, directed by Andrea Arnold

Never mind the prissy costume drama bollocks. This raw punk historicism is a landmark, in several senses, of British cinema.

Top Boy, by Ronan Bennett, Channel 4

Yet another teenage gang tall story glimpses beyond the moral panics and tired miserabilism of most poverty porn.

Attack the Block, directed by Joe Cornish

An apparently refreshing take on underclass alienation soon sours into the same old rancid reaction

Street Summer season, Channel 4

A naff cultural-historical hip-hop gospel packaged according to MTV aesthetics ...

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, by Adam Curtis, BBC2

Adam Curtis’ challenge to domination by computer systems asks questions the mainstream media – and the Left – typically avoid.