Lovely Difficult, (Sterns Music), the fourth album from Havana-born, Cape Verde-raised Mayra Andrade is more the first than the second adjective of its title. Singing in English, Cape Verdean, Portuguese and French, Andrade has produced a breezy collection of sophisticated chanson infused by Cape Verdean funana and batuque styles. Chilean singer Soledad Vélez’s second album, Run with Wolves (Absolute Beginners) uses instruments that span standard Western rock band items to Latin percussion and charangos (tiny guitars). Powerful in a PJ Harvey way, it’s addictive.
Books on capitalism are all the rage. In his Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (Profile Books), radical geographer David Harvey argues that destructive tensions within capitalism are inherent to it and therefore can only be dealt with by replacing it. Whatever you make of his conclusions, Harvey’s critique is powerful and rich with insight.
The book that has taken the mainstream by storm is French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press), provoking rightwing commentators to dub him ‘a neo-Marxist’. Regular readers of this magazine may find little new in Piketty’s analysis (that capitalism is unfair, inequality is growing and classical orthodox economics serves us ill). But he has managed to establish historical evidence as firmly as it’s ever likely to be, and his capacity to get his message out to massive audience is impressive. Meanwhile, our own Richard Swift goes beyond critique to solutions in SOS: Alternatives to Capitalism (New Internationalist). He pilots us thoughtfully through the credible alternatives and goes the extra mile to consider how one in particular, degrowth, might actually work. ‘SOS’ comes from his conviction that the survival of humanity depends on our finding a replacement for capitalism.
When I Saw You, Annemarie Jacir’s gentle, yearning and often rather beautiful film, follows a spirited Palestinian boy who, marooned with his mother in a Jordanian refugee camp after the Six Day War, sets off to return home and find his father.
Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo is riveting as it follows the economic and emotional insecurities of a status-conscious lower middle-class family and their Filipina maid during Singapore’s economic crash of the late 1990s.
Pantani, a doc about the revered Italian road cyclist and unbeatable climber, reveals the institutional and economic pressures on cyclists, and the man’s descent into depression and early death after a ban for blood doping.
Blu-ray and dvd: To see how power protects itself, watch Francesco Rossi’s hard-hitting, dynamically shot classic Le Mani Sulla Città (Hands Over The City). Canny business interests and corrupt officials ride out a building collapse in a 1960s Naples slum and make mega bucks from property development.