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See below to watch the trailers for this week's DVD and Blu-Ray releases

Award

NEAL Ascherson, the Independent on Sunday's columnist, has won the Orwell Prize for political writing. He is the first winner of the award, established by the George Orwell Memorial Fund and The Political Quarterly.

FILM / Bang, bang, you're alive: If death did not exist, the cinema would have had to invent it. Seldom is the screen so animated as when some actor is breathing his last. David Thomson considers dying in the movies, from the original 'Scarface' to 'In the Line of Fire', and nominates Hollywood's greatest expirer

THE SEVEN screenwriters are decent men and women. Their children have been in Non- Violence Awareness programs. They are devout in the faith that there are too many guns in America. Not to mention greater Los Angeles. But they have a problem with this script.

REVIEW / Soft men with hard centres: Adam Mars-Jones finds Clint Eastwood's new buddy-buddy movie, A Perfect World, both sentimental and sour

We don't exactly associate Clint Eastwood with pimping for tears, either as actor or director, but nothing brings out American sentimentality like a story about fathers and sons, and A Perfect World certainly sets out to wet a few cheeks. The strange thing about it is that it has all the characteristics of the heart-warming film except the warmth. Somehow that got left out. In one sequence, a father is ordered at gunpoint to tell his son he loves him ('Say it like you mean it'). That's pretty much the emotional dynamic of A Perfect World. We feel things not because we want to, but because a man with a gun tells us it will be much better for us if we do.

CINEMA / All's right with Clint's World

CLINT EASTWOOD is now a better director than actor. In both jobs, he has always thrived on limitation. Clint the Malibu monolith winces and glares, while Clint the director runs genre pieces through the hoops. He may be the apotheosis of the conservative artist. But while his attempts to break out of convention as an actor have verged on the ludicrous (his huffing, wooden impersonation of John Huston in White Hunter, Black Heart), as a director he's refined and deepened his genre material. In his new film, A Perfect World (15, released next Sunday), he polishes a formulaic script to a sheen.

FILM / Lights, camera, satisfaction: Time was when Hitchcock called them cattle, but now actors call the shots. Kevin Jackson on the stars turned directors

F Scott Fitzgerald famously observed that there are no second acts in American lives, but any number of American actors seem dead set on proving him wrong by nipping around to the other side of the camera, donning natty baseball caps and starting fresh careers as directors. Over the last couple of weeks, the London Film Festival has screened directorial debuts from the likes of Robert de Niro (A Bronx Tale), Andy Garcia (Cachao) and Forest Whitaker (Strapped). Meanwhile, The Man without a Face, Mel Gibson's first stab at directing, opened at the weekend.

The bad and the indifferent

LAST WEEK, I went to see Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven. In one sense, it was all Eastwood. Once again, the wordless, narrow-eyed loner wreaks justice with his gun. Once again, the sky and the mountains look down on a community mired in cruelty and cowardice, waiting for its saviour. But Unforgiven is more than just another Clintiad.

FILM / One man and his doggedness

A LOW hiss is pitted against a whiny drawl in In the Line of Fire (15): it's a battle between two memorable movie voices, Clint Eastwood and John Mal kovich. They don't talk much face to face: when they meet they're too busy hopping rooftops, duelling in lifts or hanging off ledges. But they chat a lot on the phone. Malkovich's cranky but clever killer spits out dental sounds like rifle shots: 'I see you standing over the grave of another dead President.' Eastwood's dim but dutiful Secret Servicer whispers sour nothing-doings back: 'That's not going to happen.' No crossed lines there, just crossed swords.

FILM / Sharing the myth: Sheila Johnston looks at the latest releases, including In the Line of Fire, which stars Clint Eastwood, and Blue

Where were you when JFK was shot? As Frank Horrigan, the Secret Service agent and former Presidential bodyguard of In the Line of Fire, Clint Eastwood was approximately six inches away and failed none the less to stop the fatal bullets. The result: the failure of his marriage and a personal guilt for the decline of a once-proud nation.

FILM / Forgiven: For years, thinking people shunned his films. Now Clint Eastwood is one of the most revered public figures in America. As an actor, he has no direct rival. Unless you count Gary Cooper

SEE CLINT run. In his latest film, In the Line of Fire, Clint Eastwood plays a secret-service agent responsible for the protection of the President. There are scenes where he has to be one of the suits running alongside the presidential limousine. Then there are the scenes where he has to double-up the pace and go sprinting after John Malkovich, the fruitiest killer Hollywood has conjured since Norman Bates. Clint does this running himself. The shots may be kindly chosen and edited. But there are scenes where he's running with actors half his age, and there's no evident concession - as there was in Personal Best, say, where real Olympic athletes had to be absent-minded and short-striding so Mariel Hemingway could beat them. Clint can flat-out run still, and he's 63.

ARTS / Video

Unforgiven (15; Warner). A man beside a grave, silhouetted by sunset: such is the image that opens and closes Unforgiven. It looks too corny by half, but then westerns have always taught us that really high-grade corn can ripen into poignancy. Clint Eastwood's most acrid and unrepentant western yet returns us to the hard-bitten pleasures of the genre, then makes us wonder why we should admire them so. Anthony Phillips

Ivory Towers: 'Make my pseudo- imperative, punk'

WHEN Clint Eastwood said 'Go ahead punk, make my day,' was he issuing a command, as the two strung- together imperatives would appear to suggest? Or was he using an imperative construction to tell the punk that if he went ahead (by reaching for his gun), this would give Mr Eastwood the excuse to fire his own magnum (the most powerful pistol in the world), thereby making his day?

Dirty Harry shoots down tabloid reporter's Hollywood scam

THE PHRASE 'reliable sources' is much abused in American journalism, but even the shadiest operators would agree that Tony Castro stretched matters a little too far.

Oscars ceremony wins honours for best political platform

HOLLYWOOD, still preening after its vocal role in the election of President Bill Clinton, has begun flexing its political muscle with the most outspoken and topical Oscars ceremony for years. Stars concluded 1 billion viewers were too good an opportunity to miss, and made use of their fleeting moments in the spotlight to hold forth on topics ranging from human rights abuses in Tibet, to HIV- positive Haitians and Panama.

Clintonomics makes their day: will Dirty Harry become The Forgiven?: As the anti-violence crusaders march on Hollywood, a man with a smoking gun strides towards the Oscars. Simon Garfield reports

In two weeks Clint Eastwood straps on the bow tie, gets out the tux and goes in search of a little bounty. Unforgiven, his latest film, has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best actor (Eastwood), best director (Eastwood), best film (produced by Eastwood). The movie, a huge draw at the box office, is an extremely brutal Western - sadistic violence, graphic pain.

Not paranoid? You're crazy]: Behind us, Dixon of Dock Green. In front, Dirty Harry. What went wrong?

John Major promised last night to tackle rising crime 'openly and directly'. Kenneth Clarke says he will do something about it. Oh dear, it looks as if another Tory 'initiative' is on the way - time to take a firm grip on your can of Mace, locate the poker and run a test on your screech alarm.
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