Arts and Entertainment

The success of the film's soundtrack has been key

Liotard, Jean-Etienne: La Belle Chocolatire (c.1745)

The Independent's Great Art series

The best world fiction for Christmas

Any honest observer of the book business in Britain will spend much of any year sunk in head-shaking gloom about its condescension to readers, its timid addiction to every passing fad, and its urge to throw good money after feather-light ephemera. Come Christmas, and the chain-store displays wear these marks of shame as badges of pride. Yet plenty of exciting and enduring books do break through the barrier of hype. From fiction to food, art to science, history to biography, this section celebrates a wide variety of the year's finest titles. Any book here can be ordered from Independent Books Direct on 0870 079 8897, or www.independentbooksdirect.co.uk, with a 10 per cent discount and free p&p on all orders: quote X10/06. So give your mind, and imagination, a truly festive feast.

Genetic breakthrough that reveals the differences between humans

Scientists hail genetic discovery that will change human understanding

Joe Ranft

Oscar-nominated writer for Pixar

Toy Story

'If you wake up on Christmas morning and you haven't got Robosapien under the tree, your parents don't love you.' Susie Mesure discovers how a 14in robot battled Barbie and beat the Beanies to become this year's must-have gift

The Incredibles (U)

The fantastic four

FILM: BOX OFFICE

UK films

Letter: Hollywood hype

Sir: Charles Harris is right (letter, 8 November). Hollywood hype is starving the rest of the film industry of oxygen.

The Information on: Randy Newman's `Bad Love'

What Is It?

RECORDS

Randy Newman: Bad Love (Dreamworks) Following a decade of Oscar-nominated film soundtracks, Randy Newman's first "personal" album since 1988 is delectably vintage stuff. There's a glorious breadth and depth both to the music and to the satire as Newman dissects everything from 16th-century European explorers to "froggish men, unpleasant to see" who have procured beautiful young wives. He even has a lunge at rock has-beens ("Each record that I'm making/ Is like a record that I've made/ Just not as good"), a brave move for a 54-year-old. As ever, Newman's trick is to compose vaudeville tunes as cuddlesome as those he wrote for Toy Story, and then to populate them with repugnant characters so believable that it's hard work to remind yourself that they really are just characters and that Newman can be Buzz Lightyear when he wants, too. Bad Love is just as good as any record he's made.

Film: Video Round-Up

Small Soldiers (PG)
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