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, 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


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?


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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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own