MUSIC Iron Maiden. Best if the Beast. (Castle Records) I believe in keeping musical tastes eclectic - hence my thumbs up for this heap of sexist, throbbing, thumping rock. The natural successors to the brilliant heavy metal Brits (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), Iron Maiden took shape in the mid-1970s, with big hair and breathtaking technical virtuosity - all in the face of the anti-metal punk movement. The lyrics resemble the rantings of a sex-starved 16-year-old, but you've got to admire the Maiden's unswerving dedication to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. These days, of course, the lads are so old that sex is probably when they can manage it and drugs are the kind you take for sore throats. But, hey, they can still rock. Johnny Cash. Unchained (American Records) You always get value for money from that old country favourite, Johnny Cash. Unchained is an entertaining collection of original songs, gospel, rock covers and country standards from one of Country & Western's most enduring talents. As a bonus, Cash is backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who rattle through the numbers with an urgency and verve which belies their years. Fronting the frothy whole is Cash's trademark wobbly vocals, sounding as good as ever. There is more oomph here than Cash has provided in many a year, making this album a must for long-time fans and an excellent starting point for newcomers. BOOKS In The Beauty Of The Lilies. John Updike (Penguin) This is a heavyweight of a book which maps the consequences of loss of faith through four generations of an American family in the 20th century. God is replaced by the unreality of cinema, faith by the acquisitive fever of capitalism. Updike examines both what we have become as the milliennium approaches and, perhaps just as importantly, how the beliefs of generations have been eroded away. Impressive, scholarly and epic in its scope, In The Beauty of the Lilies marks a return to form for one of the better writers of the late 20th-century. VIDEO The Star Man Giuseppe Tornatore had a marvellous idea when he came up with the concept for this film. A conman, Joe Morelli (Sergio Castellitto), arrives in post-war Sicily with a US army surplus camera and lighting rig in his rundown van. He claims to be a representative of Universal Studios in Rome, who has been sent to scout for new faces to star in the capital's latest big picture. 'You know how much movie stars earn every year. Millions and millions,' he cries in the public squares of hamlets. Traffic comes to a halt, people gather round and eventually queue up to pay for a screen test that might be their passport out of poverty. It's a chance anyway. But the film in Morelli's camera has been exposed and is useless. Besides, he has no contacts in the film business, and the pictures of him hobnobbing with the stars are just cheap fakes. Morelli's plan is to hit the villages, con the locals out of their money and leave quickly, promising that Rome will be in touch within a fortnight. At least that's the plan. But as his journey around Sicily progresses, he finds it increasingly difficult to remain indifferent to the cruelty of his scam. When his would-be stars can't remember their lines, he simply asks them to say a little something about their lives. But without any film in his camera, Morelli misses the chance to record fascinating documentary footage about the hopes and dreams of the peasants of Sicily. And as the movie progresses he subconsciously begins to realise this. The pennies he makes from his rotten trade lose any significance in the face of the dreams he steals and then throws away. As with every Tornatore film (Cinema Paradiso and A Pure Formality), there are genuinely touching moments, and the acting is first class in parts. There is also a large supporting cast of amateurs dragged off the street to play acting wannabees. All this combined with a stirring Ennio Morricone score and superb camera work from Dante Spinotti makes it a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood fare.