MUSIC Be Here Now Oasis (Sony Music) The week this fair piece of pop was released in Britain, the BBC World Service actually got a classical music professor's opinion on it. Predictably the stuffy toff prof said the album 'lacked modulation', which in layman's terms means, 'it's rubbish'. His opinions were only slightly less ridiculous than those of a young and right-on critic on the same programme who was out to convince the listening public that Be Here Now was the best collection of tunes ever written. What Oasis are is not worthy of a music professor's time and comments, or the kind of blind devotion shown by many of today's critics. Be Here Now is an 'all right' album whose lyrics mean nothing and whose songs are best listened to extremely loud. VIDEO The Chamber Adapted from a John Grisham novel, this is a tale of a Mississippi bigot (played by Gene Hackman) whose crimes of 30 years ago have finally caught up with him. Hackman has been on death row since blowing up two Jewish children back in the 1960s, but the stays of execution have come to an end and he finally faces the reality of the gas chamber. He stands one last chance. A young lawyer (Chris O'Donnel) turns up at his prison determined to save his deeply racist skin. But there is more to the lawyer's frenzied attempts to save the condemned man than a dislike of the death sentence: he is his own blood, his grandson. The film then proceeds to attempt to show the developing relationship between the two while unravelling the past of their unfortunate family. Twisted by a race hatred that goes back through four generations of Ku Klux Klan membership, the old man attempts to convince the lawyer of the validity of the Klan's stance. But even as he spouts his invective he shows through his actions that a lifetime of hate is beginning to wear him down. The movie lacks any real denouement and while Hackman is as watchable as ever, O'Donnel wallows as he acts out of his depth. He is not helped by Faye Dunaway who over-acts as a Southern Belle and a script that lacks cohesion and spark. Watchable, only just. BOOKS The Inner Sanctum Stephen Frey (Michael Joseph Books) Say what you like about Stephen Frey, he writes excellent trashy page-turners. Even as you read his novels, you are aware of their basically empty content, but you really cannot stop yourself reading just one more chapter before bed. The Inner Sanctum is the tale of a group of powerful men who have taken to influencing world stock markets through a complex set of connections in government, the military, and Wall Street. They are men who wield their power through threats, blackmail, and if necessary, murder. Murder is what they resort to when a lowly tax inspector unwittingly stumbles on their schemes, but the assassinated tax man has left a secret message for a colleague, the feisty Jesse. Outraged by her friend's murder, Jesse sets out to uncover the dealings of those who occupy the inner sanctum. She is confronted by betrayal, lies, and the fact that sometimes you just have to trust people to get things done. Frey has a way of constructing a story that keeps you hooked which makes him exactly the kind of writer you want when entertainment, rather than intellectual stimulation, is what you are after. Jack Maggs Peter Carey (Faber & Faber) An astonishingly rich and dense work, Jack Maggs transports you back into the dark and crime-riddled streets of Victorian London in a manner which grips from the word go and will not let go. Jack Maggs is an illegal returnee from the Australian penal colonies. Having been pardoned he has made a fortune in bricks in the colony, but has risked it all to come back to his homeland to be reunited with his feckless son. Maggs is a marvellously constructed character. He is a large, muscular bruiser of a man and Carey describes this physical presence so well that it becomes all but tangible. He carries with him a real threat, but along with that threat he has deep compassion born of terrible suffering. As he describes his tortured life in a journal to his long lost son, there are moments when Maggs' experiences become almost too tragic to bear. Maggs' story is tragic in the extreme, and the degree to which we empathise with this ultimately gentle man is a tribute to Carey's writing. An unmissable work, to be read, re-read and savoured.