Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ...
Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits
This page features links to reviews of movies, documentaries and exhibits with a historical theme. Listings are in reverse chronological order. Descriptions are taken directly from the linked publication. If you have articles you think should be listed on the Pop Culture page, please send them to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: John Lichfield in the Independent (UK) (2-8-07)
In October 1935, two tiny, emaciated young women in ragged skirts came to the angle of the Avenue Macmahon and the Rue Troyon from the poor districts of north-eastern Paris. They stood on a corner which was then a Metro entrance, but is now the exit ramp from an underground car park.
One of the young women, no taller than a 10-year-old, began to sing in a booming, haunting voice, which seemed too large to come from such a small body. Her friend went around with a woollen beret collecting money from passers-by. An audience gathered. They included Louis Leplée, who owned a cabaret just off the Champs-Elysées.
He invited the singer - Edith Gassion, 20 years old and 4ft 8in tall - to come and see him at his club. He gave her a job, but insisted that she change her stage name to La Môme Piaf - the kid sparrow.
And so it was that M. Leplée, a once-famous man long forgotten, "discovered" Edith Piaf, who has never been forgotten. She became the best-known and best-loved of all French singers, both inside and outside France.
Her voice - raw, rich, passionate, gritty, tragic, joyful - made her an icon of a timeless Frenchness, like berets, dark tobacco, soft cheese, yellow car headlights, red wine or the burnt-rubber smell of the Paris Metro.
Some of those icons have long ago disappeared, but Piaf's popularity endured, at home and abroad, for many years after her death in 1963. To the Madonna, Kylie and Beyoncé generations, she is, perhaps, less well known.
In the next few months, the world, old and young, French and foreign, has an opportunity to discover Edith Piaf again. A new film about her life, La Môme, premieres at the Berlin Film Festival today, and in France next week. It will be shown in Britain and America as La Vie en Rose, probably from 8 June.
SOURCE: Reuters (2-6-07)
The Australia pop diva's leopard-skin catsuits and pink-bejeweled corsets were draped across the halls of the Victoria and Albert Museum whose advance bookings record has been broken by the Kylie show.
"I was absolutely speechless," Minogue said after touring the exhibition which displays lavish dresses and outlandish hats from her nine tours.
"It is a very strange feeling, I am honored and overwhelmed," she said after being given a private viewing before an opening night show which was more like a glitzy film premier than a museum launch.
For critics who asked if the exhibition qualified as art, the 38-year-old Minogue said: "Art is what you like or what you don't like."
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (2-5-07)
The opera was conceived, composed and conducted by Tan. It featured a creative team that was largely Chinese, including the renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou as director and the National Book Award-winning author Ha Jin as co-librettist with Tan. It had a Chinese story line — an imagined incident in the life of China's historic first emperor, Qin Shi Huang — and a star-studded cast, with the tenor Plácido Domingo in the title role. Indeed the opera, a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera and the Los Angeles Opera, contained so many Chinese elements that People's Daily proudly proclaimed it "the first China-made opera to be presented at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House."
Eager to experience what many viewed as a symbol of their nation's cultural arrival, Beijing's better-heeled music lovers flew to New York for opening night Dec. 21, sending back word of a stunning production, a capacity house and multiple ovations. Chinese newspapers were splashed with photos of Domingo dressed in imperial robes. And then, like rain on a parade, came news of the reviews from New York's make-it-or-break-it critical establishment.
SOURCE: Guardian (2-5-07)
Some of the places on the map, unveiled today by the national tourism agency VisitBritain, are existing tourist attractions such as Salford Lads Club, where Smiths fans go to recreate the moment the band posed outside the club for the inside cover of their classic album The Queen is Dead. Others have a more tangential connection. Hatfield House is included on the basis that Adam and the Ants filmed the Stand and Deliver video there.
SOURCE: http://www.spiegel.de (2-2-07)
Most people have enough trouble imagining their parents having sex. But your ancestors from 100,000 years ago? Yes, they had sex too, strange as it may sound. In fact, humans have been having sex since ... well, since humanity existed.
Now a new exhibition in Germany pays tribute to 100 glorious millennia of making out and doin' it. The show "100,000 Years of Sex" at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettman near Düsseldorf addresses -- in a strictly scientific manner, of course -- such burning questions as: When did we start feeling lust and thinking about sex? Did meat get exchanged for sex in the Stone Age? And just how did the ancient Greeks and Romans do it?
The exhibition which opens Feb. 3 and runs through May 20, features voluptuous clay figures, well-endowed statues and ancient containers featuring rather raunchy engravings. The visitor can expect a "journey through time as interesting as it is pleasurable," the museum said in a press release. Highlights include a 28,000-year-old phallus and the oldest condom in the world.
SOURCE: Charles Isherwood in the NYT (2-4-07)
It emerged from a woman in her 60s, or perhaps a little older, who was slowly making her way across the Lincoln Center plaza, leaning heavily on a walker, as evening fell after a matinee performance of the second installment of Tom Stoppard’s “Coast of Utopia” at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.
She called it out, apparently to me and my companion as we moved past her, but perhaps more generally to the world at large. With a friendly laugh I allowed that I thought I was getting most of it. This seemed only to darken her mood.
Clearly Mr. Stoppard’s expansive panorama of 19th-century Russian philosophy and history has left at least one customer unsatisfied, or at least bewildered. This might come as a surprise if you’ve read the almost unalloyed praise that has been heaped upon this ambitious three-part opus, which has become a sort of cultural juggernaut and the season’s indispensable ticket for those who consider themselves serious theatergoers. But if that bewildered woman had asked me one or two corollary questions, namely “Are you enjoying it?” or “Do you think it’s a great play?,” my answers would have been “not so much” and “no.”...
SOURCE: AP (2-2-07)
The museum, three main buildings in elegant pale yellow and white bricks with green-glazed roofs in imitation of a traditional palace facade, sits at the foot of a suburban Taipei mountain.
It fittingly houses more than 655,000 artefacts from China spanning some 7,000 years, from the prehistoric Neolithic period to the last imperial Qing dynasty (1644-1912).
The museum was originally founded in 1925 in China by a warlord who evicted Pu Yi, the last emperor, from his palace -- what is now known as the Forbidden City in Beijing -- and took charge of the palace's riches.
He later turned over control of the palace, the court and the emperor's living quarters to the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) which overthrew the imperial rulers in 1911.
SOURCE: Telegraph (2-4-07)
The life and works of the author, who died a spinster at the age of 41 in 1817, form the basis of no fewer than six forthcoming films and television series, along with plans for new editions of her works, tailored to the teenage market.
A host of young stars, including Billie Piper, best known for her role as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who, James McAvoy, who starred in Channel 4's Shameless, and Anne Hathaway, the star of The Princess Diaries will spearhead the new Austen revival which, unlike previous adaptations, will be aimed at younger viewers.
Bookshops and libraries, anticipating a surge of interest in the author as a result of her exposure on both the big and small screens, are planning major displays of her works. A spokesman for Waterstone's, Britain's biggest bookseller, predicted it would sell more copies of Austen's works than at any time since Colin Firth emerged from a lake during the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in 1995, while Penguin said it planned new editions of the author's six best-known works with covers designed to appeal to teenagers.
SOURCE: Email circulated by Robert Ellman (2-3-07)
Brick by Brick: A Civil Rights Story, is a documentary covering the struggle for civil rights in Yonkers, New York. This Friday, at 9PM (EST), PBS will televise the documentary locally in the New York metropolitan area. The film's director and producer, Bill Kavanagh first started working on this project in 1988 and he agreed to be interviewed by me.
Listen to, "History and Civil Rights in Yonkers, New York: A Podcast Interview With Filmmaker Bill Kavanagh" in the Intepid Liberal Journal.
[The SOURCE link is to the podcast interview.]
SOURCE: UPI (2-2-07)
The Feb. 24 presentation includes recollections from living veterans on the invasion of Normandy and the troop buildup in England prior to the invasion, the network said.
Before World War II, the Marines and the Air Force barred blacks. In the Navy, blacks served as cooks, stewards or longshoremen. The Army had a few black combat units that were mostly led by whites. Most black battalions were segregated from the rest of the military and experienced discrimination.
In 1997, after an Army study determined there was systematic racial discrimination in criteria used to award medals during World War II, President Bill Clinton awarded seven Medals of Honor to black veterans; only one was alive at the time.
SOURCE: NYT (2-2-07)
Shown at three New York locations, the exhibition traces Moses’ remarkable career as parks commissioner from 1934 to 1960 and as a leader of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority from 1934 to 1968, when he oversaw a radical transformation of New York through the construction of bridges, expressways and public parks and vast slum clearance projects. It paints a nuanced portrait of a man who, in the public imagination at least, has become a caricature of the ruthless bureaucrat.
Most effectively, the show maps the extent to which Moses’ decisions were governed by the larger forces shaping the 20th-century city: a booming car culture, panic over middle-class flight to the suburbs, the rigid orthodoxies of late Modernism. In the process it demolishes the polarizing arguments that still define New York architecture and planning debates a quarter-century after the master builder’s death. Organized by Hilary Ballon, an architectural historian at Columbia University, the show should be required viewing for all government bureaucrats involved in urban policy — no, for anyone who loves New York.
For a generation of New Yorkers, Moses’ reputation was defined by his bitter battles in the 1960s, like the one with Jane Jacobs over a freeway proposal that would have condemned large sections of Lower Manhattan to the wrecking ball. It was cemented by Robert A. Caro’s “Power Broker,” the 1974 biography that famously portrayed Moses as a villainous figure who, through his control of federal slum clearance and highway money, was able to trample tens of thousands of lives, uprooting entire neighborhoods in a quest to impose his megalomaniacal vision: a city of dehumanizing superblocks strangled in ribbons of expressways.
The show’s intelligence is that it doesn’t shy away from Moses’ dark side. It includes one of his most shameful projects, the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway, which displaced thousands of souls and pitilessly erased the thriving middle-class neighborhood of East Tremont.
SOURCE: Reuters (2-1-07)
The script revolves around Crowe's character's investigation of a series of murders in which Robin Hood is the suspect.
The project hails from Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, creators of the series "Sleeper Cell." Imagine Entertainment is producing.
"Part of the strength of the script was the simple idea of doing Robin Hood by making the sheriff the good guy," Reiff said.
The bidding war came down to Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, though Regency Enterprises, DreamWorks Pictures and Columbia Pictures were said to be involved as well. About 36 hours after the script had gone out, Universal won. And the writers -- whose "Sleeper Cell" Showtime had canceled on January 25 -- became part of one the biggest deals in some time.
SOURCE: Simon Cockerell at http://www.nkzone.org (1-31-07)
The film, narrated by Christian Slater, had its world premiere at the Pusan film festival in South Korea late last year and the 5 screenings at Sundance were the first chance for an American audience to see it, any NKzoners passing through or near Berlin in February can see the film at the Berlin Film Festival.
In addition to 'Crossing the Line' another film featuring NK was on show at the festival, 'Comrades in Dreams', a documentary on cinema projectionists around the world was in Utah also
The producers of the film appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes last sunday, Richardson has a post on it already over at DPRKstudies.org
Below is a review of 'Crossing the Line'....
SOURCE: Gregory Elich at the website of Japan Focus (1-31-07)
The film opens on the streets of Baghdad, just days before the war. Daily life appears ordinary on the surface, but this is belied by an underlying tension as Iraqis express their thoughts on the impending assault.
It is not long before bombs and missiles are raining down on Baghdad, and the violence is all the more shocking for the scenes of normality that preceded it. In contrast to the sanitized images the Western public has been fed, this documentary takes an unflinching view of the war. Homes are destroyed, civilians are torn apart by bombs, and blood is spattered everywhere. A man opens a shed, pointing to the bodies within, and bitterly comments, "So these are the weapons of mass destruction." As flies swarm over the bodies, he asks, "Are they weapons of mass destruction? Is it a biochemical weapon? Why?"
U.S. tanks and vehicles enter Baghdad, and a spunky young woman confronts the soldiers by demanding, "How many children have you killed today?" This woman, who was a member of the Human Shields, tells the soldiers that she was there as a peacemaker. One soldier insists that they are the peacemakers, and in disbelief the woman responds, "You're a peacemaker? When you kill these innocent children? That's a peacemaker? Have you been to the hospitals? Have you actually had a look at the people in the hospitals, dying and dead?"...
SOURCE: NYT (1-29-07)
What this at least partly seems to suggest is that liberals do not sanctify their own with quite the same verve as their conservative counterparts. One of Mr. Friedman’s greatest rivals, the Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, died about six months earlier, in April, and Americans have yet to bear witness to a similar pageantry.
Mr. Galbraith makes a brief appearance in “The Power of Choice: The Life and Ideas of Milton Friedman,” a documentary on PBS tonight, as the only detractor to Mr. Friedman’s free-market absolutism. The film is so unabashedly venerating — it would credit Mr. Friedman with inventing the Hubble Telescope if it could — that it ultimately does its subject a disservice, refusing the spirit of argument that was so obviously Mr. Friedman’s lifeblood.
SOURCE: NYT (1-30-07)
SOURCE: NYT (1-30-07)
The lure was the Spanish Civil War. In February 1936 Spanish voters elected, by a small plurality, a center-left coalition of Socialists, Communists, Republicans and Anarchists. Then in July, Gen. Francisco Franco led an uprising against the five-year-old Spanish Republic that plunged the country into civil war.
Mussolini and Hitler supported Franco, while Stalin sent advisers and arms to his opponents. The United States, Britain and France sat on the sidelines.
The writers and foreign correspondents who came to Spain invented a new kind of war journalism, reporting in first-person, eyewitness accounts the brutal feel of the battlefield.
Their two-and-a-half-year chronicle became something more, an intimate encounter with the great ideological battles of the time: between church and state; rich and poor; the aristocracy and the classless; democracy and fascism.
A traveling exhibition organized for the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Cervantes Institute in Madrid commemorates that journalism with original news clippings from publications as different as Esquire and Pravda. Titled “Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939,” it is part of a vast soul-searching throughout Spain over the terror of the 1936 uprising and civil war that brought General Franco to power and kept his dictatorship in place until his death in 1975. The exhibition, which runs until Feb. 25 in Madrid, was shown last year at the institute’s New York offices and in Lisbon. It will travel next to three cities in France, two cities in Poland and one each in Stockholm and Moscow.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (1-30-07)
In about five months, the Museum of Broadcast Communications will host a public celebration of Franklin D. Roosevelt's historic "New Deal" speech at Chicago's 1932 Democratic convention.
On July 2, 75 years to the day after FDR took to the stage at the Chicago Stadium and issued a stirring "call to arms ... to restore America," actor Robert Vaughn ("The Man from U.N.C.L.E.") surrounded by bunting and period signs will re-create that speech to highlight the evening's festivities at the 3,900-seat Auditorium Theatre.
In the thunderous 47-minute address to the delegates and a national radio audience, Roosevelt promised the Depression-weary nation "bold leadership in distress relief" and "a new order of competence and of courage" as part of "a new deal for the American people."
The speech marked his first known use of the expression that came to symbolize America's economic recovery, according to Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum supervisory archivist Bob Clark.
SOURCE: AP (1-30-07)
The Butler Institute of American Art bought the painting Nov. 30 in a sale at Christie's Auction House in New York. The previous owner was Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot.
The acquisition was announced Sunday. The painting will be unveiled Feb. 16.
"This is the biggest event in my 25 years at the Butler, in terms of adding to the collection," said Louis Zona, director of the Butler.
SOURCE: Reuters (1-30-07)
Called "Citizens and Kings," the show at London's Royal Academy of Arts gathers works by artists like Goya, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Joshua Reynolds, Jacques-Louis David and Thomas Gainsborough.
The early works feature kings and queens in their pomp and finery, confident in the supreme power they believed was a God-given right.
But war and revolution in the United States and France challenged that assumption, and painters and sculptors came to portray Enlightenment leaders as statesmen weighed down by civic duty and championing reason and scientific progress.