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: Independent (UK) (10-20-06)
In a fraction of one of those seconds he produced one of the world's most admired, reproduced and imitated romantic photographs: a picture of two lovers kissing outside the Paris town hall in 1950.
The photograph - Le Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville - is tucked away casually amongst 280 other Doisneau images in a free exhibition which began yesterday at, appropriately, the Paris town hall.
Doisneau, who died in 1994, aged 81, would presumably have approved of the decision to treat his most reproduced image as just a small part of his work. He came to hate the "kiss" photograph, which caused him legal problems late in his life and (baseless) accusations of cheating by using actors. He made it clear from its first publication in Life magazine in 1950 that the picture was posed - but that the couple were genuine lovers who he had...
SOURCE: John Sutherland in the Guardian (10-19-06)
I watched the film in the Odeon, Camden Town. As readers of Bennett's diaries will know, it's home ground - opposite Fresh and Wild, where the playwright likes to shop. To say the audience was friendly to their Parkway Laureate would be an understatement. There were anticipatory titters as the credits rolled round. The aisles, thereafter, were scarcely wide enough for all the rolling around in them.
The plot of The History Boys is simple. It is 1983 - the Thatcher years, and the industrial north. Think Billy Elliot, think Full Monty. At a modest grammar school in Sheffield, a group of sixth-formers haul in a batch of unusually good A-level history results. They are streamed...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (10-19-06)
But the work that is absorbing devotees of Spain's greatest painter and pre-eminent exponent of baroque is to be found a short distance across London, in the former French embassy building which houses the Wallace Collection. Here resides Velázquez's work Lady with a Fan (c1630-1650), which has been the source of long arguments over the identity of the elegant sitter who betrays the faintest hint of décollete.
The received wisdom is that she is one of the many Spanish courtesans painted by Velázquez during his 43 years as court painter for King Philip IV of Spain.
But a British art historian, Zahira Veliz Bomford, has presented a robust challenge, claiming the subject...
SOURCE: NYT (10-20-06)
The film distills much of the material covered in James Bradley and Ron Powers’s affecting book of the same title about the raising of the American flag during the battle for Iwo Jima. Mr. Bradley’s father, John Bradley, nicknamed Doc and played by an effectively restrained Ryan Phillippe, was one of six men who helped plant the flag (it was the...
SOURCE: NYT (10-15-06)
SOURCE: David Thomson in the Independent (UK) (10-15-06)
These deaths were a vital part of the calculation that a direct assault on Japan would result in as many as half-a-million losses. It was in July that the atom bomb would be tested for the first time. And by then, America had thrilled to a journalistic photograph of a group of Marines raising the American flag on the shattered peak of Iwo Jima. In the photo, the flag is not yet upright and the Marines are labouring over it. It looks like a Rodin...
SOURCE: Guardian (10-15-06)
SOURCE: NYT (10-13-06)
There can't be many people under 40 for whom the lost convention of the"seventh-term" Oxbridge exam means anything, and even among the over-40s, it isn't exactly a cultural touchstone, like the 11-plus. But until 20 years ago, this was how post-A-level teenagers at top schools prepared for the now abolished entrance examinations for Oxford and Cambridge Universities: they came back after the summer for one more term of cramming - sometimes in a daringly relaxed, proto-collegiate style - before sitting the papers just before Christmas. It is this arena of callow and precocious learning in which Alan Bennett set his smash-hit 2004 play about a bunch of bright young lads at a Sheffield grammar school, going all out for Oxbridge glory. This has now been turned into a stagey and oddly contrived movie directed by Nick Hytner, with the kind of elaborate, highly worked...
SOURCE: Press Release--New-York Historical Society (10-13-06)
The exhibition, spearheaded by Society President and CEO Louise Mirrer, marks the final installation of a two-year, three-part examination of the history and legacy of slavery in New York and the nation. It began last fall with the critically acclaimed Slavery in New York, followed by Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery, a contemporary art exhibition created around the theme of slavery and its stark historical repercussions.
SOURCE: NYT (10-11-06)
Yet if high drama seems assured, casting the right actor to play the lead is trickier because, unlike the case with most English monarchs before Queen Victoria, we know exactly what Henry Tudor looked like. And he was no matinee idol. As seen in Hans Holbein’s famous portraits, he was square-headed, bearded and seriously overweight.
In other words, he did not look at all like Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, the handsome 29-year-old Irish actor who is playing Henry in “The Tudors,” Showtime’s 10-part series, currently being filmed in and around here [Dublin] and scheduled to be broadcast in the United States early next year.
FASTEN your seatbelts for some historical turbulence and critical fire. Germany is preparing to break a 61-year-old taboo by celebrating the life of one of its war heroes, the flying ace known as the Red Baron.
A film depicting the daring deeds of Manfred von Richthofen — who shot down 80 British, Canadian, and Australian pilots during the First World War — will be released in German cinemas next year.
It is sure to stir up a furore. Since 1945 German soldiers have either been portrayed on film as heel-clicking fanatics, closet pacifists or reluctant victims of the Nazi machine. From the terrified submariners in Das Boot (1981) to the tired survivors of Downfall (2004), there has not been much space for derring-do.
The Red Baron however is different: a cult figure abroad, though not in Germany, he is set to bring back the idea of battlefield bravery.
SOURCE: NYT (10-5-06)
You might be inclined to choose the White House’s current occupant. After all, according to some analysts, George W. Bush has presided over the biggest power grab by the executive branch in American history. And certainly he’s a favorite punching bag of Off and Off Off Broadway theater these days.
But I’m afraid you’d be wrong. The cranky figure braying excuses for his role in the crisis enveloping his country is actually Richard M. Nixon, as portrayed with captivating relish by Gerry Bamman in the MCC Theater revival of Russell Lees’s play “Nixon’s Nixon.”
SOURCE: NYT (10-4-06)
The queasily enjoyable fiction film “The Last King of Scotland,” based on the novel by Giles Foden and directed by Kevin Macdonald, creates a portrait of the famous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin from inside the palace walls. Furiously paced, with excellent performances by Forest Whitaker as Amin and James McAvoy as the foolish Scotsman who becomes the leader’s personal physician, the film has texture, if not depth and enough intelligence to almost persuade you that it actually has something of note to say. The film makes the case that Amin was rational enough to understand his country’s tangled relationship with British imperialism and to inject that sociopolitical understanding into words.
SOURCE: NYT (10-4-06)
Writer and director Sofia Coppola puts a new spin on the life and times of one of Europe's most infamous monarchs in this lavish historical drama which fuses a contemporary sensibility with painstaking recreations of the look of the 18th century. Born to Austrian nobility, Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) is only 14 years old when she's pledged to marry Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman), the 15-year-old king of France, in an alliance that has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with love. Sent to France and literally stripped of her former life, Marie weds Louis, but to the consternation of the royal court, he seems either unwilling or unable to consummate the marriage while their advisors clamor for an heir to the throne. (News Story: Historians Blast Kirsten Dunst's 'Marie Antoinette')
SOURCE: NYT (9-29-06)
How heavy that crown and how very lightly Helen Mirren wears it as queen. With Mr. Frears’s gentle guidance, she delivers a performance remarkable in its art and lack of sentimentalism.
SOURCE: NYT (9-22-06)
SOURCE: NYT (9-21-06)