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 email@example.com.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-20-06)
If every picture tells a story, it is fair to say that art historians have been flummoxed by Hayman's earliest known self-portrait, done around 1735. He painted himself at work – with palette and brush in hand – but otherwise his picture is horribly composed. Who or what was he painting? Why is only a sliver of the canvas on which he is working visible? And why on earth is his right knee – and the lower portion of both legs – missing? Hayman, then living in Exeter, was either having an extremely bad paint day or..
Yesterday, the West End art dealer Philip Mould said he believed that he had found the answers. The self-portrait is just half (the left-hand half) of the picture. Mr...
SOURCE: NYT (11-19-06)
It may not be great art, but the sculpture of Rocky, the fictional boxer portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in what seems like an endless series of movies, is definitely a great draw.
“I only came for Rocky, but, heck, why not go inside?” said Miller Redpath, a visitor from Minneapolis, there with his two sons. “Who figured Rocky would lead me to culture?”
The 8-foot-6 statue took up residence this fall in a prime landscaped cove just to the right of the museum steps — the very steps that Rocky climbed triumphantly, to the sounds of “Gonna Fly Now,” in the first installment of the Rocky saga in 1976.
Inside the museum, there are Van Goghs, Picassos and Titians, but there are lots of them at other museums, too. No other museum, though, has an outsized movie prop that has become its...
SOURCE: Observer (11-19-06)
Ninh never published again - although he is believed to have finished another novel about the war, called Steppe, that he has hesitated to submit for publication.
'I stopped myself. I kept holding myself back,' Ninh told The Observer in a rare interview at his home in a section of central Hanoi favoured by middle-ranking officials. 'I compared everything I wrote to everything I wrote in the past, and it's not natural like it was before.'
The long silence from one of Vietnam's best-known authors is telling of the enduring sensitivities about the war with America. Washington and Hanoi have committed to a path of reconciliation. President George Bush spent the weekend in Hanoi, discussing...
SOURCE: Observer (11-12-06)
Erbrich was seven years old when she, her sister and her father were deported by the Nazis to the concentration camp in Theresienstadt, Czechoslavakia. She survived. Some 11,000 other Jewish children died. Now a new exhibition about their fate has sparked an extraordinary and bitter dispute between the German government and the state-owned national railway.
The exhibition, put together by anti-Nazi campaigners Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, was inspired by stories such as Erbrich's and has already been shown at...
SOURCE: AP (11-18-06)
The medieval Odescalchi Castle belongs to the noble Odescalchi family, whose ancestors include Benedetto Odescalchi, the 17th century pope Innocent XI.
It once hosted princes but is used nowadays for conventions, gala dinners and receptions for up to 1,400 guests.
The castle has had other brushes with modern celebrities. CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and the former U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin held their 1998 wedding reception there, attended by 180 guests including the late John F. Kennedy, Jr.
SOURCE: WaPo (11-18-06)
The extreme culling was needed because the museum on the Mall closed Sept. 5 for a two-year renovation. It has borrowed a rambling gallery at the National Air and Space Museum for a new exhibit called "Treasures of American History."
During its official opening yesterday, every case appeared to evoke the same reaction: "They have that?!"
"That" includes Albert Einstein's briar pipe, Muhammad Ali's red Everlast gloves, Irving Berlin's upright piano, the telephone designed by Alexander Graham Bell, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's radio microphone, Benjamin Franklin's gold-capped walking stick, a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, Julia Child's handwritten recipe...
SOURCE: NYT (11-18-06)
The formula, executed here by James D. Webster, overseeing curator of the exhibition and chairman of the museum’s division of earth and planetary sciences, and Charles S. Spencer, chairman of its division of anthropology, goes as follows:
Using art, artifacts, natural samples, wall texts and mural-size photographs, weave together narratives about the material’s formation, its effect on the course of history and its uses by artists and artisans. Lace with startling facts and fascinating vignettes (a link to Spanish sunken treasure, for example). Throw in a few comparative displays that verge on installation art. Lure visitors in one end and wait for them to...
SOURCE: Times Online (UK) (11-18-06)
Now, in the twilight of an extraordinary life, the complete works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are to be published in his homeland for the first time.
The first of 30 volumes were released this week in a project that will be completed in 2010. The former dissident, 88 next month and in failing health, hinted that he did not expect to see its conclusion.
In an author’s note to the first book, he wrote that the collection would include “everything I have written — in my adult life, after my youth. And its publication will continue after my death.” Solzhenitsyn’s wife, Natalya, said that he could feel “the draining of the life force” within him.
SOURCE: New York Magazine (11-18-06)
When Ellis Island closed as an Immigration Center in 1954, many of its buildings were left to rot. The main building was finally restored and opened as a museum in 1990, but most people don't realize the other half of the island remains badly in need of help.
Barnes photographs, dating to 1986, expose the decay and hint at the forgotten past of the immigrants who spent time in the hospital, situated on the side of the island closest to the Statue of Liberty.
The non-profit group Save Ellis Island has been working to stabilize and restore those buildings and plans to reopen the 1930s-era"new" ferry building in early April. Save Ellis Island is making progress on the exhibit design and will soon start fabrication, Dorothy...
SOURCE: Reuters (11-17-06)
"Playing with Science...Your Favorite Toys" includes curiosities from the London Science Museum's medical, science, engineering and computing collections and treasured objects from individuals including a Space Rescue game made by British-born astronaut Nicholas Patrick long before he joined NASA.
"We've got toys that show us how adults and children have engaged with science in the past -- things like chemistry sets, toy telescopes and microscopes," said Victoria Carroll, the exhibition's curator.
"We're also interested in toys which show us how changes in science and technology, or new material like plastic, change our everyday world."
Just as chemistry sets have set young budding scientists on to brilliant careers, Patrick's home-made space game complete with pencilled...
SOURCE: Reuters (11-18-06)
Monjau, 64, had been a student in Communist East Berlin when she heard a live radio broadcast of Kennedy's stirring affirmation of support to the city trapped precariously in the middle of Communist Eastern Europe, and watching his speech at the new museum brought back a flood of tearful memories.
"He was revered by all of us all over Berlin after that," said Monjau, who later got a Kennedy silver half dollar from a friend in Poland and has held onto the coin for 40 years."That speech gave us so much hope. It made me cry then too."
The brief film of Kennedy's eight-hour visit to West Berlin on June 26, 1963 -- where he was cheered by millions on the streets and outside the city hall where he gave his speech -- is a centerpiece of the exhibition called"The Kennedys".
SOURCE: AP (11-17-06)
It was a cherished moment for the aging writer, who has been through prison camps and exile and, Natalya Solzhenitsyn said, feels the "draining of the life force" as his 88th birthday approaches. He was not at the presentation.
"Alexander Isayevich told me that the French have a saying: 'Nothing comes too late for he who is able to wait,'" Natalya Solzhenitsyn, who has nurtured her husband's work and protected his privacy, told a news conference, using his first name and patronymic.
With financial support from a state-owned bank, the 30-volume project marks the latest twist in what Solzhenitsyn's wife called the "very dramatic fate of Solzhenitsyn's books," which helped reveal...
SOURCE: NYT (11-17-06)
That odd little band, whose eccentric and sine-qua-non American accomplishments we celebrate next week, gets a tantalizing hearing Sunday on the History Channel’s “Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower.”
The show is nominally a documentary, but it is as full-dress as a Bob Fosse production. Betraying (as usual) no nervousness about the place of re-creations in nonfiction programming, the History Channel flaunts a huge and talented, if barely credited, cast; elaborate set design; music cues; and makeup that convincingly suggests scurvy, among other New World transformations.
In fact, with all this Spielberg stuff, “Desperate Crossing” would simply look like a television movie, perhaps one “based on the writings of William...
SOURCE: Ben Macintyre in the Times (UK) (11-17-06)
Bond was born with an anti-ageing drug in his fictional veins that is unique in our culture. Sons, as they grow up, progressively decline to do things with their fathers: they grow out of the bedtime story, they would rather go to the football match with their mates. But rare is the son, aged 8 or 80, who will not agree to accompany his father into the fantasy world of 007.
The power of the shared Bond ritual offers a peculiar insight into the masculine British mind. Many women also enjoy the movies, and the appeal of Bond is global, but in order to be both shaken and stirred by Bond (OK, that’s the last...
SOURCE: Edward Rothstein in the NYT (11-17-06)
Perhaps, but that first exhibition, “Slavery in New York,” surveyed the impact of slavery from the colonial period until its abolition in 1827. It demonstrated that the enslavement of Africans was not alien to New York’s past but an essential part of it; slavery was indelibly linked to the labor that built New York and the trade that nourished it.
SOURCE: Jenny Price in the NYT (11-17-06)
That’s sad news, but hardly surprising. The flamingo’s glory days were behind it. Union Products cited the rising cost of plastic resins and of electricity, along with financing woes. Yet while the bird reigned as an icon in the late 20th century, it was bound to succumb to the very different tastes — or the absence thereof — in the 21st.
In 1957, the flamingo that would become lawn-art king was invented by a young Union Products designer with the fitting name of Don Featherstone. Sears sold the bird for $2.76 a pair: “Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape,” the 1957 catalog read. Working-class homeowners readily planted it on their modest lawns — a nod to the marble or bronze sculpture on vaster properties — and art critics promptly...
SOURCE: A.O. Scott in the NYT (11-17-06)
Intentions do count for something, and Mr. Estevez’s seem to me entirely admirable. He tries, by means of the familiar technique of weaving together story lines connected only by coincidences of time and place, to produce a feeling of collective life. Beyond that, he tries to link the intimate stories of nearly two dozen characters to a large and consequential public event — the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy — and to capture the heady combination of anxiety, anger, hope and idealism that supposedly characterized the United States in 1968.
All of the action in “Bobby” takes place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, the day Kennedy, a late entry into the presidential race, won California’s Democratic primary. (It was also...
SOURCE: Bob Herbert in the NYT (11-16-06)
Already the story so brilliantly told by this masterpiece of documentary filmmaking, the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and ’60s, is fading, like the images on old film stock, from our collective consciousness.
It’s fantastic to have a memorial to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall in Washington. But “Eyes on the Prize” is the most powerful reminder we have of how broad the struggle was, how many people of great courage — from small children to very old men and women — signed on to it, how many of them suffered and sometimes died, and what all of us owe to all of them.
“Eyes on the Prize” shows us the many tragic byproducts of insane bigotry, like the hanging bodies of blacks who were lynched, their heads and necks forever frozen at grotesque angles. It...
SOURCE: Baltimore Examiner (11-16-06)
Gary Sloan, an assistant professor of drama at Washington's Catholic University of America, will read "Haunted Prince: The Ghosts of Edwin Booth" at the Harford County Courthouse in Bel Air on Saturday.
Edwin Booth was born in 1833 and raised at his family's estate outside Bel Air, now known as Tudor Hall.
Edwin was one of the most renowned Shakespearean actors of his day - once performing "Hamlet" for 100 consecutive nights in New York City - but with three words and one gunshot, his brother leaped to far greater prominence in American history as Abraham Lincoln's assassin, said Dinah Faber of the Harford County Historical Society.
"After the assassination, Edwin personally felt he wouldn't be able to continue his...
SOURCE: BBC (11-15-06)
The presents, many of which have never been seen by the public, are on display in the Kremlin Museum until the end of November.
The exhibition covers the period from 1921 to 1990 - from Lenin to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet president.
One of the most unusual exhibits is a portrait of Lenin made entirely from human hair.
It was made by a Moscow barber and presented to the Soviet government in the early 1930s.