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: Julia M. Klein in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (11-16-06)
Like Travesties, The Invention of Love is a memory play, but in this case the narrator is dead and on the verge of crossing the mythical River Styx to the underworld. Housman — or rather the character AEH recalls his life, "marked by long silences," through a haze of regret. The production I saw, at Philadelphia's Wilma Theater, found a perfect balance between head and heart — precisely the balance that eludes AEH, and that has often seemed so daunting for the...
SOURCE: Niall Mehan at Counterpunch (11-12-06)
In Britain, The Sun called Loach's film "the most pro IRA ever". Ruth Dudley Edwards, an Irish historian, asked in the Daily Mail why the "Marxist" film director Ken Loach "loath[es] his country so much". Many critics of the film cited the work of one historian in particular, Peter Hart. I must declare an interest here. In the Irish Times letters pages in the summer of 2006, Hart claimed that I "misrepresent" his work, accusing him of stating that "ethnic cleansing" directed at Protestants was a feature of IRA actions. In fact I I did not state any such thing, though, had...
SOURCE: CNN (11-15-06)
But carefully tucked into four acres of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate are two new 21st-century buildings that dramatically alter the experience for visitors at one of America's most important historical sites.
The new orientation center, and a second building housing a museum and education center, opened October 27 with attractions that portray Washington as the "nation's first action hero." A 20-minute adventure film called "We Fight to Be Free" highlights his career as commander of the Continental Army. Wax statues -- meticulously created with age-regression technology -- depict Washington as a young man. His false teeth are on display, but so are his pistol and sword.
Mount Vernon officials made the changes after concluding that the estate was perpetuating the...
SOURCE: Guardian (11-15-06)
Now two of Latin America's female literary giants, Laura Esquivel and Isabel Allende, have come to the rescue by writing novels casting them as misunderstood heroines who could be role models for today's women.
Some critics have balked at the revisionism, saying the novels gloss over the rape and savage subjugation that accompanied the 16th century colonial invasions of central and south America.
Allende, 64, whose Inés of My Soul is published this week by HarperCollins, depicts the seamstress as a warrior, adventurer and founding mother of Santiago who built hospitals, dug wells and fed the poor - in addition to beheading...
SOURCE: San Antonio Express-News (11-15-06)
Q. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said, "More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source." What makes your work so popular?
A. I think that the word "history," when you say it to most people, it's homework. To me, the word "history" is mostly made up of the word "story." If there is an explanation for why the films are so successful, it's that we're telling stories, which is how human beings at their essence relate to one another.
I also think that we're interested in not just excavating the dry bones, the pottery shards of the past, but are interested in pursuing a deeply emotional story that reminds people, without kind of...
SOURCE: Times Online (UK) (11-14-06)
Milan Kundera’s book, which is set during the 1968 revolt in what was then Czechoslovakia and was made into a film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Juliette Binoche, was banned by the communist authorities.
The first edition was published in French, and Czech readers have had to wait until now to read the book in its original Czech.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-13-06)
The discovery has been hailed as one of the most exciting for a generation
The paintings of the Dominican saints, which are expected to fetch a combined total of more than £1 million at auction, belonged to a 77-year-old spinster who died earlier this year.
The discovery, hailed as one of the most exciting for a generation, has solved a 200-year-old mystery.
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (11-13-06)
The "Howl" that was heard around the world wasn't seized in San Francisco in 1956 just because it was judged obscene by cops, but because it attacked the bare roots of our dominant culture, the very Moloch heart of our consumer society. At the end of World War II, I came home feeling disconnected from American life, like multitudes of Americans uprooted by military service. And we didn't stay home long. With new larger perspectives of the world, many of us soon took off for parts unknown. And the "white arms of roads" beckoned westward. I didn't know the actual demographics of it, but I had the sense that the continent had tilted up, with the whole population sliding to the west. It was a time of born-...
SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor (11-3-06)
Sixteen millimeter short films like " Telezonia <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5844452338623457489> ," once used to educate American schoolchildren and workers, are now reappearing in art-house theaters and online. Time and technology have transformed earlier generations' lessons into a younger audience's entertainment. But beneath unbelievably campy surfaces, these vintage films encapsulate a sort of lay anthropology, a window onto the collective fears and...
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (11-13-06)
The Star of India, a 283-foot-long survivor of another time, sailed on the Pacific just off San Diego this weekend as it does once a year.
The Star, pride and joy of the San Diego Maritime Museum, was launched on the Isle of Man 143 years ago Tuesday and is the oldest active sailing vessel in the world, the last operating survivor of the great age of sail.
"We see this as an old ship,'' said Jerome Hall, a professor of marine archaeology at the University of San Diego. "But this was on the cutting edge of technology in the mid-19th century.''
It is hard to believe the Star was ever modern; it is built of iron, not steel, and has no engine. But it sailed from the British Isles to New Zealand, made passages to India and California, and sailed 21 times...
SOURCE: Stephen Bates in the Guardian (11-13-06)
The Creation Museum - motto: "Prepare to Believe!" - will be the first institution in the world whose contents, with the exception of a few turtles swimming in an artificial pond, are entirely fake. It is dedicated to the proposition that the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis is completely correct, and its mission is to convince visitors through a mixture of animatronic models, tableaux and a strangely Disneyfied version of the Bible story.
Its designer, Patrick Marsh, used to work at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and then in Japan before he saw the light, opened his soul to Jesus, and was born anew...
SOURCE: NYT (11-14-06)
The colossal Haida canoe populated with 17 painted plaster Northwest Coast Indians had been a fixture of the museum’s West 77th Street halls for so long — almost a century — that the life-size Indians themselves acquired their own kind of historical significance.
But this year, workers removing decades of grime from the canoe discovered just how much a good cleaning enhanced the beauty of its original paintings, of an eagle and a killer whale.
So now the 63-foot-long canoe will be exhibited as it originally was in 1883: hanging from the ceiling. The paintings will be in full view 15 feet from the floor, but up in the air, the Indians would be barely visible. So they are not coming back.
The Indian sculptures “were accurate,” said Peter M. Whiteley, the museum’s curator of North American ethnology. “But the figures...
SOURCE: dpa German Press Agency (11-11-06)
Five months before his November 1963 assassination, Kennedy visited West Berlin and gave a speech on June 26, 1963 in which he proclaimed his unity with the people of Berlin in the struggle against the communists.
The city, secured by US, British and French troops, was surrounded by communist East German territory.
Anthony Kennedy Shriver, who attended the opening, is the nephew of John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy.
SOURCE: Guardian (11-13-06)
McQueen, nicknamed the King of Cool, was one of the biggest box office draws of the 1960s and 1970s and was as famous for his racing as he was for his acting.
SOURCE: Times Online (UK) (11-11-06)
The paintings are from the Age of Discovery when naturalists sailed the world to explore newly discovered lands and unearthed tens of thousands of species of animals and plants.
Many are the first-known images of newly discovered plants and animals and were the means by which previously unknown species were introduced to the public in Britain and Europe.
They come from an era when wildlife was first studied in detail and include species, such as the passenger pigeon, that have become extinct.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-12-06)
Now, the Empire is being brought out of the shadows by the people who were once its subjects.
So great is the interest from Commonwealth subjects keen to know more about their heritage, that the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol is to put the private photographic collections of hundreds of former British colonists on line as part of its new Images of Empire exhibition.
From Thursday, 6,000 never-before-seen images of colonial life, as well as 100 films, will be available online, in a move that — according to the museum's experts — would have been unthinkable even 10 years ago.
The first pictures include the incredible scene of the rhino in the living room, an orphan rescued during Operation Noah to save animals stranded as the newly built Kariba Dam flooded the Zambezi valley in the early 1960s. The creature was called...
SOURCE: AP (11-12-06)
Wearing their loss on T-shirts, scarves and buttons, families clutching red roses and photographs gathered on a foggy beachfront to look up the names of 265 loved ones killed when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed five years ago.
"It's something that we can come to and pray," said Ana Lora, who placed a model car near the name of her brother, Jose Francisco Lora, who collected cars. "This is something that, really, we need."
The memorial marks years of effort to create a tangible remembrance of the crash, which killed all 260 people on board and another five in the quiet Queens neighborhood where the jet fell. The National Transportation Safety Board eventually determined that the tail of the Airbus A300 had fallen off, and the agency blamed pilot error,...
SOURCE: NYT (11-12-06)
Acquired by the fledging distribution company Miramax, the film, made with a reported budget of $1.2 million, went on to gross almost $25 million in the United States, a spectacular figure that put Miramax on the map and established American independent film as a force to be reckoned with. As they watched their ancient hegemony crumble away, the studios rushed to establish their own “independent” divisions.
Now, 17 years later, Mr. Soderbergh is back with a movie that means to make amends. “I often think I would have been so happy to be Michael Curtiz,” Mr. Soderbergh said. Mr....
SOURCE: LAT (11-12-06)
And just like in the old days, the bands they've come to see — a heavy-metal triple helping of Goatwhore, High on Fire and Venom — might trigger a few tsk-tsks from the over-30 crowd.
Goatwhore? Whatever happened to bands with class, like Foghat?
There are differences, to be sure — rock fans in 2006 carry cellphones — but entrepreneur Bill Sagan sees the similarities and is capitalizing on them.
Nearly 40 years after the Woodstock era, its music is enthralling legions of high-school and college-age fans who have Jimi Hendrix on their iPods and Neil Young T-shirts on their backs.
The leftover garments, concert posters and ticket stubs from rock's heyday are bringing top dollar, as a quick spin on EBay will attest.
Though scores of...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (11-10-06)
In the shadow of one of the structures stands the terraced house where Richard Burton was born. Two tiny plaques record the fact of his birth inside a recently built glass porch at the front. One, barely visible, pays tribute to a "world star".
It has been an unprepossessing, unsatisfactory memorial to one of the greatest actors - and Hollywood hell-raisers - of the past half century, a man whose on-screen performances and off-screen love affairs kept millions in thrall. But yesterday, at last, Burton's family attempted to give a focal point for the hundreds of fans who make the pilgrimage to the village every year.
A new stone in black marble, etched in Welsh, was laid on the family grave commemorating not only Burton's parents, but...