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: 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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
SOURCE: AP (1-29-07)
School officials still believe their decision to ban Patrick Agin's photo was correct, but they face a $600,000 deficit and couldn't afford the legal fight, said the district's attorney, Stephen Robinson.
''It was strictly a cost-benefit analysis in the matter,'' he said.
Agin, 17, dressed in costume for his senior photo. He belongs to the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group of 35,000 dues-paying members who stage mock battles, learn arts like calligraphy and conduct demonstrations in shopping malls.
SOURCE: Mark Rahdert at the website of the Chronicle of Higher Education (1-29-07)
The series, directed by Thomas Lennon, produced by Mark Zwonitzer, and narrated by David Strathairn, features interviews with court historians, legal scholars, lawyers, former court clerks, journalists, and even some of the justices...
SOURCE: Boston Globe (1-29-07)
Boston novelist Michael Lowenthal faced the question with his new book, "Charity Girl." He stumbled on its little-known background and knew he wanted to spread the word. Only gradually did he realize that it had to be a novel, and that he couldn't let his attention to historic facts overwhelm his art.
"I'm waiting to see what people think," he said during an interview at his Roslindale home, "whether I went past that line." Complicating matters further, even his publisher is making as much of the history as of the fiction. " 'Charity Girl' examines a dark period in our history," the jacket copy begins, "when fear and patriotic fervor led to...
SOURCE: LAT (1-28-07)
Roy's atomic-age neon sign was a beacon of civilization to weary travelers rocketing along America's Mother Road, a sign of hope to motorists whose cars had croaked in the desert heat.
Amboy was the domain of Buster Burris, a rough-hewn entrepreneur with strong opinions about bikers and men with long hair. Burris and his father-in-law opened Roy's in the 1930s and for decades did brisk business selling tires, malts, and gas.
Today, Amboy and Roy's are the only tourist stops for about 100 miles that didn't disappear after the interstate shut off customers in the 1970s. The town's population is approximately 4, the school closed years ago, birds have turned the church into a feces-caked aviary, and the post office barely survived.
Roy's, shuttered for about two years, is a mess of...
SOURCE: NYT (1-28-07)
This is the Robert Moses most of us know today, courtesy of Robert A. Caro’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography from 1974, “The Power Broker,” which charts Moses’ long reign as city parks commissioner (1934-60) and chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (1946-68). A 1,286-page book that reads like a novel, it won a Pulitzer Prize and virtually redefined the biographical genre by raising the bar for contemporary research. Today it remains the premier text on the evolution of 20th-century New York, a portrait of a man who used his power without regard for the human toll.
But according to...
SOURCE: NYT (1-28-07)
“He wrote a song about this,” said Charles A. Reid Jr., a funeral director and a lifelong friend who is holding Mr. Brown’s body while his survivors and the trustees of his estate squabble over control. “ ‘Papa Don’t Take No Mess.’ That’s what he’d be hollering now.”
The six children Mr. Brown acknowledged in his will want his body placed in a mausoleum on his 60-acre property just across the South Carolina state line near the Savannah River, an estate they hope will become a museum and memorial park akin to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, which has long been a lucrative tourist attraction. But the children are in a financial dispute with the trustees of the Brown estate, and it is...
SOURCE: USA Today (1-26-07)
Chicago officials shun any association with the world's most famous gangster, whose Prohibition-era exploits made his name synonymous with the city. But 60 years after his death, they still can't run him out of town.
Visitors from all over the world come searching for anything to do with Capone, who died Jan. 25, 1947.
They drive by his house. They leave flowers, coins and cigars at his grave. They take pictures of places associated with him — never mind that everything from hotels where he ran his criminal empire to the garage where his henchmen carried out the St. Valentine's Day massacre are long gone.
SOURCE: Guardian (1-28-07)
So reads the epigram carved into a commemorative stone, appropriately spartan, on a Greek hill. The tale behind it thrilled generations of schoolchildren educated in the classics. Hollywood is now praying it can breathe new life into the genre of the ancient historical epic with the help of a British-led cast.
The Battle of Thermopylae is regarded as one of history's pivotal moments, a doomed yet heroic last stand in 480BC with nothing less than Western civilisation at stake. Led by King Leonidas, an elite force of 300 Spartans, backed by around 7,000 Greeks, was vastly outnumbered by King Xerxes' invading Persian army, which has been estimated at between 80,000 and more than a million. For three days the Spartans stood firm at the 'Hot Gates', the main pass into central Greece, and inflicted appalling losses before being outflanked and killed. The sacrifice inspired all of Greece to...
SOURCE: LAT (1-27-07)
But today, months before its grand opening on a remote plain in Riverside County, the water museum is drowning in multimillion-dollar debt.
Next month, the MWD board will be asked to spend $4 million or more to save the Center for Water Education from bankruptcy. Several contractors who have worked on the project, near the Diamond Valley Reservoir in Hemet, have filed liens saying they haven't been paid.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (1-28-07)
The home of the prince, a professor of international law, has a swimming pool and tennis court, and the estate is comfortingly buried in dense woods.
But perhaps what really keeps the Prime Minister coming back are the enigmatic yet strangely familiar smiles radiating from the prince's two charming daughters, Natalia and Irina. Because now an Italian genealogy expert, Domenico Savini, has revealed that the Strozzi family descends directly from Lisa Gherardini, otherwise known as Mona Lisa.
"It's a matter of great emotion and great pride to learn that we are descended from La Gioconda," said Natalia Strozzi, 30, an actress. The subject of Leonardo's most famous painting is known as "La Gioconda" in Italy. "We had a vague knowledge of this family story...
SOURCE: NYT (1-27-07)
None of the other authors represented in “Victorian Bestsellers,” a new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum, had much reason for complaint, either. Organized by John Bidwell, who oversees the Morgan’s department of printed books and bindings, this exhibition of manuscripts, first editions, drawings, posters and prints is not a typical bibliophilic display of rare esoterica. Indeed, its focus is rare exoterica: these books publicly erupted onto the 19th-century English scene. Apart from the Bible’s privileged monopoly as a must-...
SOURCE: A.O.Scott in the NYT (1-24-07)
The filmmaker’s father, Hanns Ludin, who served as the Third Reich’s ambassador to the Nazi vassal state of Slovakia, and who in that capacity signed deportation orders sending thousands of Jews to Auschwitz, was executed for war crimes in 1947. He left behind...
SOURCE: PBS NewsHour Interview (1-25-07)
History tells another story, much of it now on view at the New York Historical Society in the exhibit New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War. The exhibit showcases the contributions of more than 200 scholars, historians, and academics. And it continues through next September.
James Oliver Horton, a professor of American studies and history at George Washington University and historian emeritus at the Smithsonian, is this exhibit's chief historian. He joins me now.
Welcome, professor Horton.
JAMES OLIVER HORTON, Historian Emeritus, National Museum of American History: Well, thank you.
GWEN IFILL: So, it turns out slavery was actually abolished in New York City in 1827, but it took many more decades for that to be real.
JAMES OLIVER HORTON:...