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: NYT (4-14-07)
The museum is in a 39,000-square-foot former food market, sheathed in Mexican pink panels and punched tin with pinpoint light holes recalling a giant luminaria. It joins a growing cultural zone including a 1949 movie palace, the Alameda, being renovated for stage productions shared with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
The Smithsonian, which a study panel of Latino professionals condemned in 1994 for “a pattern of willful neglect” toward Hispanic culture, signed its first major affiliation agreement with the Museo Alameda, agreeing to loan treasures from its vast Washington holdings. It has since signed similar agreements with about 150 other institutions, including five other Hispanic museums, in...
SOURCE: NYT (subscribers only) (4-14-07)
In 1948 Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian writer who became the father of the radical Islamist movement, was sent to the United States to temper his contempt for the West. What he saw over two years — postwar consumerism, suburban lawns, men and women dancing “breast to breast” — only further inflamed his conviction that the West was the enemy of Islam and doomed.
Mr. Qutb went on to work up a pseudospiritual justification of Islamic terrorism that inspired and emboldened many, including Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri. And that modest Colorado mixer — back then, Greeley was a dry town — was Mr. Qutb’s “epiphanic moment,” as Malise Ruthven, a Middle East expert, puts it in “Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind Al Qaeda,” the first documentary in the weeklong, 11-part PBS series “America at a Crossroads.”
The title alone suggests the series’s ambition: “Crossroads” is an attempt to look at...
SOURCE: PBS (4-1-07)
SOURCE: NYT (4-13-07)
But while the subject of teaching evolution and religion in public schools is even more topical than it was when Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s worthy war horse first galloped onto Broadway more than half a century ago, Mr. Plummer at play is something sacred. If the Bible-quoting fundamentalists in “Inherit the Wind” want to make a case for the spark of divinity that separates man from beast, they need only point to the show’s august star, having the time of his life, as Exhibit A.
Approaching the end of his eighth decade, Mr. Plummer knows that if all the world’s a stage,...
SOURCE: AP (4-13-07)
These are just some of the many images to be displayed in the roving exhibit "Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs," which opens Sunday at Pittsburgh's Sen. John Heinz History Center.
Showcasing every winning photo since the prize's inception in 1942, the stark exhibit, with each photograph plainly mounted on a white wall, offers moving examples of the power of images.
"Some images have changed the course of history; during the Civil Rights Era and the Vietnam War, pictures helped change how people viewed what was going on," said Nicholas Ciotala, a curator and director of the Pulitzer exhibit. "Everyone, I think...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (4-12-07)
Now after a delay of 70 years, the fruit of their collective genius will be unveiled in a world premiere of a new version of Pushkin's verse masterpiece, Boris Godunov. But the performance will not take place on a Moscow or St Petersburg stage, but more than 4,000 miles away at Princeton University, in New Jersey.
The story of the lost Boris Godunov and how the work made its way from a long-closed Russian state archive to an Ivy League campus in America, begins in the mid-1930s, when Prokofiev and Meyerhold joined forces to produce their own version of the Pushkin classic - a bleak tale of tyranny, war, betrayal and murder based on the life of the 16th century regent and tsar.
The story of Godunov, and the "...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (4-12-07)
Verhoeven's latest effort, Black Book, his first Dutch film since 1983, is an even more viscerally thrilling piece of moviemaking. ...
In Black Book, a story line loosely based on historical events — there was supposedly a real black book implicating traitors — gets the Hollywood treatment, with Wild West...
SOURCE: NYT (4-12-07)
Mr. Vonnegut suffered irreversible brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, according to his wife, Jill Krementz.
The defining moment of Mr. Vonnegut’s life was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied forces in 1945, an event he witnessed firsthand as a young prisoner of war. Thousands of civilians were killed in the raids, many of them burned to death or asphyxiated. “The firebombing of Dresden,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote, “was a work of art.” It was, he added, “a tower of smoke and flame to commemorate the rage and heartbreak of so many who had had their lives warped or ruined by the indescribable greed and vanity...
SOURCE: http://www.arkcity.net (4-10-07)
It's all about freedom.
From its inception, Kansas was about struggles for freedom and survival -- those of American Indians, black Americans, women and states.
To recognize that, Congress has designated 29 counties in eastern Kansas and 12 in Missouri a National Heritage Area, creating the second largest historic area in the nation.
Planning is under way for the area, which will be overseen by the National Park Service and is eligible for up to $10 million in federal funding to preserve existing historic sites and trails and to promote the area.
The Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area's organizers, a grassroots group that pushed for the designation, are planning a new type of museum.
Rather than constructing a multimillion-dollar museum building -- the kind that is attracting...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-11-07)
Charles Dickens's England, however, never had construction workers in hard hats and high visibility vests.
News that the finishing touches are being applied to the £62 million theme park may be unwelcome among literary purists, but Dickens World in Chatham, Kent, is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors a year.
The complex offers a boat ride in a London sewer, a haunted house and a reconstruction of Newgate Prison. Children can get a dose of Victorian discipline in an 1832-style school, or enjoy a play area called Fagin's Den.
Built on the former site of the Royal Naval Dockyard, where Dickens's father worked, the centre opens on April 20.
SOURCE: Time Magazine (4-8-07)
Emmy-award winner Burns is noted for TV series chronicling everything from the Civil War to the histories of jazz and baseball, but it's his new opus on World War II that has earned the ire of Latino groups. The 14-hour film War, set to air in September, focuses on the lives of 40 Americans in four U.S. cities ˜ Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Luverne, Minn.; and Sacramento, Calif. And the fact that not one of the 40 subjects is Latino that has Hispanic veterans' groups and politicians crying foul.
In a recent NPR interview, Burns...
SOURCE: NYT (4-9-07)
Her husband, Daniel Grandjean, a 50-year-old furniture maker with a pot belly and bushy beard, becomes an ax-wielding soldier-for-hire. It was he who persuaded the council in this sleepy Flemish town to let the couple live part time in the 700-year-old Sint-Rochus tower, where guards once stood watch to prevent Aarschot, then built of wood and straw, from catching fire.
When not inhabiting the tower, the couple sleep in a replica of a medieval bed at home. They avoid eating tomatoes or drinking coffee because Columbus had yet to discover America in the Middle Ages, and such foods were not available in what was...
SOURCE: AP (4-7-07)
It was not until he was teaching at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania did the novelist first visit Gettysburg, where he was transfixed by another great American conflict.
He returned countless times to the national military park, in the middle of the day and at midnight, on his own and paid $25 to ride with battlefield guides while they drove his car and narrated history.
"I just found myself driving down there again and again and again," Olmstead said.
Out of that experience and after a decade of research and writing, Olmstead has produced "Coal Black Horse," a Civil War novel now in stores that generated enormous publicity ahead of its publication.
The book, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, N.C., is the No. 1 April selection by BookSense, an organization representing 1,200...
SOURCE: Gary Leupp at Counterpunch.com (3-31-07)
I always take in the Hollywood period dramas set in ancient Greece or Rome. My film-buff son is into this too, so we went last week to see 300, the Warner Brothers' blockbuster produced by Zack Snyder and based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller about the epic battle of Thermopylae between the Greeks and Persians. It had by that time grossed over 100 million...
SOURCE: LAT (4-6-07)
But Irving's tone turned bitter when asked about the film "The Hoax," opening today, director Lasse Hallström's version of that remarkable feat, starring Richard Gere. So many liberties were taken with the true story, he said, that the finished film bears virtually no resemblance to him or his experience. And, he said, the key players in it — his good friend and collaborator Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina); his then wife, painter Edith Irving (Marcia Gay Harden); and his mistress, the Danish singer Nina Van Pallandt (Julie Delpy) — come off as cheap, stupid facsimiles of the real people.
SOURCE: New Yorker (4-9-07)
SOURCE: Reuters (4-4-07)
"I only wish I were still in the movie business," he said at the time.
Thirty-five years later comes "The Hoax," the film the late Hughes never made about the roguish author Clifford Irving and the great literary fib he perpetrated. It opens in the United States on Friday.
Directed by Swedish Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom and starring Richard Gere as Irving, "The Hoax" traces the amazing string of lies that duped the cosmopolitan New York publishing world and made Irving the talk of the town, both before and after his bust by the real Howard Hughes.
"I remember it quite clearly," said Gere. "It was on the cover of Time magazine and it was news constantly. It was a big deal,...
SOURCE: Martin Samuel in the Times (UK) (4-3-07)
The phrase most commonly used to describe South Park’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, is that they are equal-opportunity offenders. So, while Jesus hosts a lame Jerry Springer-style daytime television show, Satan is a wimp, bossed about by Saddam Hussein, his boyfriend. The South Park staple is to...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (4-3-07)
Baltasar Garzón's campaigning work for human rights from the benches of Madrid's top court has pitted him against an exotic array of characters from Pinochet to George Bush and Osama bin Laden.
Now this crusading work has inspired a new version of a classic Spanish play.
La Vida es Sueño, or Life is a Dream, by one of Spain's greatest playwrights, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, has been adapted by two Spaniards for the New York stage.
Francisco Reyes and Puy Navarro, an actor and a producer, got their inspiration by attending some of the lectures given by Judge Garzón last year when he took a year off from hunting down human rights abusers to lecture on human rights law at Hudson University, near New York.
SOURCE: Hollywood Reporter (4-2-07)
Paula Weinstein is executive producing the HBO Films project, which is targeted to premiere in spring 2008.
Written by actor Danny Strong, Spring Creek Prods.' "Recount" chronicles the weeks after the 2000 presidential election and goes behind the scenes of the recounts in Florida to explore the human drama of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary event that would decide the leadership of the country.
"It's a very compelling piece that takes a well-known event and deconstructs it from the point of view of the people involved," HBO Films president Colin Callender said.
While "Recount" takes on one of the most controversial and politically charged episodes in recent history, the telefilm has no political agenda,...