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: PRNewswire (5-24-07)
The missing pieces that were discovered in 2005 essentially indicated that the Titanic broke apart in the water before sinking, which had to be terrifying experience for those aboard. The unsinkable ship that was built to serve as its own lifeboat until help arrived broke apart in a manner never imagined by its engineers. TITANIC'S ACHILLES HEEL aims to find out why the ship broke apart as it did, and why the "official...
SOURCE: NYT (5-25-07)
His film takes its English title from the Emma Lazarus poem about the Statue of Liberty, but the lady in the harbor, like the rest of America (apart from Ellis Island), remains unseen as the director takes us up to the door but not through it. The Italian title, “Nuovomondo,” means “new world,” but this too is a bit misleading. It is the Old World that dominates this chronicle of Italian peasants striking out for a future they can barely imagine, and the achievement of the movie is to...
SOURCE: NYT (5-25-07)
SOURCE: Sunday Mail (UK) (5-20-07)
A Belgian craftsmen is using tiny pieces of lead shrapnel which still litter the killing fields of Flanders to make 10in models of brave Highland soldiers who fought and fell there in the Great War.
Wheelchair-bound Ivan Sinnaeve - known as Shrapnel Charlie - sells the detailed figures, complete with kilts and bagpipes, for £35 from Passchendaele Museum in Zonnebeke, Flanders.
And £25 from every sale is put towards the building of a Celtic Cross monument dedicated to the memory of Scotland's war dead.
Ivan's miniature army has already raised more than £5000 for the memorial, which will be unveiled at a ceremony in August likely to be attended by First Minister Alex Salmond.
The £30,000 cross commemorates more than half a million Scots who fought in the trenches - and the one in four who never came home.
SOURCE: AP (5-23-07)
Wayne's legacy is unique because of the dual perspectives that pervade his memory. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Garry Wills, who wrote "John Wayne's America" in 1997, described Wayne as "the most popular movie star ever, but also the most polarizing."
It could be argued that no other film actor has ever come to symbolize so many things: rugged masculinity, the frontier, even America itself. The Duke has remained, in the truest sense, an icon.
For many, an entire way of life is epitomized in the tired, unblinking eyes that peered knowingly from his cocksure pose ("walks around like a big cat," said Howard Hawks). His voice, too, seems etched in the collective memory: With a simple...
SOURCE: ABC News (5-23-07)
"Titanic" director James Cameron reportedly took his inspiration for the character Rose from that manuscript, which is on public view for the first time at the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris.
But unlike the young Rose, as played by Kate Winslet, Candee was a 50-year-old American divorcee who was also a writer, nurse and suffragette, returning home in 1912 after learning that one of her sons had been injured in a car crash.
Two days into the voyage, she was enjoying the company of her fellow first class passengers before disaster struck. Candee wrote, "All of my group were gathered together in the Ritz restaurant of the ship at 11 o'clock in the evening."
Hours later, the great ship hit an iceberg.
SOURCE: NYT (5-22-07)
Directed by Richard Trank, also its co-author, the film effectively sketches Mr. Wiesenthal's life, from his tenacity in surviving the genocide that claimed much of his family, to his determination to identify, find and punish ex-Nazis after World War II, at a time when many governments would have preferred to "move on."
Using file footage, photographs, newsreel snippets and interviews with friends, relatives and former colleagues, "I Have Never Forgotten You" is a testament to Mr. Wiesenthal's bulldog stubbornness. We learn, by his own admission, that he didn't spend nearly as much time with his wife and daughter as he might have wished, and that he demanded that they continue to live in his hometown, Vienna, despite decades of...
SOURCE: http://www.broadcastingcable.com (5-22-07)
Former Navy pilot Hunter Ellis and adventurer Zay Harding will be taking over hosting duties for this season, replacing Josh Bernstein, who left the show to join the Discovery Channel, where he will serve as a producer and host on new shows for the network.
“Since launching in 2005, Digging for the Truth has become appointment viewing for our audience. After three successful seasons, we recognize the challenge to grow this series in this very competitive environment and this change in direction underscores our commitment to this dynamic franchise,” said Nancy Dubuc, Executive Vice President and General Manager of The History Channel.
SOURCE: Nonie Darwish at FrontpageMag.com (5-22-07)
The anti-Semitism of the Arab news media is a well-documented phenomenon. Less well known in the West is the extreme hatred of Jews that saturates much of the Arab entertainment world. Consider the Egyptian film, “A Girl from Israel” (“Fataah Min Israeel” in Arabic), which was shown earlier this month on Arab television. Featuring a cast of Egyptian movie stars, it is one of the vilest and most hateful examples of Arab anti-Semitic propaganda I have ever seen.
A jumble of anti-Semitic tropes, the film revolves around a conspiratorial plotline: A Jewish family vacationing in the Sinai hides the fact that they are Israeli, while at the same time conspiring against Egyptians. Each of the family members plays their respective sinister role. Thus, the sexually promiscuous daughter...
SOURCE: Guardian (5-21-07)
The Venezuelan congress said it would use the proceeds from a recent bond sale with Argentina to finance Glover's biopic of Toussaint Louverture, an iconic figure in the Caribbean who led an 18th-century revolt in Haiti.
It will also give seed money for a film version of The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel García Márquez's novel about the last days of Simón Bolívar, who liberated much of South America from Spanish colonialism.
Glover, 60, who starred with Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon series, and more recently with Eddie Murphy in the film DreamGirls, is a civil rights activist and supporter of Mr Chávez's radical leftwing policies.
SOURCE: ABC (5-18-07)
He's been singing since he was a child, and said while there are different ways to define a great song, some stand out for a very simple reason.
"I would say the simplest one is a song that other people can sing easily. And when they walk around and hum and sing it to themselves, that's the great accomplishment of the song. Gives pleasure to the greatest number of people," he told ABC News.
And for him, the pleasure is in the songwriting.
"The power of that feeling … It's like an addiction — you want to write again. You want to get it again," Simon said. "That pleasure and addiction is what keeps me writing into my 60s."
The Library of Congress is honoring the depth, range...
SOURCE: NYT (5-16-07)
Less a conventional sequel than a retelling from Rhett Butler’s point of view, the new book, to be published by St. Martin’s Press in November, is written by Donald McCaig, a former advertising copywriter turned Virginia sheep farmer who has written well-reviewed novels about the Civil War.
The book, at a little over 400 pages, will be a slip of a novel compared with the original, which ran more than a thousand pages. “Rhett Butler’s People” covers the period from 1843 to 1874, nearly two decades more than are chronicled in “Gone With the Wind.” Readers will learn more about Rhett Butler’s childhood on a rice plantation; his relationship with Belle Watling, the brothel madam; and his experiences as a blockade runner in Charleston, S.C.
SOURCE: http://www.orlandosentinel.com (5-13-07)
If you want none, avoid PBS' Alexander Hamilton. This two-hour documentary, premiering at 9 p.m. Monday, enlists New York stage actors to speak the words of historical figures. The actors dress in period costume and deliver monologues directly to the camera.
These performers, especially Tony-winner Brian F. O'Byrne as Hamilton, bring edge and passion to their speeches. This is no dry history lesson. This is the past presented with theatrical flourish.
Purists will balk. But that flashy approach is appropriate for Hamilton, a reckless genius who shaped our world. He is the founding father who led the most incredible life and who deserves a more fitting tribute than merely decorating our $10 bills.
Director-producer Muffie Meyer uses the actors to enliven an era that had no newsreels or photographs. For all her efforts, though, historians and biographers are more crucial to the film's...
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (5-12-07)
An eye-opening view of how the German people allowed themselves to be taken over and stampeded into war and horrendous atrocities by Hitler and his minions emerges from Bertolt Brecht's rarely seen "Fear and Misery of the Third Reich." In a loose collection of short scenes, mostly written between 1933 and '38, Brecht chronicled the erosion of rights, mutual trust and all forms of professional integrity in the homeland he'd had to flee.
SS men intimidate through casual insinuations. Apartment dwellers are stunned to see what a careless word has done to a neighbor. A teacher trembles...
SOURCE: Breitbart (5-16-07)
The 1963 painting, "Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I)," narrowly missed the record for the most expensive post-war work to sell at auction -- a record set Tuesday when a painting by Mark Rothko sold for 72.8 million dollars.
Warhol's work, a surreal and gruesome image of an overturned car on fire, with the body of the driver impaled on a nearby post, comes from his "Death and Disaster" series. It had a pre-sale estimate of 25 to 35 million dollars.
SOURCE: LAT (5-12-07)
But writer-director Salvador Carrasco hopes that with the re-release of his movie "The Other Conquest" (La Otra Conquista) in U.S. theaters this month, comparisons or elaborate introductions won't be required. That's partly because Carrasco's much-extolled first feature film, set during the bloody encounter between the Spanish conquistadors and Aztec king Montezuma's empire, already has staked out a claim in the United States, or at least Los Angeles.
And though its story dates back nearly half a millennium, Carrasco believes his film may be more meaningful now than when it made its screen debut eight years ago. "With this kind of subject matter, the film is timeless," says the 39-year-old director, speaking by phone from his Santa Monica home. "Sort of like with good wine, it has gained through the years and become...
SOURCE: Pop Matters (5-10-07)
His production “The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams,” formerly known as “Strike The Tent,” is being released by ThinkFilm for theatrical runs this month and in June. Then it is scheduled to be released June 26 on DVD ($27.98).
“I feel great about this,” Adams said in California during a telephone interview. “We had other offers, but ThinkFilm seemed like a good fit for us. I feel they will give the film the proper release.”
ThinkFilm specializes in independent productions and has issued such Oscar-nominated films as “Half Nelson,” “Being Julia” and “Murderball.”
“One thing I’m really pleased about is that I know about 99 percent of indies never get released anywhere,” said the South Carolina native, who directed and co-wrote the film.
The Civil War drama is based on the true story of the romance between Adams’ great-great grandfather, Confederate...
SOURCE: NYT/Reuters (5-12-07)
The movie comes as Japan's government edges towards a vote on revising the U.S.-drafted constitution that has strictly limited the country's military activities for six decades following its World War Two defeat.
``For Those We Love,'' written by Shintaro Ishihara, a 74-year-old writer-turned-politician, tells the true story of a restaurant owner who became a mother figure to many of the young men as they trained to crash explosives-laden aircraft into U.S. warships.
Tome Torihama's restaurant at Chiran on the southern island of Kyushu was a home from home for the trainees, mostly in their teens and early 20s, who were preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice as Japan tried desperately to avert U.S. invasion in the final months of World War Two...
SOURCE: NY Sun (5-9-07)
The event was a sneak preview of the "American Experience" film "Alexander Hamilton," which will make its premiere on Monday on PBS. As Mr. Basker noted, the timing of the film is serendipitous: After long being caricatured as an elitist, and compared unfavorably with his political rival, Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton is now enjoying the benefits of historical revision.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute, which co-sponsored the event last Wednesday evening with "American Experience," has played a significant role in the Hamilton revival. Mr. Basker was the projects director of the Alexander Hamilton exhibition that opened at the New-York Historical Society in 2004, and of which smaller versions have been traveling the country since....
SOURCE: http://www.dw-world.de (5-8-07)
Tucked away in a backyard in Berlin's downtown Mitte district amid art galleries, cinemas and bars, the museum "Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt" is a former brush workshop run by German entrepreneur Otto Weidt in the 1940s.
Wedt hired Jewish workers -- among them blind and disabled employees -- in order to save them from deportation to Nazi death camps.
Since 1999, the museum has been home to a documentary show of the factory's history. This week, the opening of a new permanent exhibition adds further details about factory owner Weidt and his string of friends and helpers who rallied to hire Jews and even hide some of them in the workshop rooms to save them from the Nazis.