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: USA Today (12-31-07)
The Fraud Museum, a traveling exhibit based in Austin, houses memorabilia from some of the most infamous scam artists, con men and snake-oil salesmen in the history of Western commerce.
It's an eye-opening reminder that financial malfeasance didn't begin with Enron's overstatement of its earnings from 1998 to 2001. The museum does pay tribute to Enron, and other disgraced companies from this century — WorldCom and Adelphia — with a collection of now-worthless stock certificates, but much of the exhibition is devoted to financial transgressions from an earlier era.
SOURCE: NYT (12-26-07)
But Kevin Rivoli, a photojournalist in upstate New York, will tell you that’s just not true. He knows because he’s documented it.
Mr. Rivoli has spent the past 15 years capturing timeless moments in contemporary America — the solemn christenings and squirmy first haircuts, the town meetings and patriotic parades, the youthful shenanigans and the mature reverence symbolized by elderly hands resting on a well-thumbed bible.
He calls his project “In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America,” and by autumn his photographs will have grown into a book, published by Prestel, and a traveling exhibition, overseen by International Arts and Artists, that juxtaposes Mr. Rivoli’s images with Rockwell’s.
SOURCE: Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH blog) (12-31-07)
This is a movie made by a highly sophisticated political and artistic mind, someone—the director—who knows all the arguments and charges and nuances of what this important episode has come to mean to various interpreters. I came away feeling that the film is aimed at four different audiences, the last of the four being the most important.
The first and most inconsequential audience is people like us, who know a lot about all of the doings covered in the story and who, like me, will find the movie to be a rather charming bad-boy fairy tale comedy involving some preposterous assertions.
The second audience, I imagine (I’m hardly knowledgable about the cinema “industry”) is the famous 18 to 29 demographic. They will like the sex scenes and proliferation of the F word. They also will delight in the parodies of Washington authority-figures. The...
SOURCE: NYT (12-28-07)
The series is about the shift of African-American populations from a poor and repressive rural South to a prosperous but unwelcoming urban North between the two world wars. Lawrence’s family participated in that shift. For him it was lived history, an organic phenomenon, and he conceived his depiction of it that way. But two concurrent exhibitions — one at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the other at Triple Candie, a nonprofit space in Harlem — suggest that his concept has not come down to us intact.
Lawrence painted the 60 pictures not one at a time but production-line...
SOURCE: Max Boot at his Commentary blog (12-23-07)
I once wrote a column congratulating a well-known Hollywood liberal—George Clooney—for making “neocon” movies, i.e., movies like “Three Kings,” “The Peacemaker,” and even “Syriana” that support active American intervention in the world in support of our ideals as well as our strategic interests.
Now we can add some more Hollywood liberals to the “who knew they were neocons?” club. To wit, Mike Nichols, Aaron Sorkin, and Tom Hanks.
This is the trio responsible for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which I just saw and loved. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure yet, the movie tells the story of how a conservative, hard-partying Texas Democratic Congressman named Charlie Wilson got together with a right-wing Texas socialite and a blue-collar CIA officer to vastly increase the amount of American covert aid being...
SOURCE: NYT (12-23-07)
... the film industry is wrestling again with the possibility that its most precious assets, the pictures, aren’t as durable as they used to be.
The problem became public, but just barely, last month, when the science and technology council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the results of a yearlong study of digital archiving in the movie business. Titled “The Digital Dilemma,” the council’s report surfaced just as Hollywood’s writers began their walkout. Busy walking, or dodging, the picket lines, industry types largely missed the report’s startling bottom line: To store a digital master record of a movie costs about $12,514 a year, versus the $1,059 it costs to keep a conventional film master.
Much worse, to keep the enormous swarm of data produced when a picture is “born digital” — that is, produced using all-electronic processes, rather than relying wholly or partially on film — pushes the cost of preservation to $208,569 a year, vastly...
SOURCE: Holland Cotter in the NYT (12-21-07)
For 20 years I’ve seen the Cloisters from this vantage, in every season, all weather. The trees of Fort Tryon Park fill out around it in spring, and go gold and brown in fall. In a blizzard the tower, which looks both militant and monastic, softens to an apparition. On cold, clear nights it’s a spaceship poised for flight with a single ruby light, like a bright little planet Mars at its peak, a beacon and warning to planes.
That light is on now as I write, but I won’t be seeing it for much longer. In a month I’m moving to a new...
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (12-21-07)
Even more unusual is the subject matter: Rather than a by-the-book tale chronicling the rise of an underdog athletic team or Ivy League intrigue, the film examines a true story about a college debate team that overcame the rigid prejudices of a white-only league in the 1930s.
The response is encouraging to officials at Wiley College, a historically black institution in Marshall, Texas, about 140 miles east of Dallas. Mindful of black colleges’ academic and financial challenges since traditionally white institutions began recruiting minority students, college leaders hope the film, The Great Debaters, will lead to more student interest in debating and an...
SOURCE: Melissa Roddy at the website of AlterNet (12-21-07)
Charlie Wilson's War purports to be the true story of a hard-partying U.S. congressman from Texas who engineered the defeat of the Soviet Union by the Afghan Mujahiddin. Now there are true stories, and there are true-ish stories. It is a given that, in creating a film narrative, sometimes the truth gets a little bent, but it's against the rules to change facts that change the outcome of history. When telling the story of Antony and Cleopatra, they gotta die at the end, n'est pas. It's inappropriate, for example, to tell the story of World War II and pretend that, because the United States might have given a box of guns to the French Underground, there was no Holocaust. That's a pretty good analogy for what's been...
SOURCE: LAT (12-20-07)
"Todd's story has been told by many different people and in many different forms, but the essential outline of his narrative is straightforward enough," writes Mack, who, despite his wide scope of inquiry, has a gift for crisp exposition in a nutshell:
"Driven by motives ranging from simple greed in most early versions, to a complex scenario...
SOURCE: BBC (12-20-07)
Russia's culture agency said the show could not go ahead unless the British government took further steps to ensure legal protection for the paintings.
British Culture Secretary James Purnell told BBC Radio 4 he would push through legislation offering better guarantees.
The exhibition had been due to open at the Royal Academy of Arts in January.
SOURCE: AP (12-19-07)
The author of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Color Purple," "By the Light of My Father's Smile" and other works visits Emory every couple of years for readings and meetings with faculty members. That relationship was key in her decision to place her archive at the institution, university officials said Tuesday.
"I can imagine in years to come that my papers and memorabilia, my journals and letters, will find themselves always in the company of people who care about many of the things I do: culture, community, spirituality, scholarship and the blessings of ancestors who want each of us to find joy and happiness in this life, by doing the very best we can to be worthy of it," Walker said in a statement.
SOURCE: Press Release: U of Texas (12-18-07)
When lined-up side by side, the boxes of materials would run more than one length of an American football field from end zone to end zone—120 yards.
The Mailer materials, the Harry Ransom Center's largest single-author archive, includes handwritten and typed manuscripts, galley proofs, screenplays, correspondence, research materials and notes, legal, business and financial records, photographs, audio and video tapes, books, magazines, clippings, scrapbooks, electronic records, drawings and awards that document the life, work and family of Mailer from the early 1930s to 2005.
Mailer died on Nov. 10 at the age of 84.
"Norman Mailer's ambition was to write the greatest American novel," said Thomas...
SOURCE: Boston Globe (12-19-07)
Nonetheless, they press on in their dual role as preservationists and exhibitors at Boston's leading venue for the screening of international, documentary, and avant-garde cinema. Haden Guest, director of the HFA, views the archive's work as essential to the study of film history. "We are working with our colleagues in different institutions to preserve American film heritage," Guest says.
Crafting its own niche in the happily crowded world of film preservation, the HFA leaves the Hollywood work to Los Angeles archives like UCLA's. Founding curator Vlada Petric, possessed of strong Eastern...
SOURCE: CCTV.com (12-18-07)
Experts in Italy believe Caravaggio's "The Cardsharps" is an earlier version of the artist's 1594 painting, now on display at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, The "earlier" painting surfaced at a London auction last year.
The previously anonymous work was picked up at Sotheby's auction in December 2006 by art historian and collector Denis Mahon.
Mahon was at a restaurant when he spotted a painting attributed to a Caravaggio follower in a catalogue. He noted the distinctive brushstrokes and quickly linked it to Caravaggio's the "Cardsharps".
SOURCE: Press Release (12-17-07)
[April 4, 2008]
9:30 am – 9:00 pm
Please visit the web site:
SOURCE: http://www.ft.com (12-18-07)
Having closed its doors on Saturday for a 16-month refit, the Savoy is auctioning off more than 3,000 pieces of furniture, fittings and artwork deemed surplus to the renovation but evoking decades of grandeur.
Someone will have a new home for one or both of the pairs of painted tole and ceramic chandeliers that graced the hotel’s Thames foyer, which Bonhams, the auctioneer conducting the three-day sale, has priced at £10,000 to £15,000 ($20,000 to $30,000) apiece.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-17-07)
Just in time for those seeking an unusual gift for Christmas, the eclectic sale attracted film fans prepared to spend up to six-figure sums on a piece of movie history.
SOURCE: NYT (12-18-07)
“If I finish the book, I’m a killer,” he said. “I murder God.”
At least that’s what Peter Parnell has Darwin say in his new play, “Trumpery,” which opened this month at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York.
In the play, as in real life, Darwin is moved to publish by Alfred Russel Wallace, a young man whom Parnell’s Darwin dismisses as “a nobody, a collector, a poor specimen hunter,” but who has independently come up with a theory just like the one Darwin has been chewing on for decades.
So in part the play hangs on scientific “priority:” who will publish first? As the action begins, Wallace, as in real life, has sent Darwin a paper describing his ideas, in hopes that Darwin will help make them known. (If...
SOURCE: NYT (12-18-07)
The bulk of the dogfights took place south of the Yalu River on the border between North Korea and China, in a track of space known to pilots as MIG Alley.
The program, an installment of the “Nova” series, reveals that Soviet airmen were actually fighting on behalf of the North Koreans, a fact concealed by the Soviet and American governments at the time for fear of inciting World War III. (This secret may prompt viewer speculation about possible clandestine maneuvers today.)