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 (6-29-08)
But how to freshly document the life of a man who was his own Boswell, whose books and articles slavishly documented his own every tic, whoop and hallucination? A journalist who announced his arrival in American letters by riding with the Hells Angels and in the end choreographed a memorial from the grave that made the Burning Man bacchanal seem chaste?
Few writers have commodified narcissism so completely — his participatory style of journalism became its own genre and gives the film its title — but still we are invited...
SOURCE: Jewish Daily Forward (6-26-08)
The Spertus Museum, part of the 84-year-old Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, located on Chicago’s South Loop, announced June 20 that it was shutting down Imaginary Coordinates, which was originally scheduled to close in the fall. The institute’s board of trustees came to the decision after nearly two months of vocal opposition from constituents.
“When it came down to the bottom line, there were large numbers of people who were deeply pained by the exhibition,” said the institute’s president, Howard Sulkin. “Every exhibition should have some disagreement or it’s not good art, but this went beyond that.”
The controversy generated by the Chicago exhibit is raising questions about the broader role of Jewish museums around the country. As Jewish museums come of age...
SOURCE: NYT (6-28-08)
There is less ambiguity about the hollowed-out posteriors of metal pigs, within which pictures of William McKinley were inserted. These souvenirs from the 1896 campaign of William Jennings Bryan alluded not to presidential pork-barrel, but to a vulgar phrase about voting for Bryan’s opponent being as ridiculous and offensive as a pig’s behind.
Vulgarity was part of the point. This exhibition of presidential campaign paraphernalia — which will run through Election Day and should serve as a potent counterpoint to the season...
SOURCE: History Today (6-24-08)
SOURCE: Newsweek (6-23-08)
The only problem is that statement—indeed, the entire documentary—is arguably as solid as the crumbling pyramid itself. Egyptologists have known about Djedefre's pyramid for years. It was discovered a century ago—or rediscovered, since...
SOURCE: http://www.artinfo.com (6-25-08)
According to José Luis Díez, the Prado's curator of 19th-century art, who carried out a detailed analysis of the work, the initials in the bottom left-hand corner of the work read "AJ," for Asensio Juli, a Goya assistant who is thought to have collaborated with him on the frescoes in a Madrid church and who signed his own work in this way.
Díez is not the first expert to call the painting's provenance into question: In 2001, the British art historian Juliet Bareau-Wilson claimed that both it and The Milkmaid of Bordeaux had been created by others, a theory supported by Manuela Mena, a Prado conservationist and Goya expert. The Prado denied the claim.
Another British art historian, Nigel Glendinning, firmly believes the work is by Goya. He says that the...
SOURCE: Salon (6-26-08)
"The blacklist was a time of evil. No one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil. There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides. It will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims. Some suffered less than others, some grew or were diminished, but in the final tally we were all victims because almost without exception each of us felt compelled to say things he did not want to say, to do things he did not want to do, to deliver and receive wounds he truly did not want to exchange. That is why none of us -- right, left, or center -- emerged from that long nightmare without sin."
SOURCE: Yahoo (6-24-08)
A report posted on Slate.com last week suggested that United Artists had doctored a portrait of Claus von Stauffenberg to make it more closely resemble the "Top Gun" actor. One problem: The two images scrutinized in the story, posted June 17 under the heading "Tom Cruise Mystery: The case of the doctored publicity photo," didn't come from the same source.
David Plotz, the editor of Slate, said after the Web magazine was contacted by The Associated Press that the conclusion of the article was wrong, and a correction was planned.
"We did not do the photo research that we should have done," Plotz said Tuesday evening.
United Artists released its side-by-side publicity portraits last...
SOURCE: LAT (6-25-08)
SOURCE: http://www.metro.co.uk/fame (6-25-08)
The screening will take place on Wednesday 15 October.
The film hails from Oscar-winning director/producer Ron Howard and Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer, together with Bafta award-winning producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
It recounts David Frost's historic interview with disgraced US President Richard Nixon, and stars Michael Sheen and Frank Langella.
SOURCE: NYT (6-25-08)
Its broadcast of the comedian’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” became a landmark moment in the history of free speech. In a 1978 milestone in the station’s contentious and unruly history, WBAI lost a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision that to this day has defined the power of the government over broadcast material it calls indecent.
“It’s a bad time here for us because George Carlin was part of the family,” said Anthony Riddle, the station’s general manager. “I think all the producers are dealing with it in their own way,” Mr. Riddle said, some doing commentary and others running archival material, including a bleeped-out version of the “Seven Words” routine.
The 1978 ruling, often termed “the Carlin case,” was actually called...
SOURCE: History Today (6-24-08)
SOURCE: Studio EIS -- Ivan Schwartz (click here to see slide show) (6-24-08)
Washington developer Robert H. Smith is generously sponsoring a new sculpture memorializing Lincoln’s association with this important site to be completed before the end of 2008.
Mr. Smith’s proposal to place a new Lincoln sculpture at the recently restored summer cottage, that Lincoln occupied between 1862-64, will add great significance to StudioEIS’ historical works and has challenged the studio to find another dimension to the man who sat so formally for Brady’s camera.
In 1862 President Lincoln, heeding the advice of close advisors, made for higher ground - about three miles from the White House, where a slightly cooler summer could be had and he could find retreat from the White House, the heat and the war. Lincoln’s retreat also produced what is considered one of the defining documents of his...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-24-08)
The famous embroidery of the 1066 Norman Conquest is the subject of a major conference of world experts being held at the British Museum next month.
Feted as the most famous cartoon strip of history, the tapestry was made in Britain but never displayed here and now historians believe we should take advantage of French president Nicolas Sarkosy’s friendship with Britain and ask for the chance to bring it home.
SOURCE: LAT (6-24-08)
According to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the wily hero who devised the Trojan Horse hefted his mighty bow on April 16, 1178 BC, and executed the unruly crowd who had taken over his home and was trying to force his wife into marriage.
The finding leaves many perennial questions unanswered, such as whether the events portrayed actually occurred or whether the blind poet Homer was the author of the tale.
But it casts a new sheen of veracity on a story that has existed in a hazy realm of fantasy and history since it was first composed 400 years after the Trojan War.
SOURCE: John Tierney in the NYT (blog) (6-17-08)
Dear Mr. Gore,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my draft of “Verità Inconveniente.” Rest assured that I and the management of La Scala are committed to a serious presentation of your scientific work. I will try to adopt some of your suggestions, but I hope you appreciate the constraints faced by the composer of an opera that is already five hours long.
I agree it would “round out the résumé” of Prince Algorino in the opening scene if he were to sing about his creation of a communications network. But the “Mio magnifico Internet” aria you propose seems to me a distraction — and frankly out of place in an 18th-century Tuscan village. I believe the peasants’ choral celebration of Prince Algorino’s wisdom suffices to...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-20-08)
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which the renaissance artist worked on for four years in the early 16th century, is actually a "bridge" between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish faith, according to The Sistine Secrets: Unlocking the Codes in Michelangelo's Defiant Masterpiece.
The book, which is already on the New York Times bestseller list, is the work of Rabbi Benjamin Blech, an associate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University in New York, and Roy Doliner, a tour guide at the Vatican.
Scanning through the arrangement of figures on the vast 14,000 square foot ceiling, the authors have found shapes that correspond to Hebrew letters.
For example, the book states, the figures of David and Goliath form the shape of the letter gimel, which symbolises g'vurah, or...
SOURCE: AFP (6-22-08)
The renowned 19th century Polish-French pianist and composer died at the age of 39, of what is believed to be tuberculosis.
But leading Polish medical experts are betting that DNA tests on his heart -- perfectly preserved in what appears to be cognac -- could prove he suffered from cystic fibrosis.
Their request to Poland's culture ministry for tissue samples to check for the CFTR gene marking cystic fibrosis sufferers has, however, sparked mixed feelings over the prospect of picking over a national icon.
SOURCE: Helen Womack in the Guardian (UK) (6-21-08)
Violent thrillers and reality shows have replaced Communist propaganda on Russian television and, like western viewers, Russians complain that there is little worth watching on television.
"Unfortunately, Russians don't know their history very well, especially before 1917," said director Andrei Eshpai, who is making Ivan Grozny (Ivan the Terrible) for release in 2009. "History in our cinema was often tendentious and there were few possibilities for doing good historical drama on TV ... Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it."
SOURCE: Yahoo News (6-19-08)
Phar Lap won 37 of his 51 starts before his death in mysterious circumstances at Menlo Park in California in April 1932. Days before his death, he won Mexico’s Agua Caliente Handicap, which was then the richest horse race in North America.
Arsenic poisoning has long been suspected as the cause of Phar Lap’s death, but confirmation had been lacking until Thursday when researchers Dr. Ivan Kempson of the University of South Australia and Dermot Henry, manager of Natural Science Collections at Museum Victoria, released the findings of their forensic investigation.