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: Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Story by Rick Wartzman, director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book is 'Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath.'' (9-21-08)
Trekking hundreds of miles from home, where the unemployment rate of 8.5 percent is the highest in the United States, they were eager to scoop up jobs rewiring Cedar Rapids -- even if it meant sleeping in a tent for weeks on end.
To some observers, the desperate scene evoked an unmistakable image. 'The Joads leaving Oklahoma is exactly what we are seeing coming out of Detroit now,' said Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at the University of California, Berkeley.
Nearly 70 years after it was published, John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath' -- which tells of the dirt-poor Joad family's epic migration from drought-plagued Oklahoma to fruitful (if unfriendly) Central California -- continues to resonate as few novels have. In fact, the...
Previously unseen correspondence between Diana and her former nanny, Mary Clarke, provides a fascinating insight into the young princess's life.
She writes guilelessly of her love for the Prince of Wales, the frantic preparations for their wedding day and her happiness in the early years of marriage.
When the V&A decided to mount its big new autumn exhibition, Cold War Modern, four years ago, the museum could scarcely have anticipated how relevant it would seem by the time that it opened.
After Russia's tanks rolled into Georgia last month, relations between Moscow and the West feel sub-zero once again.
All the political tension will no doubt boost the number of people who visit this ambitious exhibition of around 300 objects. Admirably curated by David Crowley and Jane Pavitt, the show examines how artists, architects and designers working between the end of the Second World War and the early Seventies were influenced by the Cold War.
Everybody knows that America and Russia competed in stockpiling nuclear warheads, threatening Armageddon. What is less well known is the extent to...
The introduction of 2,000 new words into the forthcoming edition of the dictionary has meant that some of the lesser known and used words have become endangered and face being lost from the publication.
A list of 24-threatened words has been drawn up and some celebrities have taken up the challenge of rescuing a word from oblivion.
Stephen Fry has chosen the word "fusby", which means short, stout or squat.
Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, is lobbying for the retention of the word "skirr", which means a whirring or grating sound as made by the wings of birds in flight.
"I'm a very keen birdwatcher," Mr Motion told the Times. "Birders do use this word from time to time so I thought it might have a better chance than others, such as vilipend....
SOURCE: NYT (9-21-08)
Pavel Derevyanko, the star of “Hitler Kaput!,” a low-brow farce that opened Thursday in Moscow cinemas, dozes off while stealing top-secret documents, accidentally photocopying his face. He launches into a sentimental rendition of “Kalinka,” probably Russia’s most familiar folk song, at a Nazi watering hole. While groping a busty radio operator, he accidentally runs over people with a tank, making splattering sounds. In short, he is an idiot....
On Wednesday, the Communists of St. Petersburg and its surrounding area formally asked Russia’s Ministry of Culture, without success, to prevent “Hitler Kaput!” from opening in theaters. They warned that the film would “damage the health and moral condition of veterans of...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (9-21-08)
Ah, nostalgia. A dwindling band of old folk, remembering the songs that got them through the blackout? Not quite. There were many grey hairs among the 400 or so heads nodding along, but children, too. And here's an astonishing thing: Formby is bigger than he has ever been since his death.
"We have just broken our record again," said Gerry Mawdsley, president of the society. "We've got more members now than at any time since 1961, when George died and we...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (9-22-08)
But 200 years on, the work is enjoying a revival after an unlikely pair of celebrity conductors directed Ludwig van Beethoven's masterpiece during the BBC's reality television series, Maestro.
Sales of Symphony No 5 in C minor have almost quadrupled since its performance in the final of the series earlier this month. The high street music chain HMV said demand for recordings of the symphony increased by 295 per cent after the two finalists were called on to conduct its opening movement. The public eventually voted the comedian Sue Perkins the winner over the musician and actor Goldie, giving her the chance to conduct an orchestra at the proms in front of 30,000 people.
The sudden rush...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (9-22-08)
Still reeling from the sight of Israeli teenagers swooning to the tunes of Cliff Richard in 1963, Israel's publicly appointed guardians of good taste and morality, the interdepartmental committee for authorising the importation of foreign artists, refused their entry.
Determined to prevent another outbreak of mass hysteria, the 13 member committee of politicians and civil servants whose job it was to assess the artistic merit of foreign acts resolved to be "vigilant".
As a result, the 1964 request to bring to Israel, the Rhythm Beatles - as they were called in Hebrew - was roundly rejected in the committee's resolution 691, which reads: "Resolved: Not to allow the request for fear that the performances by the Beatles are liable to have a negative...
Wolfie, his gobby Tooting Trot in Citizen Smith, was a forerunner of Michael Murray, the manic Labour militant he played in Alan Bleasdale's GBH. Even the paterfamilias in My Family, the sitcom role to which he has been largely confined in recent years, has ceded control of his own home.
Lindsay's Fagin has met his comeuppance both on television and in the stage musical. In the theatre he has memorably lost the plot as Henry II, Richard III and, most recently, Archie Rice.
But no one in this crowded firmament of sociopaths and psychotics has quite so much power to hold on to as his latest role.
In Aristo, Martin Sherman's new play about Aristotle Onassis, Lindsay plays the Greek tycoon who as a young man survived his family's decimation at the hands of the Turks in Smyrna to acquire millions and,...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (9-18-08)
Instead of lauding Wallace, the author of the new work says, the Scots should disown him and transform his monument at Stirling into a national museum to educate the public about the dangers of ethnic cleansing.
Edwin Moore, who was a senior editor for the Collins reference division for 20 years, takes a strictly revisionist view of the Scots warrior, who was executed in 1305, labelling him a murderous coward who butchered thousands of innocent and defenceless people.
In his book Scotland: 1,000 Things You Need To Know, Moore sets out to explode the myths about one of the icons of the country's history.
The writer, who takes the debate to the Wigtown Book Festival next week, said: “Wallace ravaged the whole of the North of England - there were...
SOURCE: NYT (9-19-08)
James Pak, the central narrator, is a mild, introspective 40-year-old historian biding time in a job at the American Embassy in Vienna. In May 2006, when the novel opens, an anonymous informant has sent James a package: a dossier of materials from soldiers deserting the war in Iraq. The dossier documents “unspeakable crimes. Torture, beheadings, rape — the catalogue raisonné of all wars.”
As he decides whether to leak the information to the press, James thinks back on 1990, when he left America after discovering a “box of letters from Vienna gathering years in a closet.” The letters revealed that James’s Ukrainian grandmother, Vera, was still alive; James’s father, Andrew, had always claimed that Vera was dead. James confronted Andrew, Andrew...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-19-08)
Organisers of Bath's Jane Austen Festival say the city is now "internationally recognised" as the writer's home because it features so heavily in her books.
This is no small affront to the residents of Chawton, where Austen lived from 1809 until her death in 1817. It was in Chawton Cottage that she completed all of her novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion.
The cottage is now run as Jane Austen's House Museum and attracts 30,000 visitors each year. However, it is in danger of being overshadowed by Bath, where the festival opens this weekend for the seventh year running.
"I think of Bath as Jane...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-20-08)
Publishers and universities are outlawing dozens of seemingly innocuous words in case they cause offence.
Banned phrases on the list, which was originally drawn up by sociologists, include Old Masters, which has been used for centuries to refer to great painters - almost all of whom were in fact male.
It is claimed that the term discriminates against women and should be replaced by "classic artists".
The list of banned words was written by the British Sociological Association, whose members include dozens of professors, lecturers and researchers.
The list of allegedly racist words includes immigrants, developing nations and black, while so-called "disablist" terms include patient, the elderly and special needs.
It comes after one council outlawed the allegedly...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (9-20-08)
Mirren's portrayal told us that the Queen found Downing Street's involvement irritating at first, though the royal family ultimately accepted Tony Blair's advice to open up. Prince Philip was grumpy, but realised that Blair, who hailed Diana as the "people's princess", had touched a chord.
Now the nation is given a taste of the true atmosphere behind closed doors thanks to an inside account of Tony Blair's Downing Street by the television journalist Adam Boulton, which is serialised in today's Guardian. Boulton reveals that the royals were so upset by No 10's micro management that at one point Prince Philip told No 10 to "fuck off".
The prince, who is known for his risque jokes, lost his temper with...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-21-08)
Decades before the escape of 76 Allied prisoners from the Stalag Luft III camp in Nazi Germany, events which became the basis for Hollywood film The Great Escape, 29 officers escaped the clutches of the Germans in a similar feat of engineering and subterfuge.
The exhibition will tell the story of 60 British and Australian prisoners of war who tried to break out of the "inescapable" Holzminden camp in 1918.
The story has long been eclipsed by similar events during the Second World War which inspired films such as The Colditz Story and The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough.
"Everybody's heard of The Great Escape, but it will surprise our visitors to see that similar escape attempts took place in the First World War," said Terry Charman, senior...
SOURCE: BBC (9-20-08)
... The 60,000-seat stadium was home to many of baseball's star players and characters - from "Babe" Ruth to current captain Derek Jeter - but it also hosted many a world title boxing contest, and several papal masses.
"It's time to change," said retired school principal Bill Blazek, who had driven to the Bronx with a group of visitors from Iowa.
"I've been in a lot of baseball stadiums and it's old. You've got to move on, and new is better," he added, wistfully.
11th hour plea
Visitors slowly milling around the asphalt walkways, gazing up at the concrete walls, were euphoric with a sense that history is being made in these final hours.
But one fan - conspicuous for not sporting a Yankees cap or shirt - said New York was making a terrible mistake in letting the stadium be torn down.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-20-08)
It was an event that would almost certainly have appalled and infuriated the artist. He would, if anything, have been even more agitated by a new retrospective exhibition of his work at Tate Modern.
Rothko (1903-1970) is one of the great figures of mid-20th-century American art, his name often paired with that of Jackson Pollock. Pollock and Rothko have come to represent the pinnacle of post-war abstract art. But the two had little in common (except for heavy drinking, a common factor among most artists and writers of that era). Rothko rejected the label of"action painting", pointing out that his aim was more meditation than action.
Nor did he accept that he was a" colourist", despite the fact that his mature work consisted of nothing but large fussy patches of pigment. In an especially contrary moment,...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-19-08)
The weight of the 17-ft-tall statue, the poor quality of its marble and the accumulation of small shocks from building work or drilling in the streets outside have put it in danger of falling over, Professor Borri said.
However, he said that the statue, housed in Florence's Accademia Gallery, was not in danger of imminent collapse-- except in the event of a major earthquake.
Florence has a recorded history of more than 120 minor earthquakes, although none reached more than five on the Richter scale.
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (9-18-08)
A judge will decide whether to exhume the remains, but the announcement by the family of Spain's most prominent and popular 20th century poet is a significant about-face after years of refusing to touch the grave.
It also takes Spain a bit closer to unraveling one of the 1936-39 war's most intriguing mysteries — how the writer died and where exactly his remains are.
Garcia Lorca was 38 when he was killed. His work deals with universal themes such as love, death, passion, cruelty and injustice.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-21-08)
His new work on the Left-wing Baader-Meinhof gang – also known as the Red Army Faction – is reputed to be the most expensive German film ever made. Starring some of the country's top actors, it sets out to remind the German public that the gang members were vicious killers, rather than the glamorous but misguided revolutionaries that some now prefer to remember.
However, the film, which hopes to emulate the success of The Lives of Others, the 2007 Academy Award winner about the East German Stasi spy network, has been criticised for its violence. Children of Baader-Meinhof gang members, and the gang's victims, have described it as tasteless hero worship, while some of the former terrorists have complained that the production is a callous attempt...