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: Reuters (10-16-08)
Using the examples of six highly charged situations in which John F. Kennedy declined to use military force even while many of his closest advisers urged him to, Koji Masutani's documentary makes a highly convincing case that modern history might have been far different if not for an assassin's bullets. The film recently received its U.S. theatrical premiere at New York's Film Forum.
Using extensive on-camera commentary by Brown University professor James G. Blight (who also served as a producer and writer on the project), the film examines, to borrow Richard M. Nixon's term, "six crises" in Kennedy's presidency, including the building of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Bay of Pigs mission and...
SOURCE: AFP (10-16-08)
Millvina Dean was only two months old when the Titanic struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in 1912, but now at the age of 96 she is struggling to make ends meet and hopes to make 3,000 pounds from the sale.
Personal items going under the hammer include a 100-year-old suitcase filled with clothes given to her family by the people of New York after they arrived there following the catastrophe.
Dean has lived in a nursing home for the last two years.
SOURCE: NPR (10-16-08)
Though the seven-part face-off occurred 150 years ago — and the Norman Corwin play was written in 1958 — its content is pertinent, the actors tell Alex Cohen.
At the time, Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Stephen Douglas were competing for a seat in the U.S. Senate. This was, of course, well before the days of televised debate coverage. Giamatti, who plays Douglas, says that likely worked in the candidates' favor.
"These two guys, they were physical freaks," he says, "Douglas was 5'4" and Lincoln was like 8 feet tall, and they both weighed like 90 pounds!"
But back in 1858, looks...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-17-08)
Howard told The Independent: "We experienced a lot of obstacles in shooting. We were even taken away from areas that weren't controlled by the Vatican."
In June the Vatican banned the makers of Angels & Demons from entering the Holy See and any church in Rome.
Instead they shot scenes in studios and relocated to Caserta, near Naples.
Father Marco Fibbi, a Vatican spokesman, said at the time: "Usually we read the script but in this case it wasn't necessary. Just the name Dan Brown was enough."
The Vatican attacked The Da Vinci Code as heretic when it was published and was equally vehement about the film version.
The fictional novel proposed that Jesus sired a secret bloodline through Mary Magdalene that had lasted to the present day. It also painted the Catholic...
SOURCE: BBC (10-17-08)
The photograph of the two men with their heads bowed, each of them with an arm raised in the air and a fist clothed in a black leather glove, is one of the most striking images of the 20th Century.
Their actions caused havoc at the Games, ensuring the pair were ejected from the US Olympic team. But three men won medals in that race, and the consequences for the third athlete on the podium would be every bit as significant.
The silver medallist was a laid-back Australian, an up-and-coming runner called Peter Norman who, in the words of his coach, "blossomed like a cactus" when he got to Mexico. While observers expected the Americans to make a clean sweep of the 200m medals, Norman kept them interested by breaking the world...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-17-08)
Jonathan Kent is the distinguished director, that fine dramatist Frank McGuinness has come up with the new translation, and even the smallest roles are played by terrific actors.
Yet I watched this production of Sophocles’s great tragedy – a harrowing masterpiece that is also the world’s first and greatest detective story – with my pulse steady and my soul unstirred.
What’s gone wrong? Peter Hall has long argued that the emotions are so intense in Greek tragedy that it can work only with the actors wearing masks to contain the tragic anguish. I disagree, but one knows, in the vile modern phrase, where he is coming from.
There needs to be an element of control and restraint that allows us...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-15-08)
In the years following the war, the roof was replaced, the rubble cleared. But the choir remained empty, sealed off from the rest of the church behind a high brick wall. 'It was like a legend,' Françoise Dubois, a curator from...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-16-08)
Characters wear costumes from the Elizabethan era and travel in Victorian carriages, suggesting that the modes of transport in the series were bought "lock, stock and barrel" from a "Jane Austen leftover".
Made by Showtime, a US cable network, at a cost of £17 million for the first series alone, the drama stars Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII.
Dr Starkey said it was a disgrace that the BBC had "squandered" public money on a historical drama which he claimed had been deliberately "dumbed down" to appeal to an American audience.
"It is gratuitously awful," he told The Daily Telegraph. "There are errors in Shakespeare when he handles history but they are there for a purpose. The mistakes in The Tudors...
After two years' preparation, Scotland's History will be broadcast on BBC Scotland and BBC Two. Presented by the archaeologist Neil Oliver, it sets out to demythologise Scottish history and to introduce unfamiliar characters, as well as the well-known William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary, Queen of Scots.
“We've all heard of the big names. We had the opportunity here to come afresh. Many Scots are familiar with Columba and Kenneth MacAlpin — who feature in the first episode — but very few will have heard tales of Ead, Giric and Constantine,” said Neil McDonald, creative director of documentaries for BBC Scotland.
This trio were “crucially important figures”, Mr McDonald said. “They have been overlooked because of a tendency, in...
Richard Nixon died 14 years ago, but the interviewer who persuaded him to apologise for Watergate is very much alive and looking forward to seeing his finest hour commemorated in the opening film of The Times BFI London Film Festival.
However, Sir David Frost’s evident delight at becoming a bona fide Hollywood hero is very slightly tempered by the liberties that the hit play, and now the film, have taken with his own achievements. For most of the two-hour running time “Frost” is depicted as a frivolous lightweight and, although the real Frost understands that this accentuates the drama, it rankles that posterity will inherit a warped idea of his career before the Nixon interviews.
“It’s an interesting situation to be in,” he said yesterday, with a nervous laugh. “It’s not my film. [He gave up editorial control...
SOURCE: NYT (10-12-08)
In telling the stories of three delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August, Ted Koppel weaves Senator Barack Obama’s presidential nomination into the same social fabric as some of the best-known events of the civil rights era and some of the country’s least examined acts of violence.
We hear from Bob Filner, a California congressman who in 1961 was a Cornell University sophomore turned Freedom Rider arrested in Jackson, Miss., and sent to Parchman Farm, the state’s maximum security prison, for breaching the Jim Crow peace. And we hear from Lizzie Jenkins, president of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, who recounts two little-discussed outbreaks of lynch-mob violence against blacks in her state in...
SOURCE: NYT (10-15-08)
His death was confirmed by Jill Harbinson, a neighbor.
Mr. Vansittart confounded expectations in a much-abused literary genre, writing in language free of “forsooths,” adopting a disabused if not cynical tone and roaming freely over the centuries. “The Death of Robin Hood” (1981), for example, began in Sherwood Forest about 3,000 B.C., leaped forward to the era of King John, took another leap to the Luddite rebellions of 1812 and ended up in the Britain of the 1930s. “Parsifal” (1988), after beginning in ancient Gaul, wended its way to Heinrich Himmler’s headquarters in Westphalia.
For Mr. Vansittart, the past was never wholly...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (10-13-08)
The 48-year-old, whose triumph in Hollywood as a Latin lover/villain figure paved the way for Spanish successors like Javier Bardem, says he now wants to create the sort of movies suffocated by Hollywood.
His latest project may be a case in point. Mr Banderas, with his film star wife Melanie Griffith by his side, is travelling the Arab world raising money for his forthcoming movie "Sultan", which he has written and hopes to direct and star in. It tells the story of Boabdil, the last Moorish king of Spain, who was forced to surrender his beloved Granada to the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, a historic turning point that marked the birth of modern Spain.
The ageing Malaga-born screen star wants to tell the story from a pro-Arab viewpoint, and has been busy...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (10-12-08)
When McQueen talks about the scene, something happens to him. He becomes suddenly voluble, agitated to the point of inarticulacy. 'We had to do five takes,' he says, shaking his head furiously as if trying to expunge the memory from his consciousness, 'and each time the actors were actually being beaten with the truncheons because, well, there was really no other way to do it and make it look convincing. At one point, I looked at the monitor, which I hardly ever do, and what I was seeing suddenly became real. It was real! Not film. Not fake. Real. I jumped up and started shouting: "No! No! Cut! We have to stop. Just cut, cut! Stop...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (10-14-08)
Diana and Actaeon, considered one of the greatest paintings in private ownership, and its sister painting, Diana and Callisto, have been on public view in the National Gallery of Scotland as part of the Bridgewater collection since 1945 under a loan agreement.
But the decision by their owner, the Duke of Sutherland, to sell them has led to fears that a sale on the open market could see the 16th-century paintings leave the country.
He has offered first refusal to the National Galleries in London and Edinburgh for £100m - less than half their market value - which would allow the duke to take advantage of tax benefits. The galleries have until December 31 to raise £50m for Diana and Actaeon, which will also buy four more years to raise further...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (10-14-08)
Gekko, if you recall, was last seen being led away by the feds at the climax of Oliver Stone's 1987 drama Wall Street. Now he is to belatedly return in Money Never Sleeps, which is currently being scripted by 21 writer Allan Loeb and will again feature Michael Douglas in the starring role. Asked what form the 21st-century Gekko would take, Douglas seemed oddly blasé. "I don't think he's any different," he shrugged.
But while Gekko might not...
SOURCE: Alan Brinkley in Newsweek (10-11-08)
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (10-13-08)
It is 50 years since the first story featuring Paddingon, the iconic bear found at his namesake West London station and beloved of many an English schoolchild, was published by former BBC radio engineer and cameraman Michael Bond.
The first Paddington story, entitled A Bear Called Paddington was released on 13 October 1958. The book described the bear's first year in Britain, from his discovery at Paddington station by his owners Mr and Mrs Brown, through the trauma of his first experience of bathing, and concluded with the anniversary of his fortuitous discovery...
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (10-12-08)
Columbia University has a collection of playing cards that is among the world's largest, a trove of 6,356 decks that the Ivy League institution painstakingly catalogued this spring after they were donated to the school by an eccentric collector.
Ranging from simple woodblock prints from 1550s Austria to a 1963 American pack with admiring caricatures of the Kennedy family, the collection is not just a novelty, but a rich, if offbeat, resource for research. Scholars say cards can be useful records of social history, depicting how cultural touchstones, political figures and historical events were seen in their times.
"They're kind of wacky and different for us," said Columbia rare-book librarian Jane Rodgers Siegel, but "once you actually start looking at the cards, they're just fascinating."