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: Canwest (11-22-08)
That thought-provoking question lies at the heart of Oswald's Ghost, documentary filmmaker Robert Stone's remarkable, painstakingly detailed account of that fateful day -- 45 years ago to this day -- when U.S. history changed forever and a new, more dangerous era was ushered in.
"People are comforted by the idea, I think, that human affairs are not the product of random events," a witness to history posits early in the film. "There's some larger forces at work here."
The late novelist Norman Mailer then adds a sobering thought about how the Kennedy assassination shook Americans' belief in their rightful ascendancy to the top of the community of post-war world nations, then draws a line between Nov. 22, 1963, and Sept. 11, 2001. America, Mailer suggests, was shaken by the Kennedy assassination, and 9/11 was the other...
SOURCE: FoxNews.com (11-23-08)
But the staid and historic image of Plymouth could soon be tempered by a decidedly modern attraction: a $488 million film and television studio, complete with 14 sound stages, a 10-acre back lot, a theater, a 300-room upscale hotel, a spa and 500,000 square feet of office space.
The thought of turning Plymouth into a movie Mecca has won the enthusiastic support of many residents, but some don't like the idea of adding Hollywood to their history.
"We don't need you; we've already got Plymouth Rock," says Laurien Enos, one of just three of 116 Town Meeting members who voted last month against allowing the developers to build the studio on a golf course here, about 40 miles south of Boston....
SOURCE: BBC (11-23-08)
Fabulous jewels, manuscripts and ceramics were fetching 10 times their estimate and more, and it soon emerged this was thanks to the al-Thani family, rulers of Qatar, the tiny gas-rich Gulf state.
They had tempted the veteran architect I M Pei - the man behind the glass pyramid at the Louvre - to design one last statement building, a spectacular museum on a purpose-built island in Doha, which would house only the best Islamic art.
Then they went shopping for their collection.
And this weekend the museum opens, a dramatic pile of white limestone shapes inspired by Islamic architecture and full of 800 of the finest examples of Islamic art.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (11-23-08)
The President has written to the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Library and Cambridge University Library seeking the restitution of more than 400 so-called "treasures of Magdala", which were stolen by British soldiers following a battle in 1868.
In the letter, obtained by The Independent on Sunday, the President wrote: "I must state that Ethiopians have long grieved at the loss of this part of their national heritage. Ethiopians feel that this act of appropriation had no justification in international law. I feel, therefore, that the time has come for the return of Ethiopia's looted treasures....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (11-22-08)
For both the Tudors and the Tsars, wealth was power. The ostentation of power created authority. Wealth, power and authority were displayed by dress. Dress was governed by sumptuary legislation - restrictions on what could be worn by whom. And thus, by the laws of dress, extreme and deliberate social inequalities were displayed, stratified and enforced.
From fabrics and furs to the dishes and number of courses at meals, the quantities and qualities of wine and ale consumed and even in the places to eat and drink, every permutation...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (11-22-08)
In the process Anthony van Dyck set the standard for the grand British regal portrait, and was emulated by later artists from Gainsborough to John Singer Sargent to the portraitists of the golden age of Hollywood.
In February, Tate Britain promises to present the "sensation of the spring" when it brings together 60 of Van Dyck's most seductive and sumptuous works, mostly from the 1630s, alongside another 70 pieces by other artists that bring his development, and his legacy, into context.
The works on display will include 10 rarely seen great Van Dycks from the Royal Collection, chief among them the magnificent equestrian portrait of Charles I that normally hangs in Buckingham Palace.
Other highlights will include the sensitive double portrait of Van Dyck with his friend, the...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (11-23-08)
I kept having dark thoughts like these as I poked my way around the Barbican’s compelling yet dismaying investigation of war photography in general and Robert Capa’s in particular. Downstairs at the Barbican, contemporary artists from Israel, Vietnam and Holland are seen tackling the current wars in the Middle East, with intriguing results. Upstairs, Capa spends 1936 rampaging through the Spanish civil war and still has enough fight hormones coursing through his upstanding veins to rampage through the D-day...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-23-08)
An eagle-eyed auctioneer who was valuing her belongings spotted the oil painting and was stunned when he realised it was by 19th century artist John Everett Millais.
As well as being worth thousands, the dusty painting has also shed light on a 150-year-old scandal of a love triangle involving Pre-Raphaelite artist Millais.
The portrait is of a woman called Effie Gray who was married to Millais' mentor and art critic John Ruskin at the time.
Millais, whose work includes the famous Ophelia painting, met and fell in love with Gray in 1853 while he used her for another painting, the Order of Release.
Gray was in a loveless marriage with Ruskin and left him to marry Millais three years later. They went on to have eight children together.
The portrait of...
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (11-21-08)
A minor incursion of this sort is an annual Oscar season tradition, but 2008 offers an abundance of peaked caps and riding breeches, lightning-bolt collar pins and swastika armbands, as an unusually large cadre of prominent actors assumes the burden of embodying the most profound and consequential evil of the recent past.
The near-simultaneous appearance of all these movies is to some degree a coincidence, but it throws into relief the curious fact that early 21st-century culture, in Europe and America, on screen and in books, is intensely, perhaps morbidly preoccupied with the great political trauma of the mid-20th century.
The number of Holocaust-related memoirs, novels, documentaries and feature films in the past decade or so seems to defy quantification, and their...
SOURCE: Reuters (11-21-08)
The maker of the Yugo car will stop production on Friday after sending the equally loved and hated symbol of Yugoslav socialism to the graveyard earlier this month alongside its East German cousin the Trabant.
Tomislav Novicic spent nearly 40 years at the Serbian car producer assembling the Yugo, Zastava 101 and other models. Now he is preparing to retire after the assembly line shuts down.
"I am sorry to see that Serbia is not going to have a local made car anymore," Novicic said. "We were so proud to be able to produce the Yugo. We managed to conquer international markets with it."
Soon, the buildings of the Zastava company in the central town of Kragujevac will be renovated to house a new company that Serbia has established with Italy's Fiat.
SOURCE: NYT (11-20-08)
It is the latest in the museum’s illustrious line of panoramic archaeological shows, and a direct sequel to the 2003 “Art of the First Cities,” which covered the third millennium B.C. Of American institutions, only the Met has the resources to pull off such projects, which depend as much on diplomatic clout as on cash, and which always carry the risk that long-made plans will capsize on the shifting tides of international politics.
SOURCE: Edward Rothstein in the NYT (11-20-08)
This doesn’t mean that the museum has solved its considerable problems — some loom larger now, simply because expectations are higher and more renovations are to follow in coming years. But the sense of change is dramatic. When you enter the atrium from the National Mall, you face a 40-foot-by-19-foot “waving flag” made of 960 reflective panels whose colors subtly shift as...
Knightsbridge-based Farhad Hakimzadeh, chairman of the Iranian Heritage Foundation, cut out pages from manuscripts at the British Library and Oxford University's Bodleian Library.
He removed the pages with a scalpel that he smuggled into the institutions' rare books reading rooms, hiding his actions from CCTV cameras installed to protect the books. Then he took the pages home and inserted them in his own inferior copies.
Police said Hakimzadeh, 60, the director of a company that publishes books on the Middle East and a published author, was likely to be jailed for his actions.
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (11-18-08)
The 700-year-old windows were thought vanished or destroyed until 2005, when they were discovered by a Russian art historian at a cloister outside Moscow, under the jurisdiction of the Pushkin Museum.
The first 111 panels, which had been in the possession of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, were returned by Russia in 2002.
Three hundred of them went under the hammer on Friday along with almost a thousand story boards, albums, statuettes and drawings at the Artcurial auction house in Paris. Most are written by Hergé – the nickname for Georges Remi – to his first wife Germaine Kieckens, his family and agent.
The letters were sold for 112,000 euros (£95,000) - around ten times the 10-15,000 euros. (£8,500 to £12,700), they were expected to fetch - to the Jean-Claude Vrain book shop in the French capital.
Starting with a postcard to his parents from a boy scout's camp in 1921 – when he was just 14 – the correspondence charts the highs and lows of Hergé's creative and love life up until the early 1950s...
Saturday's edition of the Vatican's official newspaper absolves John Lennon of his notorious remark, saying that "after so many years it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success".
In a lengthy editorial marking the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' famous White Album, L'Osservatore Romano heaps lavish praise on the British band.
"The talent of Lennon and the other Beatles gave us some of the best pages in modern pop music," said the newspaper, which has recently tried to shake off its stuffy image by covering popular culture events such as the Oscars and inviting articles from Muslim and Jewish contributors.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (11-20-08)
But now the Italian government plans to build a huge liquid gas terminal less than a mile away from the famous Agrigento site, to the fury of environmentalists.
The site is protected by environmental laws, but the effect of these has been cancelled by the simple act of stating that the heritage site does not exist, according to Carlo Vulpio, the Corriere della Sera journalist who has been spearheading the environmentalists' fight back. Mr Vulpio disclosed yesterday that a ruling signed into law on 28 September by the Environment Minister, Stefania Prestigiacomo, backed by the Culture Minister, Sandro Bondi, stated that the planned €500m (£420m) plant "does not infringe on the special protected zone at a community level, inasmuch as the...
SOURCE: Reuters (11-14-08)
The 1,600-year-old work entitled "Philogelos: The Laugh Addict," one of the world's oldest joke books, features a joke in which a man complains that a slave he has just bought has died, its publisher said on Friday.
"By the gods," answers the slave's seller, "when he was with me, he never did any such thing!"
In a comedy act Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, first aired in 1969 and regularly voted one of the funniest ever, the pet-shop owner says the parrot, a "Norwegian Blue," is not dead, just "resting" or "pining for the fjords."
SOURCE: Reuters (11-19-08)
The Cleveland said it would return 14 artefacts within three months. Among them are an Apulian Volute Krater vase from 33O BC and a rare gold processional cross from 1375, which was stolen from a Siena church and acquired by the museum in 1977.
SOURCE: WaPo (11-20-08)
Six years ago, a blue-ribbon commission appointed by the museum faulted the facility for being incoherent and disorganized, and "lacking aesthetic appeal" and balance. It was portrayed as a mess, even though at its peak, more than 5 million people a year found their way through its cluttered hallways. It's the third-most-visited museum on the Mall.
A vigorous rethinking of how to tell the American story and display a selection of its more than 3 million objects, as well as renovation of the physical structure, required the museum to close for two years. The central part of the building was dramatically altered; other areas are scheduled to be redone by 2014, in time for the museum's 50th anniversary, according to Director Brent D. Glass.