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.
But, after cleaning and expert analysis, it emerged the work is a genuine Holbein and as such is worth millions.
The unnamed Swiss collector, who owns the work, discovered the painting at a sale of heirlooms and bric-a-brac. The sale was linked to the once-stately Lamoignon family, who had connections to Holbein through another painting, The Ambassadors, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
However the portrait was thought to be by one of the great man's imitators when the painting of Erasmus, the Dutch scholar, came up for sale as the family sold off the last of the heirlooms in 2000.
Marco Grassi, a New York conservator who was at the auction, said he advised the Swiss collector to make the purchase, which cost 2,000 euros.
When the crude background had been removed a...
Today is the feast of St John's church, for it is dedicated to St John the Evangelist (although Frances Arnold-Forster, in her learned volumes on English church dedications, curiously claims that it is dedicated to both St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist).
The little church, from 1623 but still in Gothic style, of mellow red brick and iron-stained sandstone, was built by John Packer, a backbone of the establishment, who had recently bought the manor of Groombridge.
He had connections at King James's Court, and the tablet he put up above the church porch explains, in Latin, his motive for building the church – "because of the most happy return of Prince Charles from Spain". The Prince, soon to be King Charles I, had gone to woo the Infanta, but Packer was glad...
He is seen urging people across the United States to support a campaign by charity One Laptop per Child to deliver tough, solar-powered laptop computers to the world's poorest children.
Lennon's voice and video image tells viewers: "Imagine every child no matter where in the world they were could access a universe of knowledge.
"They would have a chance to learn, to dream, to achieve anything they want.
"I tried to do it through my music, but now you can do it in a very different way.
"You can give a child a laptop and more than imagine, you can change the world."
Donors can chose to either pay $199 (£135) to buy a laptop for a child in the Third World, or $399 (£270) to buy one for a child in the Third World and another for their own child.
Lennon was shot and killed as he and his wife, Yoko Ono,...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-27-08)
But a stencilled lot number on the canvas was found to refer to a Christie's sale in 1929, when the artwork - dated 1655-9 - had been described as "Portrait of Mrs Dobson, of West Peckham, Kent, and her son, Thomas Dobson, in a landscape with Satyr and Cupids".
Yet there was nothing cherub-like visible on the canvas. The mystery was resolved when an infrared photograph was taken, which revealed two Cupids holding a wreath, together with a rose in the lady's lap and a theorbo - a long necked lute - at the right of the painting.
Careful cleaning and restoration by Helen Brett, the Tate Paintings Conservator, uncovered the original composition, which is thought to have been overpainted around 70 years ago.
Now the work is to be exhibited at the Tate Britain for the first time since being...
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (12-27-08)
Roger Friedman, film critic for Fox News, said the movie appeared to intentionally minimize the impact of Nazism.
"I'm concerned that Valkyrie could represent a new trend in filmmaking: Nazi apologia. Not once in Valkyrie do any of the 'heroes' mention what's happening around them. Hitler has systemically killed millions," said Friedman.
"Valkyrie opens the door to a dangerous new thought: that the Holocaust and all the other atrocities could be of secondary important to the cause of German patriotism."
Friedman criticized the set designers for minimizing or hiding the swastikas that have become symbols of the evils of Nazism, and blasted the portrayal of Hitler as a "doddering fool with a...
SOURCE: WaPo (12-23-08)
Taking the patient's history proved a greater challenge. The Renaissance altarpiece doesn't turn up in the record books until about 1850, at a church in suburban Siena, Italy. Before that, total amnesia: No one knows who commissioned Sienese artist Neroccio de' Landi to paint it in the late 15th century or where it first hung.
Gallery officials select 20 to 25 works from the collection annually for "major treatment" -- they say "conservation," not "restoration" -- and perhaps 50 more for minor tuneups. Neroccio's Madonna was on the major To Do list for many years, and its turn finally came after Christensen had finished...
SOURCE: MANOHLA DARGIS in the NYT (12-25-08)
That enigma was Claus von Stauffenberg, a count and a colonel who, though he lost one eye, an entire hand and several fingers while fighting on behalf of the Reich, made several attempts to assassinate Hitler and seize control of the government. At the core of Stauffenberg’s spectacularly ambitious plot was Valkyrie, Hitler’s plan for the mobilization of the home army that Stauffenberg hoped to hijack in order to quash the SS and its leaders. It didn’t work, of...
SOURCE: Martin Schram in Scripps Howard (12-26-08)
Mainly, in the film's climactic moment, the cinematic Frost (Michael Sheen) is seen rising to the occasion and nailing Nixon (Frank Langella) by getting him to admit his own criminal obstruction role in a " 'cover-up,' as you call it."
But that's not how it played out in the original Frost/Nixon broadcast, as I saw by reviewing my original articles written for Newsday when I covered that 1977 broadcast. Indeed, Frost had asked Nixon to admit he had obstructed justice by helping cover up his top advisers' knowledge of the original burglary of Democratic Party...
Since September, half a million visitors have flocked to the Sun King's palace to view 17 major works by the"king of kitsch" in its gardens and gilded galleries.
These include an inflatable lobster, a porcelain representation of Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles, as well as Split-Rocker, an 11-tonne stainless steel dinosaur-rocking horse sculpture made from 90,000 live flowers, which is in the Orangerie garden.
SOURCE: BBC (12-26-08)
Historic Scotland is trying to find out why the works, known as the Stirling Heads and carved between 1530 and 1544, were created and whom they depict.
The carvings are thought to feature monarchs such as James V and England's Henry VIII.
The research is part of £12m plans to refurbish Stirling's Royal Palace.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (12-24-08)
The modest, red-brick home once owned by Al Capone is expected to hit the market this spring for an estimated $450,000, marking a new chapter for the infamous South Side landmark that has had just two owners since the death of Capone's mother in 1952.
"I think there's some value in the home's history," said Barbara Hogsette, 71, who has lived in the house since 1963 but plans to relocate to California next year to be closer to her son. "But I don't think that history means the same thing to everyone who might be interested in buying it."
For more than a century, the two-flat home with large bay windows has stood near the corner of 72nd Street and South Prairie Avenue in the working-class Park Manor neighborhood. Cook County records show the Capones bought the home for $5,500 in August 1923, part of a wave of first- and second-generation European immigrants who moved to that part...
SOURCE: Britannica Blog (12-25-08)
Longfellow’s son Charles had been grievously wounded in battle, but contrary to Longfellow’s gloomy expectations as he wrote these words that his son would die, Charles lived to become a world traveler and amateur ethnographer. For his part, Henry, well aware of both humankind’s baser nature and its angelic possibilities, would go on to translate the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, and to write many memorable poems.
The composer Jean Baptiste Calkin set Longfellow’s words to music in 1872. Here is the poem, with its Civil War verses, long removed from the carol, restored...
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (12-25-08)
His father started calling him to come home after six years.
When von Trapp finally returned to take over from his father, Johannes, he had had quite a decade: teaching skiing in Aspen, modeling for Ralph Lauren, surfing in Chile and even making People magazine's America's Top 50 Bachelors list in 2001. Recently, he sat in a dark office at the Trapp Family Lodge, the inn his grandmother started, trying to decide what to do with some old curtains.
It is hard for anyone to untangle family history and allegiances during the holidays. When your last name is von Trapp, and Americans claim you as part of their own legacy, that task is just that much harder.
That legacy weighs on von Trapp even as he considers...
SOURCE: Gabriel Sherman in the New Republic (12-25-08)
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (12-20-08)
F Scott Fitzgerald's seminal novel The Great Gatsby may have been describing the iniquities of the Jazz Age just before the country slid into the Great Depression but the award-winning Australian director, Baz Luhrmann, yesterday said Fitzgerald's story resonated with the economic excesses of today.
So much so, that he is set to make a modern version of the novel, which will allude to the present financial crisis that has brought to a grinding halt the bling-laden consumer culture that was spawned in the 1980s and 1990s.
The director, who has bought the rights to Fitzgerald's novel, suggested his version would contain an undercurrent of social commentary, as was the case with his latest film, Australia, and its treatment of...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (12-24-08)
Peck, like several other players, including Steve McQueen, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, would act more than once with the director, for though auteurists lament the lack of a personal stamp on his films, Mulligan's flair with actors was notable. He was particularly adept at guiding young players, such as Mary Badham and Philip Alford, who in To Kill a Mockingbird play the two children in 1930s Alabama who witness their lawyer father defending a black man against a...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (12-24-08)
The $8m-budgeted patriotic war film The Brest Fortress will be made by the Central Partnership, Russia's leading independent production company, reports Variety. It is the first of a series of similarly grand features, all backed by state funding, which are expected to hit cinemas from 2010 onwards, in accordance with a new Kremiln commitment to switch state funding to projects which tally with its wider policy.
Russia's film industry has come to resemble that of the west in recent years, with big-budget movies like the Night Watch series apeing Hollywood...
SOURCE: Oliver Morton in an op ed in the NYT (12-23-08)
The photograph of that earthrise by the astronaut Bill Anders forms part of the Apollo program’s enduring legacy — eclipsing, in many memories, any discoveries about the Moon or renewed sense of national pride. It and other pictures looking back at the Earth provided a new perspective on the thing that all humanity shares. As Robert Poole documents in his history, “Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth,” that perspective had deep...
SOURCE: AP (12-25-08)
Pinter, whose distinctive contribution to the stage was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, died on Wednesday, according to his second wife, Lady Antonia Fraser.
"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said when it announced Pinter's award. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution."
SOURCE: NYT (12-23-08)
“The personalities featured in the exhibition had important connections to Asia and were instrumental in shaping how the West saw Asia,” said Tan Huism, deputy director for curation and collections at the museum. “These were exciting times with an emergence of an early global culture. The exhibition tries to highlight this spirit of openness and understanding.”
Having one’s photograph taken in a studio had been popular in cosmopolitan Europe for some time. In England the fashion of using studio photographs as visiting cards emerged in the mid-1800s after the publication of an album featuring the visiting cards of the British royal family.
“Queen Victoria herself started to collect the cards of all the ‘best ladies and their...