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 email@example.com.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (12-17-08)
According to one musical expert, O Come All Ye Faithful, also called Adeste Fideles, is actually a birth ode to Jacobite pretender Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Born on December 20 1720, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the grandson of England's last Catholic monarch, James II.
He was born in exile in Italy and became the focus for Catholic Jacobite rebels intent on restoring the House of Stuart to the English throne.
In 1745, he raised an army to invade the British Isles, taking Edinburgh, but was defeated at the Battle of Culloden on April 16 1746.
Professor Bennett Zon, the head of the department of music at Durham University, unearthed 'clear references' to the Prince in the carol's lyrics, written by 18th century music scribe, John Francis Wade...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-17-08)
The sole published review described his one-man 1809 show of 16 paintings as a "farrago of nonsense".
Now the surviving 11 paintings are worth millions, while Blake - best known for writing Jerusalem - is lauded as the founding father of the Romantic movement.
Tate has managed to assemble nine of the fragile paintings for its free six-month exhibition, which opens at the gallery on Millbank in London in April.
SOURCE: Philip Kennicott in the WaPo (12-14-08)
The renovated space that opened on Nov. 21 after an $85 million overhaul is an improvement in many obvious ways. Light flows in. The wings of the building connect with each other and a central core more logically. There will soon be a cafe with windows facing onto Constitution Avenue, linking the building to the city, and there are new restrooms, information centers, and an elegant stairway that ties the whole space together. On a purely architectural level: Mission accomplished.
But this building's will to ugliness is profound. It will not give up the fight easily.
When it opened in 1964, it was dubbed the Museum of History and Technology, and it is more the spirit of machines and science than of history that defines the space. From its hard edges and boxy shape to...
The world’s oldest depiction of a human face could be threatened if Australian mining companies are permitted to build an explosives factory on the remote Burrup peninsula in the northwest of the country.
A bulbous image of indiscernible sex, with huge eyes and sunken cheeks, the 10,000 year-old carving is chipped out of hard rock. Thousands of other carvings, mostly of plants and animals, which date back to beyond the last Ice Age, are scattered about the peninsula.
Archeologists believe that aboriginal tribes made the distinctive carvings up to 30,000 years ago. They could be nearly twice as old as the Lascaux cave paintings in the Dordogne, France.
SOURCE: NYT (12-16-08)
His death was confirmed by Kimberly Mayfield, a spokeswoman for the museum.
Mr. Robbins was a cultural attaché for the State Department when he bought that statue, but not in Africa. He was wandering the streets of Hamburg, Germany, one day in the late 1950s when he stepped into an antiques shop and was smitten by the carved figure. A year later, for $1,000, he bought 32 other pieces of African art — masks, textiles and other figures — at another Hamburg shop.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (12-15-08)
Egyptologist Sally Ann Ashton believes the computer-generated 3D image is the best likeness of the legendary beauty famed for her ability to beguile.
Pieced together from images on ancient artefacts, including a ring dating from Cleopatra's reign 2,000 years ago, it is the culmination of more than a year of painstaking research.
The result is a beautiful young woman of mixed ethnicity - very different to the porcelain-skinned Westernised version portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1961 movie Cleopatra.
[See story for images]
SOURCE: Elizabeth Drew in the Huffington Post (12-15-08)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-15-08)
He saw the artist's initials - ACC - on the wooden backing board, which he then found bore the portrait itself. But he did not know the identity of the sitter.
Seacole was a Jamaican-born nurse who travelled to Crimea in the 1850s to set up a treatment centre for soldiers.
She tried to join the official nursing ranks but was rejected four times.
Eventually she decided to go there independently, travelling to the town of Balaclava and setting up a 'hotel' for injured soldiers.
She was later awarded several medals for bravery.
After passing through various auctions, the portrait was purchased by historian Helen Rappaport...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-14-08)
Hamilton is lost in reverie for a moment. A wry smile crosses his face and then a thought strikes him. ''Not,'' he says urgently, ''that it was stealing. It was a liberation. A returning of a venerable relic to its rightful ownership.''
Hamilton stretches out his legs and turns his gaze to the slate gray waters of Loch Lomond. ''Of course back then I didn't realise the scale of the thing. That it would become an international incident,'' he says, with the air of a man who has been describing something no more outrageous than picking the lock of his own front door after forgetting the key.
SOURCE: NYT (12-12-08)
He had just come off three consecutive comic-book adaptations (“X-Men” in 2000, its sequel in 2003 and “Superman Returns” in 2006), he had helped to create the hit Fox series “House,” and he was now in the market for something different. When he read “Valkyrie,” a script co-written by Christopher McQuarrie, who had been a friend since high school and won an Academy Award for writing Mr. Singer’s most acclaimed movie, “The Usual Suspects” (1995), he knew he had found that change of pace.
Two years, a reported $90 million, half a dozen Internet-fueled controversies and the arrival of one big movie star-turned-mini-mogul later, “Valkyrie,” with an eye-patched and jackbooted Tom Cruise as Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of a failed attempt within the Germany military to kill Hitler in 1944, arrives in theaters...
SOURCE: NYT (12-12-08)
Last month, sitting in his studio in Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv, discussing the movie — an animated documentary that has drawn praise in Israel and Europe and opens Dec. 26 in New York — Mr. Folman, 45, said things had changed. “Now I see the picture and I say, ‘Yes that’s me.’ ”
His journey of self-recognition, from suppression to acceptance of his role in a despised war and traumatic massacre, may or may not echo a similar process in Israeli society at large. But it has struck a chord. Israelis are seeing the film in large numbers and praising its frank portrayal of life in uniform in a country that has tended to dismiss the psychic damage that can result from being a soldier in war.
SOURCE: Humberto Fontova in the American Thinker (12-12-08)
Indeed, but the acclaim came because those "who knew his story best" (Castro and his Stalinist henchmen, the film's chief mentors) saw that their directives had been followed slavishly, that Che's (genuine) story was completely absent from the movie.
The Stalinist regime that co-produced this film and now fetes the star -- employing the midnight knock and the dawn raid among other devices by its KGB-mentored secret police- rounded up and jailed more political prisoners as a percentage of population than...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-14-08)
He claimed the group's politicisation began after he met the philosopher Bertrand Russell in London in the mid-1960s.
But Sir Paul's critics see his comments as a further attempt to revise the history of the Beatles, casting himself in a better light.
"We sort of stumbled into things," Sir Paul told Prospect magazine.
"For instance, Vietnam. Just when we were getting to be well known, someone said to me: 'Bertrand Russell is living not far from here in Chelsea, why don't you go and see him?' and so I just took a taxi down there and knocked on the door."
He added:"He was fabulous. He told me about the Vietnam war – most of us didn't know about it, it wasn't yet in the papers – and also that it was a very bad war.
"I remember going back to the studio either that evening or the next day and telling the guys, particularly John [Lennon], about...
SOURCE: CBS (12-14-08)
Anxiety and fear surround workers this holiday season. Last month, half a million people lost their jobs … more than 2 million have since last December.
"We need action, and action now," said President-elect Barack Obama. "That is why I have asked my economic team to develop an economic recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street that will help save or create two million jobs."
In 1933, another new president faced a collapsing economy, and rallied the nation with similar words:
"This nation is asking for action, and action now," said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural address.
Seventy-five years ago, FDR began the New Deal. What was truly new - in fact...
SOURCE: FoxNews.com (12-12-08)
"If the other guy is coming at you with a negative, you have to be ready for it," said Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, explaining the role of television ads in the 1988 election. "And if you don't, you're going to get killed. That's the lesson of 1988."
It's a lesson Dukakis learned the hard way after a series of cutting clips made mincemeat of his presidential aspirations.
Developments abroad during the late 1980s were beamed home, and just two years after President Reagan demanded the end of the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the Cold-War split between East and West finally came down.
SOURCE: BBC (12-13-08)
We have gathered to say farewell to a man few people have heard of and even fewer could recognise or describe.
That is the way Special Agent Robert "Bob" Wittman prefers it.
For nearly two decades, usually masquerading as a crooked art dealer with links to the Mafia or the Colombian drug cartels, he has run undercover sting operations, luring criminals into selling him stolen works of art.
Protecting his identity means the difference between life and death.
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (12-12-08)
In an era of lowered expectations, the exposition about Easter Island is worth a look.
It comes for free, certainly the right price these days, and in a low-toned, less than riveting way goes after what it says is a myth about man's irrepressible self-destructiveness - a parable forced on what's rather gently suggested is an overdrawn link between the island's extraordinary statues and its civilization's downfall.
Since Paris at recession's precipice is not offering enormous new extravagance - give or take a magazine ad pitching limited edition men's perfume in 100 milliliter snail-shaped bottles at €800, or $1,070, a throw - you could do worse than wandering at no cost into a slice of controversy.
The exhibition hall belongs to the foundation of Électricité de France, the country's...
The Scottish government will this week announce that it will donate about £10m, while the National Gallery in London will pledge about £12m and the National Galleries of Scotland a further £2m.
Money will also come from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Until now, £11m had been publicly pledged. Another £8m is coming from private donors.
This weekend sources close to the campaign said they were confident that the £50m total would be reached before the December 31 deadline.
The Titian and its companion piece, Diana and Callisto, belong to the seventh Duke of Sutherland and form part of his Bridgewater collection, which has been on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland since 1945...
The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, currently housed in Bristol, is the favourite to win a contest for a new cultural institution to be built on a three-acre site on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Tower of London.
The project is likely to be controversial – when the museum was first set up at a cost of £8m in 2002, it was attacked from the left for promoting empire “nostalgia”, and from the right for “Marxist bias”.
Organisers hope that by relocating to the heart of multicultural London, the museum will help Britons “face up to” the most contentious period of their history. They claim the museum, intended to open in 2010 or 2011, will be “ideologically neutral”, showcasing the empire’s achievements,...
It paints a picture at odds with the conventional view of the Beatles, that McCartney was writing pop ditties such as Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da while Lennon was composing overtly political songs such as Revolution.
McCartney says he began his political awakening by meeting Bertrand Russell, then in his nineties, at the latter’s home in London in the mid1960s.
Russell, author of the seminal work A History of Western Philosophy, was one of the world’s best known pacifists and had been imprisoned during the first world war for warning British workers about the American army and its role in strike breaking in the United States.
He told McCartney about America’s increasing role in the war in...