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: CBS (1-24-09)
SOURCE: Edward Rothstein in the NYT (1-23-09)
Such is the cynical vision of the news business put forward by Henry Peacham in 1641 London, as journalism, in its earliest forms, was becoming a major force during some of the most tumultuous decades in England’s history: no wisdom, he finds, just much posturing and gossip.
More than 360 years later, as advance obituaries are being prepared for the very forms of printed journalism born during Peacham’s era, Lady Opinion is on display, along with far more reverential examples of news and opinion, at the Folger Shakespeare...
SOURCE: David Simon in the New Yorker (1-26-09)
Bob Dylan read about the case in the newspaper. He wrote the magnificent “Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” with the paper splayed on the table of a Seventh Avenue luncheonette. Zantzinger was then and forever after a master villain.
Twenty-five years later, I tried to interview him for a newspaper story. He was working in a real-...
SOURCE: Fox News (1-22-09)
Professor Bruno Frey of the University of Zurich claims that the British passengers on the doomed cruise liner perished in the 1912 disaster because they were polite and willing to stand in line while American passengers pushed their way to the front and were placed in lifeboats.
While “women and children first” was followed as the "unsinkable" cruise ship hit an iceberg and fell to the floor of the Atlantic, Frey claims that many Britons lost their lives because they were courteous, while "uncultured" Americans were more likely to push ahead in line.
"The British were much more aware of the social norms at the time," Frey told the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper. "They would have been more likely to stand in a queue and wait their turn for boarding the...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-23-09)
As a child I went to many Burns suppers. Maisie Hill always did a fabulously dramatic address, her big knife glinting and her face alive with malice as she plunged the blade into the poor haggis: "His knife sae rustic Labour dight / an cut you up wi ready sleight, / Trenching your gushing entrails bright / Like ony ditch; / And then, O what a glorious sight, / Warm-reekin', rich!" Then someone, often my dad, did the immortal memory, talking about his life as a peasant, his politics, his poetry. It's hard to think of another poet who commands the respect and love of generations, never mind one who has his very own...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-23-09)
Few politicians have been represented on screen as often as Richard Nixon. Frank Langella is magnificent in Frost/Nixon (released today), but many other notable actors have also played him: Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), Beau Bridges in Kissinger and Nixon (1995), Philip Baker Hall in Robert Altman's Secret Honor (1984), Rip Torn in the 1979 television series Blind Ambition, and even Glenda Jackson in Michael Lindsay-Hogg's Nasty Habits (1977). In Jean Luc Godard's Made In USA - made in 1966! - one of the killers calls himself "Richard Nixon".
The real Nixon was less comfortable appearing on screen. During the presidential debates against John F. Kennedy in 1960, the first of the modern era to be televised, he wore too little make up, sweated profusely under the harsh studio lights, and looked shifty and unconvincing to many viewers.
Compared to Kennedy, or to Reagan (whom he regarded as too much of a performer), yet alone to Clinton, Nixon never...
SOURCE: http://www.allaboutjazz.com (1-19-09)
British historian Simon Schama never expected Barack Obama to so thoroughly wipe out the Democratic competition during primary season. But as he watched history unfold while filming his latest documentary The American Future: A History, Schama prepared for the unexpected.
“This was not going to be an election of business as usual," he said. “Very likely this was going to be an election where Americans would ask themselves, 'How did we get into this sorry mess?' “
Using the elections as a backdrop, Schama set out to answer that very question in his latest project, which airs as a two-part series today and Tuesday on BBC America. The DVD hits stores Tuesday.
The American Future weaves through the nation's interior, exposing conflict and trepidation in a country still fighting to understand itself. Schama traveled the United States over nine months,...
SOURCE: NYT (1-21-09)
Consider it raised.
The new memorial is an immense concrete and glass museum emerging from a copse of trees beside the cemetery of mass graves (there are more than 70,000 bodies buried there), which had been the camp site. The permanent exhibition is a model of its kind, focused on the meticulous and sober reconstruction of the past. From time to time the present literally intrudes with a bang, though, when practice rounds of tank fire from the British military base next door boom over the treetops...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-22-09)
He is not as mobile as he was but, as he points out: “I'm not walking there, I tell you. In the polar regions it's a doddle if you've got all the gear. Got all the gear, no problem.” Then, with the immaculate timing that he has developed over decades of yarn-spinning, he adds: “Until something goes wrong. If you are walking around on a glacier near the South Pole and you lose a glove...” pause for effect... “you've probably lost your hand. It's a serious business.” But just in case anyone should think that he is taking his endeavours too seriously, he notes: “If you've got an aged presenter you have a back-up of really tough, hairy-chested, string-vest men. If he drops his glove they've got another one.”
Sir David continues to be the...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-21-09)
Gainsborough was not the only English artist to take his cue from Van Dyck. Reynolds, Lawrence, and the master of Edwardian swagger John Singer Sargent all painted at least from time to time in a Van Dyckian mode. The Van Dyck touch can be seen too in, for example, the photography of Cecil Beaton. With a change of outfit, Van Dyck's Dorothy, Viscountess Andover and her Sister Elizabeth, Lady Thimbleby (c1637) would be perfectly at home in the pages of Country Life.
It is not too much to claim that Van Dyck invented a certain English look, which you might call the...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-22-09)
Screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie interviewed him as part of research for the film Valkyrie.
But Cruise told the Los Angeles Times: "I didn't want to meet him. Evil is still evil, I don't care how old you are."
In the film Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who led a failed plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944.
At the time of the plot Misch was an Oberscharfuhrer in the SS and worked as a bodyguard, courier and telephone operator for Hitler.
He travelled with Hitler from bunker to bunker during the Second World War.
On January 16, 1945, following the German defeat in the Battle of the Bulge he moved with Hitler into the Fuhrerbunker in Berlin, where he handled all direct communications with the outside world.
He saw Hitler's body after...
SOURCE: International Herald Tribune (1-22-09)
Consider it raised.
The new memorial is an immense concrete and glass museum emerging from a copse of trees beside the cemetery of mass graves (there are more than 70,000 bodies buried there), which had been the camp site. The permanent exhibition is a model of its kind, focused on the meticulous and sober reconstruction of the past. From time to time the present literally intrudes with a bang, though, when practice rounds of tank fire from the British military base next door...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-20-09)
MacGregor and his museum are also embarked on a far bigger operation: to present the history and culture of Iran to the British public. In 2005, the BM presented Forgotten Empire, a highly successful show devoted to the ancient Persia of Cyrus and Xerxes. This spring it is following that with another, focusing on the late 16th and early 17th century: Shah Abbas: The Remaking of Iran.
In a way it will present...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-20-09)
The Christie's auction, which also features a piece of lace torn from a church altar by Oliver Cromwell and a desk chair used by William Wordsworth, has attracted 150,000 visitors to the online catalogue - the highest ever for a sale.
Arranged inside a cabinet, the George II four-room "baby house" dates back to 1750 but is said to have been redecorated by Bronte during summer 1839 when she worked as a governess for the Sidgwicks, a wealthy family living at Stonegappe in Skipton, Yorkshire.
Mr Warner is thought to have paid around £400 for it in...
SOURCE: Spiegel Online (1-20-09)
The youngest daughter of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the German army colonel who almost killed Adolf Hitler with a briefcase bomb in 1944, has praised the movie "Valkyrie" in which Tom Cruise portrays her father.
Konstanze von Schulthess-Rechberg, 63, who saw the film ahead of its European premiere in Berlin on Tuesday, said it was "subtle" and "respectful" towards the people involved in the plot to blow up Hitler.
"I went into this film ready to criticize it but I have to say I was very positively surprised by it," she told German ZDF television in an interview broadcast on Tuesday evening. "This is not a loud film and I thought it was very subtly...
SOURCE: The Root (1-17-09)
"You sho' is, youse gwine be president. The book says anybody here can be president."
"Ain't that somethin'!" p —Sammy Davis Jr. and Ethel Waters in Rufus Jones for President
Before anybody had even heard of Barack Obama, before anyone had even considered his presidency a possibility, it was out there, this notion of a brother as commander in chief. Decades before Dennis Haysbert tried to avert bioterrorist threats on 24. Eons before Morgan Freeman comforted a terrified nation about that massive meteor hurtling toward Earth in Deep Impact. Back, back, way back in the day, Hollywood was ahead of the curve, plugging its candidate for the first black president.
Sammy Davis Jr. Specifically, a 7-year-old Sammy Davis Jr. tap dancing, clutching a chicken wing and singing"(I'll Be Glad When You're Dead) You Rascal You," as part of his acceptance speech in Rufus Jones For President.
Well, it was 1933. But still, with that 21-minute...
SOURCE: MSNBC (1-18-09)
As part of the 24-hour birthday party, Sandi Bergman (aka Madame Sandra) of Haunts of Richmond will host a Victorian séance at 2 a.m. If all goes according to plan, the terrifyingly twisted writer will enter Madame Sandra’s body, a thought that does not faze her. “I think that Poe, while generally misunderstood, was not a malicious character,” she says.
John Astin, the actor best known for playing the doting husband of Morticia Addams on “The Addams Family,” couldn’t agree more. He’ll be paying tribute to Poe at his Baltimore grave on the...
SOURCE: politico.com (1-18-09)
The former, current and future presidents’ pact — to create only 250 copies of the photograph with all of their signatures — upped the ante on an image that was a keepsake before it was even taken.
Early estimates value the signed pictures at more than $6,000 apiece, based on the rarity of such a meeting and how few copies of the photograph will be circulated. That value could push higher when collectors factor in Obama’s popularity and historical significance as the first African-American president.
“You’re going to see these valued and collected and sought after in a similar fashion as the previous ones, and when you’re talking about a president that’s very popular at the moment, that has...
SOURCE: NYT (1-16-09)
BARACK OBAMA’S victory in November demonstrated, to the surprise of many Americans and much of the world, that we were ready to see a black man as president. Of course, we had seen several black presidents already, not in the real White House but in the virtual America of movies and television. The presidencies of James Earl Jones in “The Man,” Morgan Freeman in “Deep Impact,” Chris Rock in “Head of State” and Dennis Haysbert in “24” helped us imagine Mr. Obama’s transformative breakthrough before it occurred. In a modest way, they also hastened its arrival.
Make no mistake: Hollywood’s historic refusal to embrace black artists and its insistence on racist caricatures and stereotypes linger to this day. Yet in the past 50 years — or, to be precise, in the 47 years since Mr. Obama was born — black men in the movies have traveled from the ghetto to the boardroom, from supporting roles in kitchens, liveries and social-problem movies to the rarefied summit of the Hollywood A-...
SOURCE: NYT (1-16-09)
Called “Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment,” the hourlong film — shot over a two-day period in June 1963, broadcast on ABC four months later and now available on DVD — is worth the new president’s time not so much for its subject matter, which is well worn, but rather as a portrait of what shrewd executive power is all about.
It’s a fascinating piece for anyone interested in American politics. The film’s producer, Robert Drew, and his associates — including Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker, who would soon emerge as major documentary filmmakers in their own right — were given an extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented degree of access to White House decision making.