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: John Pipkin in the Boston Globe (4-12-09)
Then, in the summer of 1845, Thoreau built a solitary cabin at Walden Pond, and set about the great venture in simplified living for which he would become famous. Over the course of the next two years - some of the most productive of Thoreau's life - he recorded meticulous observations of nature in his journal, revised the manuscript of his first major work, "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers," and completed the first draft of his magnum opus,...
SOURCE: AFP (4-14-09)
But the energetic, ever-smiling 57-year-old insists he has no regrets.
"When I play the music, I'm happy -- I don't feel tired, I don't feel hungry, and I'm not bored," he said as he introduced the ensemble he set up almost a decade ago.
"I've been doing this for years, and I've never been ill. I'm happy."
The group plays every week in a pagoda in Xian in the northern province of Shaanxi, once known as Chang'an, grand capital of China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), which is widely regarded as a high point in Chinese civilisation.
"I realised that this ancient music was going to disappear as no one was playing it, so I set up this group," said Li, the ensemble's drummer.
SOURCE: Robert McHenry at the Britannica Blog (4-16-09)
It’s a pity. Stamp collecting was once one of those phases every boy (and many girls) went through, along with a passion for dinosaurs (or horses) or an interest in space flight (I’m not sure what the feminine equivalent might have been for that).
I collected stamps. I was interested mainly in United States stamps. When I began, I signed up with one of those companies that...
SOURCE: BBC (4-15-09)
The Titanic, built in the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff, sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
The Balmoral, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, whose parent company now owns H&W, will recreate the voyage.
The 97th anniversary of the sinking was marked with a ceremony in Belfast.
Wreaths were laid at the memorial in the grounds of the City Hall, followed by a minute's silence.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (4-16-09)
At first there is a smattering of tense giggles and sniggering banter, But over the next 10 minutes, as several people are pulled from the line and interrogated, it all gets rather serious. After being asked rapidfire questions in Russian such as, “Are you involved in selling drugs?” or “Why do you carry foreign currency?”, the unlucky few who have been picked on are either made to do push-ups, sit on their knees with their hands behind their heads or sent for several minutes to a dark cell. One woman who comes back into the room after her...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-16-09)
One can see why. In Good, adapted from the acclaimed 1981 stage play by C P Taylor, Mortensen plays John Halder, a mild-mannered German literature professor in the Thirties who writes a novel that advocates compassionate euthanasia. The book is seized on eagerly by senior figures in the Third Reich, who use it for propaganda purposes, and Halder is flattered by the attention the Nazis bestow upon him. Soon he is corrupted by their blandishments, and starts to lose his moral compass.
Certainly it's a long way from his dashing, almost swashbuckling turn as the sword-wielding horseman Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But it's not as if Mortensen has never played complex roles before.
His last two films for David Cronenberg prove the point. In A History of Violence, he was a...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-15-09)
Dryden, aged then in his mid-30s and at the peak of his career, appears with a slight smile, wearing a wig and surrounded by a decorative oval surround and wreath.
Short quotations on the surround by six Roman poets, Virgil, Horace, Martial, Juvenal, Ovid and Statius, refer to the tradition of wreathing poets with laurels, ivy, oak or olive, and the main inscription "par omnibus unus", translates as "one (poet) a match for (them) all".
The Dryden portrait, painted by Charles II's court artist Michael John Wright – whose official title was "Picture Drawer in Ordinary" – was bought by the NPG for £225,000, with help from The Art Fund charity, which donated £45,000...
SOURCE: LAT (4-15-09)
Of course, at any given time, Las Vegas had performers who in different ways came to symbolize the Las Vegas of a certain period, Old Vegas is best captured by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and, of course, Liberace. Of those three, only Liberace has failed to leave an extensive legacy that attracts new generations of fans. In the future, this will certainly be a problem for newer-era Vegas icons such as Siegfried & Roy, Wayne Newton and the ultimate icon, the Vegas showgirl. All were at one time also synonymous with the city in which they performed.
The reason for the transience of memory is that for decades talent was focused on showmanship, charisma and entertainment in Vegas production shows that offered pure escapist, feel-good entertainment for 75 minutes. These shows were not meant to be remembered and evaluated in some...
SOURCE: NYT (4-14-09)
The winners of the design competition — which also include the Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond and SmithGroup — were chosen over five others, including well-known architects like Norman Foster and Diller Scofidio & Renfro.
The museum is expected to cost $500 million and will be built on a site near the Washington Monument after a three-year design period to turn the winners’ idea into a workable blueprint. The museum was established in 2003 by an act of Congress. And although it does not have a building yet, it has already begun collecting artifacts and conducting seminars and other events, including a recent two-day program on the Black Power...
SOURCE: Tuaw--the unofficial Apple weblog (9-14-09)
There are some other similar apps for the iPhone, including World Book- The Day in History and Today's History, but neither of them have as many events, and one...
SOURCE: Perspectives on History (AHA mag.) (4-1-09)
Using documents that became available only recently from archives in Germany, Britain, the United States, Poland, and the former Soviet Union, and juxtaposing conventional documentary elements with dramatic re-creations, award-winning historian and filmmaker Laurence Rees (Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State; Nazis—A Warning from History), who wrote and directed the film, tells the unknown story of Stalin’s backroom dealings—first with the Nazis and then with Roosevelt and Churchill. The technique of combining traditional documentary features with re-creations that are...
SOURCE: Cynthia Herrup in Perspectives on History (AHA mag.) (4-1-09)
SOURCE: Michael Korda at TheDailyBeast.com (4-12-09)
Unfortunately, the computer-generated images in Patton 360 are rather static and unconvincing, and tend to show the same thing as old war footage. The same lumbering German Tiger tank appears from time to time to signify a German attack (though in fact the Germans had very few Tigers...
SOURCE: National Security Archive (4-14-09)
From the RFK Center's Web site:
"Domestic Television Winner: "Torturing Democracy", Sherry Jones, Washington Media Associates: Meticulous reporting unravels the inside story of how torture was adopted by the U.S. government as official policy in the aftermath of 9/11. With exclusive interviews, explosive documents and rare archival footage, the documentary has been called the definitive broadcast account of a...
SOURCE: http://www.editorandpublisher.com (4-13-09)
Those who grew up watching that show might also get the recent Los Angeles Times reference to the “Cleaverization” of Michelle Obama, or Rachel Maddow’s characterization of herself as “a bit of a Wally Cleaver.” Members of an even earlier generation may even know what one auto industry analyst meant when she commented about the scrutiny of GM's books: "This is green-eyeshade stuff." (Such eyeshades were once worn by accountants to protect their eyes from glaring overhead light bulbs.)
This is retrotalk: employing terminology rooted in our past that may not be familiar to younger readers. Or immigrants. Or anyone at all, for that matter.
Journalists who lace their copy with such retro terms or names risk alienating those who are too young to get the...
SOURCE: Jean Loh at China Beat (blog) (4-13-09)
That same year in Pingyao I was privileged to be in Solange's hotel room where she first showed her sensational pictures on my laptop screen. Everyone in the room was awestruck. And I was captivated by the freshness of the images as if they were snapshots made just the day before. Later during the al fresco projection,...
SOURCE: TheDailyBeast.com (4-14-09)
This is sooner than expected: HBO has optioned the upcoming book by Time Editor-at-Large Mark Halperin, and New York writer Jacob Heilemann about the 2008 election. The network has hired Blood Diamond writer Charles Leavitt to adapt Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. "It's funny to call Obama and Hillary characters, but that's how I have to look at them," Leavitt said. "To me, the primary was one of the greatest title fights of the century, and John and Mark have a treasure chest of anecdotes and inside stories. I think it will present itself almost like a stage play, like Frost/Nixon or The Queen."
SOURCE: Times (UK) (4-14-09)
Now the Textile Conservation Centre, which has restored thousands of historically significant bits of fabric and trained about half the leading textile conservators in the world, faces becoming history itself.
The centre at the University of Southampton is to shut its doors on October 31. The university, which houses the centre on its School of Art campus in Winchester, gave warning two years ago that it could no longer afford to support it after 2009. It hoped then that an alternative home could be found but a proposed deal with the University of Oxford has fallen through.
Peter Longman, deputy chairman of the foundation that owns the centre, said that the staff, some of the most respected conservators in the heritage world, will now all be made redundant on November 1. Their...
SOURCE: BBC (4-14-09)
The Grapes of Wrath treats as a national epidemic the wave of widespread foreclosure, uprootedness, migration and homelessness caused by the double whammy of cataclysmic environmental and economic disasters.
The thirties was a decade of staggering unemployment in America - as high as 25% in 1933, and still hovering around 19% in 1938, the year in which Steinbeck set The Grapes of Wrath.
Steinbeck was not reticent about assigning part of the blame for the catastrophic conditions on the "Bank,...
SOURCE: Geoffrey K. Pullum is head of linguistics and English language at the University of Edinburgh and co-author (with Rodney Huddleston) of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 2002) in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (4-13-09)
I won't be celebrating.
The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students' grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it.
The authors won't be hurt by these critical remarks. They are long dead. William Strunk was a professor of English at Cornell about a hundred years ago, and E.B. White, later the much-admired author of Charlotte's Web, took English with him in 1919, purchasing as a required text the first edition, which Strunk had published privately. After Strunk's death, White published a New Yorker article reminiscing about him and...