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: Spiegel Online (4-9-09)
The art connoisseur Sir Norman Rosenthal may be a British institution, but the equanimity often attributed to his compatriots is not one of his distinguishing features.
Rosenthal, the son of Jewish refugees from Germany and Slovakia, called for an end to the restitution of so-called Nazi looted art in an article in the journal The Art Newspaper.
The fact that someone who lost members of his own family in the Holocaust is now opposing restitution and is calling for an end to the practice has injected a provocatively dissonant note into an already angry debate -- and has triggered fierce protest. At issue is nothing less than the permanent whereabouts of some of the icons of art history.
SOURCE: Spiegel Online (4-9-09)
Some reviewers are saying the city's historic Admiralspalast theater, which until recently had a Führer's Box specifically built for Hitler, is taking a risk by staging a play featuring tap-dancing stormtroopers singing "Watch out Europe we're going on tour" in the former capital of the Third Reich.
But the manager of the Admiralspalast, Falk Walter, says it was high time that Berlin staged "The Producers", which opened on Broadway in 2001 and has been performed in many cities around the world since then. It opens here on May 15.
"I've been trying to get 'The Producers' for ages. If there's any city in...
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (4-7-09)
Wearing a mink coat and an orange-and-yellow scarf on that chilly afternoon, she changed the final phrase from "Of thee I sing" to "TO thee WE sing."
This modest African-American contralto had taken the train from her South Philadelphia rowhouse that day with her mother and sisters. Forbidden to stay at any Washington hotel due to segregation, they'd been promised lodging with former Pennsylvania Gov. Gifford Pinchot.
The outdoor venue had been arranged by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, a Quaker, after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow an African-American to sing in their Constitution Hall.
As a result, Roosevelt resigned from the organization, though political...
SOURCE: LAT (4-7-09)
The museum --- which has returned 39 antiquities to Italy since 2007 -- listed the fragment as "at some risk of forfeiture" and stated its appraised value at the time of donation as $150,000 in a 2005 internal assessment, compiled during an investigation of objects that might have been illegally exported.
But Getty officials didn't decide to repatriate the fragment until about a year ago, when an image of it appeared in a catalog published by the Italian Ministry of Culture, said Karol Wight, the Getty's curator of antiquities.
SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle (4-7-09)
Two of the three paintings, visible to guests and millions of tourists at Hearst Castle since 1935, will be returned Friday to the heirs of the rightful owners, both of whom died during the war, one in the death camp at Auschwitz.
The shocking discovery, made after a lawyer for the heirs filed a claim with the California State Parks, is yet another reminder of the scope of Jewish persecution during World War II.
"Never in a million years did I think anything like this would cross my desk," said Brad Torgan, the former general counsel for the state parks who led the investigation. "It is one of the most interesting things I've ever worked on and, given the outcome, one of the most...
SOURCE: AP (4-6-09)
The increased access to the pyramids south of Cairo is part of a new sustainable development campaign that Egypt hopes will attract more visitors but also to avoid some of the problems of the urban sprawl that have plagued the famed pyramids of Giza...
Dahshur's bent pyramid is famous for its irregular profile. The massive tomb's sides rise at a steep angle but then abruptly tapers off at a more shallow approach to the pyramid's apex.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (4-5-09)
But whatever its merits, the Churchill play was confirmation that political theatre, often as up to date as the headlines on the evening news, is making inroads in London. The uproar caused by Richard Bean's England People Very Nice at the National – is it an uproarious satire on immigration, or simply racist? – is still reverberating. And at the same venue, David Hare has only just finished dismantling New Labour every night in Gethsemane. But the veteran in this genre is Nicolas Kent, artistic director of the...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (4-8-09)
Bonhams and Goodman's sold a 1945 Mk XVI in New Zealand for £1.22m in September, reportedly the record auction price for a Spitfire. That plane had been on display at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, until 1997.
The one now for sale was delivered on 23 October 1944, one of 23,000 Spitfires built through the war. The aircraft was converted into a two-seat trainer by Classic Aero Engineering...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (4-7-09)
Many Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance buildings in the 13th-century city were badly damaged in Monday's tremor.
"The damage is more serious than we can imagine," said Giuseppe Proietti, a culture ministry official. "The historic center of L'Aquila has been devastated."
The transept of the early medieval basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, scene of the coronation of Pope Celestine in 1294 and renowned for its intricate pink and white stone facade, collapsed.
The cupola of another church, the Santa Maria del Suffragio, cracked open, revealing the stucco patterns inside its dome. Stones also fell from the city's cathedral, which was rebuilt in 1703 after an earthquake.
Proietti said the city's own cultural...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (4-7-09)
The various armours were the most lavish ever seen in their day, and reflected the cutting-edge of craftsmanship as well as international fashions - including decorations by Holbein and imports from Milan.
What's more, the decorations themselves - the religious imagery, heraldic and political symbols - relate explicitly to the Tudor saga. Changing allegiances to successive wives, religious views and political ambitions are all here - as such, their art tells us a great deal about Henry's personal beliefs...
St Catherine's Monastery, built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian, once lay at the heart of the Holy Empire of Byzantium. It might seem a bleak outpost to the contemporary visitor - only a few drifting Beduin inhabit the desolate landscapes of the Sinai peninsular and the desert heaves ridges of barren granite against a hard sky. And yet St Catherine's, built around the site where God spoke from the burning bush to Moses and at the foot of the mountain that he climbed to collect the Ten...
Engineers at Abbey Road Studios, northwest London, have spent four years using a mixture of state-of-the-art recording technology and 1960s musical equipment to create what EMI Music and Apple Corps said would be the “highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release”.
All 12 Beatles studio albums will be rereleased on CD in September to coincide with the release of the computer game The Beatles: Rock Band, in which fans will be able to play the group’s music themselves.
The first Beatles music was released on CD in 1987, but in the subsequent 22 years technological advances have made it possible to produce far higher quality digital recordings...
Moctezuma II, or Montezuma as he is often called today, was the last elected Aztec emperor and ruled over an empire that stretched from the shores of the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. However, posterity knows him as the man with the misfortune to be in charge when Hernán Cortés’s conquistadores arrived in Mexico in 1519, giving up his people’s independence voluntarily and paving the way for centuries of Spanish rule...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (4-10-09)
But in late February, several weeks after the iconic writer died, some boxes arrived with unexpected contents: approximately 50 three-and-a-halfand five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disks — artifacts from late in the author's career when he, like many of his peers, began using a word processor.
The floppies have presented a bit of a problem. While relatively modern to Mr. Updike — who rose to prominence back when publishers were still using Linotype machines — the disks are outmoded and damage-prone by today's standards. Ms. Morris, who curates modern books and manuscripts, has carefully stored them alongside his papers in a temperature-controlled room in the library "until we have a procedure here at Harvard on how to handle these...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-7-09)
Six Days In Fallujah, published by Japanese games giant Konami, is described as a 'survival horror' title for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles.
Developed in collaboration with a handful of Iraq veteran US Marines - who have lent their videos, photos and diaries to the designers - the controversial action game is due for release next year.
SOURCE: AP (4-6-09)
SOURCE: NYT (4-6-09)
It was post-World War II New York and the children of Latino immigrants were flooding into neighborhoods that whites and African-Americans had long fought over. In this ethnic Petri dish, teenagers formed ranks, wearing exclusive clothing, marking their area with graffiti and making alliances for protection, camaraderie or just to sip cheap wine, play stickball or meet at dances.
They chose colorful names. Their doings have been recorded in music and books, presented in musicals like “West Side Story” and “The Capeman,” even as the violence they committed has been retold in five decades of city history.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (4-6-09)
Bob Dylan: Not really. It’s more about State Street and the wind off Lake Michigan and how sometimes we know people and we are no longer what we used to be to them. I was trying to go with some old time feeling that I had.
BF: You liked Barack Obama early on. Why was that?
BD: I’d read his book and it intrigued me.
BF: Audacity of Hope?
BD: No it was called Dreams of My Father.
BF: What struck you about him?
BD: Well, a number of things. He’s got an interesting background. He’s like a fictional character, but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (4-7-09)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-7-09)
In order to establish a link in the minds of potential punters, the work of Utagawa Kuniyoshi (currently on show at the Royal Academy), who lived from 1797-1861, is being reported as the forerunner of the universally popular modern Japanese cartoon genre of manga.
This may be true, but I doubt if it is the best way to approach this wonderful exhibition. If, like me, you are ignorant of the subject, use the blankness of your mind to collect fresh impressions. Don't categorise in advance.
The combination of strangeness and recognition is exciting. Few of us will know what...