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.
'Beyond All Boundaries,' which premiered at the museum on Saturday, inaugurated the new Solomon Victory Theater. The film recalls the winter fighting of the 'Battle of the Bulge' in Belgium's Ardennes Forest.
As archival footage unfolded on a 120-foot (36.5 meter) screen, the theater's seats vibrated when German Tiger tanks stormed across the deserts of North Africa. Smoke filled the air as bomber planes made hits and snow fell on the audience, recalling the frigid winter conditions.
"We wanted to create a one-of-a-kind sensory experience that would engage all the senses," Hanks, the executive producer, told the audience.
"We had the opportunity to do what good entertainment does, and what fine telling of history does, at its best," he said, adding...
"It was like a prison," said Sauff, 73, who lived on the Western side of the wall. "For us 'Wessis,' the few kilometers from our old home to our new home (in the East) was unthinkable."
The Sauffs were among those who gathered Monday to celebrate 20 years of unity, marking the day the wall came down. Thousands cheered as 1,000 colorfully decorated dominoes along a mile-long route were toppled to symbolize both the moment the wall came crashing down and the resulting fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe.
It was the finale to a day of memorial services, speeches and events that attracted leaders from around the world, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and 78-year-old Gorbachev stood shoulder to shoulder...
On that cold night, they danced atop the wall, arms raised in victory, hands clasped in friendship and giddy hope. Years of separation and anxiety melted into the unbelievable reality of freedom and a future without border guards, secret police, informers and rigid communist control.
Germans are celebrating with concerts boasting Beethoven and Bon Jovi; a memorial service for the 136 people killed trying to cross over from 1961 to 1989; candle lightings and 1,000 towering plastic foam dominoes to be placed along the wall's route and tipped over...
SOURCE: NYT (11-6-09)
An international group of experts led by Eugenio La Rocca has now confronted this obstacle in the exhibition “Rome: The Painting of an Empire” by bringing together over 100 of the finest and most characteristic surviving examples of Roman painting, the majority of them frescoes, but suggesting a broader picture of painting in the ancient world despite the losses. Spanning more than four centuries, these works illustrate the principal genres, from mythological, religious and landscape painting to still life, the nude and portraiture...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-10-09)
The doomsday scenario revolves around claims that the end of time will come as an obscure Planet X - or Nibiru - collides with Earth.
The mysterious planet was supposedly discovered by the Sumerians, according to claims by pseudo-scientists, paranormal activity enthusiasts and internet theorists.
Some websites have accused the US space agency of concealing the truth about the wayward planet's existence, but Nasa has denounced such stories as an "internet hoax."
"There is no factual basis for these claims," Nasa said in a question-and-answer posting on its website.
If such a collision were real, "astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be...
SOURCE: Salon (11-8-09)
In July 1972, musician Johnny Cash sat opposite President Richard Nixon in the White House's Blue Room. As a horde of media huddled a few feet away, the country music superstar had come to discuss prison reform with the self-anointed leader of America's "silent majority." "Johnny, would you be willing to play a few songs for us," Nixon asked Cash. "I like Merle Haggard's 'Okie From Muskogee' and Guy Drake's 'Welfare Cadillac.'" The architect of the GOP's Southern strategy was asking for two famous expressions of white working-class resentment.
"I don't know those songs," replied Cash, "but I got a few of my own I can play for you." Dressed in his trademark black suit, his jet-black hair a little longer than usual, Cash draped the strap of his Martin guitar over his right shoulder and played three songs, all of...
SOURCE: WSJ (11-9-09)
For two days last week, it seemed that the last holdouts had relented, making their music available digitally. It then turned out that the owners of the Beatles had not changed their minds. Instead, the cut-rate 25 cents a song was the result of what a federal judge called a brazen violation of copyright law.
This episode is a reminder that the rights holders in the most successful band ever still keep the Internet at arm's length. Do the cultural icons of the 1960s just not get it? Or is there a lesson for others trying to make their way through the long and winding road of economics on the Web?
The Beatles and their heirs have refused to make their songs available on the Apple iPod or other devices. They are not widely available for...
SOURCE: NYT (11-3-09)
So it is to the credit of this daunting cultural landmark — a program that has taught generations of children to count, countless parents how to teach and is seen in 125 countries around the world — that Tuesday’s anniversary is not a frenzy of preening self-celebration. Episode No. 4187 is as child-centric and respectful of routine as any other.
The special guest — the first lady, Michelle Obama — doesn’t make her appearance alongside Big Bird until midway into a show crammed with the usual preschool didactics. The letter of the day comes first — H, as in help and hug and healthy.
The only real difference is that on this day, viewers have to count to 40.
The pedagogy hasn’t changed, but the look...
SOURCE: Sun Herald (11-6-09)
Beginning this weekend at the 9-year-old museum founded by Ambrose, visitors seated in the new Solomon Victory Theatre will dodge a flak attack on U.S. B-17 bombers flying over Nazi Germany and feel the rumble of Tiger tanks in Kassarine Pass.
They will smell a Japanese city burn, experience snow drifting into a bloodied forest during the Battle of the Bulge and be startled by the flash of the atomic bomb.
These emotional, visceral and seemingly impossible experiences happen in the museum’s newest cinematic story-telling, aptly named “Beyond All Boundaries” and described as 4-D multi-sensory immersion.
SOURCE: NYT (11-6-09)
“Ym raed Yssac,” it begins, “I hsiw uoy a yppah wen raey.”
Every word in the letter is spelled backward, from that opening New Year’s wish to her dear Cassy to the signature, “Ruoy Etanoitceffa Tnua, Enaj Netsua.” The author, here as elsewhere, does not condescend to her readers, but she also knows who they are and how to give them pleasure. Imagine an 8-year-old girl, perhaps as precocious as her aunt, playfully deciphering these good wishes.
The difficulty comes, though, in imagining Austen herself. She was such a subtle reader of her characters’ manners, so knowing about their flaws and virtues, yet herself so opaque and mysterious a presence that it is hard to imagine her in the flesh. You have to read...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-6-09)
Morale Park from Henham, Essex, purchased the tin simply because he liked the look of it.
He was amazed to discover its fragile contents: a previously unknown seven-minute film Chaplin film called Zepped.
His interest was piqued, he said, when he could not find any mention of it on the internet.
The film features footage of Zeppelin airships flying over England during the First World War, and out-takes from three pictures that Chaplin shot with the film company Essanay, with whom the entertainer had a contract in 1914, before falling out.
An animated scene shows Chaplin wishing he could leave America to join his British countrymen in the war, before being taken on a cloud and deposited on an English church spire.
It also shows him sending up the Zeppelin, and an animated sequence of Kaiser Wilhelm popping out of...
SOURCE: NYT (11-5-09)
Which is why “Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity,” opening on Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art, is such an unexpected treat. The kind of exhibition that comes around once in a rare while, it takes a sledgehammer to the clichés, particularly the notion that the Bauhaus marched in lockstep to a single vision.
Organized by Barry Bergdoll, the museum’s chief curator of architecture and design, and Leah Dickerman, a curator of painting and sculpture, the show makes much of the ideological and creative clashes that rocked this German school during its brief but remarkable history — between commercial and creative values, pragmatists and...
SOURCE: The Huffington Post (11-5-09)
Bono greeted the crowd with the German words "Berlin, Du bist wunderbar!" (Berlin, you are wonderful!) and the band played a 30-minute, six-song set that featured "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," "One" and "Beautiful Day."
Rapper Jay-Z appeared as a surprise guest and performed Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" with Bono.
The show, which was free to 10,000 ticket holders who snapped up the tickets online last week in just three hours, drew some controversy because of the barrier surrounding the gig.
Both Berliners and tourists alike saw the irony in building a wall around a concert dedicated to the wall that already has come down.
SOURCE: The New Republic (10-24-09)
Now, however, comes a concentration on the place--Chelsea on the Rocks, a documentary meant as memorial. The hotel has had a century-old reputation as a rather free-and-easy, convivial roost for all kinds of artists: it has now changed ownership, and this film was made as tribute to a landmark that may be changing. The director is Abel Ferrara, who made such numbers as Bad Lieutenant and King of New York, and is not especially known for sentiment. But he was drawn to this subject and has handled it with all the appropriate mist and chuckle.
The Chelsea, which has 250 rooms, was built on West 23rd Street in Manhattan in the late...
SOURCE: WSJ (10-31-09)
Even among his fellow art historians, Clark is only modestly well remembered. Most of his books are now out of print, and you're not likely to know his name if you're much under the age of 50. But Clark became a full-fledged celebrity in his late 60s when, in 1970, the newly hatched Public Broadcasting Service aired a 13-part TV series called "Civilisation: A Personal View" in which he escorted his viewers through a thousand years of cultural history. The program had been a huge success when broadcast by the BBC the preceding year, and it made a similar splash in America: In addition to launching PBS with a...
SOURCE: NYT (11-4-09)
Now, however, concerned that Mickey has become more of a corporate symbol than a beloved character for recent generations of young people, Disney is taking the risky step of re-imagining him for the future.
The first glimmer of this will be the introduction next year of a new video game, Epic Mickey, in which the formerly squeaky clean character can be cantankerous and cunning, as well as heroic, as he traverses a forbidding wasteland.
And at the same time, in a parallel but separate effort, Disney has quietly embarked on an even larger project to rethink the character’s personality, from the way Mickey walks and talks to the way he appears on the Disney Channel and how...
SOURCE: NYT (11-4-09)
Not quite. The religious reformer, best known for his doctrines about a depraved humanity and a harsh God predestining people to hell or heaven, would not dance or sing that night. But the show was one of a vast program of commemorations — theater, a film festival, conferences, exhibits, even specially concocted Calvinist wines and chocolates — described by some who have tasted them as somewhat bitter — of the birth of John Calvin 500 years ago.
“Our idea was to show Calvin so that people could see his personality in the richness of his thought and activities,” said Roland Benz, 66, the Calvin Jubilee chairman, as he watched workers preparing the stage, lights and costumes.
The musical is meant to resolve a quandary about Calvin, who was born...
SOURCE: Truthout (11-4-09)
Unfortunately for him and his message, he started making movies during the late 1980s, when the presidencies of Republicans Ronald Reagan and then George Herbert Walker Bush made them the target of his outsourcing ire. Moore first became famous for his 1989 film "Roger and Me," a documentary about what happened to his home town of Flint, Michigan, after General Motors closed its automobile factories and moved to Mexico, where workers made much less.
Since then, Moore has been known as a critic of the "neoliberal" view of globalization, according to Wikipedia, although that term goes right over the heads of most of the working people in the US who should be watching his movies and...
SOURCE: The Daily Beast (11-2-09)
SOURCE: Williamson Herald (TN) (10-29-09)
Matilda Lotz was just a young child during the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin when she and her family willingly sought refuge in the Carter’s basement, which was located just 110 steps from their home. The offer to stay in the neighbor’s basement provided better security from gunfire and cannon blasts versus the Lotz wooden home. It was during her disruptive childhood that Matilda, at the tender age of 6, would begin drawing sketches of animals and childish figures.
Throughout her life, Matilda Lotz had been recognized for her designs and paintings. In the late 1800s, Matilda Lotz won several gold medals and received honorable mention for her work exhibited at the Paris Salon. Matilda was also awarded two gold medals by the Paris Academy of...