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: NYT (12-30-09)
In life we called them famous, renowned, celebrated; their deaths we call notable, because their names register. They people our collective memory. Some — those who destroy rather than build — we would like to forget. But most make us pause and think of the past and take account of what the world has lost.
It’s probably fitting that actors should best evoke a century. To hear the names of the stars of old who have vanished since 2000 (yes, officially the last year of the last century) is to receive final confirmation, if any were needed, that an era — particularly of the sort we tend to dip in gold in retrospect — is truly over. To think of Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Alec Guinness...
SOURCE: http://www.culturekiosque.com (12-30-09)
SOURCE: AP (12-30-09)
The former sheepfold at the edge of Central Park, now ringed by twinkling lights and fake topiary animals, is preparing for New Year's Eve, when it will serve its last meal. Just three years ago, it was plating more than 700,000 meals annually, bringing in more than $38 million.
But that astronomical sum wasn't enough to keep the landmark restaurant out of bankruptcy court. Its $8 million debt is to be covered at an auction of Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, Tiffany stained glass, a mural depicting Central Park and other over-the-top decor that has bewitched visitors for decades.
SOURCE: Lee P Ruddin (12-30-09)
But like Russia: A Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby, in The Art of Russia Graham-Dixon quotes Fyodor Dostoevsky, reads a copy of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina on a train and sails on the River Neva. Neither would have been commissioned by a Putin-era Pravda. Yet only one journalist reveals the enigma, unwraps the mystery and solves the riddle.
That’s not to say Dimbleby’s five-part, 10,000 mile exploration – or for that matter the History Channel’s four-part, 1000-year documentary Russia: Land of the Tsars – doesn’t break new ground. Rather, it’s Graham-Dixon’s trilogy exploring “how art moved from being a servant of the state to an agent of its destruction” which solves the mysteries of...
SOURCE: After Downing Street (12-28-09)
Let's face it, if James Cameron had made a movie with the Iraqi resistance as the heroes and the U.S. military as the enemies, and had set it in Iraq or anywhere else on planet earth, the packed theaters viewing"Avatar" would have been replaced by a screening in a living room for eight people and a dog.
Nineteen years ago, Americans packed theaters for"Dances with Wolves" in which Native Americans became the heroes, but the story was set in a previous century and the message understated.
The Na'vi people of"Avatar" are very explicitly Iraqis facing"shock and awe," as well as Native Americans with bows and arrows on horseback. The"bad guys" in the battle scenes are U.S. mercenaries, essentially the U.S. military, and the movie allows us to see them, very much as they are right now in 177 real nations around the world, through the eyes of their victims.
People know this going into the movie, and do not care. For better, and certainly for worse, they do not...
SOURCE: NYT (12-24-09)
SOURCE: NYT (12-23-09)
Directed by Lewis Milestone from a well-received but now forgotten novel by Harry Brown, “A Walk in the Sun” follows a few members of an Army platoon as they land on the beach in Salerno, Italy, and make their way a few miles inland, where they are to blow up a bridge and take a farmhouse held by a German machine-gun crew. The action begins in the predawn darkness and ends in the blaze of noon; in between, war happens.
After the opening credits, a narrator (Burgess Meredith) introduces the main characters, who seem at first like the...
SOURCE: NYT (12-23-09)
We think of the word Bauhaus as shorthand for “an international modern style unmoored from any particular moment,” the curators write, and their show, on view through Jan. 25, does a lot to counter this impression. It connects the evolution of Bauhaus art and design — painting, furniture, glass constructions, metalwork, photography, textiles and theater design — with the extreme...
SOURCE: MICHAEL FEINSTEIN in the NYT (12-17-09)
You’ll notice that certain famous Jewish songwriters are conspicuously absent from this list. Why? Unlike the Tin Pan Alley songwriters, who churned out songs to order on every conceivable subject for their publishers, writers like Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Richard Rodgers and Harold Arlen mainly created songs for musical plays and films, and unless a story line required a...
SOURCE: NYT (12-17-09)
¶The continuing Bond franchise, which, Mr. Thomson notes, cashes in on the “tongue-in-cheek attitudes toward sex and violence” pioneered by Hitch.
¶“Bonnie and Clyde,” which, like “Psycho,” left audiences alarmed at their capacity to enjoy violence in the darkness of a movie theater.
¶“Jaws,” which, like Hitchcock’s films, used artfully cut sequences and carefully paced scenes to manipulate audiences and amp up their feelings of fear....
SOURCE: by Jim Castagnera (12-13-09)
“Invictus” means “unconquered.” The poem of that name, by 19th century Scotsman William Ernest Hensley, is said to be Nelson Mandela’s favorite. As the title of Clint Eastwood’s new film, which opened last week in the U.S., the word has a dual significance. Mandela, played to perfection by Morgan Freeman, claims that it helped carry him through his 27 years of incarceration at the hands of the Apartheid. When Mandela writes out the verses and gives them to Springbok team captain Francois Pienaar --- another perfect portrayal, this by Matt Damon--- they become the symbol and inspiration for the South African national rugby team’s unlikely triumph in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup.
Whatever its ultimate outcome, the ’95 contest made history from the first whistle. Because of Apartheid, South Africa had been banned from the championship event, which occurred...
SOURCE: Medieval News (Blog) (12-31-69)
The official synopsis of the film was also released:
"Oscar winner Russel Crowe stars as the legendary figure known by generations as 'Robin Hood,' whose exploits have endured in popular mythology and ignited the imagination of those who share his spirit of adventure and righteousness. In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. and whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people.
"The untitled Robin Hood adventure chronicles the life of an expert archer,...
SOURCE: Lee P Ruddin (12-15-09)
Thompson was responding to criticisms from politicians and commercial competitors that the BBC is too ubiquitous and too subsidised at a time when the rest of the industry is hemorrhaging funds.
Critics presume that commercial media would fill the vacuum left by the behemoth BBC. There is simply no evidence of this, though. Rather, as Thompson continued in his Voice of the Listener and Viewer Conference address, there would be a “big black cultural hole.” Let’s not forget, no serious current affairs programme remains on ITV. And while Channel 4 has its Dispatches series, the commercially funded but publicly owned outlet also needs a subsidy to continue.
Why do I say all this? In view of the fact that yet another fascinating documentary has just aired on...
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (12-15-09)
The collection, built by Dr. Alice S. Kandell of New York, is one of the foremost and most comprehensive collections of Tibetan Buddhist art in the West. It comprises hundreds of Buddhist works of art and ritual and cultural objects predominantly from Tibet. The collection is currently installed in a shrine room in Dr. Kandell’s apartment as it would have existed in a Buddhist temple or in the home of a prominent family in Tibet. The...
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (12-15-09)
France returned the ancient artwork to Egyptian officials after President Hosni Mubarak inspected one of the fragments following a visit with his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy. The pockmarked slab in sepia and blue tones, from a 3,200-year-old tomb near the ancient temple city of Luxor, shows an offering from a nobleman to a servant.
Egypt's antiquities czar Zahi Hawass cut ties with the Louvre in October, saying the famed Paris museum had refused to return the fragments. Egyptian officials said the artifacts had been stolen in the 1980s — chipped from the tomb's walls.
French officials quickly agreed to hand over the fragments following a recommendation by scientific experts.
France said the works had been acquired by the Louvre "in good faith" in 2000 and 2003, but doubts emerged last year about whether the...
SOURCE: ParcBench (12-31-69)
Hate history class?
If so, then you must have had to put up with one of those pesky history teachers that insisted on footnotes and citations. And your teacher must have forced you to study the humankind-hating words of dead, white males that are responsible for everything bad in this world.
Now there is no more need for any of that. Matt Damon starred in a movie called “Good Will Hunting” in which he yelled “You wanna read a real history book, read Howard Zinn’s ‘People’s History of the United States.’ That book will f**kin’ knock you on your ass.” He got good reviews, so now apparently Matt is on a mission to spread the word.
Historiography has always prided itself for being a study of truth and data. Theory was always more highly regarded by social scientists and other soft academic departments. But history students – your...
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (12-11-09)
The exhibition wants to introduce the Taiwanese public to the work of Vincent van Gogh. It is the first Van Gogh exhibition to be organised in a Mandarin (Chinese) speaking country. United Daily News Group is sponsoring the exhibition. In the Far East it is customary for a media company or major newspaper to act as main sponsor...
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (12-11-09)
“One Life: Echoes of Elvis” Opens Jan. 8, 2010
“One Life: Echoes of Elvis” explores the image and story of Presley since his death. The world remains enamored with Presley’s music and image even though he died more than 30 years ago. His records continue to sell by the millions, his home is the second-most-visited private residence in the United States (second only to the White House) and public interest in his music, career and life has yet to subside.
SOURCE: Huffington Post (11-12-09)
The project is inspired by Howard Zinn's books A People's History of the United States and, with Anthony Arnove, Voices of a People's History of the United States, two books that have had a deep influence on how I understand this country. Howard's books provide a history of the United States from below, from the standpoint of ordinary people...
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (12-10-09)
Phallic-shaped lamps, love letters engraved in clay and erotic symbols on lucky charms dating from 7 BC to 4 AD are just a fraction of what visitors will see at an exhibition dedicated to the Greek and later Roman god of love.
"Eros: From Hesiod's Theogony to late antiquity" runs from Dec 10 to April 2010 at the Cycladic Art Museum, featuring a collection of 280 artifacts from 50 museums in Greece, Cyprus, Italy and France, including the Louvre.
The exhibition surveys the changing perceptions of Eros (known as Cupid to the Romans) from the eighth century BC when he was viewed as an influential god to the Roman period when he became less potent and a mere companion to Venus.
Exhibition organizers say visitors should check the modern world's sense of decency at the door when...