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: Telegraph (UK) (7-28-10)
Giuseppe Veneziano's show entitled 'The Zeitgeist' opened this month in Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy, featuring among others a work featuring Hitler as a child cuddling up to the Virgin Mary.
The picture titled 'The Virgin of the Third Reich' is just one of many paintings featuring famous figures including Jesus Christ and Pope Benedict XVI.
Veneziano's art has stoked controversy in the Catholic and Jewish world with many calling them offensive....
SOURCE: Culture Kiosque (7-23-10)
[Antoine du Rocher is Managing Editor of Culturekiosque.]
In Gosford Park (2001), Robert Altman's stylish evocation of the British Upper Class, Hollywood film producer Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban), a short, self-important, culturally tone-deaf, gay American, who produces Charlie Chan mystery movies, gamely describes his latest project, Charlie Chan in London during dinner at a shooting weekend at a country estate. When Mr. Weissman declines to reveal how the film ends, suggesting that he would not want to spoil it for the other dinner guests. Constance, Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith) quips, without missing a beat,"Oh, none of us will see it."
While manifestly a withering insult to the oblivious Mr. Weissman, it just might be the appropriate snub for this year's much ballyhooed summer blockbuster, Inception.
A science fiction thriller of...
SOURCE: The New Republic (7-24-10)
I have just had a sensational night at the movies, and the picture was only 83 years old. At the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco, the Castro Theater was packed for a showing of a “complete” Metropolis. Moreover, the screening was graced by the presence of the two Argentineans—scholar Fernando Pena and archivist Paula Felix-Didier—who discovered the previously lost footage in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago. I honor their work, and their amusing commentary on the discovery—they were a couple once, then separated, then back together with the excitement of the find. Still, “complete” needs quotation marks.
To make a long story comprehensible: when Metropolis opened in Germany in 1927, it was 150 or so minutes. Very soon thereafter, and despite the impact of the picture, the German distributor, Ufa,...
SOURCE: WaPo (7-27-10)
The "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" will now be subjected to X-rays and other analyses to ascertain its attribution. But art officials and scholars attending the unveiling agreed the painting did not look like a Caravaggio - but rather like the work of one or more of his followers.
"It's a very interesting painting but I believe we can rule out - at least for now - that it's a Caravaggio," said art superintendent Rossella Vodret. "The quality of the painting doesn't hold up."...
SOURCE: NYT (7-23-10)
Now a particularly enduring Catholic practice is on prominent display in, of all places, Florence’s history of science museum, recently renovated and renamed to honor Galileo: Modern-day supporters of the famous heretic are exhibiting newly recovered bits of his body — three fingers and a gnarly molar sliced from his corpse nearly a century after he died — as if they were the relics of an actual saint.
“He’s a secular saint, and relics are an important symbol of his fight for freedom of thought,” said Paolo Galluzzi, the director of the Galileo Museum, which put the tooth, thumb and index finger on view last month, uniting them with another of the...
SOURCE: Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed (7-21-10)
To prime the consumer market, habits and attitudes left over from the Great Depression had to be liquidated. Desire must be set free -- or at least educated into enough confidence to be assertive, Advertising meant selling not just a product but a dream. There was, for example, the famous ad campaign portraying women who found themselves in public, in interesting situations while wearing little more their Maidenform undergarments. The idea was to lodge the product in the potential consumer’s unconscious by associating it with a common dream...
SOURCE: Houston Chronicle (7-21-10)
As Season 4 cranks up Sunday, it’s Thanksgiving 1964. President Lyndon Johnson, elected by a landslide, has ordered the first bombings in North Vietnam. The slaying of three civil-rights activists in Mississippi lingers in the news. There’s talk of a “generation gap.”
Still — while the lives of the show’s characters may be in turmoil — the outlook isn’t totally bleak yet, suggests Rice University history professor Allen Matusow, author of The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the 1960s (University of Georgia Press). A lot brews under the surface, he says, but cultural revolution hasn’t arrived. (The first anti-war protests and race riots occurred in 1965.)
SOURCE: NYT (7-20-10)
The horns are the oldest items in the museum’s collection, and something about the juxtaposition of contemporary social consciousness, ancient ceremony and prehistoric beast summed up the museum’s refocused mission as it completes a three-year, $100 million renewal. As described by the director, James S. Snyder, the museum offers a series of unexpected aesthetic links across cultures and their histories, like the way 2,000-year-old carved ritual cups that are on view in the museum near the Dead Sea Scrolls are somehow evocative of Brancusi.
For the last 45 years, the Israel Museum has been both the crown jewel of this country’s cultural heritage and a bit of a mess....
SOURCE: National Review (7-19-10)
Mad Men is a show about an unbending generation on the cusp of dissolution; Matthew Weiner, the show’s head writer, has often said that the majority of America in the early ’60s was still, by and large, living in the domestic ’50s. Weiner, a Baby Boomer, has a conflicted relationship with this time period. Because it is thegeneration of his parents, he wants to explore it and pore over it; because it’s the generation that, through Weiner’s specific political prism, reflects a hypocritical façade, he’d like it to form a gangway for the liberation to come. This ambivalence creates a divide in the audience’s responses to the show, which tend to fall along political lines.
Conservatives and liberals just can’t help but see Mad Men differently: the former with apprehension, the latter with anticipation. The show inspires a certain self-satisfaction in the type of viewers who would observe each instance...
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (7-20-10)
In 1980, he joined the conservation department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and was thrown into preparations for the large retrospective of Thomas Eakins' work the museum would be mounting in 1982.
That's when he first encountered Eakins' 1875 masterpiece, The Gross Clinic, owned at the time by Jefferson Medical College.
"I did a very, very minor treatment on it," Tucker said the other day. "It had surface grime on it and I removed that. So I had my nose up close to the painting at a very early point."
Even then, he sensed that a more extensive treatment might someday be warranted. That day has come....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (7-18-10)
The Surfing Heritage Foundation, based in the southern Californian town of San Clemente, is seeking to collect the oral history of the sport by talking to its oldest living practitioners. It wants to find people who remember a time when waves were still uncrowded and surfing was seen as the preserve of a few crazy, dangerous wild men and women.
It will look at the sport before it became popular in the 1950s and 1960s, when it inspired California's beach culture of girls in bikinis and the music scene that went with it.
The foundation is interviewing surfers in their 70s, 80s and 90s to preserve the story of the sport's beginnings and its early culture. It is also...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (7-16-10)
The comedy called A Thief Catcher was made in 1914 and was missing for so many years that Chaplin's appearance in it as a buffoon policeman had been forgotten.
The 10-minute movie was discovered by the American cinema historian, Paul Gierucki, who bought a can of old film marked "Keystone" at an antiques sale in Michigan....
SOURCE: NYT (7-13-10)
Hundreds of works are packed away in a hot, dusty storeroom, tended to by a doting but frustrated staff. Many of the paintings there are damaged. All are withering from dangerous conditions and haphazard storage, from the heat and Iraq’s official indifference to an important if lesser-known part of its artistic heritage.
Such is the state of Iraq’s modern art collection, renamed the National Museum of Modern Art in 2006 yet still an institution that exists mostly as an idea. That it exists at all is owed largely to the efforts of a group of officials, curators and artists who have struggled through years of war to...
SOURCE: Lee P Ruddin (7-7-10)
Last week’s triple attack in Lahore has only increased talk of terrorists taking over Pakistan’s Punjab province. Commentators had expressed concerns for the existence of the Pakistani state long before suicide bombers struck the bustling capital city, though, given the fissures within the Army – the country’s strongest institution. Yet it is the decline in capacity of institutions more generally that has earned the country its “critical” status in Foreign Policy’s annual Failed States Index.
For answers to some of the questions concerning the turmoil in Pakistan, Bhutto: The Film provides just the tonic. In looking at the Bhutto family’s legacy, the producers hope westerners might better understand a country dominating today’s headlines. For Pakistani audiences, there is probably little that is new, save some footage recently retrieved from the archives. However, western audiences unfamiliar with the history of...
SOURCE: CBC News (7-9-10)
The Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam said it is hoping the format will encourage more youngsters to discover Anne Frank's story.
An English-language version of the graphic novel will be available in North America in September.
Frank is the young Jewish girl whose family spent two years in hiding in Amsterdam as the Nazis occupied the Netherlands. Just 13 when she and her family began living in a secret annex in a factory building, Anne kept a diary of her experience.
SOURCE: National Catholic Register (7-5-10)
A great writer, and also a complex personality, Twain was the premier humorist of his day — the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts gives an annual award for humor named after him. Yet the laughter often carried a tinge of cynicism. He viewed the world with a jaundiced eye. Life, after all, had dealt him heavy blows, particularly with the deaths of his beloved wife, Olivia, and two of his daughters in their 20s....
As for faith, generally he believed in an afterlife, but often it was conflicted and frequently wavering (“Faith is believing in what you know ain’t so.”). Still, Catholics may be impressed to know that Twain said that he liked his 1896 Personal Recollections...
SOURCE: NYT (7-9-10)
Bronx News Network flags a screening of rarely seen, mostly ’70s- and ’80s-era documentaries about the Bronx as part of the Anthology Film Archives’ series “The Outer Boroughs on Film.”
For example, “Lincoln Hospital” (1970) looks at how one Bronx community joined together to rescue local mental health services after the failure of a city plan for their improvement. A trailer for the film on YouTube speaks to the notion that these are “unseen” — only 23 views so far!...
SOURCE: openDemocracy (7-8-10)
Andrei Khrzhanovskii did not intend his latest film A Room and Half to be a biopic about the Russian Nobel Prize winner poet Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996). The film is a sensitive cinematic interpretation of Brodsky’s texts and, in particular, the essay with the same title (in Russian version), which was written in 1985 when the exiled poet lived in USA. The English title of the essay differs slightly: ‘In a Room and Half’. In the essay, Brodsky compares the process of recollecting the past with developing a film. Hence, it is not surprising that Khrzhanovskii finds this essay so eminently suitable for translating into moving pictures.
The film follows the fragmented structure of the essay, representing a chain of memories of Brodsky’s life before exile. The essay consists of 45 sections, or a series of ‘written photographs’. Brodsky observes that memory ‘contains details but not a...
SOURCE: Lee P Ruddin (7-3-10)
The collection represents the American’s work in South Asia and, to a lesser degree, South America over the twenty-five-plus years that followed his breakthrough and is the sole venue for this exclusive showing. The 2002 National Geographic film narrated by Sigourney Weaver, Search for the Afghan Girl, is on continuous play at the back...
SOURCE: NYT (7-5-10)
To Mr. Seyffert, they are a testament to their creator — his grandfather, Leopold Gould Seyffert — and the distinguished businessmen, philanthropists, politicians and artists who sat before him for portraits that graced boardrooms and mansions from New York to Newport, R.I., and beyond.
But today, the paintings are as likely to be found in basements and storage rooms, the victims of faded memories and changing tastes.
Formal oils that once lined company hallways went the way of the three-martini lunch, replaced by photographic portraits that take up less space and smack less of corporate excess. And though the names of many Seyffert subjects — Mellon, Taft, Lindbergh, Frick — are...