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: Guardian (UK) (8-25-10)
A treat for lovers of high art, this is also a timely allusion to the great artistic inheritance of the Vatican. The message is surely: forget the recent scandals, remember the church-sponsored glories of the high Renaissance. But is that epoch really such a good one to stress if you want to distract from the moral failings of the clergy?...
SOURCE: The Canadian Press (8-25-10)
Now an exhibition about innovation in Muslim civilization seeks to highlight what organizers say is an overshadowed period of history, a "Golden Age" in which advances in engineering, medicine and architecture laid groundwork for Western progress from the Renaissance until modern times.
In a play on the old stories, it is titled: "1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World."
The show seeks to be strictly academic, and shuns political or religious pronouncements. But the robust response of many young Muslims suggests a thirst for cultural pride against a contemporary backdrop of conflict and suspicion between the West and Muslim...
SOURCE: NYT (8-25-10)
Deas got lost.
In the mid-1800s, Deas (pronounced days) specialized in portraits and multilayered scenes of life on the frontier as American Indian and European heritage collided and intermingled. He painted brilliantly and prolifically for a decade and became, briefly, a sensation on the New York art scene.
Then, at age 29, he went insane. He lived out the rest of his life in mental institutions, and by the time he died, at age 48, right after the Civil War, he and his paintings had fallen into obscurity. But dozens of them, it turns out, were only in hiding, and now they are considered national treasures, painted by a doomed artist with a back story made for Hollywood and an eye that captured a fast-fading West.
And thereby hangs the...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (8-18-10)
The Brook Street address where Handel resided for 36 years until his death in 1759, and where Hendrix lived between 1968 and 1969, will be opened to the public next month in commemoration of the 40 years since Hendrix’s death.
The surprisingly modest looking flat, which currently serves as administrative offices for the Handel House Museum, will be cleared out and in its place a haul of Hendrix memorabilia will be installed as part of the ‘Hendrix in Britain’ exhibition....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (8-24-10)
The actress, who is playing Jackie Kennedy in The Kennedys, looked uncannily like the former First Lady as she sat next to Greg Kinnear, who also bore a startling resemblance to his character as he portrayed the former president.
The pair were recreating events leading up to the moment when Kennedy was shot dead while he and his wife were riding in a presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963.
Holmes wore a replica of the famous candy-pink suit and pillbox hat worn by Mrs Kennedy on the day of the assassination, and the actors rode in a convertible limousine like that in which the Kennedys were travelling when the shooting took place....
SOURCE: USA Today (8-19-10)
On Friday, Beresford's latest film, Mao's Last Dancer, based on Cunxin's best-selling 2003 autobiography, arrives in U.S. theaters, following a successful opening last year in Australia and a fistful of nominations and awards. Besides spectacular dancing and music, the film packs an emotional wallop about the power of art and love to transcend borders and America's continuing allure to freedom-seekers.
"It may be the only pro-America film done in 25 years," says Beresford (Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy), exaggerating just a little. "I was aware when I was making the film that a lot of people, at least in the Australian press, think life in China under Mao was better than life in America under Bush (either one).
"I'd like to...
SOURCE: NYT (8-19-10)
As the story begins in 1941 in occupied Paris, Germany has just invaded Russia. Manouchian, along with fellow Communists, is rounded up and detained at a nearby camp from which he is released after signing a document disavowing his politics. A reflective soul, scraps of whose poetry are heard in the film, Manouchian does not believe in killing. And the scenes of his rendezvous with his beautiful, adoring French wife, Mélinée (Virginie Ledoyen), who risks her life to bring him food while he is interned, lend the movie a faint romantic blush.
But when the Nazis crack down on the Resistance, Manouchian’s...
SOURCE: NYT (8-19-10)
The second season of “Jersey Shore,” which takes place in Miami, is even more popular than the first, and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is returning on Sunday for a fifth season, carrying in tow a spinoff about publicists, “The Spin Crowd.”
There is no need to panic.
Reality shows that exalt indolent, loud-mouthed exhibitionists may seem like almost biblical retribution for our materialistic, celebrity-obsessed age. But actually, these kinds of series are an extension of a time-honored form of entertainment, one that reaches back to the era of landed gentry, debutantes and social seasons in places like Newport, R.I., or the French Riviera.
More than a century ago, ordinary people avidly followed the follies of the idle rich in the society pages and passenger lists of liners like the Atlantic or the Mauretania. (The maiden voyage of the...
SOURCE: NYT (8-17-10)
Like the flickering shadows in Plato’s Cave, these images were subjected to a radical rereading with the appearance of another reel in 1998: 30 minutes of outtakes showing the extent to which scenes had been deliberately staged. Over and over, in multiple takes, we see well-dressed Jews enter a butcher’s shop, ignoring the children begging outside. In a similar scenario, prosperous-looking passersby are directed to disregard the corpses abandoned on the sidewalk. The propagandists’...
SOURCE: Bloomberg News (8-15-10)
Research by art historian Philip Sohm shows that in recent decades more has been written about him than that other Michelangelo (Buonarroti), previously top of art pop charts.
A steady stream of Caravaggio news stories appears, intensifying this year to mark the 400th anniversary of his death. In June, Italian anthropologists claimed to have identified his bones by DNA analysis in Porto Ercole, the town on the Tuscan coast where he died.
Caravaggio was an art star. He instigated one of the most startling revolutions in all of painting. When he arrived in Rome at the end of the 16th century, it was the end of the Renaissance. The standard style was vapid, idealized: in a word, academic. Suddenly, around 1600, Caravaggio started to produce pictures that looked totally different.
His dark, violent,...
SOURCE: NYT (8-16-10)
After 70 years that wait has now ended. This year the National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired the entire set of nearly 1,000 discs, made at the height of the swing era, and has begun digitizing recordings of inspired performances by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, Harry James and others that had been thought to be lost forever. Some of these remarkable long-form performances simply could not be captured by the standard recording technology of the time. (Mr. Savory used a different format.) The Savory collection also contains...
SOURCE: Lee P Ruddin (8-16-10)
Palin had just taken up the role of president of the Royal Geographic Society and, in an interview in October’s Geographical Magazine, he said: “If we say that all of our past involvement with the world was bad and wicked and wrong, I think we’re doing ourselves a great disservice.” The travel writer singled out “lines of communication between people that are still very strong,” as a particular virtue.
Nowadays it is coventional wisdom to think that all “was bad and wicked and wrong.” The main reason for its fall into disrepute was its involvement in the slave trade. And rightly so, you would agree. “The difficulty with the achievements of empire”, however, writes Niall Ferguson in the introduction of Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2004), “is that they...
SOURCE: NYT (8-12-10)
Titled “The Farmers and the Helicopters,” the video is partly and spectacularly about the Vietnam War. We first see a panning shot of forests and rice paddies in aerial view. Then helicopters arrive, swarming, landing, lifting off, buzzing and shuddering through the sky, spewing men and rockets, crashing explosively, then rising to buzz some more. Classic shock and awe.
Interspersed with these noisy scenes are recent interviews with Vietnamese people. A former Vietcong soldier recalls how, more than 40 years ago, he shot at an American chopper to make...
SOURCE: NYT (8-12-10)
But the dramatic heart of the film consists of scenes that, in plain moviegoing terms, transform “Neshoba” from an earnest courtroom chronicle into something much more fascinating and troubling. These are interviews with Mr. Killen himself. A member of the Philadelphia Coalition observes that a lot of white Southerners who hold racist views tend, nowadays, to express them “in code.” Mr. Killen is not one of them. His passionate defense of segregation is startling now, though it would have been unremarkable in 1964.
“I’m not a Jew hater,” he says at one point, after having explained how Jews and Communists control the media, and he is unguarded and outspoken in defending his loathing for the “outsiders” and local troublemakers who threatened his Christian, racially pure way of life...
SOURCE: Tablet (8-11-10)
Months before the Warsaw Ghetto was to be liquidated, Joseph Goebbels commissioned a documentary about Ghetto life. The project was never completed, but the surviving raw footage forms the backbone of a new documentary, Yael Hersonski’s A Film Unfinished, which opens in New York and Los Angeles next week and nationwide thereafter.
The footage, shot by German cameramen in April and May of 1942 and stored away for decades in an East German film archive, shows elaborately choreographed scenes of Jewish ritual and practice. Some feature what are supposed to be well-off Jews living alongside (and in a state of indifference to) their starving coreligionists. All the scenes are carefully staged, as we see from the multiple takes. One of the most painful shows well-fed women and starving men reluctantly taking a dip...
SOURCE: NYT (8-10-10)
“Three of the best jokes you’ve ever heard in your life,” he said. “Gone forever.”
Now, nearly two decades later, that gag and more than 3,500 hours of Carson’s “Tonight Show” have been preserved digitally and will begin making their way onto the Web.
On Wednesday the Carson Entertainment Group is expected to announce the start of two new projects that will give Carson an Internet presence he has never had before.
The first is a rejuvenated Carson Web site, at johnnycarson.com, that will feature video clips from the 30-year history of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”...
SOURCE: CS Monitor (8-3-10)
Oliver Stone is the director of some of Hollywood’s most famous films, from “Platoon” to “Wall Street” to “JFK.” Last week he sat down in the Los Angeles offices of his production company, IXTLAN, to talk with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels about his recent documentary, “South of the Border,” and his upcoming release, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
"South of the Border"
Nathan Gardels: As you show in your recent documentary, “South of the Border,” US diplomacy and the American media have reacted with general hostility to the empowerment of the poor and indigenous in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and, to some extent, in Brazil. Why is that?
Oliver Stone: I suppose it comes from the old imperial impulse of the US toward Latin America going back to the...
SOURCE: NYT (8-2-10)
Late on Sunday night, in a subterranean exhibition space on West 44th Street, a group of gloved art handlers — under the wary supervision of Sanaa Ahmed Ali, director of the Luxor Museum in Egypt — opened a wooden crate, unpacked the left wheel and slowly slid it onto the axle where it had once turned. An hour later they did the same with the right wheel. Then everyone in the room fell silent for a moment, looking at the result, before breaking into applause.
“Boy, that’s amazing,” said Mark Lach, a senior vice president of Arts and Exhibitions International. “Really just amazing.”
SOURCE: The Root (8-1-10)
Would it be proper to describe Mad Men as ''cool''? Well, yes and no, but before answering that question, let's ponder the often misunderstood properties of cool.
Cool has a history, believe it or not. It is the lack of historical knowledge about cool's origins that has allowed for the rampant and unfettered exploitation of this concept and its rather elusive properties in modern times. Cool, detached from its history, is style without substance, in the worst way. It is a free-floating signifier of emptiness, unmoored from its complicated birth in a more repressive era.
Cool has been around in one form or another for years. Yet cool, as we know it, is a product of the conformity, paranoia and racism of that which defined the early Cold War era...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-13-10)
Hidden under layers of varnish and paint was the original painting of the same woman, only this time she has a suggestive sideways glance and was dressed in a more revealing bodice.
The painting is featured in a new exhibition, Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes & Discoveries, which reveals the stories behind more than 40 paintings.
When the gallery acquired the Renaissance painting Woman at a Window in the 19th century, the painting depicted a modest young brunette woman looking out from behind a curtain....