June 2008 Archives

"Mausoleums, statues, monuments will never be erected to me ... Panegyrical romances will never be written, nor flattering orations spoken, to transmit me to posterity in brilliant colors."

So wrote John Adams to his friend Benjamin Rush in March 1809. He was right, in a way. Pigeons looking for a likeness of the unprepossessing second president of the United States will have to unload elsewhere. But TV viewers looking for the same thing are in luck: HBO is about to air again its extraordinary miniseries, John Adams, starting July 4.

I recently wrote an appreciative essay about this miniseries that also gives a quick overview of the slim pickings of films and TV shows dealing with the American Revolution.  Here 'tis ...
June 29, 2008 7:31 PM |
When Khaled Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner was first published, so many friends recommended it, I felt obliged to read it all the way through, even though my reaction was "Good story, uneven writing, will make a great movie."  Whatever else may be said of Mr. Hosseini, now a celebrity, his English prose is not getting any subtler.  And to judge by his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, his tendency to belabor the obvious is getting unjustifiably rewarded.

Oh, well.  What would the book clubs of the world do without authors willing to provide pre-emptive answers to the "study questions" shoved at them by helpful publishers?  Readers who do not need such crutches can always go back to the classics.

Or watch the film, which in the case of The Kite Runner is a work of art quite superior to the book.  One of its many merits is that the director,  German-born Marc Forster, wisely decided to have the characters speak in whatever language is appropriate: Dari, Pashtu, Urdu, Russian, and English.  This may cut slightly into the film's US box office, but once in a while, it's good to remind Americans that not everyone speaks our language.

Further, the film was shot in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of far western China, and it looks so authentic, some Afghans who saw the premiere commented that they felt transported back to Kabul in the 1970s.  Unfortunately, a crucial scene where a young boy from the Hazara ethnic group is raped by some older boys proved sufficiently shocking to the Afghan authorities that the film is banned in that country -- and the young actors and their families had to be relocated in the United Arab Emirates.

Yet these troubles only vouch for the film's authenticity, which shines through all the necessary artifice of its high production values.  The cast is excellent, including the young stars who had never acted before, and Khalid Abdallah, a Scottish actor of Egyptian background, as the writer-narrator trying to redeem a youthful act of cowardice.  And most of all, this best-selling novel has been spared the Hollywood treatment that would only have accentuated its weaknesses.
June 14, 2008 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)


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This page is an archive of entries from June 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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