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California Literary ReviewNovember 2009 | California Literary Review California Literary Review

Archive for November, 2009

Paul Bril’s Restored Paintings in the San Silvestro Chapel at Rome’s Sancta Sanctorum

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Judith
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Harris

November 30th, 2009

Born in Antwerp in 1554, Bril was working in Italy at the end of the century, where his landscapes marked the transition between what Paolucci called the “autumn of Mannerism” of the Renaissance and the birth of the Baroque style. The change was enormous, and Bril is acknowledged as among its authors.

Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Julia
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Rhodes

November 25th, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a pleasant return to classic stop-motion animation, a technique little used anymore. The film went through a long and rigorous production beginning five years ago, and the result is well, fantastic. The sets are beautifully detailed, the puppets’ every hair defined, and each movement is choreographed lovingly.

Movie Review: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

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Julia
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Rhodes

November 25th, 2009

Robin Wright plays Pippa, a beautiful, pastel-clad homemaker nearing her 50s. As the movie opens, her much older husband Herb (lovably gruff Alan Arkin) drags her into a retirement community with him, and Pippa’s seemingly flawless exterior begins to unravel. The film hops back and forth between the present, in which Pippa and Herb’s relationship begins to crack and crumble, and the past, in which we’re introduced to Pippa Sarkissian, a very different young woman who tenaciously molded her life into the guarded perfection of the present.

Movie Review: Me and Orson Welles

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Zorianna
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Kit

November 25th, 2009

Based on the novel by Richard Kaplow, Welles stars Efron as Richard Samuels, a student and budding actor who gets swept up in the world of theater when he is cast in a small role in Orson Welles’ 1937 production of Caesar. Young and naïve, Richard tries hard to navigate through Welles’ tantrums, mind-games and mood-swings that range from charming to tyrannical.

Movie Review: New Moon

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Julia
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Rhodes

November 21st, 2009

The movie positively drags at two hours eleven minutes; when the kids at the front of the theater start chatting amongst themselves during the “tense” final scenes, something’s not right.

Love and Summer by William Trevor

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Mark
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Fitzgerald

November 19th, 2009

Why is it that summer can never last forever, especially when we want it to? The once long and amorous days wane too soon in circumscription. A small chill creeps down from the hills. Something is about to end. Then someone leaves town. Someone always leaves town.

Movie Review: Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

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Zorianna
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Kit

November 18th, 2009

Comedian Mo’Nique, best known for urban comedies like Phat Girlz and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, gives such a frightening performance as Mary Jones, the Academy should just hand over the Oscar statuette to her now. Her scene towards the end when she is confronted by both Precious and Weiss for all her wicked deeds is enough to make your stomach churn.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

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John R.
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Guthrie

November 17th, 2009

Even so, to hold The Lacuna in one’s hand, to read it, is to witness and experience years of distilled effort and research. Like Diego Rivera’s murals, it is a lager-than-life work full of color, life, and movement, one executed by a masterful artist at the height of her creative powers.

Directions: John Gerrard at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC

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Alix
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McKenna

November 16th, 2009

So what are today’s landscape artists telling us? In his eponymous show at the Hirshhorn, John Gerrard presents us with scenery that reflects a very different view of America. Rather than inspire us, the Irish artist constructs images that fill us with anxiety, hopelessness and a sense of imminent disaster. And we can’t look away.

Movie Review: Pirate Radio

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Julia
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Rhodes

November 14th, 2009

Aside from the lack of a true protagonist, a number of small story arcs fall a bit flat, and the film may be a bit long at over two hours. However, a hilarious cast, a few genuinely poignant moments, and a slightly silly but ultimately uplifting end save the plot from disaster. The brilliant cast and funny script make for a fine film that probably won’t enjoy the sort of release it deserves in America—which is unfortunate, since it’s exactly the kind of movie whose heart and ingenuity should trump trashy big budget disaster movies at the box office.

My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran by Haleh Esfandiari

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David
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Lida

November 12th, 2009

Her jail term of one hundred and five days was the culmination of an eight-month ordeal. In December of 2006, she returned to Tehran to visit her ailing mother. On her way to the airport for her trip back, a staged robbery, perpetrated by state secret police, detained her passage. She was not allowed to leave Iran. In the subsequent months, repeated interrogations by a secret policeman did not produce the information that he was seeking, so ultimately she was sent to prison.

Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs by Jeni Stepanek

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Ryan
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Van Cleave

November 11th, 2009

He explains it in his journals as “Whatever it is that a person needs or wants, they understand why that matters, and that is the unfolding of their Heartsong . . . And as we learn in almost every religion or philosophy of goodness, it is in giving that we receive. In sharing our Heartsong with others, it goes out into the world, and somehow, circles back to us.”

Under the Dome by Stephen King

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Katherine
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Tomlinson

November 10th, 2009

Still, despite the ending, this is King’s best work in years, a richly textured novel of people under pressure that will move readers and provoke them and make them want to tell their friends. Forget Blaze and Duma Key, the King is back. Long live the King.

Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Ed
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Voves

November 9th, 2009

The people of that ancient nation had been decimated in the opening genocide of modern times, victims of Turkish aggression during the First World War. “Who now remembers the Armenians?” Adolf Hitler exclaimed, as he and his Nazi lieutenants planned the Final Solution. The answer can be found lining the walls of the masterful exhibition in Philadelphia. Arshile Gorky remembered. “I shall resurrect Armenia with my brush,” Gorky declared in 1944, “for all the world to see.”

Movie Review: The Men Who Stare at Goats

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Julia
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Rhodes

November 7th, 2009

Imagine a world in which the military trains soldiers not to kill enemies of the state, but to infiltrate their minds with the Jedi mind trick. A different political and military climate in which soldiers in camo sport long hair, have dance parties, and hold daisies in their hands. A military unit in which recreational drugs enhance the training, where drills include psychic exercises and the Privates’ chakras are open to the world. Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare at Goats plops the audience into this seemingly alternate universe with the admonition that “more of this is true than you would believe.”

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