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Article Archive for January 2010

Michelangelo: A Tormented Life by Antonio Forcellino

January 28, 2010 – 11:13 am | One Comment
<em>Michelangelo: A Tormented Life</em> by Antonio Forcellino

Before dawn on the morning of February 18 a group of Florentines entered the church stealthily and stole Michelangelo’s body, which they concealed on a farm cart. Upon arrival of the corpse three days later in Florence, thousands of citizens turned out spontaneously, dressed in workmen’s and artists’ smocks like those Michelangelo himself wore. Many wept as they accompanied the bier in an improvised procession through the dark streets. No such a procession, as if for a saint, had ever been seen there before.

Video Game Review: Dark Void

January 26, 2010 – 10:52 am |
Video Game Review: <em>Dark Void</em>

The bad guys are alien robot Nazis (effectively combining every faceless antagonist in videogame history), Will is a relatable reluctant hero and Nikola Tesla has an undeniable geek appeal as the underappreciated genius whose achievements were overshadowed by a less talented rival with a better marketing department (effectively making him the Conan O’Brien of science). But ironically for a game in which you strap a jet engine on your back, it never fires on all cylinders.

Movie Review: Legion

January 23, 2010 – 1:03 pm | 7 Comments
Movie Review: <em>Legion</em>

According to the script, God has lost faith in humanity, ostensibly because he grew “tired of all the BS.” Thus He orders the angels to exterminate mankind—just to switch it up a bit, since last time He went with a flood. The angel Michael (Paul Bettany) disagrees with God’s order and falls from heaven to save the human race. Michael chooses a tiny town called Paradise Falls (a clever but gauche touch of Dante), at the edge of the Mojave desert, in which to prove that humans are worth saving.

Fables: The Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham

January 21, 2010 – 12:07 pm |
<em>Fables: The Deluxe Edition Vol. 1</em> by Bill Willingham

But without a doubt, it’s the series that he began seven years ago, Fables, that has captured the imaginations of so many readers. The premise of this story is clear and simple—familiar characters from fairy tales and folklore escape after an army of creatures led by the mysterious Adversary has come to conquer their home worlds. Where do all these exiled creatures go? New York City, of course.

Small Wars by Sadie Jones

January 19, 2010 – 11:16 am |
<em>Small Wars</em> by Sadie Jones

The conflict becomes a war in which, “…there was no truth. It was a nothing, laughable Mickey Mouse conflict; it was a sinister time of terror and repression. The British were misguided and ignorant; the Cypriots were lethargic and foolish. The Cypriots loved the British; the Cypriots hated the British. The British were torturers; the British were decent and honourable. EOKA were terrorists; EOKA were heroes.”

Movie Review: The Lovely Bones

January 16, 2010 – 1:06 pm | 45 Comments
Movie Review: <em>The Lovely Bones</em>

The novel opens with a striking, abrupt proclamation: “My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” After her murder, Susie watches from the Inbetween, a kind of non-Christian purgatory, as her family struggles with her death. Jackson, whose visionary filmmaking has earned him massive acclaim in the past, creates a heaven of brilliant, surreal landscapes in which Susie and her fellow dead frolic.

Some Like It Hot: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion by Laurence Maslon

January 14, 2010 – 11:31 am | One Comment
<em>Some Like It Hot: The Official 50th Anniversary Companion</em> by Laurence Maslon

There’s plenty about Monroe, of course — her perpetual lateness to the set, her entourage (especially acting coach Paula Strasberg’s hovering and kibitzing), nervous visits from hubby Arthur Miller because of her pregnancy with a child that would miscarry, and so on. She overdosed on sleeping pills the first week of shooting. And apparently she could be very inconsistent about nailing her lines.

Video Game Review: Bayonetta

January 13, 2010 – 10:42 am | 7 Comments
Video Game Review: <em>Bayonetta</em>

She also wears glasses, which may pass for originality these days but is thematically appropriate because Bayonetta, like most of director Hideki Kamiya’s games, is all about spectacles: Whether you’re throwing angels into a guillotine or simply murdering God, Bayonetta will certainly prove a smashing, button-mashing over-the-top distraction from your day-to-day routine… unless of course your day-to-day routine includes playing video games, in which case it offers little, if anything, new.

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

January 12, 2010 – 4:20 pm |
<em>The Swan Thieves</em> by Elizabeth Kostova

Oliver won’t socialize. He won’t even speak. He simply spends his days wrapped in his obsession, a pattern that is only slightly modified when he is given painting materials. For then he takes to painting a dark-haired woman over and over again.

Portraiture Now: Communities at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

January 11, 2010 – 2:49 pm |
<em>Portraiture Now: Communities</em> at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

The astonishing amount of detail, the tremendous amount of work that went into crafting the tiny piece and Lorna’s serene expression and frontal pose give her the air of a modern day Madonna. Despite her imperfections, nose rings and edgy attire, Lorna becomes an icon of contemporary feminine beauty.

Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

January 7, 2010 – 10:59 am |
<em>Last Night in Twisted River</em> by John Irving

For Last Night in Twisted River is the work of a seasoned tale-teller, a writer who can blend his own life (a breakthrough novel on the fourth try, stints in Iowa under the tutelage of Kurt Vonnegut) with Danny’s and still manage to erase himself in the process. It’s the old story within a story trick, the character we thought to be a third person passive now metamorphosing into a first person active. So by the time we reach the finish, a finish that Irving ties neatly back to the beginning, Danny has provided us with an intriguing meditation on the process of fiction writing.

You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr

January 6, 2010 – 4:01 pm |
<em>You or Someone Like You</em> by Chandler Burr

The religious and cultural tensions present in this book, while controversial, are always handled with grace and candor, perhaps because, as Burr writes in an author’s note, the recounting of Sam Rosenbaum’s ousting from a Jewish temple is his own.

Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968–2008 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

January 4, 2010 – 11:31 am |
<em>Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968–2008</em> at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

In Roberto Cuoghi’s 2006 portrait of Davide Halevim, one of the highlights of the section entitled “Representations of Mortality,” Halevim is covered in leaves, dirt, and twigs; his face is discolored; and rigor mortis appears to have set in. But Halevim was alive (and still is) when Cuoghi made this depiction of the Milan-based collector. To create this work, part of the artist’s series of portraits of art-world figures begun in 2001, Cuoghi made a cast of Halevim’s face, buried it in his garden to let the process of decomposition run its course, and then photographed the results.

The 10 Best Movies of the Decade (2000-2009)

January 1, 2010 – 11:51 am | 8 Comments
The 10 Best Movies of the Decade (2000-2009)

Wong Kar-wai’s beautiful tone poem is an ode to unrequited and impossible love. Its brilliant color scheme, gorgeous costumes, unforgettable cinematography, and heart-wrenching violin score harmonize to create a film that seethes with romance, melancholy, and the allure of the impossible.

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