May 21, 2010
Two in the Wave Lorber Films Looking for Eric IFC Films No movement in any nation’s film history has had a greater effect, at home and abroad, than the French New Wave. Beginning in the late 1950s and cresting through the 1960s, it not only brought forth new and invaluable talents: it altered in some degree the expectations of audiences. Much has naturally been written about the New Wave.
The READ: Pound Them Keyboards!
April 07, 2010
What does it mean when two critics—both reasonable, educated people, well-versed in the artistic genre they have made their focus—come to drastically different conclusions about a work of art? The Times asked this question last week after publishing two conflicting reviews of Come Fly Away, Twyla Tharp’s new Broadway production of dances set to Frank Sinatra songs. Charles Isherwood, a theater critic for the paper, exulted in the show’s dazzling “pyrotechnics,” seeing its (admittedly generic) characters as archetypes of romantic desire.
September 10, 2007
Abbey Sings Abbey Abbey Lincoln Love Is What Stays Mark Murphy Near the end of 1956, two young jazz singers made their first albums: Abbey Lincoln's Affair … A Story of a Girl in Love, released by Liberty Records, a quality-conscious shoestring operation, and Meet Mark Murphy, issued by Decca, then a major jazz-pop label. Lincoln was twenty-six and black and a woman, Murphy twenty-four and white and a man, and both had talent and looks. For half a century, they followed separate and circuitous but roughly parallel career paths.
March 20, 2007
Mos Def and His Big Band American Songbook, Lincoln Center The view of Tin Pan Alley from Harlem was so bad during the first decades of the twentieth century, a great time for white songwriters, that the African American lyricist Andy Razaf wrote a mordant work of verse on the subject, a "prayer for the Alley." Published in the 1930s in New York Amsterdam News, the black daily, the piece lamented the Midtown center of popular music as "lacking in soul," a place "where something original frightens the ear" and pandering technicians produce "dull similarities, year after year." Razaf, who died i
September 06, 2004
The scene has unfolded at least a dozen times over the past year. In some huge sports arena in a large U.S. city, a second-tier pop singer performs a series of patriotic anthems. After a pause, a burst of horns and the gossamer voice of Frank Sinatra fills the stadium. Start spreading the news ... A maelstrom of red, white, and blue confetti fills the air. Now, a roar surges through the crowd--Rudolph Giuliani has come into view. The standing ovation that greets him might last for a full minute before Giuliani finally cuts it off.
Tramps Like Who?
December 15, 2003
Bruce Springsteen's America: The People Listening, A Poet Singing By Robert Coles (Random House) Thirty years ago this fall, Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey. I knew from whence he greeted, having grown up in the same state a few years behind him.One of Springsteen's teenage bands, the Castiles, had been the entertainment at my friend Doug's eighth-grade graduation party; so when Columbia Records sent the twenty-four-year-old and his new group, the E Street Band, on a tour of midsized Northeast colleges to promote his record debut, Doug and I d
October 28, 2002
A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff (The New Press, 269 pp., $26.95) Twenty-five years ago, while researching Holocaust history for the Joint Distribution Committee in New York, and as I was preparing to immigrate to Israel, I came across a clipping from The New York Times from 1936.
One Nation Under a Groove
July 15, 1991
I. My dream was to become Frank Sinatra. I loved his phrasing, especially when he was very young and pure….
Ol' Blue Lips
May 13, 1991
Kitty Kelley's achievement is extraordinary. She has provided a reason for sympathy with Nancy Reagan. She has taken one of the shrewdest, coldest, most manipulative women in American politics, a woman who broke new ground in spousal power, and transformed her into a victim. Kelley is a mean and greedy writer, so drunk on sensationalism that she lacks compassion and understanding. Her subject was a mean and greedy First Lady, so drunk on power that she lacked compassion and understanding. Both believe that nothing succeeds like excess and pettiness.