Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Give, give, give

But what? Check out our suggestions for holiday reciprocity
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It's happened again. December has rolled around, and last year's promise not to buy gifts for anyone has melted into a familiar panic. "Just a few people," I thought — and those few quickly snowballed into a dozen, that dozen into many, that many into, well, the onset of a big ol' holiday freak-out. What the hell to buy for everyone? The thought of going to a mall gives me the all-overs. Too many people, too many shiny displays. Too many "it" items this year — though I must admit, this season is mild compared to past years of Tickle-Me-Elmos and Furbies. Furbies really freaked me out, man. Read more »

Heeding the call

Call of Duty 3
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Call of Duty 3
(Activision; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)

Kids! You might be able to convince your parents to buy this game for you based on its historical content. It is virtually impossible to play without learning a bit about World War II. That's a nice side effect.
The latest incarnation of the popular Call of Duty first-person shooter series takes place in 1944 at the Normandy Breakout. American forces have already landed in France and are about to liberate Paris from the Nazis. The game does a great job of giving a bigger picture of the war than is often presented. Read more »

Deep water, hard rock

Gilbraltar, 12 Days of Cochina
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In a house overlooking the San Francisco Bay, a young painter named Amy (Dena Martinez) hosts a seeming vagabond, Palo (Johnny Moreno), through one long grief-filled night. She's in numb, guilt-stricken mourning for her husband, a purportedly shallow man who, out of his emotional depth, stepped off his sailboat, into the ocean. Palo, for his part, is convinced he knows Amy as Lila, the woman he once loved, abused, and has been searching for up the long coast from Mexico. Read more »

All that heaven and earth allow

Gods, stars, and burnt offerings mark Anselm Kiefer's dark worlds
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(To read Marke B.'s take on Anselm Kiefer, "Crash and Burn," click here.)

REVIEW Recently, in an Amish schoolhouse shooting, five girls were killed and five wounded by a man who was "angry with God" and haunted by thoughts of molestation.
One girl escaped. In the earliest versions of the story, nine-year-old Emma Fisher simply snuck out. It was later said that she misunderstood the shooter's instructions in English and thought she was supposed to leave. Read more »

Crash and burn

Anselm Kiefer's mighty works are far too heavy to dance
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To read Stephen Beachy's take on Anselm Kiefer, "All That Heaven and Earth Allow," click here.)

REVIEW You could go into “Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth” looking for a rush of monumental drama and cosmic philosophizing, for German guilt writ large, and for abnormal feats of technical skill. Or you could go in looking, as I did, for laughs.
Well, not laughs exactly, but at least a little humor. Read more »

The Architect

Well-built, but hollow
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REVIEW Writer-director Matt Tauber has clearly taken his debut movie's title to heart. Each streamlined scene has been carefully laid out to maximize character and plot development, seemingly creating the beginnings of a rich, thoughtful film. The strong cast — led by Anthony LaPaglia, Isabella Rossellini, and Viola Davis — provides ample reason to remain hopeful. Tauber, with playwright and coscreenwriter David Greig, gives us a movie full of multifaceted characters, but as the plot progresses, these characters seem increasingly stereotypical and each facet feels calculated. Read more »

Yule be sorry!

Snoozing through The Holiday
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There's a reason Kate Winslet has four Oscar nominations. Even in a film as fake-snow fluffy as The Holiday, she's able to imbue her character, lovesick Londoner Iris, with pathos and dignity. Read more »

Songs of devotion

Nathaniel Dorsky finds alchemy in the dark during the light age
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Accessible to anyone who might be interested in a deeper understanding of his or her own senses, Nathaniel Dorsky’s book, Devotional Cinema (Tuumba Press), explores the physical properties we share with the film medium. Within the book, Dorsky draws upon films by Roberto Rossellini, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Yasujuro Ozu, and others to illustrate his insights on filmic language. Read more »

Stunted growth?

Tony Hawk's Project 8
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(Activision; Xbox 360, PlayStation2)
GAMER The latest incarnation of the greatest skateboard video game series ever is here, and it's a mixed bag. Wait, have any skateboard video games besides this one made it past part one? Anyway, the Xbox 360 version will both please and infuriate fans of the series, just like life. Players who are new to the game will be better off picking up an old copy of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 or 4, because that's when this franchise peaked.
One of the major differences between the early Tony Hawk games and the newer ones is that there's an involved story now. Read more »

THE BOURNE IDENTITY

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Well, Tim Burton it isn't. Since Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands is inspired by Burton's delightful but dark 1990 film, a comparison seems fair enough. Right off the top, Bourne's dance musical has neither the gentleness nor the creepy underbelly of the filmed adaptation of Caroline Thompson's gothic story. It's coarser, more cartoonish, and fits too smoothly into the conventions of the Broadway musical.
And yet there is a lot to be said for what Bourne has done. Most important, he has made the parable his own. He tells his version of the old story clearly and with a light touch. Read more »