Pop Culture Roundup: This Week

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From the subdued color palette to the delicate touches of light and shadow reflecting off the man in a 17th-century Dutch costume, the painting could easily be mistaken for a recently discovered Rembrandt van Rijn masterpiece.

But this new work was not created by human hands, let alone those of Rembrandt, who died in 1669. It was painted by an artificially intelligent 3-D printer that pored over its art to produce a piece unlike no other in the past 350 years.


As the Holocaust raged and most of the world looked away, a handful of American political cartoonists tried to alert the U.S. public to the horrors of the Nazi slaughter and the need for action to rescue Jewish refugees.

Their story is told in Cartoonists Against the Holocaust, a groundbreaking new book by Rafael Medoff and Craig Yoe, which for the first time brings together more than 150 of these rare political cartoons, accompanied by historical explanations and commentary.

The book's official launch date is May 5, 2016, which is Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah).


Daily Show host Trevor Noah appeared to think Thursday night that the United States had just four Founding Fathers and all of them were memorialized on Mount Rushmore.

Of course, there are far more than four people considered to hold that title for the U.S. Also, while Mount Rushmore depicts George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, it also has Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, neither of whom were alive when the country was founded.

Juan Williams, a liberal Fox News personality who frequently appears on shows such as The Five and The O’Reilly Factor, was Noah’s guest to discuss his book We The People. The cover of the bookfeatures a Rushmore-like depiction of famous Americans Ronald Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, and Billy Graham.

“What’s fascinating about this book is you’re delving into the world of history, showing us, I guess, how we came to be here,” Noah said. “It really is a fascinating story, because whenever someone thinks of the Founding Fathers of this nation, there are four. They’re on a mountain.

“And yet, what you’ve done in this book is you almost argued that there are more founders that don’t have their faces on mountains.”


A documentary based on a 2006 article by Lawrence Wright, about a talented young F.B.I. agent who believes that 9/11 could have been prevented.


Photographer Peter van Agtmael, on assignment for a European magazine, in 2015, headed to Tennessee and Maryland, where he spent time with some members of today’s KKK. His pictures offer us a glimpse into a world that despite having been around for a long time in the United States, is still rarely seen by most Americans.

Van Agtmael is represented by Magnum Photos; more of his work can be seen here and here.


It’s never too late to make amends, even 69 years after the fact. The Philadelphia City Council proved as much on March 31, when it unanimously passed a resolution honoring Jackie Robinson and officially apologizing for the treatment he endured while visiting in 1947, the year he broke Major League Baseball’s color line.

“Unfortunately in Philadelphia, Jackie Robinson experienced some of the most virulent racism and hate of his career,” Councilwoman Helen Gym said in introducing the action. “Our colleagues decided to introduce this resolution to celebrate Jackie Robinson.”

He has been celebrated many times before, most recently in 42, a 2013 movie starring Chadwick Boseman. Robinson is also honored each April 15—the anniversary of his major league debut—when every player and coach on every team wears his jersey number. And he certainly will be remembered fondly for generations to come, in recognition of his pioneering legacy that transcends sports.

But thanks to a new documentary from noted filmmaker Ken Burns, we’re able to see and appreciate Robinson in an entirely different light. This is no fictionalized script, such as in 42 or The Jackie Robinson Story, a 1950 movie starring the player as himself and Ruby Dee as his wife. In Jackie Robinson, a two-part film that airs Monday and Tuesday on PBS, Burns delivers the unvarnished truth that Hollywood treatments often whitewash.


As “Hamilton” fever has swept America, historians have hardly been immune. The megahit Broadway musical’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has won prestigious honors from the profession, including the 2015 George Washington Book Prize. More than one scholar has marveled at the show’s detailed presentation of the founding period’s complicated politics — not to mention the way Mr. Miranda’s dazzling rap lyrics pull off rhymes like “line of credit” and “financial diuretic.”

But even among historians who love the musical and its multiethnic cast, a question has also quietly simmered: does “Hamilton” really get Hamilton right?


A painting by the 16th Century Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio may have been found in an attic in the southern French city of Toulouse, La Depeche reported, citing the Culture Ministry.


Hitler had joined one of the many small right wing political groups in Munich, the German Workers’ Party, in September 1919. Germany was a country in considerable turmoil and there were many such groups forming, disbanding, forging or breaking alliances, and fighting each other on the streets. The city of Munich was a center of political activity where meetings at its beer halls drew large crowds of people some of whom were attracted by the prospect of violence. By February 1920, Hitler had drawn up this party program together with the original founder of the party, Anton Drexler. It was introduced at a meeting at the Hofbräuhaus on 24 February to which nearly 2,000 people turned up. Hitler was not the main speaker, but when he spoke, some of the crowd became vociferous and violence broke out. However, he managed to overcome the noise and confusion to speak in its favor, and the program was adopted.


Near the beginning of the HBO movie Confirmation, law professor Anita Hill—in a powerful, restrained performance from Kerry Washington—receives a phone call from an investigator asking if she had ever been a victim of sexual harassment or abuse at the hand of her former colleague Clarence Thomas, who was at the early stages of confirmation hearings to be the next Supreme Court justice.

“That’s not something I can talk about,” Hill says over the phone. “I’ll put it his way: If I were advising someone who was a victim of his unwanted advances, I don’t think I would suggest that she come forward. In my experience, in a case like this when someone comes forward, the victim tends to become the villain.”


Germans have been laughing out loud about a Hitler film for a while, but now it's available for the rest of us, on Netflix.

"Look Who's Back" (the German title is "Er Ist Wieder Da") is adapted from a bestselling satirical novel by German author Timur Vermes.

The conceit of the book is what would happen if Adolf Hitler returned to Germany 70 years after this death. How would he respond to the multicultural country that Germany has become? But when German director David Wnendt adapted it into a film, he turned the tables to focus on the German people.


Paramount Pictures has given an awards season release date of Nov. 23 for “Allied,” Brad Pitt’s World War II romantic thriller.

“Allied,” produced by GK Films, also stars Marion Cotillard and is directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film is shooting in London, with production also taking place in the Canary Islands.

Zameckis is directing from a script by Steven Knight (“The Hundred-Foot Journey”). Graham King, who won an Oscar for “The Departed,” is producing with Zemeckis, and Steve Starkey.


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