Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News
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Jeff Simon

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Jeff Simon is the News' Arts and Books Editor. He has been writing for the paper since Spiro Agnew was the vice president.

Jeffrey Toobin wasn't having any of it. The legal experts, Toobin included, had been telling us for weeks that the parole of O.J. Simpson following his incarceration for a robbery was a "slam dunk" but even so, the only things missing when the announcement came were actual steam coming out of Toobin's ears and venom stains burning holes in his tie. After the parole w…

CLASSICAL "Paganini, 24 Caprices and Other Works for Solo Violin" performed by Rachel Barton Pine (Avie, two discs) They really knew how to sell their virtuosi in the early Romantic era. Eyewitness newspaper accounts in his lifetime claimed to have witnessed a witch standing behind violinist Niccolo Paganini as he performed and manipulating his fingers. But then w…

It's called "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets." It's a terrible movie that has a stunning visual triumph attached. Let me nail that down: The first hour is puerile and awful while simultaneously being glorious to look at in its visionary futurism. After that, things do improve. Once Ethan Hawke shows up as the sleazeball proprietor of an interplanetary strip …

JAZZ Pete Malinverni Trio with Karrin Allyson, Steve Wilson and Jon Faddis, "Heaven" (Saranac) It's hard not to love a trio jazz pianist who plays two – count 'em, two – compositions from Duke Ellington in a spiritual mode: the title tune of this disc and the much-venerated Ellington "spiritual" "Come Sunday," on which he is joined by the great Dizzy-derived trum…

"The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Hemingway Library Edition" with a personal forward by Patrick Hemingway and a new introduction by Sean Hemingway Scribner 576 pages, $30 Very few American publishers have a legacy as valuable and important as Scribner in its stewardship of Ernest Hemingway’s work. More than a half century after a depressed Hemingway p…

JAZZ The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke, (Earshift); Yotam Silberstein, "The Village" (Jazz & People) Exotic but juicy jazz guitar music of diametrically opposite climate is on these two superb new jazz guitar records. The wonderful jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke was one of the more delightful to appear in the last couple of decades of irreplaceable "Art of Jazz" c…

A spoiler alert is necessary. It is, after all, what happens in the final scene of "Dunkirk," one of the most passionately awaited films of the summer. But then, it's also one of the landmark moments of modern history. In Winston Churchill's speech in Parliament on June 4, 1940, he called the Dunkirk Evacuation a "defeat" and, nevertheless, pledged in the future "we shall …

Call it episode 8 of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return" saga on Showtime – its actual title was "Gotta light?" But that's what we watchers are calling it. It was, three weeks ago, a historic moment in television history. Quite a few of us scored it that way after watching it in dumbfounded awe. We gathered to talk about it in the town square we're all congregating…

Various Artists, "American Epic" (Lo-Max/Columbia/Legacy, five discs) What a great idea for a PBS documentary series this was: following the mid-1920s journeys of the first Americans to travel out into the U.S. and record its indigenous "folk music." The result, from the first years of American radio too, was, as the series made abundantly clear, that Americans from …

Classical New Music Amy Williams, "Cineshape & Duos" performed by Amy Williams, piano; Lindsey Goodman, flute; Kevin McFarland, cello; Ari Streisfeld, violin; Noah Getz, saxophone; piano/conductor Andrew Jonathan Welch; Scott Christian, timpani; and the Jack Quartet (Albany). The beginning of the notes by Allen Shawn on this superb disc of New Music is so immodes…

Jazz Charles Lloyd New Quartet, "Passin' Thru" (Blue Note) At the risk of letting enthusiasm run away with me and turn downright peremptory, get this. What you'll hear here is a 78-year-old jazz musician reaching back to his '60s repertoire to make some of the most passionate and powerful music he's ever made. But first, let's talk about the word "new." In 2011, o…

It takes a half-hour to get started but once it does "War for the Planet of the Apes" is one of the truly great movies of the summer. And I use the "G" word advisedly. How on earth could THAT be, we might wonder? It's Part Three of a rebooted trio from a franchise that started 50--yes 50--years ago and has now already involved eight films and a decidedly mediocre TV ser…

Most of the first half hour of Bertrand Tavernier's "My Journey Through French Cinema" is about Jacques Becker, the director of the first film which made an impression on Tavernier but who is little known here by general film fans. When he shows us a scene from Becker's "Casque D'Or" (1952), our eyes practically pop out of our sockets for fleeting glimpses of an arrestingl…

There is, at this stage, probably nothing to be done. America has effectively sold its most avid cultural consumers on the myth that in summer their brains turn into applesauce. That's because those in the position of selling things discovered decades ago that dumbing things down is an easier way to get people to buy things than going off your head about how smart your …