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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.

Don Siegel's "The Beguiled" from 1971, is my favorite Clint Eastwood movie. That's, in part, because it's completely unlike every other one. Siegel always called it his favorite of all his movies which, when you consider that they include "Madigan," "Coogan's Bluff," "Dirty Harry," and one of the all-time greatest B-movies, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," that's sayin…

Great, it's not. Original? It's not that either. So Edgar Wright's surefire hit "Baby Driver" will have to settle for being close to perfect for what it is. If you were trying to concoct an ideal numbskull summer action bonanza for your favorite megaplex, you'd be lucky to brew up "Baby Driver." It's got: • A killer soundtrack on constant aural display. Those wh…

You haven't lived until you've seen a pretty young woman in blonde pigtails pop a live tarantula into her mouth, pucker her closed lips and play the harmonica. Badly. Very badly. Her name, according to "The Gong Show" was "Mary Bleeds." Online, you can discover the incidental info that her pet tarantula's name was "Midas" but, frankly, I was too traumatized by it all…

CLASSICAL Randall Thompson, Symphony no. 2, Samuel Adams "Drift and Providence" and Samuel Barber Symphony No. 1 performed by National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic conducted by James Ross (Naxos) Charles Ives' "Three Places in New England," "Orchestral Set. No. 2" and "New England Holidays" performed by Seattle Symphony conducted by Ludovic Morlot (Seattle Symph…

“Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan” by Elaine Hayes Ecco 415 pages, $27.99 It’s an irony of jazz in the 21st century that its singing tradition is once again its commercial sustenance, the way it often was in the eras of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald and, a little later, Sarah Vaughan. Anyone who ever witnessed Vaughan in her lifet…

JAZZ Brian McCarthy Nonet, "The Better Angels of Our Nature" (Truth Revolution Recording Collective). Who the devil, among jazz fans, ever imagined we'd hear a record that genuinely gave us a fine and appealing jazz nonet version of "Dixie?" Here's what Brian McCarthy, who led and arranged and composed for this continually surprising and quite brilliant nonet, wri…

JAZZ Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse, "Morphogenesis" (Pi); Dave Douglas' Riverside Band, "The New National Anthem" (Greenleaf) Here are two of the most prominent and praised of veteran musicians in jazz of avant-garde persuasion. The more ambitious, by far, is the new Steve Coleman disc using an octet with a guest percussionist on five tracks rather than conventional …

"Like Crazy" is a bipolar Italian film about two bipolar women who meet in a small exclusive, low-security mental hospital, escape and visit their traumatizing families. It's a dramatic comedy – a very entertaining and well-acted one – until the women's behavior and the plot both crash into depression and we're knee-deep in the truism that there's nothing funny abou…

You never know. I was actually looking forward to "Rough Night." The minute I heard it was a feminist remake of Peter Berg's "Very Bad Things" starring Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon, I was ready to see it right then and there. I wouldn't have crawled over barbed wire to get to it but I'd have endured a little hardship. I was eager to see "Snatched" starring Am…

"Rough Night" is vastly more annoying than it is funny. The effort expended on it was excessive and the cause was hopeless from the beginning. When a couple of actual laughs show up in its final 10 minutes, after so much labor in today's comedy industrial complex, it wasn't worth sitting through the movie to get there. It could have been saved in the planning stages but…

There's nothing new about the nutjob theories of Alex Jones – that, for instance, the massacre at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut never happened and that 9/11 was an inside job. We've always had people in this country eager to tell us about all the conspiracies that are being kept from us by mainstream media. In 1964, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian from Bu…

JAZZ Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, "Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane" (Resonance) The glory of Resonance Records marches on. Its ability to find astonishing unreleased jazz performances from record labels, musician's agents, and radio stations the world over has resulted this time in a a feast. This dates from a BBC broadcast in 2007 recorded in New York City…

CLASSICAL/FOLK Folk Songs performed by the Kronos Quartet with Rhiannon Giddens, Natalie Merchant, Olivia Chaney and Sam Amidon (Nonesuch) What's not to love here? It's diving fully into great folk music which has, frankly, been one of the more irresistible things classical musicians have always done. Never mind Bartok, Vaughan Williams and Kodaly, decades ago the…