Jeff Simon - The Buffalo News

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Jeff Simon

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


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When all of 2017's accounting – financial AND cultural – is over, it's a fair bet that Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" starring Gal Gadot will turn out to be the film of the year. It's certainly one of them. For years, Wonder Woman had been consigned to pop cultural history and nostalgia for a camp TV show starring Lynda Carter. Then, finally, came a Big Budget m…

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Let me offer this as a personal microcosm of why silence had, for decades, surrounded the stories of toxic behavior by Harvey Weinstein that have become a hurricane of shame. Weinstein made it possible for me to have a one-on-one interview with Madonna in 1991, at the height of her fame and influence. Her self-portrait "Truth or Dare" was coming out from his company Mir…

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Jazz Joey Alexander, "Joey. Monk. Live!" (Motema); John Beasley, "Presents Monk 'estra Vol. 2" (Mack Avenue). What a stupendous year for jazz royalty 1917 was. Two of the towering jazz giants were born in that year within days of each other and less than 200 miles apart. Thelonious Monk was born on Oct. 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, N.C. On Oct. 21, 1917, Dizzy Gillespie …

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Call them the "V" words -- "vision" and "visionary." In 2017, every blogger, grip and honey wagon driver in movies has been throwing them around to describe half the movies they've made or seen for the last 35 years. But in 1982, those words were used with great care and even reluctance. When Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" came out, it really seemed like a visionary mast…

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“Funeral Platter” by Greg Ames, Arcade, 244 pages, $24.99 Titling is an art all by itself--especially in postmodern fiction where a title’s vector can be straight ahead or at a sharp ironic turn from the story. A book of short stories called “Funeral Platter” goes only part way into telling you just how unbuttoned Greg Ames’ literary sensibility can be. You …

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The middle finger of the Swedish academics remains metaphorically raised to contemporary American literature. That is one inescapable conclusion from Thursday's announcement that the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Kazuo Ishiguro, the ultra-English novelist whose family arrived in England from Japan when he was five. It isn't that Ishiguro isn't a worthy writer. H…

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Well, yeah, but how does Buffalo look? It is, no doubt, a narrow question, when you're talking about director Reginald Hudlin's "Marshall," which was filmed with Chadwick Boseman and Sterling K. Brown in Buffalo in 2016. But we all know the film was made all over town and, let's face it, how our city looks is the first question Buffalonians are likely to ask. The sho…

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A glorious thing happened to Buffalo as it raced into the 21st century. It suddenly sprouted a brilliant bumper crop of superb younger writers eager to tell the world in their work that they came from Buffalo. Lauren Belfer's "City of Light" probably came as the biggest shock to the system but Greg Ames' "Buffalo Lockjaw" was, in its way, almost as much of a landmark Buffa…

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"What sort of man reads Playboy?" asked the house promotional ads in the magazine's pages in its early years. Easy, was the magazine's usual answer. A man who traveled -- always first class. Drove a sports car. Listened to jazz. Ate at expensive four-star restaurants. And wore expensive, perfectly tailored clothes. Most importantly, of course, he was a man who, wherever…

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It's never been easy being a 55-year old male movie star in America. Tom Cruise has it tougher than most. But, to his eternal credit, he's managing it remarkably well. If you doubt it, take a look at "American Made." George Clooney is a year older than Cruise. Long ago, he set up his lemonade stand as a director -- often a good one (his next, "Suburbicon" is coming up) …

Jazz Sherman Irby and Momentum, "Cerulean Canvas" (Black Warrior) Sherman Irby isn't the most powerful alto saxophonist to have played in one of the much-vaunted ensembles of Wynton Marsalis. Wessel Anderson and Donald Harrison provide solid competition for any alto player who ever heard a stirring alto player in a Marsalis band. But Sherman Irby is a marvelous pl…

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"Marshall" will have its local premiere at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 in the North Park Theatre. It's, without question, the Buffalo movie premiere of the fall -- our first chance to see the movie about the early career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall starring Chadwick Boseman, Sterling K. Brown and Kate Hudson and directed by Reginald Hudlin. It was filmed, in part, all …

Books

“Little Boxes: 12 Writers on Television” edited by Caroline Casey, 124 pages, $16.95 paperback original. V. V. Ganeshananthan is a novelist who teaches at the University of Minnesota. She is also the non-white daughter of a doctor which is why the one TV show she was allowed to watch growing up as a kid by her doctor father was “The Cosby Show” with its “intim…

Music

Jazz Tal Cohen, "Gentle Giants" (Inner Circle Music). Once upon a time, Greg Osby was a fellow traveler with Steve Coleman in Coleman's M-Base music which was supposed to transform jazz. All of which made Osby, a capable player but seldom a standout, one of the bigger disappointments in all of jazz. It is now a couple decades later and we have Osby here with a ter…

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Bobby Riggs never had a chance. And that's what made the spectacle so delicious. Everyone with a smattering of knowledge about tennis knew that Riggs -- a 55-year-old country club tennis hustler and avowed "sexist" clown -- had no business being on the same tennis court with a supremely gifted female athlete and champion at the peak of physical condition. Billie Jean…