Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News - Page 399 of 408
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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.


SORGHUM, SAYS the dictionary, is a grass with "long cornlike leaves". When the wind blows through wild sorghum fields it makes for a faint, almost mystical, rattling sound.It's a sound heard all through "Red Sorghum," a staggeringly beautiful Chinese film that opens today, unrated, in the North Park Theater.It's a precious rarity. Films from China are rare enough in t…

First there were Fats Waller and the great Wild Bill Davis -- the patriarchal Noah and Abraham of the jazz organists' tribe. And then came Jimmy Smith -- the Moses of the tribe who led them all into the promised land. And for more than a decade, the punctuated shrieks and free flowing blues of the jazz organist's tribe prevailed in jazz clubs from Boston to San Bernad…

SINCE VIDEO came along, there's been nothing new in what Joni Mitchell once called "the star-making machinery of popular song". Something entirely new, though, has shown up in the star-making machinery of popular jazz -- the late night talk show. It isn't just Johnny Carson and David Letterman anymore, it's Arsenio Hall and Pat Sajak too.What the Carson Show did for D…

"36 FILLETTE" is the name of her dress size. She is only 14 but she has the bountiful chest of a grown woman. Whenever possible, she uses her breasts to distract the world's attention from her pouty, teen-age face and her emotions which are beyond pouty and well into infantile.She talks tough to her older teen-age brother. But when she's alone in bed at night, she whi…

"MY NAME is Irwin Fletcher. I work under the name of Jane Doe. That's the kind of gal I am."And that's the kind of fatigued and straining wiseguy Chevy Chase is in Michael Ritchie's "Fletch Lives," the tiresome sequel to "Fletch," the only entirely watchable Chevy Chase movie of the '80s."Fletch Lives" turns out to be a soggy broadside aimed at evangelists, aristocrat…

IT IS BRITAIN, 1944. Young Rita has been indoctrinated into the English ethic of self-effacement, deprivation and joylessness only too well by her Aunt Nellie and Aunt Margo. Whenever the urgent hands of her Yank boyfriend Wesley stray into disputed territory, she pushes them away -- and cries bitterly about it later.When Wesley yells and screams greetings to other Ya…

IT'S ONLY 12 days old but March has been a banner month, I tell you.For those of us keeping a running box score of all the celebrities who get ground into hamburger by the tyranny of modern malice, it goes like this:1. It may well be years before John Tower will be able to walk into a room without setting off a small squall of muffled titters. No one will ever look at…

THE REHABILITATION of Faye Dunaway continues.The fabled dragon lady who has exhaled fire and and excess and megalomania over the world's movie sets for over 20 years has settled into a middle age of relative serenity and modesty and, yes, perhaps even subtlety.It began with Barbet Schroeder's "Barfly". It continues with Andrew Birkin's stately and fascinating "Burning…

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. was great as a self-destructive young cokehead in "Less Than Zero" -- and almost no one noticed. It was one of the most moving film performances I've seen in many years. And yet because it came from a bratling actor in a bratling movie, he couldn't even get within shouting distance of an Oscar nomination, much less a respectable reputation.One of lif…

You can't judge by the last few Kevin Eubanks records. There's nothing wrong with them, mind you. There's a new one and it, too, is well-played, likable pop jazz guitar in the Al DiMeola mold. But the guitar player himself tends to be an entirely different animal when he plays live. Among other things, he tends to be a live-wire, full-bore modern mainstream jazz player in …

Alain Robbe-Grillet is one of the most significant of living writers. He helped redefine the way modern novels are written -- not just in France where every novelist and well-read espresso sipper has a literary theory at the ready, but all over the world. In America, for instance, the fictions of Donald Barthelme, William Gass and their younger minimalist colleagues m…

IT'S AN OLD CURE for the musical blahs -- at least once a year, it's a good idea to fall in love with the music of Duke Ellington all over again. It will remind jazz fans why they love jazz in the first place. And the carry-over is glorious; everything else you hear afterward for a while sounds fresh and luminescent.It happened to me twice in the past month: once, whi…

IT SOUNDS too good to be true and it is -- but just barely. "New York Stories" is almost as terrific a film as everyone hoped it might be. Of such things are major film occasions made.For months now, the expectations have skyrocketed and the film world "buzz" has been positively thunderous. That's because, for 20 years now, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Wo…

THERE IS no one else in the world of film remotely like Terry Gilliam.Whatever else he is, the non-performing visual ringmaster of Monty Python's Flying Circus may be the last great visionary in huge-budget commercial movies.He is the only one who could have made a lunatic paean to the imagination like "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," a wild, megabudget vision of…