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.


CHRIS MENGES' "A World Apart" is one of the truly great films of the past year. It opens today, rated R, in the Amherst Theater -- quite belatedly for reasons that seem to be no fault of the theater's.To appreciate how extraordinarily good is this film about a white radical family ground up in the malevolent and melancholy machinery of South African Apartheid, you hav…

NEAL GABLER used to be a TV chirper enlisted to do Hekyll-Jekyll movie reviews in one of the formats Siskel and Ebert abandoned on the way to the Big Score. (For a while, there, you remember that "S&E Wholesale" kept shedding TV shows the way snakes shed skins.)Gabler's slot was opposite Jeffrey Lyons on Public Broadcasting System's "Sneak Previews." He did not distin…

THE MAJOR CRIME is murder; the major misdemeanor is envy. But that's only the surface reading. And these days, Woody Allen is far too ambitious a filmmaker to let anyone get away with that.The central criminal in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" is Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau), a respected lion of the community -- a man renowned among his professional peers as "husband, f…

Here's who I saw on television Tuesday:Teen-age murderers, child abusers, mothers who say they "bred" babies so they could be butchered, Charlie Manson with a swastika on his forehead ("I chopped up nine hogs," he said about the murders of which he was convicted), a large number of middle-Americans talking about slaughters and dismemberments of all sorts and a beautif…

DOMINICK (Tom Hulce) is retarded. They call him Nicky."I ain't stupid," he says. "I'm slow."Because he doesn't understand things, he worries all the time. He panics like a child when he spills a glass of milk. And he forgets to do things -- like walk the dog. When he goes to church, he prays: "Help me to be on time so that I don't lose my job." When he's unhappy, he l…

NOT MANY movies are perfect. Lawrence Kasdan's "Body Heat" may be one but, in general, perfection isn't something Americans are much good at. We're far too boisterous and energetic for it. The French are better at it, especially when the movie is as slight and buoyantly inconsequential as Eric Rohmer's "Boyfriends and Girlfriends."Slight as it is, "Boyfriends and Girl…

John Wayne finally won an Oscar for putting on an eye patch, letting his belly flop over his belt and making fun of himself in "True Grit." In "Madame Sousatzka," Shirley MacLaine put on 25 pounds and wears makeup that seems to have been applied with a trowel. Her way of playing a benign pedagogical despot is either to flit and lurch all over the set or pout like a wo…

THE NEW SEASON II: "Are Men Fair Game For Roseanne and Her Media Sponsors?"That was the plaintive question asked by the headline of William McGaughey's press release for Chester Mack's book "The Punchdrunk Man Reader." But the real mackerel in the face in this particular publicity missive came from the next paragraph."Suppose that on Page One of the nation's largest d…

Freddy Hubbard and Woody Shaw, The Eternal Triangle (Blue Note Bl-48017). A monster session -- almost as pyrotechnic as could be predicted. It took six years after the idea was hatched to get the two fire-breathing titans of post bop trumpet into the same studio the first time around. It took less than a year and a half for this, the sequel. Not least of its fiery, fe…

AHHH, New York, N. Y. The City So Nice They Named It Twice, said jazz singer Jon Hendricks. Home, says punk rocker Lydia Lunch, to "misfits, neurotics, maniacs, losers and monkeys" all trying to "claw their way to the top of the garbage pile."Take Phoebe Legere and the Blonde Foxes, the main attraction at the Cat Club for instance. Phoebe's hair has been bleached a sc…

Actors are magicians.Should you ever be tempted to doubt it for an instant, go see "Running on Empty," Sidney Lumet's drama about New Left revolutionaries living underground in the '80s. It's about Arthur and Annie Pope, two anti-war activists who blew up a napalm lab in 1971 and have lived underground ever since. They even have raised two young sons.The subject is ab…

YOU CAN'T do what Jonathan Kaplan's movie "The Accused" wants to do.For legal reasons, Paramount publicity is claiming that it's based on no particular legal case. But clearly it was well-grounded in a controversial and very real New Bedford rape trial which tried to establish the culpability of not-so-innocent bystanders.That's old hat, though. Any Tom, Dick or Harry…

WHERE THERE is heartland alienation, there will be fire. And then there will be fame.Call it Malick's Law, after Terrence Malick, the masterful and reclusive director of "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven".Gary Sinise's moody, moving, earnest and surprisingly powerful "Miles From Home" isn't on Malick's masterful level but it's still in the great American film tradition o…

THE PERIOD was 1966 to 1974a tough time to love jazz. For every John Coltrane, Booker Ervin, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman there had been in the '60s who took jazz to distant horizons, there were a dozen caterwauling "avant-garde" fakes overblowing the bejabbers out of their saxophones and a dozen fusioneering hacks ready to sell their souls …

CLINT EASTWOOD'S "Bird" never apologizes and never explains. It simply presents.What it presents -- at some length -- is the meteoric and harrowing and indeed classically tragic life of Charlie Parker, one of the few unquestioned geniuses in jazz history and one of the greatest and most influential innovators in American musical history -- period.Forget whether it's g…