Share this article

print logo

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.


They're calling it "Cocoon: the Return." Make up your own wisecrack: it doesn't fly; it's just barely worth the trip; wish they weren't here -- whatever feels comfortable growled out of the side of your mouth.In an age where more energy goes into marketing movies than making them, you expect movie sequels to be significantly flabbier and coarser than the originals. Ev…

Hot on the heels of the State University of Buffalo's International convocation of Women's Playwrights comes a UB film festival called "Screenplay: A Feminist Celebration of Women in Film." It's organized by the Graduate Group for Feminist Studies, the same organization which sponsored the highly successful "Hi, this is Judy" series in 1987. The work of filmmakers from Per…

It was James Agee who said that John Huston was well into his '30s before anyone knew he was more than an awfully nice guy to get drunk with. Because of his much-revered father -- actor Walter Huston -- Huston had floated around show business for years. He'd even written some movie scripts -- including the script for "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet" (a somewhat recondite …

Thanksgiving weekend invariably marks the official beginning of what you might call the Sugarplum Theater season -- that time of year when local theatrical companies make a special point of doing theater pieces suitable for children.The Buffalo Ensemble Theater has selected a beauty -- "Toad of Toad Hall" written by A. A. Milne of "Winnie the Pooh" fame and based on K…

Gene Ammons, Paul Bley, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Dexter Gordon, Don Patterson, Bill Smith and Bobby Timmons, The Christmas Collection (Prestige OJC-6011). A potentially kitschy (even deadly) seasonal compilation that turns out to be a delight. Kirk Roberts raided the Prestige storerooms and found a program of soul-drenched but top level performances of Christmas favorit…

THE GENIUSES of the IBC network are all gathered around a conference table checking out the promos for their upcoming Christmas specials.The first is for "The Night the Reindeer Died." We see uzis and grenades strafing Santa's Workshop. The second is for "Bob Goulet's Old Fashioned Cajun Christmas." The third is for "Father Loves Beaver." Finally, we get that old stap…

Neil Jordan's "High Spirits" is a negligible droplet in the inevitable "Ghostbusters" trickle-down. No one would have dreamed of making this movie if "Ghostbusters" hadn't grossed $200 million.It's a very silly movie -- silly enough for kids, perhaps, but not nearly silly enough for discerning adults.It's all about Castle Plunkett, a ramshackle white elephant in Irela…

Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, Volume Two recorded in Bulgaria by Marcel Cellier (Elektra/Nonesuch 79201-1). One of the unexpected big-sellers of 1988 was Vol. 1 of this haunting and glorious series of recordings dedicated to the "strangely beautiful timbres of the Bulgarian female voice." For over 20 years, the Nonesuch Explorer series has presented the magnificence and va…

Tania Maria, Forbidden Colors (Capitol C1-90966) and Flora Purim, Midnight Sun (Virgin/Venture 90995-1) The two great Brazilian songbirds are as primal as elements -- earth and sky, say. Singer-pianist Tania Maria remains the earthy, sensual, scatting lusty carnival celebrant in "Forbidden Colors." But "Midnight Sun" is something of a shock -- without question the mos…

IT HAPPENED on Thanksgiving weekend 12 years ago. Drifter Randall Adams ran out of gas on a Dallas road as he was on his way back to the motel room he shared with his brother. He calmly walked down the road with an empty gas can and was picked up by David Harris, a teenage sociopath who changed the course of his life.A few months later, Adams was eventually convicted …

DON'T LET the dolorous whimsy of the dismal first half-hour of "Without a Clue" discourage you. It turns out to be better than that -- much better.I spent the first half-hour marveling to myself -- something on the order of "my God, this movie has actually rendered Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine charmless." That's no small achievement when you're talking about two of …

The next time someone drives up to you in a diesel truck and tells you that no one cares about literature or writers any more, consider this: the last time Kurt Vonnegut was in town to deliver his roadshow lecture "How to Get a Job Like Mine," a few hundred people had to be turned away at the door of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. There wasn't a square inch …

YES, THE TITLE of Nicolas Roeg's newest bit of looney tune gothic, "Track 29," refers to the song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" ("Pardon me, boy/ Is this the Chattanooga Choo-Coo/ Track 29/ Boy, you can give me a shine.")It seems that Dr. Henry Henry (Christopher Lloyd) is in love with the "intellectual hygiene of perfectly scaled miniaturization." So he spends most of his …

Charlie Haden Quartet West, In Angel City (Verve 837-031-1). It was in Los Angeles that Haden hooked up with Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry in 1959 and helped turn jazz' compass completely around. This Haden-led 1988 Quartet is full of magnificent, if hardly epochal, balladry. The lead voice is tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts who has one of cloudland's most lucrative gigs --…