Jeff Simon - The Buffalo News

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.


DAVID SELTZER'S "Punchline" isn't one movie, it's two movies smashed together. Both are about fledgling standup comics, perhaps the most neurotic and aggressively needful form of urban humanity.One movie is about Tom Hanks, an electrified bundle of hostility and emotional disquiet. And that movie is absolutely brilliant -- brilliantly acted and hair-raisingly believab…

Alan King and Billy Crystal play father and son in Henry Winkler's debut directorial effort, "Memories of Me." Shot from some angles, King and Crystal even look a bit alike, as if both had the same genes swimming around somewhere inside their chromosomes.In the film, both are superb -- especially King, a brilliantly irascible nightclub comic who has floated around the…

ON DECEMBER 15, 1966, a dedicated therapist for the handicapped named Dian Fossey embarked on a new life in Africa. Sometime in the evening of Dec. 26, 1985, someone walked into her cabin and split her skull diagonally from her forehead to her mouth. An automatic pistol lay next to her bed.What Dian Fossey did in between those two dates was nothing less than save an a…

"SHOELESS JOE" Jackson was one of the greatest baseball players ever to heft a bat or put on a glove.His career batting average in the majors is .356, the third highest ever. And, as baseball analyst and statistician Bill James says, "He compiled that in a low average era and hit with power."Except for a passing remark at the beginning of John Sayles' "Eight Men Out" …

You knew Henry Threadgill had arrived -- capital A -- when his droll and rather marvelous self somehow wound up in a Dewar's Profile -- one of those "what-sort-of-man-drinks-our-scotch" ads that adorn the back covers of all the fancier slick magazines (the New Yorker, et. al.). His profession is described as "composer, multi-instrumentalist, inventor of the hubkap…

YOU HAVE to remember one weirdly delightful thing as you watch Chris Columbus' absolutely shameless "Heartbreak Hotel" -- in 1961 Tuesday Weld co-starred with Elvis Presley in "Wild in the Country." Not only that, according to some cloudland dance cards, she spent some time offscreen on the much-coveted back seat of Elvis' motorcycle (and perhaps other more-coveted lo…

"Bird Lives" is the old subway legend. No he doesn't. Charlie Parker died in 1955. They don't get any deader. But heaven knows bebop still lives.The word that Clint Eastwood was bringing the life of Charlie Parker to the movies has been passed around jazz circles for more than a year. In the wake of the year's great bebop call to arms in movie houses, a few choice rec…

Bird was kind of like the sun, giving off the energy we drew from him. . . . In any musical situation, his ideas just bounded out and inspired anyone who was around. -- Max RoachHIS NAME was Charlie Parker but they called him "Bird" most of his adult life.Some of the things Charlie Parker did:He could play beautifully on any alto saxophone "even if it were held toget…

IT'S A GOOD thing "The Year My Voice Broke" generated surprising rueful and nostalgic power before it's over. It's actually quite a strong little movie from Australia even though its title is strictly from hunger and the first 45 minutes of pubescent yearnings and hormonal hi-jinx Aussie style threaten to be unendurable.It's set in 1963 but then isn't everything?The s…

IN 1975, twin Manhattan gynecologists named Marcus were found dead in an apartment. From that case came the best-selling beach book "Twins" and now David Cronenberg's voluptuously creepy thriller "Dead Ringers."It passes an ancient test with flying colors -- an admittedly primitive test but one that holds enormous aesthetic sway: when you leave the theater and drive o…

Hot on the heels of the State University of Buffalo's international convocation of Women 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 …

ROBERT TOWNE'S first film as both writer and director since the highly regarded "Personal Best" is "Tequila Sunrise," an L. A.-drenched saga of drugs, sex and perfidy. It was one of the more eagerly awaited films of the year.Towne may well be the most highly regarded scriptwriter in Hollywood. He's the man who wrote "Chinatown," "Shampoo" and "The Last Detail." In add…

WHAT IS it they always say?run, don't walk, to "The Naked Gun." Even if you have to elbow your sweet old mother-in-law or moony grandson out of the way to get to it, by all means do. You won't be sorry. It's that funny.Do I rave? Very well then, I rave. It has been years since I laughed this hard at a movie. It's hilarious. That isn't hyperbole. It's simply an accurate d…

Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, Duets (ECM-Watt 20). A record of such revealing intimacy that it almost makes up for the fruity musical mai-tais one of the jazz' greatest current composers has been serving up the past few years. This is a martini -- straight up, very dry. With Bley on piano, not organ, a few things are very clear: that she's primarily a composer, not a …