The Death of Stalin and the Life of Comedy


Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, had one heck of a story. She defected back in 1967. She lived in New Jersey, Cambridge, and spent the last two years of her life in Wisconsin.

    Her youngest daughter, Stalin’s granddaughter, apparently runs a fashion boutique in Portland.

    The real world is strange.Report

  2. Jason Isaacs as Marshal Zhukov steals every scene he’s in.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Two-fisted tales of Georgy! But in my opinion, most of them steal scenes from each other as it was perfectly cast.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    There is a BBC series on Netflix that I discovered called Fake or Fortune. The rest of it is on Youtube. The conceit of the show is that an art dealer named Philip Mould and a journalist named Fiona Bruce try to authenticate paintings with questionable provenance. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they are not, sometimes the not reveals the work of an infamous forger.

    The show tries to authenticate the paintings with a combination of forensic evidence (analyzing the paint and canvas to see if it is period correct or if a work is a suspected forgery to see if there is anything added to make the painting seem older than it is. One infamous forger used Bakelite to get his forgeries to look like Old Dutch Masters.*) They even had some convicted forgers on the show discuss how they did it until they got caught. The other part is investigative journalism to track the painting as far back as they can via owner to owner. This refreshingly involves a lot of research in the archives.

    The show officially fits under the genre of “reality TV” and this leads to some of the sillier staged bits. The art dealer handles must of the forensic stuff, one episode had him discovering something that needed paper research. This was staged as the Investigative journalist listening to a voice mail while coincidentally at the archives and with the research librarian. It was eye-roll worthy risible. Overall it is still
    a very interesting show, at least if you are an art snob like me.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I forgot my asterisk again.

      Van Meegren was an infamous art forger from the 1940s who made what would now be tens of millions of dollars by forging old masters and selling them all over the world. Oil paint can take a long time to dry (decades, sometimes centuries) and the way Van Meegren got around this is that he would dab his paintbrush in the oils (he was sure to only use period oils like lead white and not titanium white) and then Bakelite, paint, and then dry the painting in an oven for about two hours on a lowish heat. This fooled the tests available at the time,.

      The way they got him to confess is that they accused him of selling a Vermeer to Goering and this came with a charge of treason and the death penalty. He had to fess up. Still, there are probably Van Meegren’s out in museums today.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        I’ve always thought that if I ever had the money, I’d collect art forgeries. But then I might end up overpaying for a Van Meegren that was forged by someone else.Report

      • I seem to recall reading somewhere (don’t have time to look today) that computer analysis of extremely high-resolution scans for technique markers in Old Masters paintings in museums was showing up a surprising number of forgeries, or at least works that were largely done by apprentices.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Which only brings to the open an unsettling fact that was mostly known only within art circles, that our romantic view of the solo genius auteur, was largely an after the fact myth.
          Most worked in a collaborative studio environment, and weren’t shy about branding their name to works they didn’t personally create.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    There is a market for some forgers! A forgery of a Van Meegren would be very meta.Report

  6. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    If you haven’t seen Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in The Kominsky Report on Netflix yet, do yourself a favor.Report

    • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

      Watching the Golden Globes, I was reminded that Kirk Douglas is still alive (though quite incapacitated, apparently) at 102. Michael Douglas is a huge star, and deservedly so, but will never come anywhere close to his father’s achievements.Report