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Simon: 'Idiot Old Hollywood' is back

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By Jeff Simon, Arts Editor

It was only a matter of time, I tell you, before we got the idiot Old Hollywood back - you remember, the one that was so dumb at Oscar time in 1976 that it gave the Best Picture Oscar to "Rocky" and not "Network" or "Taxi Driver" or "All the President's Men."

We got it back in all its feel good incoherence at the Oscar nomination ceremonies Thursday morning.

Yes, they were smart enough to make sure that Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for Best Actor in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" even though he's almost certain to not even show up (he's declared open hostility to such fol-de-rol and, besides, is certain to lose to sure thing Daniel Day-Lewis.)

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Video: Vincent O’Neill revisits the play that launched his career

Before he ventured onto the Western New York theater scene in which he now plays a leading role, Vincent O’Neill was a featured performer in Dublin’s famed Abbey Theatre. His biggest success at that storied company was Ulick O’Connor’s “Joyicity,” a one-man, one-hour tour – seemingly powered by one breath – through the strange, rhythmic prose of James Joyce.

After the Abbey, O’Neill performed the play at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and in Toronto, and eventually in Buffalo in 1991. The next year, he took it to the off-Broadway Irish Repertory Theatre in New York City, where he earned rave reviews from critics and audiences. On Thursday, O’Neill will bring the words of his favorite writer back to life on the Andrews Theatre stage at the Irish Classical Theatre Company (625 Main St.) in a production of “Joyicity” co-sponsored by the Just Buffalo Literary Center.

The piece has built-in appeal for die-hard Joyce fans, though it may be a heavier lift for those unfamiliar with the Irish writer’s complex body of work. When the show opened in Buffalo, The News’ critics were divided. Critic Terry Doran called the show “a marvelous tour de force we haven’t seen the pale likes of in theaters here,” while contributing reviewer Anthony Chase called it “a somniferous ho-hum.” Audiences can see for themselves starting Thursday.

Tickets to the show, which runs through Jan. 27, are $25. Call 853-4282 or visit www.irishclassical.com.

In this video, O'Neill talks about the play that launched his career:

— Colin Dabkowski

Live chat: News Book Club discussion with 'Heft' author Liz Moore at 11 a.m.

Tonight at the Albright-Knox: A look at Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei became a household name in 2011, when the Chinese government arrested the outspoken artist and activeist on trumped-up charges of economic crime that were largely seen as an attempt to silence one of their loudest and harshest critics. He became an internet sensation last year with his cover of "Gangnam Style." And he'll be the focus of a lecture and film screening tonight in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

As part of its First Fridays event, the gallery will present a short lecture, "Art and Politics: A Look at Ai Weiwei," from assistant education curator Jessica DiPalma, at 7:30 p.m. That will be followed at 8 p.m. by a screening of "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," a documentary by Alison Klayman. The program is part of a new series called "AK Contemporary," which will feature a series of lectures by DiPalma and documentary film screenings about prominent contemporary artists.

In June, the Albright-Knox acquired three of Weiwei's "Moon Chests" from 2008. They have not gone on display yet -- word is that will happen sometime this year -- but here's an installation view of the works from a 2009 installation in Tokyo's Mori Art Museum:

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--Colin Dabkowski

Small Press Book Fair expands to two days

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The 2011 Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. File photo by Charles Lewis / The Buffalo News.

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, launched in 2007, will expand its schedule frome one to two days this year, according to fair co-founder Chris Fritton.

"The growth of the fair continues, and its incredible pace made it necessary to extend the event," Fritton wrote in a Facebook post. "It's my sincere hope that this will give more artists and more visitors a chance to experience the fair."

The fair will be held on April 6 and 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum at 453 Porter Ave.

--Colin Dabkowski

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