For one more week, our host and pal Linda Holmes has been roaming the desolate plains of Los Angeles at the Television Critics Association press tour, with only catered lunches and lavishly appointed meet-and-greets to provide sustenance.
So the rest of the Pop Culture Happy Hour gang must soldier on in her absence, with the aid of a scrappy young newcomer who'd been waiting for her big break in front of a microphone: All Things Considered co-host Audie Cornish. We predict big things for Audie at NPR!
Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:55 pm
I Give It a Year is about what you'd expect from the warped mind of Dan Mazer — Sacha Baron Cohen's close collaborator on Da Ali G Show, Borat and Bruno. Which is to say: a raucously funny comic romance that's deaf and blind to the blithe spirit of romantic comedy.
Considered in pieces, The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear is poignant and often hard to watch. Tinatin Gurchiani's documentary takes an episodic look at contemporary youth in her home country of Georgia, weaving together a series of vignettes featuring young people Gurchiani found by putting out a casting call for anyone ages 15-25 who thought their lives were suited for film.
Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 9:25 am
Cinema routinely peddles images of beautiful people in romantic situations, not to mention gauzily idealized visions of passion and intimacy. So it's a little counterintuitive when filmmakers depict sex as perilous — even when that's exactly what they've signed up to do.
This month, NPR's Backseat Book Club goes snooping in Nikki Maxwell's "private and confidential" Dork Diaries. But the secret's already gotten out; the series launched four years ago, and there are already 12 million books in print in 34 different languages. The sixth in the series — Tales From a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker — was just published in June.
Basil is growing thick and leafy in many backyard gardens throughout the U.S. right now, which means many people are thinking about pesto. It's one of the more basic sauces you can make — in addition to basil, all you need is Parmesan or Romano cheese, a little garlic, some extra virgin olive oil and Italian pine nuts.
Spike Lee is known for film classics like Do the Right Thing, She's Gotta Have It and Jungle Fever. Now, he's taking the funding of his next movie — currently known only as The Newest Hottest Spike Lee Joint — to the crowd, using Kickstarter.
Don LaFontaine had avoice anyone would recognize. As a voice-over artist, he recorded thousands of movie trailers and TV commercials, and became famous for his delivery of the phrase "In a world," which kicked off countless trailers. He died in 2008, but the new comedy In a World ... -- written and directed by actress Lake Bell — tells the story of voice-over artists competing to become the next LaFontaine.
It's one of the most familiar stories in fantasy: someone from our world stumbles on a gateway to a world entirely other — usually magical, sometimes dangerous, and always ripe for a great adventure. But despite the iconic image of a paradise just beyond the doorway, the portal fantasy is often, at heart, a cynical work. After all, some of folkore's most notable archetypes were supernatural threats who crossed from their world to ours to beleaguer us.
When I was 9, I spent a lot of time at a public library just down the street; I was already a theater nerd, and it had a well-stocked theater section. Not just books, but original cast albums for Broadway shows old and new. One day, an addition: The Music Man, about a salesman who was crazy about a girl named, as one song put it, "Marrrrrrrion, madam librarian."
The Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black has won over critics and viewers alike this summer. The original series follows a diverse cast of characters in a women's prison in upstate New York. One of the breakout stars is Laverne Cox. Her character, Sophia, is a transgender woman who stands up for herself among prison officials and other inmates.
Cox spoke with Tell Me More host Michel Martin about the show and her experience as a transgender woman and actress.
Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 8:44 am
To be or not to be? You decide.
Shakespeare's most famous question appears in Hamlet, but now readers will get to answer it themselves with Ryan North's To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure, a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style rewrite of Shakespeare's classic play.
Returning from sleep-away camp, my teenage daughter, who'd hitherto declared reading a foreign pursuit, announced that she was now a "bookie." Ruthlessly suppressing my inner jig, I nodded casually and asked how this literary epiphany had come about. A cabin full of reader-girls, it seemed, had turned her on to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. And so it came to pass that, over the next few weeks, my child holed up at the library and indulged a burgeoning obsession with Greek mythology.
Warning: The following story may be upsetting to some people.
That's because it's about clowns.
Yes, clowns. Painted white faces, red lips, receding hairlines with tufts of wild hair, and — of course — the red foam nose. Fun for all ages, yet plenty of people are downright scared of them. There's even a word for it: coulrophobia, though that's not an official diagnosis.
Before I read Adelle Waldman's brilliant debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I had about as much interest in reading about the hip, young literary types who've colonized Brooklyn as I do in watching Duck Dynasty, that reality show about a family of bearded Luddites who live in the Louisiana swamps. Both clans are ingrown and smug, each, in their own way, disdainful of the American mainstream.
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 12:55 pm
Today is Andy Warhol's birthday, marking 85 years since the artist was born. To honor the icon of pop art, the Andy Warhol Museum, located in his hometown of Pittsburgh, is streaming video from his gravesite.
The museum calls the project Figment — a reference, it explains, to this quote from the late artist:
Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 8:56 am
Marisha Pessl's dark, cinematic and wildly over-the-top new novel, Night Film, starts with a mysterious death: Ashley Cordova, troubled former child prodigy and daughter of mysterious filmmaker Stanislas Cordova, is found dead at the bottom of a disused elevator shaft, an apparent suicide. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath thinks there's more to the case.
In Choire Sicha's Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City, a voice from our future looks back at events taking place in a "massive" East Coast metropolis, its citizens perpetually gripped with "a quiet panic" while living in a gritty landscape of iron and excess. Throw in a mysterious virus, a rich, blind governor, a sketchy mayor campaigning for a third term, and this novel gets even more curious.