Top of the Lake, a new seven-part miniseries premiering tonight on the Sundance Channel, was co-created and co-directed by Jane Campion, who teamed with Holly Hunter 20 years ago on the movie The Piano. Hunter is back for this new project, playing a mysterious New Agey guru of sorts. She's started a small commune for emotionally damaged women, on a remote strip of land in New Zealand.
In January 2011, writer Emily Rapp was a happy new mother when she and her husband found themselves in a pediatric ophthalmologist's office with their 9-month-old son, Ronan. They were worried about Ronan's development and had gone to the eye doctor to rule out vision problems as the culprit. Checking Ronan's retinas, the doctor saw "cherry-red spots on the backs of his retinas," Rapp writes in her new memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World. Ronan's diagnosis that day was Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic and degenerative condition that is always fatal. There is no cure.
Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 11:14 am
Ten years ago this week, U.S. troops invaded Iraq. NPR's David Gilkey was there and shares his memory of aphotograph he made that first night.
The photos that David Gilkey took the night of the Iraq invasion were among the first pictures of U.S. troops in combat to come out of Iraq. And among the images he captured was one of a soldier running through an abandoned Iraqi army post that had, just minutes before, been hit by U.S. rocket fire.
Those photos would not have been possible without a night vision optic for his camera.
Sonic Trace is a multimedia project that follows Latinos living in Los Angeles travelling back to their families' native lands. Led by radio producer Anyansi Diaz-Cortes, it examines the link between what some Latinos consider home – before and after they or their families came to the U.S.
Rhythm and Blues musician Brian McKnight has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide. He's earned 16 Grammy nominations and worked on projects with Justin Timberlake and Mary J. Blige. He's also an actor, father and has an arts education foundation. Host Michel Martin talks to McKnight about his life and new album, More Than Words.
How we end up in life has a lot to do with where we came from. That theory gets a good workout in the play Good People, from Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lindsay-Abaire. When the show was on Broadway two years ago, the trade magazine Variety proclaimed that "If Good People isn't a hit, there is no justice in the land."
As it turns out, justice has been served: Good People is the most produced play in America this theatrical season. By the end of this summer, it will have been on stage in 17 different cities.
Many of the 35 million Americans of Irish descent are here due to the worst famine to hit Europe in the 19th century, the Irish potato famine.
It drove more than a million people to flee mass starvation, many climbing aboard ships they hoped would ferry them to a better life in the New World. But the fate they would meet on what came to be known as "coffin ships" was often as grim or worse than the fate they were leaving behind; 100,000 passengers didn't survive the journey.
Toyo Ito, a 71-year-old architect based in Japan, is the winner of the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize. The jury honored Ito for his more than four-decade career, in which he has created architecture that "projects an air of optimism, lightness and joy ... infused with both a sense of uniqueness and universality."
St. Patrick's Day in New York now means parades and green beer. But 50 years ago, it also meant green matzo balls at the annual banquet of the Loyal League of Yiddish Sons of Erin. The league was a fraternal organization of Irish-born Jews.
The major migration of Jews to Ireland started in the 1880s and '90s, says Hasia Diner, who teaches history and Judaic studies at New York University. Thousands moved, primarily from Lithuania.
Diner says the first generation of Irish Jews mostly worked as peddlers. But by the 20th century, peddlers became business owners.
A Tale for the Time Being presents the diary of a friendly, funny and strong-willed 16-year-old girl named Nao. Nao spent her formative years in California, but her family has returned to Japan, and when the book begins, she's living in Tokyo.
Nao tells readers right up front that her diary will be a log of her last few days on Earth: She plans to take her own life, and as the story goes on, readers learn why.
What's your first memory? You're a baby or a toddler. Maybe it's a specific experience, maybe an impression. Maybe someone's face, or just a kind of feeling or sense. Or maybe it's a compilation of stories over years. And maybe it's less true than you think it is.
In his new book, Pieces of Light, Charles Fernyhough digs deep into the recesses of memory to figure out what shapes it, how it works and why some things stick with us forever. Fernyhough talks with NPR's Rachel Martin about his own first memory and his exploration of the science of remembering.
On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with the letters P-I and the second word starts with C. For example, given "One of 27 compositions by Mozart" you would say "(Pi)ano (C)oncerto."
Last week's challenge: Think of two familiar three-word sayings in which all three words are the same length. The middle word in both sayings is the same. In each saying, the first and last words rhyme with each other. What two sayings are these?
Something suspicious is going on in Princeton, N.J., in the otherwise sleepy year of 1905. Children turn into stone. Spouses disappear into horse-drawn carriages. Snakes squirm up and down walls. Is it some kind of curse? What could the good people of Princeton have possibly done to bring a curse on themselves?
Since his 2000 literary debut, Aleksandar Hemon has been hailed as "a maestro, a conjurer, a channeler of universes." In books including The Question of Bruno and Love and Obstacles, he's written about archdukes and exiles; a Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina of memories; and a Chicago that's in your face.
Leviathan is a documentary — and yet not a documentary. It's a near-wordless, almost abstract depiction of an 80-foot groundfishing boat heading out of New Bedford, Mass. The film's unusual structure and point of view has gotten rave reviews at festivals and from many critics.
Sometimes you don't know quite what you're seeing and listening to in Leviathan. You hear metal groaning and rasping, see fish, gloves and tools tossed about on a boat that's pitching and rolling in a roaring wind.
Science takes center stage this week as we play games about scientific discoveries both intentional and accidental. We'll get brainy with our Very Important Puzzler, Jad Abumrad, host of WNYC's Radiolab, as he talks about his quest to become a science vampire. Plus, we roll the dice on clues about our favorite board games and find out the premises of fake TV show adaptations, from Finding Emo to Oy! Story.
Modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: human touch. Physician and writer Abraham Verghese describes our strange new world where patients are data points, and calls for a return to the traditional physical exam.
Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 12:46 pm
We've been promised a future where robots will be our friends. But are we ready for how those innovations will change us as humans? In this episode, TED speakers consider the promises and perils of our relationship with technology.
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Two young actresses with substantial Hollywood pedigrees have the title roles in the new film Ginger & Rosa. Ginger is played by Dakota Fanning's sister, Elle, who at 14 already has more than 30 movie credits. Rosa is played by Alice Englert, daughter of Oscar-winning writer-director Jane Campion and star of last month's Beautiful Creatures. Both actresses get a chance to stretch in Ginger & Rosa.
Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 8:43 am
In the buildup to the climax of Brad Anderson's The Call, a character discovers what the film's villain has been doing with all the teenage girls he's been kidnapping and killing. It's a grisly revelation, and it's played for shock value — both for the audience and for the character making the discovery.
There's only one problem: Early in the film, the body of one of these girls is recovered. So the details of the killer's M.O. shouldn't come as any shock whatsoever to the character that discovers his lair.
There are some funny bits and characters around the edges of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but its core is empty of humor. In fact, this purported satire of Las Vegas magicians is a three-void circus: the script, the central character and the main performance.
The committee-written screenplay begins with the premise that, 20 years after the illusion-busting Penn and Teller set up in Vegas, there could still be a market for a pair of old-school tricksters who call themselves Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton.