Haven't had a chance to watch the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts? All Things Considered is here to help. In the week leading up to the Academy Awards, NPR's Audie Cornish talked with the directors of the five short films nominated for best documentary short.
The films tell a range of stories — about a preventable disease that's ravaging Africa and the quiet loneliness of Florida retirees, the vibrant art of a homeless teenager and the hard life of "canners," and finally a salon that helps women with cancer cope with their scars.
André Brink is one of the most well-known anti-apartheid writers in South Africa. His latest novel Philida, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is set in 1832 in the South African Cape, just two years before emancipation.
The title character lodges a complaint against her master, Francois Brink, who is also the father of her four children. He'd promised her freedom, but then backs out and marries a wealthy white woman.
What would you do if your literary idol came to life — came into your life — and then you couldn't get rid of her? Violet Epps, heroine of the new novel Farewell, Dorothy Parker discovers being a fan isn't the same as being a roommate when Dorothy Parker's spirit rematerializes from an ancient Algonquin Hotel guestbook — and then follows her home.
Author Ellen Meister tells NPR's Rachel Martin that she first encountered Parker's work as a teenager.
In Life of Pi, one of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture this year, a boy suffers a shipwreck and is lost at sea. It's a fictional story, of course, based on a novel, but director Ang Lee nevertheless wanted the movie to have depth and realism. But how do you add a realistic edge to someone drifting alone in the sea? For most people, even those in the imaginative business of movie-making, it's hard to picture the perils and isolation of months without rescue.
Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 9:40 am
Michael Dirda's latest book is On Conan Doyle.
When I was a boy growing up in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio, I used to ride my beloved Roadmaster bicycle to the branch library. Located in the Plaza Shopping Center, this former storefront was just around the corner from the W.T. Grant's and Merit Shoes. Inside there were perhaps six small tables, a couple of reading chairs, the librarian's checkout desk, and light oak bookshelves along three walls. There can't have been more than one- or two-thousand books.
On-air challenge: You will be given some words starting with the letter R. You name a proverb or saying that contains each one.
Last week's challenge from listener Gary Alvstad of Tustin, Calif.: Name a well-known movie in two words with a total of 13 letters. Each of the two words contains the letter C. Drop both C's. The letters that remain in the second word of the title will be in alphabetical order, and the letters that remain in the first word will be in reverse alphabetical order. What movie is it?
Gerbrand Bakker's new international best-seller, Ten White Geese, opens with a mysterious woman alone on a Welsh farm. Humiliated by an affair with a student, she turns up alone at the farm, looking for nothing and no one. She answers to the name Emily, but that is actually the first name of the American poet about whom she is writing her doctoral dissertation. Her husband has no idea where she is.
Like millions of Americans, Anthony Breznican will be watching the Oscars this Sunday night. But unlike the rest of us, Breznican, a senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, will be watching from backstage. As EW's chief Oscars correspondent, he escapes the confines of the press rooms for a more intimate look at the ceremony — the kind of view most journalists can only dream of.
How much is a best-picture Oscar worth? Not the statuette — winners are required to sell that back to the Academy for a buck if they want to get rid of it. No, what's the Oscar worth at the box office?
Forgiving someone who's done you wrong can be challenging, but learning how to do it can benefit your mind and body. Frederic Luskin of the Stanford Forgiveness Project writes about this in his book, Forgive For Good. He joins host Michel Martin to talk about why learning to forgive is worth it.
South African Olympian and Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been granted bail, but the hearing brought to light bizarre details about the murder charges against him. So will the case turn into another O.J. Simpson fiasco? Host Michel Martin asks the barbershop guys for their thoughts.
In an instance of truth in advertising, this week's NPR round-table pop-culture podcast offers almost a full hour of mostly Oscars analysis. All four of us saw all nine Best Picture contenders, so we'll be covering everything from what happened when Stephen Thompson finally sat down to watch Les Miserables after quoting the featurette for months to Glen's surprising theories about Amour. (Very surprising.)
No matter your age, there's probably a Steve Guttenberg movie that was significant to you in some way. Were you a college student in the early 80s? Police Academy probably made you laugh. Spent movie nights with the kids? Bet you rented Three Men and a Baby at the local Blockbuster. A child of the 90s? Zeus and Roxanne.
You may know this week's V.I.P. (Very Important Puzzler) Steve Guttenberg from such iconic films as Diner, Cocoon, and Three Men and a Baby. But he wears plenty of other hats – author, reality show contestant, even Guinness World Record holder. In this episode we'll explore all things Gute. Plus, we'll dine out on some soft rock, give movies the Randy Newman treatment, and find out that Mark Twain isn't all he's cracked up to be.
Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 11:24 am
If you only read the cheery, overly optimistic press releases from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on its upcoming musical throw-down this Sunday – Adele will be performing! And Norah Jones! And Barbara Streisand! And there's going to be some kind of tribute to musicals of the last 10 years (but not all of them)! – you might think that the Academy loves and understands music.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 2:09 pm
You may perhaps not have noticed, but the 85th annual Academy Awards are coming up this weekend. In Oscar's honor, we dug into the archives for some of the best books about the movies — and the books that became movies. And Cary Grant, because we love him even though Oscar didn't.
Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln has earned 12 Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director. Another Spielberg film — the multi-Oscar winning Schindler's List — will be celebrating 20 years since its release. These films have at least two important things in common: Spielberg and publicist Marvin Levy.
If you're not counting the days until the release of Iron Man 3, if you're not sure who Kristen Stewart is, and if the last romantic comedy you saw starred Meryl Streep, you just may be over 50.
That's a segment of the moviegoing audience that may have been neglected once — but no more. A number of films appealing to older audiences, or films that have themes closely related to aging, have been scooping up nominations for Oscars and other awards.
It's hard to imagine an upside to the civil war now causing unspeakable suffering in Syria. But the conflict has turned out to be a break for the makers of Inescapable, a feverish political thriller written and directed by Ruba Nadda, a Canadian of Syrian origin whose last film was the languorous 2009 romance Cairo Time.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:08 am
You might know him best as Ray, the self-centered, arrogant coffeehouse manager from Lena Dunham's Girls. Or as Jed, the self-centered, arrogant date from Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture.
But in two features out this week, Alex Karpovsky is much more than that: He's the psychotic obsessive Paul in the psychological thriller Rubberneck, and an anxious filmmaker named ... well, Alex Karpovsky, in the road comedy Red Flag.
And yes, there's may be some self-centered arrogance to those characters as well.
What happens when we die? Wouldn't we all like to know. We can't bring people back from the dead to tell us — but in some cases, we almost can. Resuscitation medicine is now sometimes capable of reviving people after their heart has stopped beating and their brain has flat-lined; Dr. Sam Parnia, a critical care doctor and director of resuscitation research at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, studies what these people experience in that period after their heart stops and before they're resuscitated. This includes visions such as bright lights and out-of-body experiences.
I don't have a good track record when it comes to raving about Karen Russell. Last year, along with my two fellow judges, I nominated Russell's novel, Swamplandia!, as well as two other finalists, for the Pulitzer Prize. Result? The Pulitzer Board made headlines by deciding not to give out the award in Fiction. Nevertheless, I rave on: this time about Russell's new short story collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove.
Programming Note: Sunday night, we'll be live-blogging the Academy Awards here at NPR.org, and the Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! team will be covering the red-carpet fashions, so be sure to join us to share your thoughts and see whether Affleck, Argo, and Daniel Day-Lewis have the big nights predicted for them.