Arts

Book Reviews
10:03 am
Fri October 17, 2014

'Accidental Highwayman' Stands And Delivers

Cover crop
Tor Books

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 10:54 am

The unfortunate thing about The Accidental Highwayman is that it looks too much like something it's not. From the gorgeously designed cover and elaborate title to the apologetic editorial front matter and interior illustrations, it looks like a book aware of its place in a specific history: namely, 18th century England's high demand for stories about real, live highwaymen, stories about their dreadful deeds and doleful demise, packaged in layers and layers of moralizing justification for the muckraking glee in which the reader was about to indulge.

Read more
Movies
9:24 am
Fri October 17, 2014

'Birdman' Tracks A Comeback In (Seemingly) One Long Take

In Birdman, Michael Keaton (a real-life former Batman) plays a former movie superhero who's trying to get a grasp on his career.
Atsushi Nishijima/ Fox Searchlight

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 4:26 pm

Birdman's opening shot has a meteor flaring across a twilit sky — a dying star falling to earth being an apt first image for a movie about a film superhero who has flamed out.

Read more
Movie Reviews
9:08 am
Fri October 17, 2014

In 'Listen Up Philip,' Literary Arrogance Stubbornly Refuses To Change

Josephine de la Baume and Jason Schwartzman in Listen Up Philip.
Tribecca Film

Alex Ross Perry has a knack for writing male characters with deep reservoirs of literary arrogance, and he has taken his talent to a new level with his intricately crafted film, Listen Up Philip.

Read more
Monkey See
6:39 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Transparent' And Pop Culture Debuts

NPR

For a couple of lovely weeks in October, our dear pal Ari Shapiro — who has long since forgiven us for making him watch the VMAs and Olympus Has Fallen for a prior episode — was back at NPR HQ to host Weekend Edition. While we had him here, we grabbed him up for a conversation about Transparent and pop culture debuts.

Read more
Dance
1:18 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Poetry In Motion: Prima Ballerina Retires After 3-Decade Career

Wendy Whelan, 47, principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, will retire Oct. 18 after 30 years with the institution.
Erin Baiano for NPR

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 8:27 am

Not every dancer can be a ballerina, and not every ballerina gets to dance with the New York City Ballet. So when one makes it, and then stays with the company for three decades, it's a big deal.

Wendy Whelan is that ballerina. And on Saturday night, at 47 years old, she'll give her final New York City Ballet performance before she retires.

Read more
Movie Interviews
1:17 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Michael Keaton: As An Actor, You Must Lock In And Let Go

Michael Keaton stars in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). It's a dark comedy about an actor who once played a superhero and later stages a vanity production on Broadway.
Alison Rosa Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 6:53 am

Once you've been a superhero, it's hard to go back to life as a mere mortal. That's the lesson Michael Keaton's character, Riggin Thomson, learns in the new film Birdman. Thomson is an aging movie star who once played a superhero — a role he can't quite get over.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

'The Golden Era' Follows A Path From Northern China To Tokyo

Shaofeng Feng and Wei Tang in The Golden Era.
China Lion Film Distribution

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 7:55 am

Director Ann Hui's The Golden Era tells of a female novelist and poet who lived in, as the Chinese curse puts it, "interesting times": from 1911 to 1942. Simultaneously sweeping and intimate, the three-hour drama overcomes many of the usual difficulties of depicting writers on screen. But it can't finesse one major impediment for Western viewers: Few of them know anything of its heroine, Xiao Hong.

Read more
Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Beauty And Loss In 'The Tale Of Princess Kaguya'

The Tale of Princess Kaguya.
Hatake Jimusho GNDHDDTK/Gkids

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 7:48 am

My first encounter with the lovely 10th-century Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter was in the Sesame Street special Big Bird Goes to Japan. A kind and beautiful young woman named Kaguya-hime appears out of nowhere to take the Yellow One and his canine pal Barkley on a jaunt to Kyoto. They have fun, and then the mysteriously sad woman reveals that she is royalty in civilian dress and must return to her home on the moon. Bird and Barkley were marginally less inconsolable than were my toddler daughter and I.

Read more
Movie Interviews
12:36 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

'Dear White People' Is A Satire Addressed To Everyone

Tessa Thompson plays Samantha (Sam) White, host of a campus radio show called Dear White People.
Roadside Attractions

The new film Dear White People is a satire about race relations and racial identity, set on a fictional Ivy League campus. Samantha White, known as Sam, is the host of a campus radio show called Dear White People and she makes all kinds of kinds of funny, intentionally provocative statements aimed at subtle and overt racism, on and off campus.

Those statements were developed over time by director Justin Simien. Simien says he wanted to test out the humor on the world at large — and refine White's character — before finalizing his screenplay.

Read more
Art & Design
11:25 am
Thu October 16, 2014

The Jacket Designer's Challenge: To Capture A Book By Its Cover

Mendelsund says his cover for Simone de Beauvoir's The Woman Destroyed "is as close as I've ever come to a jolie laide cover — and I love it for that reason."
Vintage/Knopf

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 10:32 am

Peter Mendelsund estimates he's designed "somewhere between 600 and 1,000 book covers," ranging from Crime and Punishment to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But the self-taught, sought-after designer says he spends a lot of time reading, too.

"It's always surprising to people when they come to my office or they walk by my door and they see me with my feet kicked up with a manuscript," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "But I read constantly from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep."

Read more
Monkey See
6:58 am
Thu October 16, 2014

With Few Stages Left To Conquer, Neil Patrick Harris Goes To The Oscars

Neil Patrick Harris, seen here hosting the 2013 Emmys, is getting the Oscars job many have long wanted for him.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

It was an announcement of an old-school job that played out in a new media landscape: Yesterday, Variety reported that Neil Patrick Harris would host the Oscars, which they tweeted at 4:49 P.M. Harris himself tweeted a little video of himself crossing "Host the Oscars" off his bucket list — also at 4:49 P.M. Then finally, an interminable 26 minutes later, we got the press release from the Academy that announced with excitement that Neil Patrick Harris would host the Oscars in 2015.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:44 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Book News: The 'Dickens Of Detroit' Leaves His Collection To South Carolina

Elmore Leonard was famously picky with his words — but not with his papers. He left behind more than 150 boxes, or about 2,400 linear feet, of documents.
Vince Bucci Getty Images

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

In a bit of a twist, the archives of the late, great crime novelist Elmore Leonard have come to rest at the University of South Carolina, the school announced Wednesday. Leonard, long known as the "Dickens of Detroit," chose Columbia, S.C., over the Motor City to house his collection after visiting the school last year, just months before his passing.

Read more
Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Rebooted Comic Heroine Is An Elegant, Believable 'Marvel'

cover crop
Marvel Comics

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 4:18 pm

Consider the ways you could misstep in updating a classic comic-book superhero. Now imagine that your protagonist is A) female, B) 16, C) a Pakistani-American and, oh yeah, D) Muslim.

Read more
The Changing Lives Of Women
1:33 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Mindy Kaling On Refusing To Be An Outsider And Sexism On Set

Before creating The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling wrote and appeared in NBC's The Office.
Isabella Vosmikova FOX

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 10:32 am

Mindy Kaling is part of a small group of female comedians, writers and actresses who have created and now run their own TV shows. Kaling also stars in her show, The Mindy Project, as Mindy Lahiri, whom she describes as "delusionally confident" and "unapologetically selfish."

And how do others describe Kaling? The word "pioneer" comes up a lot.

"I often forget that ... being Indian, an Indian-American woman who is not, sort of, pencil thin — that that is very new to broadcast television," Kaling tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

Read more
Movie Interviews
3:37 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

'Citizenfour' Charts The Early Days Of Snowden's NSA Revelations

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 4:54 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Revelations about a massive system of global surveillance all started with an email.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CITIZENFOUR")

Read more
Book News & Features
2:42 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Roald Dahl, A Bottle Of Dreams And A 'Letter Of Note'

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 11:53 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Read more
Book Reviews
11:57 am
Wed October 15, 2014

'The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher' And Other Stories From Hilary Mantel

A new Hilary Mantel book is an Event with a "capital "E." Here's why: The first two best-selling novels in Mantel's planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, each won the Man Booker Prize — that's a first.

Read more
Monkey See
11:55 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch: A Report From New York Comic-Con

Costumes were plentiful at the New York Comic-Con at Jacob Javitz Center.
Daniel Zuchnik Getty Images

Friend Of PCHH and NPR Books editor Petra Mayer recently returned from New York Comic-Con, so we asked her to talk a little about what she did while she was up there. As it happens, she kept herself very busy, moderating a panel full of authors she admires and chatting up one of the biggest nerd icons of her (and my) pop-culture coming-of-age.

Read more
Monkey See
9:45 am
Wed October 15, 2014

HBO Without Cable, Coming In 2015

Lena Dunham and Allison Williams star in Girls, one of several popular HBO shows that stand-alone streaming could include.
Mark Schafer HBO

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 10:28 am

HBO has built a robust and popular online presence over the past couple of years with its app, HBO GO. But to get it — as is the case with many streaming services that offer television over the Internet — you've needed a cable subscription. In other words, HBO GO was an add-on for people who already had HBO, not an alternative way of getting shows for people who didn't.

Read more
Book News & Features
6:59 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Get To Know The Finalists For The 2014 National Book Award

NPR

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 12:18 pm

The National Book Awards shortlists — for fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature — were announced Wednesday on Morning Edition by Mitchell Kaplan, co-founder of Miami Book Fair International and former president of the American Booksellers Association. Read more about each of the finalists below.

The Two-Way
6:43 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Book News: Big Names And A Few Surprises Among National Book Award Finalists

NationalBook.org

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 7:28 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

With the stroke of a press release, the National Book Award nominees have been whittled to half their original number. Mitchell Kaplan, a recipient of the National Book Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, took to NPR's Morning Edition to announce the five finalists for each category: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

Read more
Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed October 15, 2014

When Good Kids Go Feral, Bloody 'Brood' Hits Its Stride

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 11:02 am

This book really could have used some more cannibalism.

Strange to say it, I realize — especially about a novel that contains no fewer than three scenes of graphic dismemberment. Teeming as it is with hordes of rats, winged infants and sex scenes that rage and roil with all the romance of a Rob Zombie flick, Chase Novak's Brood isn't lacking for gore. It's got so much, in fact, that a few prim readers may even find the novel to be in poor taste.

Read more
The Two-Way
10:01 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Australian Novelist Richard Flanagan Awarded Booker Prize

Australian author Richard Flanagan, 2014's Man Booker Prize winner, holds his book The Narrow Road to the Deep North at the Royal Festival Hall in London on Monday.
Alastair Grant AP

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 8:26 am

On Tuesday in London, the judging panel for Britain's 2014 Man Booker Prize for literature announced this year's winner: The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Australian Richard Flanagan.

The novel, Flanagan's sixth, tells the story of POWs in World War II who were forced by their captors to work on the Thailand-Burma Railway, also known as the "Death Railway" for the more than 100,000 who died in the process of building it.

Read more
Arts & Life
2:36 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

'Letters Of Note' Finds Lessons In Candid Correspondence

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 4:41 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Monkey See
2:03 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

J.K. Simmons Won't Throw A Chair At Your Head, But His Character Might

J.K. Simmons plays brutal music teacher Terence Fletcher in Whiplash.
Daniel McFadden Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 8:40 am

J.K. Simmons has a long history in everything from Guys And Dolls on Broadway to Law And Order to Juno, but you may never have seen him do quite what he does in the new film Whiplash. He plays a teacher in an elite conservatory in New York who leads the highest-level jazz ensemble, using a combination of verbal abuse, athletic drills and impossible demands.

Read more
Author Interviews
11:31 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Journalist Talks Confidential Sources, Getting Subpoenaed And His New Book

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Read more
Book Reviews
8:41 am
Tue October 14, 2014

A Hero's Journey Turns Dark In 'Clariel'

Cover crop
HarperCollins

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 9:36 am

It is always an interesting — and sometimes fraught — endeavor for a writer of a classic, well-loved series to return to that world after decades away. Sabriel, the first volume in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, helped to pioneer the renaissance of YA fantasy 19 years ago.

Read more
Monkey See
8:28 am
Tue October 14, 2014

'Marry Me' Throws Plenty Of Jokes (And Its Lead Actress) At The Wall

Ken Marino and Casey Wilson star in NBC's Marry Me.
Greg Gaynes NBC

I'm not sure I've ever seen a comedy use an opening scene to put a main character in a hole as deep as the one Marry Me digs for Annie, played by Casey Wilson. We meet her as she and her longtime boyfriend Jake (Ken Marino) return from a vacation during which she believed he would propose and he didn't.

Read more
Movie Reviews
8:04 am
Tue October 14, 2014

'Kill The Messenger' Incompletely Unravels A Complex Tale

Jeremy Renner plays Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb.
Chuck Zlotnick Focus Features

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 10:11 am

Which is the better story: a massive conspiracy to use CIA connections to import cocaine into the United States, or the efforts of one reporter to uncover that intrigue?

Gary Webb, the protagonist of Kill the Messenger, pursued the first topic, and rightly so — even if it did destroy him. Director Michael Cuesta went with the second, probably because it's more manageable.

Read more
Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
8:01 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Wait Wait ... Don't Show Me! Behind The Scenes Of The NPR News Quiz

NPR

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 10:03 am

Read more

Pages