Arts and culture

In revisiting the saga of real-life swinging-London gangsters the Kray twins, Legend has two advantages over 1990's The Krays: Tom Hardy and Tom Hardy. The actor plays both the seething Ronnie and the cooler Reggie, and endows each with more palpable menace than did Gary and Martin Kemp, the prettier boys who starred in the 25-year-old precursor.

Like his 2002 melodrama Far from Heaven, which it resembles in all sorts of good ways, Todd Haynes' Carol opens onto a busy city street scene in full 1950s dress. The camera quickly settles on a young man in a fedora as he rounds a corner and enters a plush eating establishment. A story is brewing there, but one in which Fedora Man will turn out to be no more than a peripheral player, our guide to two elegantly clad women apparently enjoying a gossipy afternoon tea.

After nabbing the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010—besting a pair of Cannes favorites in A Prophet and the Palme D'Or-winning The White Ribbon—the Argentinian thriller The Secret in Their Eyes enjoyed a hugely successful run in U.S. arthouses. For foreign language films, $1 million is generally considered the magic number for a serious hit; at over $6 million, this was a true blockbuster.

In 1977, an 18-year-old Peter "Stoney" Emshwiller filmed himself asking questions meant for his future self. Emshwiller tells NPR's Ari Shapiro, "I was going through what I think a lot of 18-year-olds go through — where you're leaving high school and you're about to start sort of your real life — and felt like I wanted to ask somebody who knows. And of course there isn't anybody, but I decided to pretend there was and sit down and talk to a blank wall asking every question I could think of and responding to every answer I thought I might get back."

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Iranian-born photographer Abbas knew from a very early age that he would spend his life taking pictures. Growing up in Algeria during that country's war for independence more than a half-century ago, he remember being struck by the violent, life-altering events taking place around him.

"I could see history being made in front of my eyes," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "For a young boy witnessing these events, it's almost normal to become a journalist or be interested in the present."

Days after announcing that America's Test Kitchen co-founder Chris Kimball had left the company over a contract dispute, the enterprise's parent company says Kimball will continue to host America's Test Kitchen Radio, which is also a podcast.

Editor's note: A version of this story originally ran in November 2014.

The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. And for those of us who already feel short on time during a regular week, the pressure is on to figure out just how to squeeze in all that extra shopping, prep work and cooking ahead of the holiday.

Sooty 'Lungdon' Is A Breathlessly Exciting Finale

Nov 19, 2015

I have read the conclusion to Edward Carey's Iremonger trilogy and am left a bit breathless, which on the whole is a good thing, as this is a sooty, choking, lung-blackening sort of book, and reading it with held breath is probably safest.

In 1950, Isaac Asimov revolutionized how we think about robotics with his short story collection I, Robot. The world has changed a lot since then, a fact Curtis White points out — and points out, and points out — in his book We, Robots. Subtitled Staying Human in the Age of Big Data, White's book is something of a sequel to his last one, 2013's The Science Delusion, in which he stirred up controversy by using both philosophy and satire to help puncture what he sees as today's overreliance on rigid, systematic thinking and social organization.

It was a glitzy night of bow ties and bon mots in New York City. But the real attractions at the 66th annual National Book Awards were the winners themselves: Adam Johnson, in fiction; Ta-Nehisi Coates, in nonfiction; Robin Coste Lewis, in poetry; and Neal Shusterman, in young people's literature.

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First there was "Chicago Fire," then "Chicago P.D." Last night came "Chicago Med." Chicago is taking over your TV.


The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is generally celebrated with a bounty of food — and a mountain of leftovers, some of which, let's face it, will end up in the trash.

Growing up in New York City, film director and animator Peter Sohn remembers visiting the American Museum of Natural History as a kid and being awed by the dinosaurs on display there.

"There was a barosaurus in the atrium," Sohn tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was kind of standing on two legs, and it blew me away, that thing. ... It ignites the imagination to think that something that large could've roamed around New York."

[This piece describes plot elements of Misery stretching back to the novel that was published in 1987. Hopefully, you've read it by now, or maybe seen the movie, which is also quite good and is 25 years old. The age of both will hopefully earn a bit of indulgence when it comes to talking about plot.]

John Lennon "Walrus" eyeglass frames are for sale on the Web; Strawberry Fields has become a Tic Tac flavor. The Smart Beatle has been entombed by pop culture and rampant capitalism. There's nothing more to be written about him. It's all been said — but no one said it to Kevin Barry, author of the fab-tastic Beatlebone, a fictional biography that manages to be strange, hilarious and insightful all at once.

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When it comes to writing, David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, likes a challenge. Maybe that's why, in 2014, he began sharing his newest novel in a series of tweets.

The American writer Edgar Allan Poe might have invented detective fiction, but it's been a long time since the United States has had a monopoly on the genre. In the past few decades, Americans have fallen in love with mystery writers from as far away as Iceland and Japan.

Before the attacks on Paris on Friday, Matthew Inman was thinking a lot about the unpredictability of life.

A few days earlier he had posted his latest comic to his popular website, "The Oatmeal."

The cartoonist apologized to his fans because this comic strip is not like his usual work. It's not funny.

He says he didn't leave his house much over the five days it took him to draw and write the comic titled "It's going to be okay."

Dear Ms. You,

Hey, Mary-Louise Parker, you're a killer actress, you've hit 50, and you've written a funny, clever, genuinely moving book, Dear Mr. You. You took a form, the epistolary novel, mashed it up with another form, the celebrity memoir, and turned them both on their heads. Thirty-four intimate letters to various "Mr. You's" collectively demonstrate you've lived many lives. All the letters are to men, but of course they really serve to reveal ... Mary-Louise Parker.

Dear Prudence, also known as Emily Yoffe, has answered questions about everything: deathbed confessions, mysterious boxes in the attic, cheating spouses of course and, once, incestuous twins.

But after nearly a decade as Slate's advice columnist, Yoffe is stepping down. She wrote her last advice column on Thursday.

And now she's passing the baton to Mallory Ortberg, the writer, editor and co-founder of the site The Toast.

The Queen Of Swing Takes Old Age In Stride

Nov 15, 2015

The 1920s gave life to jazz, jukeboxes and the career of Norma Miller — the Queen of Swing. Now, at 95 years old, Miller is the last living member of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, the group that took Lindy Hop — the original swing dance — out of Harlem's ballrooms and across the world.

In the aftermath of the coordinated terror attacks on Paris, people around the world have been taking to social media to share their grief and show support for the French people.

One image, in particular, has become a kind of icon of international solidarity: a simple, but powerful, black-and-white ink drawing of a peace sign — with the Eiffel Tower at its heart. The picture popped up online last night, and since then it has been shared, liked, tweeted and retweeted as people attempt to cope with the tragedy.

June Squibb was a professional actor for 60 years before landing her first Oscar nomination — at the age of 84 — for her role in the movie Nebraska. Her latest film is Love the Coopers.

We've invited her to play a game called "Horrible, tentacled monsters of the deep" — three questions about squids.

Saying that someone writes like an angel is a well-intentioned cliché. But Roger Angell writes like no one else. His eye and style are utterly clear, compelling, often funny, frequently moving. He's the only writer to be inducted into both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Instead of marking a half century with a few of her greatest hits from the ballet, Broadway or modern dance, the woman who has transformed dance in our time is on the road with two new pieces. Twyla Tharp says Preludes and Fugues, set to music by Bach, is "the world as it ought to be," and a jazz piece called Yowzie shows "the world as it is."

At 74 years old, Tharp is lean, limber and silver as a greyhound, with unblinking brown eyes behind round, owlish glasses.

When she thinks a question is wrong, silly or just obvious, she corrects it.

Last week, James Bond, this week James White — proof, should any be required, that fall movies come in all shapes and sizes.

Filmmaker Josh Mond, making his feature directing debut after producing a slew of intriguing indies, brings intensity to an intimate domestic drama about a feckless New York City slacker who appears to have a fight-or-flight approach to a familial crisis.

Book Review: 'Wild Hundreds,' Nate Marshall

Nov 13, 2015
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Nate Marshall is a rapper and breakbeat artist from the South Side of Chicago. He also publishes poetry. His first book - his first book of poems is called "Wild Hundreds." Tess Taylor has a review.