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In the new film Atomic Blonde, British agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) shows up in 1989 Berlin and gets a very violent reception. The film shows Lorraine punching, stabbing and shooting her way through the murky world of Cold War espionage — not exactly surprising considering Atomic Blonde was directed by former stuntman David Leitch.

A 'Portable' Overview Of A Complex, Compelling History

Jul 30, 2017

Genevieve Valentine's latest novel is Icon.

Mary Prince's story is, in some ways, a familiar narrative. Born a slave around 1788, she was abused by a mistress, Mrs. Wood — beaten, forced to work when ill, refused the chance to buy her freedom. Eventually, she sought emancipation on English soil. When she declares "All slaves want to be free — to be free is very sweet," it feels of a piece with the general story we, as a nation, are told about black women in the 19th century: downtrodden, then free.

When Carolyn Murnick met her childhood best friend Ashley, it was like love at first sight. They were in elementary school — Ashley had just moved into the area and they became inseparable, sharing all their secrets and dreams. As often happens, as they got older they drifted apart. Ashley would move to Los Angeles, start dating young celebrities and making money dancing at clubs. Carolyn lived in New York and worked in the literary world.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NOEL KING, HOST:

If there's one thing that brings all of Chicago together, it's agreeing that deep dish pizza is a horrible joke played on tourists. Right after that, it's the Cubs. For our show in Chicago's Millennium Park, we invited Ryan Dempster, former Cubs pitcher, to play our game.

Dempster played for the Cubs for nine seasons before he left to win a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He had so much fun he called up his friends back in Chicago and said, "Hey, you guys should try this!" He's now a special adviser to the Cubs and an analyst for MLB network.

Faith "Zephyr" Herbert was the breakout star of Valiant Comics' Harbinger super-team. Now headlining her own Eisner Award-nominated series, she's an ebulliently nerdy — and yes, plus-size — superheroine who fights crime and marauding aliens in the streets of Los Angeles while holding down a day job at a Buzzfeed-esque website. (And making lots of Buffy and Doctor Who references. Faith is my kind of gal.)

Comedians have vastly different styles and sensibilities. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Montreal's annual Just For Laughs comedy festival, where one minute you're riding a speedboat of brainy one-liners from Jerry Seinfeld; the next, you're floating along with the intoxicating tales of Ron Funches.

Comedians are just as varied in their decisions of whether to talk politics on stage.

Etelka Lehoczky has written about books for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Salon.com. She tweets at @EtelkaL.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Broadway? No Way!

Jul 28, 2017

If you're eagerly awaiting the musical adaptation of Apocalypse Now...why? In this game, guest musician Julian Velard belts Broadway songs rewritten to be about movies that would make terrible musicals.

Heard On Janeane Garofalo & Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

Wisdom Of The Crowd

Jul 28, 2017

We put guest musician Julian Velard up to the test in this game, where he has to decide who is closer to the truth: the audience at the Bell House, or puzzle guru Cecil Baldwin!

Heard On Janeane Garofalo & Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

Bird's The Word

Jul 28, 2017

Spread your wings and fly to glory in this final round, where every answer contains the name of a bird!

Heard On Janeane Garofalo & Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Celebrity Letter Swap

Jul 28, 2017

In this game, we change one letter in a celebrity's name... so goodbye, James Franco, and bonjour, James France.

Heard On Janeane Garofalo & Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

Despite their similar career trajectories, Janeane Garofalo and Lili Taylor had never worked together before starring in the Broadway revival of the play Marvin's Room. "But it felt like it," Lili Taylor said, turning to her co-star on stage at the Bell House. Standing next to each other, Garofalo and Taylor seemed like they really could be sisters.

Cecil Baldwin: On The Road

Jul 28, 2017

Puzzle Guru and honorary beat poet Cecil Baldwin has wandered all over this great big country of ours. And with the help of guest musician Julian Velard, he's going to give us the beat on a couple of 'burgs he's blown through.

Heard On Janeane Garofalo & Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

Element In The Room

Jul 28, 2017

Dust off that old laminated periodic table in your closet, because we've got a chemistry game! We've replaced two-letter terms with the name of an element with the same chemical symbol.

Heard On Janeane Garofalo & Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

When social interactions become racially charged, sometimes even the most woke among us are prone to faux pas. What do you do when your dad pretends not to speak English whenever your gringo boyfriend comes around? Why does your coworker scowl at you every time you drink Fanta? Should you automatically cut off contact with someone who doesn't like hip hop, or is there a way to compromise?

It has been 80 years since J.M. Barrie died. It has been even longer since Peter Pan's creator penned The Reconstruction of the Crime with humorist E.V. Lucas — and yet in all this time, editor Andrew Gulli says the brief play the pair pulled together never glimpsed the stage or even the printed page.

Linda Holmes hosts from L.A. again, joining regular panelists Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon and our fourth chair this week, Slate's own Aisha Harris.

The topic: Luc Besson's gleefully schlocky, years-in-the-making science fiction ... epic? ... Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

For an entire generation of writers, Michiko Kakutani acted at times as intrepid champion, hated villain or helping hand. But from her perch as chief book critic at The New York Times, the Pulitzer Prize winner rarely left one thing in doubt: her vast influence over the literary world she assessed.

On Thursday, after 38 years, Kakutani announced she is stepping down.

A close-up of ice melting in brilliant sunshine is the first thing you see in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. It's gorgeous — snow crystals glistening, moisture dripping from them into a pool of water so pure and clear it makes you thirsty.

'Brigsby Bear': Do Not Adjust Your (Mind) Set

Jul 27, 2017

If Barney the Dinosaur also played all five members of Voltron, he would look something like Brigsby Bear, a man in a giant teddy bear suit who stomps around against an outer-space backdrop blinking his animatronic eyes and learning lessons. Brigsby Bear Adventures has been on the air for some time, and the substance of those lessons has evolved from simple arithmetic to advanced scientific concepts, often accompanied by a telling refrain: "Curiosity is an unnatural emotion."

The British playwright Alan Bennett once remarked that people are more interesting when they are trying to be good than when they are being bad. That's certainly true of Menashe, a recently widowed Orthodox Jew struggling to raise his young son alone in a Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Though he can be a religious dogmatist when it comes to others, Menashe errs abundantly himself and complains routinely in Rodney Dangerfield mode, which sounds funnier in Yiddish.

"Why choose to be unhappy?"

Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard), the protagonist of From the Land of the Moon, addresses that question to the man who's agreed to marry her. But it might just as well be directed to Gabrielle herself, or to veteran French writer-director Nicole Garcia, because both sink into sorrow as if it were a feather bed.

Set in the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Atomic Blonde takes place in an underworld where the Cold War is over but the conflict continues, like the throbbing of a vestigial limb. In that respect—and perhaps that respect only—it belongs to the tradition of post-war thrillers like Carol Reed's The Third Man or Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds, where danger and intrigue exist where they shouldn't and the players involved are enmeshed in self-doubt and crippling mission drift.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There's a new film out called "Menashe" about a widower who's trying to regain custody of his son. It's set in New York City, specifically in Borough Park, Brooklyn. And you will probably need the subtitles to follow it. It's in Yiddish.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

In Rwanda, a filmmaker who once told stories about genocide is now hoping to make romantic comedies and to build a film industry in the country. NPR's Eyder Peralta met him in the capital, Kigali.

It's hard to imagine how a scene of a mother buying her child crackers from a vending machine could be one of the more terrifying things in contemporary fiction. But that is the case with Gin Phillips' Fierce Kingdom, in which shooters take over a zoo at dusk, forcing those left behind to hide or be picked off along with the penned-in animals.

June Foray is gone, leaving an absence, an ache, a cloud of whirling bobby pins in her wake.

The voice of many beloved animated characters, including the plucky Rocky the Flying Squirrel, the sinister spy Natasha Fatale, the tow-headed moppet Cindy-Lou Who and — most delightfully, to my mind — the girlishly ghoulish Witch Hazel, Foray died Thursday at the age of 99.

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