Arts

Arts and culture

Actress Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving star of the most popular film of all time, retired from showbiz decades ago, apparently feeling that 49 films, two best actress Oscars, and a best-selling memoir were accomplishment enough for one career.

Friday in Paris, she celebrates her 100th birthday, which seems a good moment to reflect on the mix of sparkle and resilience that marked her public life.

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Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Edgar Rice Burroughs published the first of his Tarzan stories in 1912, just four years after, as the opening title cards of the long-in-development The Legend Of Tarzan inform us, Belgium's King Leopold II was forced to cede control of the so-called "Congo Free State" to the Belgian Parliament. He'd spent the prior couple of decades enslaving millions of residents of the Congo and using their forced labor to extract the region's rubber, diamonds, and other resources for his personal enrichment.

Gay Talese Disavows His Disavowal Of His New Book

Jul 1, 2016

Author Gay Talese said he would not be promoting his latest book — and then changed his mind — after the Washington Post raised serious doubts about the story it tells.

Called The Voyeur's Motel, it's the nonfiction account of an Aurora, Colo., man named Gerald Foos, who says he bought the motel in question in order to spy on the sexual lives of his guests. The book combines Talese's reporting with Foos' own journals to produce a kind of retractable telescope of voyeurism: readers watching Talese watch Foos watch his guests.

As of last weekend, we thought the show we'd be bringing you today would be primarily about Independence Day: Resurgence, which seems like the umpteenth sequel this summer to open with soft box office and exhausted reviews. But then we remembered: we don't have to see it.

The Purge series is all concept, no execution.

Suki Kim spent 10 years researching and visiting North Korea. In 2011, she spent six months teaching at a university in Pyongyang — and working undercover as a journalist.

During that time, Kim secretly documented the lives of 270 of North Korea's elite — young men who were being groomed as the country's future leaders — at the center of the country's regime change.

In an age when computer-generated imagery can make anything possible, effects are expensive and miracles are cheap. So it should be said, as emphatically as possible, that the "big friendly giant" in The BFG, Steven Spielberg's ingratiating adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book, is a spectacular creation. Voiced by Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar last year for Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, the BFG interacts seamlessly with its non-digital counterparts and projects a warmth and tremulous humanity that keeps it out of the uncanny valley.

Mathilde (Lou de Laage), the young French Red Cross doctor at the center of The Innocents, is in late-1945 Poland to tend to injured French POWs, patching them up so they can be sent home. She could hardly have expected to be summoned to a local convent to care for nearly a dozen pregnant nuns.

Our Kind of Traitor is the first thriller adapted from a John le Carre novel to be directed by a woman — not that you'd notice from the sang froid with which British filmmaker Susanna White serves up the gruesome carnage that opens the movie.

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler was a huge sensation when it was published in 1970. The book perfectly captured the angst of that time and prepared society for more changes to come. Toffler died on Monday at the age of 87. This story originally aired on July 26, 2010, on All Things Considered.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Imagine William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice set in post-Civil War Washington, D.C.; and now make half of the characters former slaves. Suddenly, it's a completely new play; but it still looks at some of the same themes, including how your actions reflect your beliefs. That new play is Aaron Posner's District Merchants, currently on stage at Washington's Folger Theatre. (This fall, it will also be produced by South Coast Repertory outside of Los Angeles.)

1982: a big year for initials. Steven Spielberg releases E.T., and Roald Dahl publishes The BFG. The former stands for Extra-Terrestrial, the latter for Big Friendly Giant — characters who are similarly positioned as outsiders in a child's world where adults are mostly absent.

A few weeks ago, I went back to the federal prison in Seagoville, Texas, for another conversation with Edgar Diaz.

In honor of summer and our hope for some leisurely reads, we've been talking to booksellers across the country — and they have a lot of suggestions.

So imagine your favorite summer reading spot, and get ready to "Pack These Pages." Our first guide is Harriet Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory?

Jun 29, 2016

For the past few years, my friends and I have noticed two trends when dining. First, seemingly every high-end menu rebukes factory farming with an essay about locally sourced pork belly, and second, just about every one of these restaurants looks so much like a factory — with exposed light bulbs, steel details and brick walls — that I'm constantly looking over my shoulder for the foreman.

"Stories can be true even if they're not real," muses nine-year-old Alex Torrey. His whole life has been steeped in stories: His parents were the stars of a cult favorite science fiction television show, Anomaly, and both have continued their acting careers somewhat successfully. Alex is a budding writer and voracious reader, devouring each installment of a Harry Potter-like young adult book series.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

'The Big Sheep' Plays Hardboiled Sci-Fi To The Hilt

Jun 29, 2016

It's not hard to parse the two main influences on Robert Kroese's new novel The Big Sheep. The title itself mashes them up: Raymond Chandler's 1939 hardboiled masterpiece The Big Sleep and Philip K. Dick's 1968 post-apocalyptic classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the basis of the film Blade Runner). The question is: Does Kroese's book transcend the obviousness of that literary portmanteau? Thankfully, yes.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

The mosquito-borne Zika epidemic is headed for its first summer in the United States. New York Times reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that if the virus is ever going to hit hard in the U.S., 2016 will be the year.

"No one in the population has had the disease before, so nobody is immune to it, nobody has antibodies to it," McNeil says. "After this year, a fair number of people will be immune, and each year immunity will grow."

In Persona, Genevieve Valentine introduced us to a world in which diplomats are celebrities on the covers of glossy magazines, and in which paparazzi wage a guerilla war against the status quo by ruffling the smooth, sanctioned narratives of the International Assembly with candid shots obtained through illegal surveillance.

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 pounds, made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper and George Bellows were very different artists, but they did have at least one thing in common: They all studied with painter William Merritt Chase. Now, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., is marking the centennial of the artist's death with a retrospective.

"You walk around these galleries and the paintings are gutsy and bold and scintillating and brilliant," says Dorothy Kosinski, director of the Phillips.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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