Arts

Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Bilbo's Back, With More Baggage Than Ever

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is back for the second installment of the Hobbit trilogy, this time actually spending some time with Smaug the dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch).
Warner Bros.

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:49 pm

Peter Jackson's decision to turn the single volume of The Hobbit into a three-film epic — with a total running time nearly as long as his adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy — was met with considerable skepticism. Did Tolkien's relatively slight book really have enough story to justify stretching it out that much?

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Making 'Mary Poppins,' With More Than A Spoonful Of Sugar

Saving Mr. Banks chronicles Walt Disney's (Tom Hanks) long campaign to persuade Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to allow his movie-musical adaptation of her books.
Francois Duhamel Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:42 pm

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live."

That endlessly quoted line from Joan Didion's The White Album echoes with more than the usual resonance for the two adversaries duking it out for control over the movie adaptation of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks.

For 20 years Walt Disney, reportedly on his young daughters' say-so, had tried to wrestle a green light from P. L. Travers, who wrote the original novels about the discipline-minded governess who flew in through a London window to save a troubled family from itself.

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Movie Interviews
11:40 am
Thu December 12, 2013

At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots

In All Is Lost, Robert Redford plays an unnamed sailor, stranded at sea on a badly damaged yacht.
Daniel Daza Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:23 pm

Robert Redford isn't merely the star of the movie All Is Lost — he plays the only character. He plays a man stranded alone on a small yacht in the Indian Ocean, and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott says it's "the performance of a lifetime."

We don't know the man's name, why he's there, or anything about his background — but when disaster strikes, we learn that he's resourceful and doesn't succumb to panic. After a stray shipping container rams his vessel and leaves a gaping hole in the hull, he must make the boat seaworthy again in order to survive.

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Music Interviews
10:19 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Original 'Dreamgirl' Jennifer Holliday: 'I'm Not Going Nowhere'

Jennifer Holliday at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 1:29 pm

Jennifer Holliday won fame by turning a Broadway show tune into an anthem. With her performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in the musical Dreamgirls, she became a star on Broadway. But Holliday's life and career offstage slipped out of control as she battled obesity and depression. After years out of the recording studio, Holliday is back with the album The Song is You. It's due out in January.

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Monkey See
7:21 am
Thu December 12, 2013

I'm Your Lawyer, Mr. Grinch

The Grinch puts a scare into his dog, Max, in the 1966 CBS special How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
CBS/Photofest

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 1:58 pm

To: Mr. Grinch
From: Who Who & Who
Re: Possible defamation claim

Thank you for visiting our offices to explore the possibility of a defamation claim regarding statements recently made about you.

Potentially defamatory statements

We will first take some of the statements you mention in turn to explain their possible relevance to a successful claim.

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

Under the laws of defamation in effect in Whoville, this would most likely be considered a statement of opinion and not actionable.

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The Two-Way
6:59 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Book News: Americans Love Their Public Libraries (But Will It Matter?)

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:10 am

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

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Movie Interviews
3:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

At 90, Disney Animation Nowhere Near Drawing To A Close

When it premiered in 1937, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first feature-length animated movie to hit theaters. This year is the 90th anniversary of Disney animation.
PRNewsFoto/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:50 am

This year marks a milestone in the world of make believe.

Walt Disney Animation Studios is celebrating its 90th anniversary, a history spanning scores of classic films and a menagerie of beloved characters.

Walt Disney's world has grown a bit larger since it acquired Pixar — the company behind hits like Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.

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The Picture Show
3:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

With One Photo, The Average Commute Becomes Super Special

Original caption via Instagram: #pscommute 5:15 PM on the C Train. 34th Street, Penn Station back home to Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Giving the gift of reading. A magical moment between mother and son. It may seem like just another subway ride, but with a book and an imagination, the adventures are limitless.
Jabali Sawicki/@jsawicki1 Instagram

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 9:53 am

Each month on Instagram, we team up with KPCC and suggest a photo assignment for our project Public Square. In October, we wanted to see your commute — that perfectly average and ordinary part of the day that many of us share. Lots of you participated. And one photo in particular had a special story.

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Movie Interviews
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

David O. Russell, Building Movies From The Characters Up

Amy Adams and Christian Bale star as a couple of con artists in David O. Russell's American Hustle.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:32 pm

Director David O. Russell's latest film, American Hustle, is inspired by the Abscam scandal — the FBI sting from the 1970s, complete with an agent posing as an Arab sheik, that led to the downfall of a number of politicians.

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Christian Bale, the movie is about that sting operation, but it's also a love story and a loving study of larger-than-life characters — with big '70s hair, wearing classic '70s polyester wardrobes — trying to reinvent themselves.

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Movie Interviews
12:25 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Michael Sheen On The 'Accuracy And Invention' Of Real-Life Roles

Michael Sheen plays Dr. William Masters, the senior member of a research team that conducted pioneering studies for more than three decades into the physiology of human sexuality.
Michael Desmond Showtime

Michael Sheen's show may be called Masters of Sex, but ultimately, he says, it's a study of intimacy. It's about: "How do we deal with being vulnerable with each other?" he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "How do we deal with the challenges of intimacy and the kind of games we play and the defenses we have?"

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Books
12:25 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Need A Read? Here Are Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2013

Illustration of woman and books.
Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 2:10 pm

First, a word about this list: It's honestly just a fluke that my best books rundown for 2013 is so gender-biased. I didn't deliberately set out this year to read so many terrific books by women.

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Movie Reviews
12:03 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

After Meltdown, Nine Months Of Drift For Fukushima Survivors

After the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, the nearby town of Futaba was entirely evacuated. Nuclear Nation follows nine months in the lives of the displaced.
First Run Features

"Atomic energy makes our town and society prosperous," reads a sign photographed by filmmaker Atsushi Funahashi for Nuclear Nation. By the time he shows this small-town civic motto, the irony is unmistakable: Japan's nuclear-power industry may have enriched society, but it has left this particular city desolate.

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Kitchen Window
5:58 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Breakfast-For-Dinner Shame Should Be Put To Bed

Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 11:08 pm

A couple of years back, I was trying to help a friend come up with some quick and easy dinner plans. She was swamped at work, her husband was out of town, and her two young kids needed the usual amount of attention. I asked what she'd been cooking lately. She listed a handful of dishes — nothing fancy but certainly nothing to sniff at. Also, she admitted with some level of embarrassment, they'd been having a lot of breakfast for dinner.

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The Two-Way
5:25 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Book News: Booksellers' Lawsuit Against Amazon, Publishers Dismissed

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

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The Salt
1:27 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit

Precious snack: In Tolkien's books, lembas was a special bread made by elves that could stay fresh for months — perfect for sustaining travelers on a long journey (or engaging in an all-day movie marathon.) Try it for elevenses.
Beth Accomando for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 9:23 am

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." — J.R.R. Tolkien

Each year, I swear I will never do this again.

And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place.

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Book Reviews
11:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Frustrating Heroine Stars In Fresh, Feminist 'Nightingale'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 1:33 pm

There's an unforgettable moment in the diary of the great Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz. He's on the beach and he spots a beetle that's been blown on its back by the wind and now lies there helplessly, legs wiggling, unable to right itself. Gombrowicz saves it by turning it over. He sees another upside-down beetle, and turns it over. Then, another. Looking along the sand, he realizes that there are so many beetles he can't possibly save them all. Eventually, he gives up trying.

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Monkey See
8:45 am
Tue December 10, 2013

This Christmas, Get The Kids Books (No Batteries Required)

Whoever bought a dictionary for this baby did not consult NPR's Book Concierge.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 12:35 pm

Hey there, befuddled aunts, uncles and family friends. Not sure what to get for all those nieces, nephews and offspring of other people? This year (for the first time!) we've included kids titles in our year-end best books roundup. Pay a visit to NPR's Book Concierge to see what our staff and critics recommend for kids and teens in 2013.

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The Salt
7:05 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Microbiome Candy: Could A Probiotic Mint Help Prevent Cavities?

A sweet way to avoid the dentist? Microbiologists are developing a probiotic mint that uses dead bacteria to fight off cavities.
Morgan Walker NPR

Eat candy and fight tooth decay. What a sweet concept, right?

Well, microbiologists in Berlin are trying to make that dream a reality.

They've created a sugarless mint that's aimed at washing out cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth. And the candy works in a curious way: It's spiked with dead bacteria. It's like probiotics for your teeth.

The experimental mint is still in the early days of development — and far from reaching the shelves at Walgreens.

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The Two-Way
5:39 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Book News: 500 Authors Demand International Bill Of Digital Rights

Canadian author Margaret Atwood, pictured in 2009, is part of a group of writers lobbying the United Nations over digital rights.
John MacDougall AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 6:34 am

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

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National Security
5:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Surveillance Revelations Give Creative Writers Pause

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 10:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For much of this year we've been hearing headlines effectively saying the government is spying on you. Spy agencies like the National Security Agency gather and store phone records, vacuum up emails by the billions, listen in on foreign leaders' telephone conversations and more. Now a nonprofit writers group, the PEN American Center, is exploring whether the fear of surveillance is affecting creative expression.

It's a question our colleague, David Greene, wanted to explore.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Arts & Life
5:29 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Art Or Junk? Detroit's 'Heidelberg Project' Endures

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:51 am

An outdoor art installation in Detroit made from blighted homes and objects is stirring up controversy again. A rash of arsons in the past seven months have destroyed four of the Heidelberg Project's signature homes. But after nearly 30 decades of working on this project and facing resistance, artist Tyree Guyton is determined to make more art.

Art & Design
3:47 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Royal Gardener Planted The Seed Of Urban Planning At Versailles

Andre Le Notre pumped in water from the Seine River to create the Grand Canal at Chateau of Versailles.
Boris Horvat AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:45 am

France's Chateau of Versailles has pulled out all the stops for one of its favorite sons, gardener Andre Le Notre, who designed the palace's famous gardens. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Le Notre's birth, several of the garden's fountains are being restored and the chateau is hosting an exhibit on his life through February 2014.

Experts say Le Notre's work was so groundbreaking, it continues to influence contemporary urban architecture.

'The Interlocutor Of Kings'

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Monkey See
2:34 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Dear Zack Snyder, Regarding Wonder Woman

Former Miss Israel and Fast & Furious actor Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie.
Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 12:53 pm

TO: Zack Snyder, Big Time Hot Shot Hollywood Director
FROM: Glen Weldon, Nerd
IN RE: Wonder Woman

Dear Zack Snyder:

I see you've cast The Fast and the Furious' Gal Gadot as Diana of the Amazons, aka Wonder Woman.

I see, also, that the Internet has reacted as it can be counted upon to do, when such casting announcements occur. Namely, with fulsome, fulminating nerd rage.

I am here to tell you, Zack Snyder: Keep your head down. Ignore it. Make your movie.

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Monkey See
1:21 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

When 'Hit List' Got Another Shot At An Audience

Jeremy Jordan, who anchored one of Smash's storylines in Season 2, returned to the material at New York's 54 Below for a concert version of the musical his songwriter character was writing on the NBC show.
Cindy Ord Getty Images for 54 Below

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:19 pm

For most of its two-year run on NBC, the series Smash was pretty much a hot mess. Ostensibly about the creation of Broadway musicals, it only tangentially resembled the real thing. And its plots and characters got soapier and soapier as the show went on.

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Author Interviews
11:24 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Delia Ephron On The Closeness And Complexity Of Sisterhood

Delia Ephron is a novelist and playwright. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, O, Vogue and the Huffington Post. Her older sister, writer Nora Ephron, died in June 2012.
Elena Seibert Penguin Group

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 2:56 pm

In the opening chapter of her latest book, novelist Delia Ephron writes that losing her older sister, writer Nora Ephron, was like "losing an arm, it's that deranging." Nora, who wrote When Harry Met Sally, died of acute myeloid leukemia in June 2012. Delia and Nora were writing partners; they co-wrote the movies You've Got Mail and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as well as the off-Broadway hit Love, Loss and What I Wore. Delia was an assistant producer on Nora's film Sleepless in Seattle.

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The Salt
10:21 am
Mon December 9, 2013

'In Meat We Trust' Argues We Got The Meat Industry We Asked For

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:36 am

The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists.

Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America.

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Monkey See
9:31 am
Mon December 9, 2013

How I Didn't Quit 'Your Mother'

Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Ted (Josh Radnor) in a recent How I Met Your Mother episode.
Richard Cartwright CBS

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 12:46 pm

It's hard out here for a How I Met Your Mother fan these days.

I mean, it's always been hard. The show has had its share of ups and downs, from how often it was on the brink of cancellation to its rocky creative track record in recent years. But the ninth and final season of the show — set in the 50-odd hours before a wedding we've already seen bits and pieces of — has become downright exhausting.

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The Two-Way
5:17 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Book News: 'Stoner' Created Little Buzz In 1965, But Ignites In 2013

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 5:29 am

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

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Monkey See
4:06 am
Mon December 9, 2013

After A Full Fall, A Few New TV Choices To Tide You Over

TNT's new period drama Mob City, from The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, is one of several shows and miniseries premiering this month.
Scott Garfield TNT

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 6:18 am

As the holiday season approaches, the TV cupboard may seem a bit bare; the industry winds down like everything else, filling cable and broadcast networks with holiday specials, reruns and also-ran reality shows.

But there are bright gifts, too: TNT offers Mob City, a three-week, lavishly produced noir-ish TV show about cops and crooks vying for control of 1947-era Los Angeles, airing Wednesdays.

On Dec. 8 and 9, A&E presents a four-hour miniseries on Bonnie and Clyde, retelling the story of the Depression-era outlaws and lovers.

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Author Interviews
4:13 pm
Sun December 8, 2013

'Getting Away With Murder': A Study Of Benazir Bhutto's Death

In 2007, Benazir Bhutto — twice prime minister of Pakistan and then-leader of the Pakistan People's Party — was killed in a suicide bombing attack that claimed 38 lives. The factors at play in her assassination, however, reached deeper than many imagined.

In his new book, Getting Away With Murder, Heraldo Munoz portrays the tense political climate that surrounded Bhutto's return to politics and examines the circumstances of her death.

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