Arts

Movies
12:55 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Finding 'Great Beauty' Amid Rome's Corruptions

In The Great Beauty, director Paolo Sorrentino surveys the city of Rome through the eyes of jaded journalist Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), taking in the city's degeneracies alongside its eternal beauties.
Gianni Fiorito Janus Films

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 4:49 pm

Rome is often called the Eternal City, and generations of filmmakers from around the world have sought to capture its enduring beauty on screen.

The new film The Great Beauty is the latest, a picture that casts Rome itself in the title role. After playing to critical acclaim in Europe, it opens in American cinemas this month. The film is also Italy's official entry at this season's Academy Awards.

The Great Beauty is a double-edged portrait, out to capture both the beauty and the ugliness of modern Rome.

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Books
12:55 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

A Poet's Advice For Unlikely Partners: Just Dance

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (second from left) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry next to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (far left) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (far right) after a statement on early November 24, 2013 in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 4:49 pm

Sometime after 3 a.m. on Sunday, international negotiators emerged from a conference room in a Geneva hotel, bearing with them weary smiles and a historic agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and representatives from five other world powers had come together on a deal to freeze the Iranian nuclear program temporarily.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 am
Fri November 29, 2013

A Korean Cult Thriller Gets A Spike Lee Makeover

After 20 years in captivity, Joe (Josh Brolin) is released into the world with a hammer and an appetite for revenge in Oldboy, a Spike Lee remake of the 2003 South Korean film.
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle FilmDistrict

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 8:04 am

Spike Lee's movies typically carry the label "A Spike Lee Joint," but Oldboy doesn't. He calls it "a Spike Lee Film," which my guess is Lee's way of saying he's a gun for hire — and that after a line of box office failures and difficulty getting financing for personal projects, he can make a fast, violent action thriller.

And as it happens, he can — a more-than-decent one. But this is also the first time I've come out of a Spike Lee film, bad or good, and not known why it had to be made. It's brutal, effective and utterly without urgency.

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Books News & Features
5:03 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Warp Your Kid's Mind With Some Great Sci-Fi This Holiday Season

Want to warp your little robots? We've got some suggestions.
Charles Taylor/iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 1:17 pm

It worried me when my daughter didn't like Star Wars. Even though I told her there was a princess in it, she was wholly unimpressed and, from the start, a little bit creeped out by Darth Vader and all the stormtroopers. Granted, she was only 6 when I first tried to bring her into the fold of my obsession, but that was twice as old as I'd been when I'd first fallen hard for the original trilogy. It was ... disconcerting.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

A 'Long Walk' With Mandela, But It Shorts His Story

Idris Elba plays Nelson Mandela in a biographical film based on the former South African president's memoir.
Keith Bernstein The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 5:10 pm

Some movies try to underscore their authenticity by flashing dates, names and locations on the screen. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom offers some dates and locations, but not much in the way of names. The result is a history of national transformation in which only two people really seem to matter.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Silent For Years, A Riot Grrrl Steps Back To The Mic

Musician and riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna — formerly of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, now with The Julie Ruin — is the fascinating central figure in the biographical documentary The Punk Singer.
Allison Michael Orenstein Opening Band Films

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 4:29 pm

To many baffled outsiders over 40, Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna was a weirdo riot grrrl bopping up and down onstage in her bra and panties, bellowing atonal revenge lyrics at anyone who'd keep her and her fellow women down.

To her ardent young following of 1990s Third Wave feminists, though, Hanna was an alt Messiah, hacking out a space for women in the punk-rock mosh pit and sounding an enraged alarm on behalf of victims of sexual assault.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

A Gospel Story, Reframed (Again) In 'Black Nativity'

Jacob Latimore (from left), Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker power through the season in Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity, a Christmas movie musical based on Langston Hughes' gospel oratorio.
Phil Bray Fox Searchlight Pictures

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 6:55 pm

Like Eve's Bayou, her best-known movie, Kasi Lemmons' Black Nativity presents a child's view of a troubled family. The latter film is sweeter and slenderer, but that's only to be expected: Black Nativity is a musical, after all, as well as a credible attempt at an African-American holiday perennial.

The original Black Nativity is a gospel-music oratorio, conceived by poet Langston Hughes and first performed in 1961. It pairs the Christian Nativity story with traditional spirituals and African drumming.

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Arts & Life
2:35 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Tale: 'A Fountain Of Snake'

In an annual tradition, writer Bailey White spins a fictional tale of love and life. This year's entry is about a woman dying of cancer who is attended to by a series of old boyfriends, each of whom contributes some sort of minor service. The story ends with a symbolic event at an old hollow tree in the woods, where a coiled snake meets a violent end.

Books
5:03 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Get Cracking On That Novel — NaNoWriMo Is Almost Over!

National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo — ends November 30th, and writers around the world are scrambling to meet the 50,000 word goal.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:05 am

The deadline is looming for "wrimos" — writers challenged to clock in a 50,000 word novel by November 30th.

"We're the largest writing event in the world," says Grant Faulkner, executive director of the Berkeley-based non-profit NaNoWriMo — short for National Novel Writing Month. "People's to-do list revolves around food and shelter, but I would say that creativity is a necessity of life, so we need to do what we can to nurture more creators in the world."

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Arts & Life
2:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Dear Amy: How Do I Deal With My Family For The Holidays?

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 8:04 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Let's face it, while Thanksgiving get-togethers can be joyful, they can also be stressful. And if you're gearing up for a family gathering right now, you're likely awaiting the arrival of a few loved ones who may be a little hard to love sometimes.

Knowing that, we've called on Amy Dickinson, who writes the syndicated column "Ask Amy," for some advice on how to get through the holiday. Hey there, Amy.

AMY DICKINSON: Hi, Audie.

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Movies
2:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

For Top-Flight Animators, The Gag Is An Art All Its Own

Frozen storyboard image.
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 8:04 am

Watching a living creature slip, stumble, get squashed or just thwack an enemy can be a blast. Because as Charlie Chaplin said: "In the end, everything is a gag."

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The Salt
12:05 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Easy As Pie: Master The Art Of The Perfect Crust

To make a flaky pie crust, start by measuring out 12 ounces (by weight) flour, 8 ounces firm butter and 4 ounces ice water. Keeping it cool is key.
Phil Mansfield CIA

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 2:45 am

Those of us slaving over pecan and pumpkin pies ahead of Thanksgiving already know that pie-making season is decidedly in full swing. And on a segment for Morning Edition airing Thursday, host David Greene and I discuss the best advice for pie-making newbies. Really, it comes down to this:

Baking is not like cooking a stew or soup. Bakers can't take as many liberties — adding a pinch of this or that.

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Monkey See
11:10 am
Wed November 27, 2013

About 'Mystery Science Theater,' A Bold Declaration. It's Bold!

Joel Hodgson poses with Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, two of his "robot friends."
PhotoFest

This is a big week for Mystery Science Theater 3000, or as big a week as can be had for a show that's been off the air since the waning days of the 20th century. The show first aired a quarter of a century ago this past Sunday, and the 25th-anniversary volume (XXVIII, if you're keeping Roman score of the ongoing DVD releases and not the anniversaries) hit shelves on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Thursday marks the return of an MST3K Thanksgiving tradition, the Turkey Day marathon.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:19 am
Wed November 27, 2013

At The BBC, The Beatles Shocked An Institution

The Beatles on the stairs of NEMS — North End Music Stores, Brian Epstein's Liverpool record shop — having just signed a management deal, in 1964.
Mark and Colleen Hayward Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 2:13 pm

England got a lot more of The Beatles than Americans did during the group's formative years. Between 1962 and 1965, The Beatles were featured on 53 BBC radio programs, including their own series, Pop Go the Beatles. They performed originals and covers and chatted with BBC hosts.

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Monkey See
9:16 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Why Are Bruce Springsteen's Album Covers So ... Ugly?

Bruce Springsteen's High Hopes album cover fits a disturbing trend.

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 12:19 pm

On Monday morning, national treasure Bruce Springsteen announced that he'll release a new studio album two weeks into the new year. For dedicated fans like me, the announcement was full of curious details to pick over and discuss: Three songs, including the the title track, "High Hopes," were not written by Springsteen. Tom Morello, who's been playing with him on tour and whom The Boss calls "my muse" in the announcement, plays guitar on eight.

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Books
8:59 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Rick Najera: A Latino In Hollywood Is 'Almost White'

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Kitchen Window
6:26 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Even In Winter, Let Salads Reflect The Season

Laura B. Weiss for NPR

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 5:24 pm

When the days would grow shorter and the weather would turn wintry, I used to find myself despairing over the quality of salad fixings at my local market. Limp, tired lettuce. Pale tomatoes as hard as potatoes. Cucumbers with skins like buffalo hides. So I'd stop making salads altogether, until springtime rolled around and the first crop of tender young greens would show up at my local farmers market.

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The Two-Way
5:06 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Book News: 1640 Psalm Book Nets $14.2 Million At Auction

A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, which was printed in 1640 in Massachusetts. It was sold Tuesday at Sotheby's in New York.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 7:30 am

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

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed November 27, 2013

A Travel Writer, Lost In An Undiscovered Country In 'Land Across'

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 6:55 am

Imaginary countries, from Swift's Laputa to the far lands in the works of Borges and Ursula K. Le Guin, countries we'd do better to just enjoy than try to find on a map — these strike us as mostly places it's better to visit than to live in.

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NPR Story
3:03 am
Wed November 27, 2013

It Still Isn't Easy, But Independent Bookstores Are Doing Better

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 1:36 pm

With another holiday shopping season on the horizon, one group of retailers is doing better than you might expect. Despite intense competition from Amazon and big box retailers, independent bookstores are enjoying a bit of a renaissance.

Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books in Seattle, says for a couple of decades independent booksellers have been fighting an uphill battle, but now things are finally improving.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Solid 'Frozen' Puts A Fresh Sheen On An Old Story

After her Snow Queen sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) traps the kingdom in an endless winter, Anna (Kristen Bell) gathers a gang of offbeat buddies to break the spell.
Walt Disney Pictures

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 8:04 am

The new animated musical Frozen is based — sort of, hypothetically, in theory, or at least according to the Disney studio — on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen.

Not in ways anyone would notice, however, and not in ways that will in any way distract moviegoers from thinking about the other works that seem to have influenced its creators; unlike in many animated movies, the borrowings aren't so much in-jokey as structural. Homages, of a sort, and fun to spot.

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Book Reviews
2:15 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Thanksgivukkah Stress Getting You Down? Here's A Literary Escape Plan

Iryna Denysova iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 5:13 pm

Mark your calendars: According to some scholars, the next time it might happen is the year 79,811. I'm talking, of course, about the hybrid holiday of Thanksgivukkah, a melding of Thanksgiving and the Jewish Festival of Lights. The Borsch Belt-style Pilgrim jokes and mishmash recipes (turkey brined in Manischewitz, anyone?) are flying around the Internet; but since Jews are frequently referred to as "the People of the Book" and Pilgrims pretty much lived by the Book, Thanksgivukkah seems to me like the quintessential (stressful) family holiday to celebrate by escaping into a book.

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The Salt
2:09 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

In Vermont, A Wild-Game Church Supper Feeds The Multitudes

Adventurous carnivores from all over New England have been flocking to the Wild Game Supper in Bradford, Vt., for almost 60 years. The fare at this year's event included beaver, boar, moose and buffalo.
Herb Swanson for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 6:32 pm

The wild-game supper has traditionally been a way for rural America to share the harvest before winter sets in. Food historians trace the ritual back to Colonial times, when families had to hunt in order to eat well, and some providers were better shots than others.

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NPR Story
1:21 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

At STREB Action Lab, Dance and Physics Collide

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

If you're headed to the ballet this season, chances are to hear something like the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from "The Nutcracker," this season's dance blockbuster as usual. But dance doesn't always sound this sweet. Sometimes it sounds more like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF PLEXIGLAS SLAMMING)

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Code Switch
1:19 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Trove Of Artifacts Trumpets African-American Triumphs

Hence We Come, by Norman Lewis
Courtesy of The Kinsey Collection

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 4:44 pm

Seventeen-year-old Tonisha Owens stared wide-eyed at the faded script on an 1854 letter. It was once carried by another 17-year-old — a slave named Frances. The letter was written by a plantation owner's wife to a slave dealer, saying that she needed to sell her chambermaid to pay for horses. But Frances didn't know how to read or write, and didn't know what she carried.

"She does not know she is to be sold. I couldn't tell her," the letter reads. "I own all her family and the leave taking would be so distressing that I could not."

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The Salt
11:34 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Beer-Tapping Physics: Why A Hit To A Bottle Makes A Foam Volcano

Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 10:37 am

Ah, the old beer-tapping prank: One strong hit on the top of an open beer bottle, and poof! Your IPA explodes into a brewski volcano.

"In one second, most of your beer has really turned into foam," says physicist Javier Rodriguez Rodriguez of Carlos III University in Madrid. "You better have put the bottle into your mouth, because you need to drink whatever is coming out."

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Food
11:05 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Don't Stuff The Turkey And Other Tips From 'America's Test Kitchen'

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 3:24 pm

If there's one Thanksgiving mistake Jack Bishop sees more than any other, it's people rushing to carve their birds. Bishop is editorial director of the public TV series America's Test Kitchen. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Turkey needs to rest before you carve it ... and a lot fewer juices will end up on the carving board."

Bishop and Bridget Lancaster, also of America's Test Kitchen, share their tips for buying, seasoning and cooking a turkey, and describe some of their favorite side dishes.

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Monkey See
10:39 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Katie Couric And Yahoo!: Two Brands Wondering What's Next

Katie Couric made her name on NBC's Today show, which she hosted for 15 years. Since leaving the network in 2006, Couric has anchored CBS Evening News and launched her own daytime talk show on ABC, Katie.
Ida Mae Astute AP

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 3:56 pm

Depending on which analyst you read, Katie Couric's move to become "global anchor" for Yahoo! News is either a "bad bet" and an "awkward fit," or an "upheaval in the pecking order" that could "signal the end of old media dominance."

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Arts & Life
9:54 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Saving Yourself From Thanksgiving T.M.I.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, a couple of days until Thanksgiving means just a short wait for pie. But instead of slicing it up this year, have you thought about putting it on a stick? Let us be the first to introduce you to pie pops. That's later. But first, you may get your fill of more than just dessert this holiday season. You might also be treated to a heaping helping of family news.

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Religion
9:54 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Meet Mensch On A Bench, Jewish Counterpart To Elf On The Shelf

Courtesy of Neal Hoffman

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 2:27 pm

During a visit to a store last holiday season, Jewish father Neal Hoffman felt bad telling his son Jake that he couldn't have an Elf on the Shelf. The widely popular Christmas toy is intended to watch children's behavior for Santa. Hoffman kept thinking, maybe there could be something similar, but rooted in Jewish tradition.

Hoffman, a former Hasbro employee, decided Mensch on a Bench was the answer. "A mensch means a really good person. It's a person that you strive to be," he says.

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