Arts

Movie Reviews
10:56 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

'Pacific' Overture: The Apocalypse, Off To A Bang-Up Start

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi are the human co-pilots who mind-meld to control the giant Jaegers — massive robots engineered to fight rampaging sea monsters — in Pacific Rim, a kaiju-film homage from director Guillermo del Toro.
Kerry Hayes Warner Brothers

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 2:44 pm

The simple pleasures of watching Godzilla or Ultraman doing battle on Saturday afternoon television have proved difficult to re-create since their heyday in the '70s and '80s. Big-budget Hollywood attempts to replicate the experience tend to not just be failures, but disastrous, highly polished failures on an epic scale: Roland Emmerich's 1998 take on Godzilla, for instance, or Michael Bay's Transformers series.

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Movie Reviews
5:25 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

'Terms And Conditions' And Us — Oh, My ...

NPR's digital platforms) may have you agreeing to some surprising things. Cullen Hoback's documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply illustrates just how many — and just how much control we've obligingly signed away." href="/post/terms-and-conditions-and-us-oh-my" class="noexit lightbox">
Take It Or Leave It: The legalese you accept when you use Facebook or iTunes (or NPR's digital platforms) may have you agreeing to some surprising things. Cullen Hoback's documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply illustrates just how many — and just how much control we've obligingly signed away.
Variance Films

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 11:06 am

I'm 45, single, substantially in debt and way too susceptible to jokes about redheads. And I'm telling you these things upfront because ... why not? It wouldn't be all that hard for you — or your Big Brother — to find out.

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Author Interviews
3:46 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Lessons In Bigotry And Bravery: A Girl Grows Up In 'Glory Be'

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 3:55 pm

In July, NPR's Backseat Book Club traveled to Hanging Moss, Miss., where Gloriana June Hemphill, better known as Glory, is just an ordinary little girl. But this is no ordinary summer — it's 1964 and the town has shut down the so-called "community" swimming pool to avoid integration.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Shakespeare Remixed, With A Puckish Argentine Accent

Chance encounters bring Viola (María Villar), Cecilia (Agustina Muñoz) and Ruth (Romina Paula) together in Viola, a lighthearted riff on Shakespeare from Argentine director Matias Piñeiro.
Cinema Guild

Is it the summer of Shakespearean comedy? You might not guess it from the box-office grosses, but with the release of Joss Whedon's delightful Much Ado About Nothing and now Matias Piñeiro's wondrous Viola, the spirit, if not the strict content, of Shakespeare's less bloody-minded plays is sneaking into theaters, offering an invaluable lesson to other films in how to be lighthearted without being empty-headed.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Adam Sandler, Insisting Again That He's A Really Great Guy

Improbably or not, Salma Hayek (left) and Adam Sandler (far right) are a couple again in Grown Ups 2. Billed as a comedy, the film also features Kevin James, Alexys Nicole Sanchez, Chris Rock, Maria Bello and David Spade, who in this scene are all pretending to laugh at something that in all likelihood involves poo.
Tracy Bennett Sony Pictures

Two decades ago, when stupid Hollywood comedies were relatively smart, they lampooned their own sequelitis with titles like Hot Shots! Part Deux. The genre has become less knowing since then, so the follow-up to 2010's Grown Ups is named simply Grown Ups 2.

Grown Ups Minus 2 would be more apt.

Like its predecessor, this is a vehicle for Adam Sandler, his pals and whatever they think they can get away with. That means some creepy sexual insinuations, if not so many as the first time.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

A New Day, A Last Day, For One Man At 'Fruitvale Station'

Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, an Oakland man with a checkered past and a new determination to get his life right — until one terrible night at Fruitvale Station.
The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 4:19 pm

Fruitvale Station, on the Oakland side of the San Francisco Bay: Grainy cellphone video from a day, four years ago, that commanded the nation's attention. Several young black men sit on a transit station platform, white transit police officers standing over them. There's shouting, scuffling, but nothing that looks worrisome.

Then what sounds like a shot.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

A Kindergarten, A Story And A Life In Shambles

Mads Mikkelsen's Lukas is a recently divorced kindergarten teacher whose life is turned upside down when officials leap to conclusions after a 5-year-old says something that suggests improper conduct.
Magnolia

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 4:39 pm

Lukas works in a Danish kindergarten, and it's clear he's in the right place: When the kids look at him, they see a great big toy.

That's especially true for 5-year-old Klara, the lonely daughter of Lukas' best friend, Theo. Klara's folks fight a lot, and her teenage brother is too busy looking at dirty pictures with his buddies to pay her much attention.

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Music Reviews
2:11 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Jay-Z Swings Triumphant Then Trivial On 'Magna Carta Holy Grail'

Jay-Z's previous albums include Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint. He collaborated with Kanye West for Watch the Throne.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 2:19 pm

Now 43 years old, Jay-Z has become the Jay Gatsby of hip-hop: a man with a checkered background playing host to endless parties, celebrating excellence, the good life and himself. It's no wonder that he was asked to oversee the music for director Baz Luhrmann's amusement park ride version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's romantic fantasy.

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The Salt
2:04 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Taste Of Grandma's Kitchen: We Hack An Old Ketchup Recipe

Originally published on Sun September 29, 2013 1:23 pm

Editor's Note: This post is part of All Things Considered's Found Recipes project.

Although Heinz may dominate the ketchup scene, 100 years ago it wasn't uncommon to make your own at home. So why bother doing so now, when you can just buy the bottles off the shelf? At least one man, Jim Ledvinka, was motivated by nostalgia.

"Oh, yes — we remember my grandmother making ketchup. And it was quite a sight to behold," Ledvinka says.

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Movie Interviews
12:15 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Fatal Shooting At 'Fruitvale Station' Hits Home For Film's Stars

Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer plays the mother of Oscar Grant in the film Fruitvale Station.
Ron Koeberer The Weinstein Co.

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 12:18 pm

The new film Fruitvale Station tells the true story of a young, unarmed black man who was shot and killed by an Oakland, Calif., transit police officer early on New Year's Day 2009. The death of Oscar Grant sparked days of riots and unrest in Oakland, and lots of conversations about relationships between citizens and the police. Fruitvale Station follows the 24 hours leading up to the shooting. The film won critical acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival, taking home the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It opens in select theaters on July 12.

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Code Switch
8:42 am
Thu July 11, 2013

'East Los High': Not Just Another Teen Soap

Jacob and Vanessa are crowned king and queen of the homecoming dance on the first episode of gritty high school drama East Los High.
East Los High Productions, LLC

Despite the fact that it's been generating a lot of buzz, Devious Maids is just not that interesting. Five Latina maids — is it a landmark for Latina actresses or another example of how the media stereotype Latinos? Either way, the relationship between hypersexualized domestic workers and their pretentious employers does not make for compelling television.

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The Salt
8:14 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Hipsters Off The Hook: The Truth Behind Abandoned Backyard Chickens

Don't leave me: Many cities allow hens but not roosters.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 9:15 am

From the headlines this week, I almost expected to see a hen clucking outside NPR's headquarters this morning.

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The Two-Way
5:29 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Book News: Evidence 'Overwhelming' In Apple Price-Fixing Case

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

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Exploring A Crisis Of Faith With Confessional Comics

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 5:01 pm

Confessional cartoon chronicler Jeffrey Brown's new autobiographical work, A Matter of Life, will sit next to Craig Thompson's Blankets as one of the most touching and wise graphic memoirs we have about growing up in a religious household and grappling with faith.

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All Tech Considered
1:03 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Tech-Savvy Cities May Be 'Smart,' But Are They Wise?

Cable cars move commuters over a complex of shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, one of many cities taking part in the smart city boom around the world.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 2:52 pm

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.


Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

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Fine Art
12:59 am
Thu July 11, 2013

At 90, Ellsworth Kelly Brings Joy With Colorful Canvases

In this 2007 Ellsworth Kelly piece, four separate oil-painted canvases combine to form a single work, Green Blue Black Red.
Jerry L. Thompson Courtesy of Ellsworth Kelly

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 2:52 pm

American artist Ellsworth Kelly turned 90 in May, and there's been much celebration. On Wednesday, President Obama presented Kelly with the National Medal of Arts. Meanwhile, museums around the country are showing his work: Kelly sculptures, prints and paintings are on view in New York, Philadelphia and Detroit. In Washington, D.C., the Phillips Collection is featuring his flat geometric canvases, layered to create wall sculptures.

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Code Switch
2:52 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

New Series 'The Bridge' Seeks An Audience In Two Languages

Mexican homicide detective Marco Ruiz (played by Demián Bichir) must work with his American counterpart, Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), to solve a murder on the U.S.-Mexico border in FX's new series The Bridge.
FX Network

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 6:53 pm

The U.S.-Mexico border plays a starring role in the new FX series The Bridge.

Characters in the television crime drama, which premieres Wednesday night, regularly cross back and forth through the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The show's dialogue also frequently switches between English and Spanish, setting a new standard for bilingual drama on American television.

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The Salt
2:28 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

The Science Of Twinkies: How Do They Last So Darned Long?

Unlike the dodo that sits next to it on an NPR Science Desk shelf, this year-and-a-half-old Twinkie is still around — but that doesn't mean you want to eat it.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 10:56 am

We have to confess: When we heard that Twinkies will have nearly double the shelf life, 45 days, when they return to stores next week, our first reaction was — days? Not years?

Urban legend has long deemed Twinkies the cockroaches of the snack food world, a treat that can survive for decades, what humanity would have left to eat come the apocalypse. The true shelf life — which used to be 26 days — seems somewhat less impressive by comparison.

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Law
2:21 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Scalia V. Ginsburg: Supreme Court Sparring, Put To Music

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 10:39 am

On the day after the Supreme Court concluded its epic term in June, two of the supreme judicial antagonists, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, met over a mutual love: opera.

When it comes to constitutional interpretation, the conservative Scalia and the liberal Ginsburg are leaders of the court's two opposing wings. To make matters yet more interesting, the two have been friends for decades, since long before Scalia was named to the court by President Reagan and Ginsburg by President Clinton.

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Author Interviews
12:47 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

'Blue Plate Special': A Generous Helping Of Life

Author Kate Christensen weaves her love of food and cooking into a new memoir.
Michael Sharkey Doubleday

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 1:56 pm

When novelist Kate Christensen was just a toddler, she witnessed her father beating her mother. It was a scene that would haunt Christensen for decades.

And so it's with a description of that morning that she chooses to begin her memoir Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites. The book that unfolds is an examination of the reverberations of her father's violence in her life, and a meditation on how her love of food helped her cope.

As a child, she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, she refused to identify with her mother in the scenario.

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The Salt
10:32 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Do Diet Drinks Mess Up Metabolisms?

Some researchers think that artificial sweeteners, most frequently consumed in diet drinks, may confuse the body.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 3:10 pm

It may seem counterintuitive, but there's a body of evidence to suggest that the millions of Americans with a diet soda habit may not be doing their waistlines — or their blood sugar — any favors.

As the consumption of diet drinks made with artificial sweeteners continues to rise, researchers are beginning to make some uncomfortable associations with weight gain and other diseases.

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Monkey See
9:32 am
Wed July 10, 2013

A Sunny 'Camp' Kicks Back For Summer

The promotional art for NBC's Camp tells you all you need to know.
John Tsiavis NBC

We have to begin with a discussion of how Camp, NBC's new summer comedy-drama series premiering Wednesday night at 10, begins.

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The Two-Way
5:47 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Book News: 'Ender's Game' Author Responds To Boycott Threats

Orson Scott Card poses at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2008.
Wikimedia Commons/ Nihonjoe

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 5:08 am

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

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Rhetoric Drowns Out The Thrills In Huston's 'Skinner'

iStockphoto.com

Charlie Huston's 2010 novel, Sleepless, bowled me over. What a powerful combination of combustible plot and fiery language! At the center of that book, an insomnia plague spreads across Southern California (and the rest of the country). The illness keeps you awake all night, quite fuzzy-minded during the day, and then after a couple of months it kills you. The only thing approaching an antidote is a drug called Dreamer, which makes a little sleep possible before you die.

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Kitchen Window
10:03 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Scape Velocity: Green Garlic Takes Flight

T. Susan Chang for NPR

If you've never grown garlic, here's how you do it: On a bright cool fall afternoon, before the ground has frozen, you pry an ordinary, unpeeled clove of garlic off the bulb. You plant it in the ground, about 4 inches down and pointy side up. Maybe you cover the soil with some straw to protect it from extremes of heat, cold and drought.

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Author Interviews
3:35 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Chuck Klosterman On Batman, Bad Guys And Wearing 'The Black Hat'

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 4:00 pm

News stories can often be distilled into good guys versus bad guys, heroes versus villains. But what makes a villain? What's the difference between a garden-variety bad guy and an evil genius, besides a couple of IQ points? Those are the questions pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman grapples with in his new book, I Wear The Black Hat.

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Music Reviews
12:11 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Two New Jazz Albums Recall The Wide Open Spaces of The West

Rich Halley and his quartet play with Bobby Bradford at the Penofin Jazz Festival.
Bob Pyle Rich Halley

Portland, Ore. tenor saxophonist Rich Halley's quartet album Crossing the Passes on his Pine Eagle label commemorates a week-long trek over the Wallowa mountain range in Northeast Oregon, where Halley's been climbing since he was a boy. We could talk about his dual obsessions with music and nature as cultivating a love of wide-open improvisational spaces; he's got one band that only plays outdoors. But all that climbing also has practical benefits: It builds lung-power.

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Latin America
11:42 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Drugs, Chaos And Violence Darken Mexico's 'Midnight'

In his new book, Alfredo Corchado writes about the escalating violence in Mexico.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:11 pm

When Alfredo Corchado went to cover Mexico for The Dallas Morning News, he was determined not to focus on drugs and crime but rather to cover issues critical to the country's future — immigration, education and the economy.

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The Salt
10:12 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Why Micro-Gardening Could Go Big

Square Foot Gardening, makes it easy to grow 15 to 20 pounds of food in a small space with a plastic mat that serves as a garden planting guide." href="/post/why-micro-gardening-could-go-big" class="noexit lightbox">
The Nourishmat, which is inspired by Square Foot Gardening, makes it easy to grow 15 to 20 pounds of food in a small space with a plastic mat that serves as a garden planting guide.
Courtesy of Earth Starter

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 3:10 pm

Most urban consumers are happy to leave farming to the farmers, but for those with a green thumb, it is getting easier to garden in the city. That's thanks, in part, to DIYers sharing ideas for reusing old materials to garden in and a new range of tools designed to get many more people involved with growing some of their own food.

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The Two-Way
5:15 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Book News: Barnes & Noble's CEO Quits

  • Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch Jr. resigned Monday following several grim earnings reports and the company's recent announcement that it would stop manufacturing its own Nook tablets. A new chief executive wasn't named, but Michael P. Huseby has been named president of Barnes & Noble and chief executive of the Nook division.
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