Based on Beth Raymer's memoir, Lay the Favorite has a cheeky, double-meaning title that sets up the story and the irreverent tone with impressive efficiency; the reference is both to the gambling practice of betting for the favorite and to the heroine's generous sexual proclivities.
There's nothing particularly special about Edward Burns' wry family drama The Fitzgerald Family Christmas –-- but that makes it something of a relief amid the avalanche of overlong, big-ticket prestige films that comes tumbling into theaters this time of year.
You've probably seen some version of this story before: A crotchety and unreliable old man, long estranged from most of his family, attempts desperately to reconnect with them on Christmas Day. It's urgent, because he's harboring a Secret with a capital S.
Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 8:24 am
Something like deja vu takes hold during the opening shots of Donald Rice's debut feature, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding. With the insistent, urgent push of orchestral strings in the background, he offers up establishing shots of a bucolic English country manor, early 20th-century automobiles, and a bell ringing down in the servants' hall. That feeling of anticipation rising in many viewers' chests may be their hearts readying themselves for the tense post-Victorian drama of the popular TV series Downton Abbey, which is what that opening rather too directly recalls.
Everyone gets roughed up pretty bad in Deadfall, a pop-Freudian thriller set in Michigan's north woods. But nobody comes off worse than the out-of-towners: Australian star Eric Bana and Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky.
As Hollywood movies increasingly strive for immaculate blankness, they have come to resemble Rorschach ink blots. For example, Playing for Keeps, a new movie about a divorced couple who just might reunite: Is it a heartwarming romantic drama? Or a cynical sex and sports comedy? There is no wrong answer, dear ticket buyer.
As Syrian fighting intensifies in Syria, diplomatic efforts are also heating up.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the main international envoy to Syria were all in Dublin for an international gathering Thursday. The meeting came as Syria's opposition tries to get better organized to offer a real alternative to President Bashar Assad's regime.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
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And I'm Melissa Block.
What is the endgame to the bloody crisis in Syria? That question is ringing from Washington to Dublin to Damascus today. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. is very concerned the Assad regime might resort to chemical weapons. He warned of serious consequences if that were to happen.
Senator Jim DeMint on Thursday announced that he will not return to the new Congress, and instead will resign early next month. DeMint will instead lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
In the Cleveland area, there's a plan to inspire kids to start thinking about college early on by giving them seed money. Officials want to set up kindergarteners with savings accounts. Though the initial $100 deposit isn't likely to cover much, the hope is that it will inspire them to take the idea of going to college seriously.
In 2008 and 2011, respectively, Miguel Zenón and Dafnis Prieto received MacArthur Fellowships — known as "Genius Grants" — from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. They were cited for their achievements in expanding boundaries and combining vocabularies. And you can hear them in action from Newport on JazzSet.
White House spokesman Jay Carney briefs reporters Thursday at the White House. "This administration does not believe the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period," he said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney put an end to intense speculation Thursday about whether President Obama would do an end run around Congress with one simple line: "This administration does not believe the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling — period."
Some Democrats had been urging Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit — a bold move that would take away Republican leverage in the ongoing negotiations over taxes and spending.
For the past decade, Spelman College, a historically black women's school in Atlanta, has fielded NCAA teams in basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball and other sports. But when its small Division III conference started dwindling, college President Beverly Tatum says the school decided it was time to change focus.
"We have to ask ourselves: What is the cost of the program and who is benefiting? How many people are benefiting? Is the benefit worth the cost?" Tatum asks.
A Syrian soldier aims his rifle during clashes with rebel forces in the Damascus suburb of Daraya on Sunday. Syrian soldiers have been taking over private homes and apartments, and have sometimes looted and trashed them, according to Syrian civilians.
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 12:35 pm
Editor's Note: Throughout the Syrian uprising, the government has allowed few foreign journalists and other outsiders into the country. In this report, a Syrian citizen describes life in the capital, Damascus. For security reasons, NPR is not identifying the author.
House Republicans and the White House are at a stalemate over how best to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. As the deficit deadline approaches, the priority for Senate Budget Committee member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is to protect the middle class.
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:26 pm
History was made at midnight in Washington on two fronts last night: Bans on both gay marriage and recreational marijuana use were lifted.
As you might expect, as the sun set and the clock struck 12, there were scenes of celebration across the state's biggest city. The pictures tell the story, so with that here are five photographs from Seattle.
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 2:10 pm
The earthy smell of a fresh beet may spark delicious thoughts for us, but for a fruit fly, that smell screams danger.
Geosmin, a naturally occurring chemical that gives beets, fresh soil and corked wine their distinctive smell, is also cranked out by bacteria deadly to fruit flies. And it turns out that the tiny flies have a direct pathway from nose to brain made just to detect that smell — and avoid the toxic microbes that produce it.
"Were going to blink and be 90," Debbie tells Paul. "We have to make a choice to make things different."
Credit Suzanne Hanover / Universal Studios
Pete's friend Barry (Robert Smigel) offers some advice on entering middle age.
Credit Suzanne Hanover / Universal Studios
Five years after Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their roles as married couple Pete and Debbie. Now years into their marriage with two kids (played by Iris and Maude Apatow), Pete and Debbie approach 40 less than gracefully.
Since earning a cult following for his acclaimed television show Freaks and Geeks, writer, producer, and director Judd Apatow has become a brand name. He has a new movie out this month — This Is 40 — and also guest-edits the January "Comedy Issue" of Vanity Fair.
He's an executive producer for the HBO show Girls and previously wrote, produced and directed the 2005 comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 10:36 am
A hacker associated with the collective Anonymous has been convicted in Britain today for attacks against the websites of PayPal, Mastercard and Visa.
Christopher Weatherhead was found guilty following the guilty pleas of three others — Jake Birchall, Ashley Rhodes and Peter Gibson. If you remember, the four were arrested for orchestrating denial of service attacks against the companies because they had stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks.
College athletics and academics are often at odds. One professor says it's time to end the charade and let athletes major in what they love - sports. Host Michel Martin speaks with Professor David Pargman of Florida State University, about why he thinks his proposal is more honest than what colleges are currently doing.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we've been hearing a lot of debate about whether the relationship between colleges and their student athletes is a fair one. Now, one educator is suggesting that we treat these athletes the same way we do performing artists. Why not let them major in sports? We'll have more on that in just a few minutes.
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 11:50 am
It's no surprise that how much a person eats determines how full they feel right after a meal. But it's the memory of that meal, and not the meal itself, that matters a couple of hours later. So does this mean you trick yourself into thinness? Probably not. But it does tell us something about the role that manipulating memory may play in calorie intake.