Arts/Life

Movie Interviews
10:03 am
Fri April 26, 2013

'Guilt Trip': Streisand On Songs, Film And Family

Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster in The Guilt Trip. The multitalented performer has won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony — a feat achieved by fewer than a dozen artists.
Sam Emerson Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 6:04 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 17, 2012.

If a good voice is genetic, it's likely Barbra Streisand got hers from her mother. Streisand's mother was too shy to ever perform professionally, but she had a lyric soprano and would sing at bar mitzvahs in their Brooklyn neighborhood when Streisand was a girl.

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Monkey See
8:41 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Our Great Big Summer Movies Show

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

This is the time of year when we take a deep breath and a look ahead to the long summer movie season. And this year, as Stephen is quick to point out, things look pretty dire. There's a lot of apocalyptic stuff going on, and zombies, and vampires, and even the Iron Man movie looks dark. (Don't even get us started on the fact that the Star Trek movie is actually subtitled "Into Darkness.")

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Monkey See
6:27 am
Fri April 26, 2013

How 'The Office' Took A Scene From The Heart And Shot It In The Foot

John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer as Jim and Pam Halpert.
Chris Haston NBC

This has been a difficult year for The Office. There are only three episodes left after "Paper Airplanes," which aired Thursday night, and where 30 Rock rallied as it headed to the finish, The Office has seemed lost, particularly by devoting substantial time to world-building Dwight's beet farm, a remnant of a failed spin-off effort.

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The Salt
12:48 am
Fri April 26, 2013

So Jerry Seinfeld Called Us To Talk About Coffee

In an episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee called "Larry Eats A Pancake," Jerry Seinfeld has coffee with Larry David.
YouTube

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:48 pm

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Media
3:15 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

China's CCTV America Walks The Line Between 2 Media Traditions

Before joining CCTV America, Phillip T.K. Yin was an anchor and reporter for Bloomberg Television.
CCTV America

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 6:16 pm

At a time when so many major American news organizations are cutting back, foreign news agencies are beefing up their presence abroad and in the U.S. One of the biggest new players arrives from China and, more likely than not, can be found on a television set near you.

CCTV, or China Central Television, is owned by the Chinese government. With more than 40 channels in China and an offshoot in the U.S., the broadcaster has been highly profitable for the country's ruling Communist Party, which is liking profits a lot these days.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Between Two Worlds, A 'Reluctant Fundamentalist'

A probing conversation between Changez (Riz Ahmed), a young Pakistani activist, and Bobby (Liev Schreiber), an American agent, forms the core of The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
IFC Films

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 9:08 am

Coming as it does amid intense public debate about the alienation of immigrants in America, the release of Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist is both timely and slightly eerie.

The movie, based on a well-received novel by Mohsin Hamid, charts the political and spiritual journey of Changez, a driven young Pakistani who arrives in New York determined to succeed, American-style.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Arthur Newman': A Bored Man's Bland Ambition

Mike (Emily Blunt) and Wallace (Colin Firth) try on new clothes — and new identities — in the unconvincing comedy Arthur Newman.
Cinedigm Entertainment Group

Being a movie actor is glamorous servitude. On the silver screen, the actor's presence is necessarily bigger than life — yet it's often yoked to parts that are much smaller.

The dreary Arthur Newman inspires such musings not just because it's about role-playing, but also because its two principals are so clearly acting — if for no other reason than they're famous Brits playing ordinary Yanks. This is a movie that wants viewers to believe that Colin Firth, best known to filmgoers as King George VI, is a nobody from nowheresville.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Big Wedding': But The Reception Was A Riot

Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and Missy (Amanda Seyfried) take a break from the chaos swirling around their Big Wedding to appreciate the luck that brought so many big-name celebrities out for their big day.
Barry Wetcher Lionsgate

If anything, the title of The Big Wedding feels like an understatement. The wedding that gives the film its climactic setting is outsize, to be sure, but then so is everything about this overstuffed farce.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Pain & Gain': Michael Bay's Suffering Fools

Paul (Dwayne Johnson), Daniel (Mark Wahlberg) and Adrian (Anthony Mackie) are three Miami bodybuilders with big ambitions and not much in the way of smarts.
Mark Fellman Paramount Pictures

For Michael Bay, the director of Armageddon and the Transformers movies, to comment on the excesses of American culture would be a little like — well, Michael Bay commenting on the excesses of American culture.

And yet that's exactly what he does with Pain & Gain, a stranger-than-fiction yarn about a South Florida crime spree that points and snickers in the direction of precisely the supersized grotesquerie that's long been Bay's stock-in-trade. He blankets the film in a tone of smug self-awareness that obscures everything but its bald hypocrisy.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Kon-Tiki:' Seaworthy, And Then Some

The titular craft in Kon-Tiki might seem an unlikely vessel to conquer the high seas — but the real-life Norwegian explorer and journalist Thor Heyerdahl put it to just such a test in 1947. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg dramatize his story in a handsome new movie filmed simultaneously in both English and Norwegian versions.
The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 8:35 am

Early in Kon-Tiki, a dramatization of Thor Heyerdahl's famous 1947 trans-Pacific raft expedition, the Norwegian ethnographer arrives at the New York Explorers Club trying to drum up support for his crazy adventure.

Though the host initially tells him he's not welcome — Heyerdahl (Pal Sverre Hagen) has already been soundly rejected by every publisher, magazine editor and potential financier in the city — the Danish explorer Peter Freuchen (Soren Pilmark) recognizes him and lets him in.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

In 'Paradise,' Pursuing Something Less Than Love

Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel) travels to a beach resort in Kenya for vacation, where she dabbles in sex tourism with a series of local men.
Strand Relesasing

The opening sequence of Paradise: Love doesn't really have anything to do with what follows, but it does establish director Ulrich Seidl's unflinching eye. At a pavilion somewhere in Austria, a group of cognitively challenged children, many apparently with Down syndrome, ride bumper cars under the supervision of Teresa (Margarethe Tiesel). There's no hint of sentimentality, no attempt at reassurance.

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Theater
2:59 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

On Broadway, One Runt To Rule Them All

The Broadway musical Matilda put NPR's Bob Mondello in mind of two other big-budget tuners with plucky kids at the center of the action — and got him thinking about what these shows say about their eras.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 6:16 pm

Broadway's newest family-friendly musical, Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl novel about a precocious child who proves smarter than all the adults in her life, opened earlier this month to some of the best reviews of the year.

While it's a brand-new show, seeing it jogged my memory — jogged it all the way back to my very first commentary for All Things Considered exactly 29 years ago.

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The Salt
1:38 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Masterpiece In A Mug: Japanese Latte Art Will Perk You Up

Courtesy of Kazuki Yamamoto

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:48 pm

Clovers? Hearts? That's small fries, guys. It's time you met The Cat:

That 3-D creation is the work of Japanese latte artist Kazuki Yamamoto. The 26-year-old resident of Osaka creates ephemeral works of art in espresso and foam.

From whimsical monsters crafted from milk froth ...

... to adorable homages to favorite childhood cartoon characters ...

Yamamoto's art makes you regret the need to consume the canvas.

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Arts & Life
12:06 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Steadicam Inventor Joins Inventors Hall of Fame

Garrett Brown with Sylvester Stallone during the filming of Rocky II.
Courtesy Garrett Brown

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 9:32 am

Rocky Balboa's sprint up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum in Rocky is a scene that would have once been impossible to film. Camera innovator Garrett Brown made it possible when he invented the Steadicam, a body-mounted camera that stabilizes handheld shots.

Brown has received three Academy Awards for his technical inventions and holds 50 patents for cinematography devices. The college dropout-turned-inventor will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May.

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Television
10:58 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Matthew Weiner On 'Mad Men' And Meaning

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was also a writer and producer on The Sopranos for a time.
Michael Yarish AMC

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 11:37 am

The sixth season of AMC's Mad Men, which premiered April 7, jumps forward in time a few months from where the fifth season concluded. The first episode of the season comes to a close on New Year's Day 1968. That date was designed to set the tone for the entire season.

That year, says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, is, "as far as I can tell, in the top two or three worst years in U.S. history."

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Arts & Life
9:44 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Listener Muses About Visions And Cherry Blossoms

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now the latest in our series Muses and Metaphor. We are celebrating National Poetry Month by hearing your poems that you've been sending us via Twitter. Today we hear from Sarah Jones of Seattle. She recently moved from Los Angeles with her husband and two sons and says her family made it just in time to see the cherry trees blossom. Here she is.

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The Two-Way
5:12 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Book News: Maya Angelou Out Of Hospital, Recovering At Home

Writer and poet Maya Angelou attends her 82nd birthday party in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Steve Exum Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 7:27 am

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

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First Reads
5:03 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Exclusive First Read: 'A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena'

AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 11:13 am

  • Listen to the Excerpt

Until last week, when the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings were revealed to be Chechen, you might not have spent much time thinking about Chechnya. It's far away. It might not even be the country you're picturing as you read this.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu April 25, 2013

'Woman Upstairs': Friendly On The Outside, Furious On The Inside

Claire Messud's cosmopolitan sensibilities infuse her fiction with a refreshing cultural fluidity. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady (1995), followed two midlife sisters in search of new beginnings, one in Bali and the other on the Isle of Skye. In her second novel, The Last Life (1999), a teenager reacting to a family crisis pondered her father's origins in Algeria and southern France, and her mother's New England roots.

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Author Interviews
1:26 am
Thu April 25, 2013

First Western War In Afghanistan Was An 'Imperial Disaster'

Knopf

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 12:46 am

The year is 1839, and two great empires — Great Britain and Russia — are treating the world map like a chessboard, trying to outmaneuver one another for territory. For no reason other than geography, Afghanistan gets caught in the middle.

Today, as the U.S. ends its war in Afghanistan, historian William Dalrymple recounts the first time a Western power fought in that country. In Return of a King, Dalrymple details Great Britain's attempt to control Afghanistan by putting an ousted king back on the throne — a plan that went famously wrong.

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Theater
1:23 am
Thu April 25, 2013

'Pippin' Revival Is A Circus Of A Show

The role of the Leading Player (Patina Miller) becomes a kind of circus ringmaster in the new Broadway revival of Stephen Schwartz's 1972 musical Pippin.
Joan Marcus

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 12:46 am

When Pippin opened in 1972, it was a sensation. Directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, who was coming off his Academy Award-winning film version of Cabaret, it was a showbiz triumph of jazz hands, sexy dancing and theatrical magic.

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Arts & Life
12:17 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Getting The Gig: The Life Of A Career Poet

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 10:15 am

Transcript

NEAL CONAN, HOST:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan.

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Author Interviews
12:05 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

'Let's Explore': David Sedaris On His Public Private Life

This American Life and in The New Yorker, and have now filled seven essay collections -- most recently, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls." href="/post/lets-explore-david-sedaris-his-public-private-life" class="noexit lightbox">
David Sedaris' stories have appeared on This American Life and in The New Yorker, and have now filled seven essay collections -- most recently, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls.
Hugh Hamrick Little, Brown and Co.

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 5:43 pm

David Sedaris writes personal stories, funny tales about his life growing up in a Greek family outside of Raleigh, N.C., about working as an elf in Santa's workshop at Christmastime, and about living abroad with his longtime partner, Hugh.

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Book Reviews
11:14 am
Wed April 24, 2013

'Equilaterial': Martians, Oil And A Hole In The Desert

Johan Swanepoel iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 8:08 am

Equilateral is a weird little novel, but any reader familiar with Ken Kalfus expects his writing to go off-road. Kalfus wrote one of the best and certainly the least sentimental novels about New York City post-9/11. I loved A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, but I stopped assigning it to students in my New York lit class because they were usually turned off by its black humor and lack of uplift. Equilateral doesn't run that same risk of being in bad taste as social commentary because, at first, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with current events.

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Monkey See
10:18 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Tribeca Diary: 'The Kill Team'

U.S. Army Spc. Adam Winfield is the subject of the documentary The Kill Team, which focuses on his ongoing legal struggles after being accused of the premeditated murder of an unarmed Afghan in 2010.
Tribeca Film Festival / ITVS

Writer Joel Arnold is surveying the scene at the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs in New York City through April 28. He'll be filing occasional dispatches for Monkey See.

At Tribeca over the weekend, I was initially reluctant to seek out The Kill Team, a documentary focused on American soldiers charged in the 2010 murders of three Afghan civilians — this, after a week when senseless violence felt especially close to home.

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Arts & Life
9:53 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Listener Muses About Mom's Love For Dad

Tell Me More celebrates National Poetry Month by hearing poetic tweets from listeners for the 'Muses and Metaphor' series. Today's poem comes from Roberta Beary. She tweets about her mother's loving gestures toward her father — even after his death.

Monkey See
7:56 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Ryan Lochte And The Easy Life Of The Professional Public Dummy

Ryan Lochte, seen here during the London Olympics in 2012, has a new reality show on E!.
Ng Han Guan Getty Images

Is there any reason to be a professional public hero anymore when you can be a professional public dummy?

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The Two-Way
5:24 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Book News: Letters Reveal A Caustic But Affectionate Salinger

A photo of J.D. Salinger taken in September 1961.
AP

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 9:01 am

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

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed April 24, 2013

False Notes In Allende's Dear-Diary 'Notebook'

At 19, Maya Vidal, the California-born heroine of Isabel Allende's florid, frenzied and intermittently entertaining novel Maya's Notebook, has already busted out of a wilderness academy for troubled teens in Oregon, been raped and beaten by a trucker, worked as a girl Friday for a drug dealer/counterfeiter and done some $10 hooking in Las Vegas.

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The Salt
1:24 am
Wed April 24, 2013

How Coffee Influenced The Course Of History

An overseer sits in the shade while workers collect coffee beans on a Brazilian plantation, circa 1750.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:49 pm

Coffee is a powerful beverage. On a personal level, it helps keep us awake and active. On a much broader level, it has helped shape our history and continues to shape our culture.

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