Arts/Life

Movie Reviews
3:57 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

'Yossi': Out In Israel, And That's Just Fine

After his lover dies in a military exercise, a devastated Yosssi (Ohad Knoller) must move from grief and shame into acceptance of his homosexuality.
Strand Releasing

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 7:18 am

In the decade since Israeli director Eytan Fox made Yossi & Jagger, the precursor to his sublimely tender new drama Yossi, Israel has undergone two significant changes. A tacit and active homophobia has given way, at least in the open cultural climate of Tel Aviv, to a matter-of-fact acceptance of gay rights. At the same time, Israeli cinema has bloomed, becoming a thriving international presence in just about every genre.

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Monkey See
3:06 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Home Video Review: 'Buster Keaton: The Ultimate Collection'

Buster Keaton, aka "The Great Stone Face," brought side-splitting comedy to the silent-screen era. Here, he's pictured in 1924's The Navigator.
Kino Lorber

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 3:44 pm

Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from NPR movie critic Bob Mondello. A quiet recommendation — because Bob is touting the Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection, a 14-disc set of classic silent comedies.

Silent film had three great clowns. Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp is the one everyone remembers; all-American daredevil Harold Lloyd is the one who made the most money; and Buster Keaton was the genius.

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Movie Interviews
3:06 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Filmmaker Holds Up 'A Mirror' In Interviews With Israel's 'Gatekeepers'

The interviews that form the core of The Gatekeepers began with a connection to Ami Ayalon, who was the head of Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000.
Avner Shahaf Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:36 pm

The Gatekeepers is an Israeli documentary based on long interviews with the six surviving heads of the Shin Bet — that's Israel's domestic security service. These six "gatekeepers" were in charge for more than 30 years.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

'Resolution': Another Cabin, A Very Different Show

Chris (Vinny Curran) resists his friend Mike's (Peter Cilella) attempts to save him from drug addiction in the indie horror film Resolution. As unsettling intrusions into their rundown rural abode mount, however, they both might need a different kind of rescue.
Tribeca Film

Staging a one-on-one intervention with a drug-addicted friend carries certain risks. At the very least, the long-term survival of your friendship is in jeopardy. If the friend is a gun-obsessed meth head living in an abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere, your own survival may be in question.

But surely, whatever the other dangers of staging a forced detox, at the very least you don't usually have to worry about malevolent and potentially supernatural forces stalking you.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

The Hard-Earned Liberty Of 'Happy People'

The simple, rough-edged lives of the Russian villagers in Werner Herzog's documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga make for a rhythmic study of ancient natural harmonies.
Music Box Films

It's midway through Burden of Dreams, the superb documentary about the making of his glorious 1982 fiasco Fitzcarraldo, and iconoclastic director Werner Herzog has had enough.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

A Political 'Knife Fight' With All The Edge Of A Spork

Political consultant Paul Turner (Rob Lowe) may be "the master of disaster," but the campaign satire Knife Fight doesn't give him much of an edge.
IFC Films

Framed for television and photographed in faded panels of astonishing blahness, Knife Fight is a dull political dramedy that ping-pongs between caustic misanthropy and soapy sentiment. Playing like a mashup of tropes from far superior small- and large-screen entertainments (Scandal, House of Lies, Ides of March), this clunky feature from Bill Guttentag is satire at its most soft-bellied and toadying.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Spoiler Alert: 'John Dies,' But The Rest? Who Can Tell?

Journalist Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) interprets the bizarro story at the heart of the too-twisty horror fantasy John Dies at the End.
Magnet Releasing

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 10:11 am

There's a fine line between a genre filmmaker with an offbeat sensibility and a maker of prefab cult movies — someone who appeals too aggressively to a cult audience that doesn't yet exist. Don Coscarelli's career has inched too far across that line.

The creator of the Phantasm series, which developed a dense and satisfying (if fan-oriented) mythology, and the prime fantasy cheese The Beastmaster, Coscarelli has lately been a cult alchemist, mixing up quirky elements aimed at winning a following that his previous films won effortlessly.

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The Salt
2:06 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Maxing Out The Mini Season For Maine Shrimp

Trawlers in the Gulf of Maine are allowed to catch Maine shrimp during a limited season that started this week.
Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 5:29 pm

To Mainers, cold-water shrimp pulled from the Gulf of Maine in midwinter by a shrinking fleet of fisherman are many things: fresh, sweet, delicious, affordable, precious.

"The absolute best thing about them is that they are almost exclusively ours," boasts Portland-based architect and Maine shrimp lover Ric Quesada. He revels in the fact that Maine shrimp don't travel well out of state. "You don't run errands with these in your car. They want to go right home and be eaten," he says.

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Author Interviews
10:32 am
Thu January 24, 2013

'Going Clear': A New Book Delves Into Scientology

The Church of Scientology building in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard on Aug. 28, 2011.
AK2 iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 4:50 am

In the introduction to his new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright writes, "Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the 20th century and survived into the 21st."

The book is a look inside the world of Scientology and the life of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986. A recent ad for Scientology claims to welcome 4.4 million new converts each year.

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Ask Me Another
8:14 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Small Screen Test

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 8:44 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Next up on ASK ME ANOTHER, we have our two new contestants, Scott Schwartz and Julieanne Smolinski.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Julieanne, I want to talk to you about this. You, you're a little famous.

JULIEANNE SMOLINSKI: Oh thank you, yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yes. People in the audience know. Can you...

SMOLINSKI: Those are my friends. They don't count at all.

EISENBERG: They - oh that's your friends. Do you know what I'm actually talking about when I just say that to you?

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Ask Me Another
8:14 am
Thu January 24, 2013

I'm A P.C.

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 8:44 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

All right everybody, this is what we've all been waiting for, our Ask Me One More final round. Our final elimination round will determine the grand champion of this week's ASK ME ANOTHER. Let's bring back the winners from all of our previous rounds. From Bingo: Tony Hightower.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: From Breakfast Cereal Haiku: Karl Devries.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: On with their heads: Tom Kelso.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And Small Screen Test: Julieanne Smolinski.

(APPLAUSE)

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Ask Me Another
8:14 am
Thu January 24, 2013

B-I-N-G-O

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 8:44 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

All right, let's start the show? You guys ready to start the show?

JONATHAN COULTON: Yes.

EISENBERG: All right, let's do it.

COULTON: Please.

EISENBERG: We have our first contestants. Give them a hand everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right. Hi, Tony Hightower. Welcome.

TONY HIGHTOWER: Hi, Ophira.

EISENBERG: You're originally from Toronto.

HIGHTOWER: I am.

EISENBERG: And you are a singer.

HIGHTOWER: I do sing. I have sang.

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Ask Me Another
8:14 am
Thu January 24, 2013

On With Their Heads

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 9:47 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Alright. Let's welcome our next two contestants, Jamie Fried and Tom Kelso.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Hi Tom Kelso.

TOM KELSO: Hello Ophira.

EISENBERG: Do you have some experience in the theatre, being onstage in the past?

KELSO: Quite a bit, I've done shows in Louisiana, here in New York, Chicago, Baltimore.

EISENBERG: As an actor or?

KELSO: Both as an actor and backstage.

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Ask Me Another
8:14 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Breakfast Cereal Haiku

Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 8:44 am

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER, answering questions since 2012. I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg, and with me is puzzler extraordinaire Noah Tarnow.

(APPLAUSE)

NOAH TARNOW: Hello. Thank you, Ophira.

EISENBERG: Hi, thank you. Thank you for being a puzzler extraordinaire.

TARNOW: You're welcome. I worked hard to get here today.

EISENBERG: I know, I don't use that lightly, either. Sometimes I just say puzzle good guy.

TARNOW: Yeah.

EISENBERG: You know, extraordinaire's a big deal.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Thu January 24, 2013

An 'Artful' Approach To Literary Criticism

Penguin Press

Ali Smith's superb new book, Artful, began as a series of talks on comparative literature that were delivered at St. Anne's College, Oxford, in January and February of last year. It must've been one hell of a show. "The second week, the students had tripled," Smith told The Independent, and by the final week you couldn't find an open seat in the back row.

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Research News
1:37 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Shall I Encode Thee In DNA? Sonnets Stored On Double Helix

William Shakespeare, depicted in this 17th century painting, penned his sonnets on parchment. Now his words have found a new home ... in twisting strands of DNA.
Attributed to John Taylor National Portrait Gallery

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 11:19 am

English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare "that his drama is the mirror of life." Now the Bard's words have been translated into life's most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.

It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.

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Author Interviews
1:33 am
Thu January 24, 2013

'Insurgents' Hoped To Change Military From Within

Barbara Sax AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 11:30 am

National security reporter Fred Kaplan was the first to publicly link Paula Broadwell to Gen. David Petraeus in last fall's affair scandal, but that's not the topic of his new book. In fact, it's barely an addendum. Instead, Kaplan focuses in depth on counterinsurgency — a cornerstone of Petraeus' legacy.

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Fine Art
3:12 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

In 'According To What?' Ai Weiwei Makes Mourning Subversive

Grapes, a spiky cluster of wooden stools from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), is part of Ai Weiwei's repurposed furniture series.
Cathy Carver Courtesy Hirshhorn Museum

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 2:48 pm

How do we honor the dead? How do we commit them to memory? And how do we come to terms with the way they died?

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Asia
11:19 am
Wed January 23, 2013

'Friends' Will Be There For You At Beijing's Central Perk

Customers chat at a Beijing cafe modeled after the Central Perk cafe in the hit American sitcom Friends, in 2010. Nearly a decade after the series ended, the popularity of Friends continues among young Chinese, who use the show as a language-learning tool and enjoy its depiction of young Americans.
Ng Han Guan AP

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 6:53 pm

Almost a decade since the end of the hit American TV series Friends, the show — and, in particular, the fictitious Central Perk cafe, where much of the action took place — is enjoying an afterlife in China's capital, Beijing. Here, the show that chronicled the exploits of New York City pals Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey is almost seen as a lifestyle guide.

Tucked away on the sixth floor of a Beijing apartment block is a mini replica of the cafe, orange couch and all, whose owner Du Xin introduces himself by saying, "Everyone calls me 'Gunther' here."

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Television
8:59 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Jimmy Kimmel: Making Late Night A Family Affair

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel interviews Mel Brooks on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Randy Holmes ABC

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 10:04 am

This month, Jimmy Kimmel's late-night ABC talk show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, joins the 11:35 p.m. nightly lineup — which puts him in direct competition with two reining comedy kings: Jay Leno and Kimmel's idol, David Letterman.

Kimmel, who paid tribute to Letterman at the Kennedy Center Honors in December, didn't break the news to Letterman himself.

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Kitchen Window
5:38 am
Wed January 23, 2013

A Slight Twist On The Sunday Roast

Deena Prichep for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 11:08 am

There are certain foods that are almost as fun to say as they are to eat. This is especially true when it comes to British cuisine. There are the easy jokes about bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes), bubble and squeak (fried patties of cabbage, potatoes and any other random leftovers) and stargazy pie (savory pastry with whole sardines horrifyingly poking their heads out the top crust). While it doesn't have quite the same Anglotastic drama, my favorite entry in the genre is the simple Sunday roast.

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Book Reviews
5:03 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Here's To The Pleasures Of 'Drinking With Men'

iStockphoto.com

"More than anywhere else," writes Rosie Schaap, "bars are where I've figured out how to relate to others and how to be myself." It's the same for a lot of us, though many won't admit it. Americans tend to have a weirdly puritanical view of drinking, and a lot of people see bars as nothing more than havens for lowlifes and alcoholics. But as Schaap points out in her new memoir, they're missing out. "You can drink at home. But a good bar? ... It's more like a community center, for people — men and women — who happen to drink."

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Movie Interviews
1:26 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Mel Brooks, 'Unhinged' And Loving It

Mel Brooks has made a name for himself with comedy classics like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and The Producers.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 3:28 pm

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

A Poignant Voyage On 'The Pirogue'

More than 30 men set out to sea in the titular boat of The Pirogue. With that many actors and only an hour of time, not every character gets fleshed out — but the director's eye for singular faces helps.
ArtMattan Productions

The journey from Senegal and poverty to Europe and supposed prosperity takes seven days by fishing boat. The Pirogue spends only about an hour on open water, but that's enough to convey the risks that make the trip foolish, and the desperation that makes it inevitable.

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Movies
2:58 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Female Directors Make Strong Showing At Sundance

A scene from director Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale, an entry in this year's U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. It dramatizes the 2009 shooting of an unarmed man by a Bay Area transit police officer.
Rachel Morrison Sundance Film Festival

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 3:28 pm

Sundance, the biggest American film festival, has been known for its off-kilter picks. Steven Zeitchik, arts and entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times, tells NPR's Melissa Block that this year's gathering in Park City, Utah, is no different.

Sex Sells At Sundance

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Author Interviews
2:57 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

A Historic Arrival: New York's Grand Central Turns 100

Beams of sunlight stream through the windows of Grand Central Terminal, circa 1930.
Hal Morey Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 2, 2013 11:44 am

Where's the Apple store? Where's the bathroom? How do I get out of here?

Those are some of the most commonly asked questions from people visiting New York's Grand Central Terminal, according to information booth officer Audrey Johnson-Gordon. And it's no wonder: The terminal boasts passages, ramps, restaurants, stores, subway connections and more passages. It is, after all, a temple of transit, full of people going somewhere else in a hurry.

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Movies
1:56 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Sundance Subsidy Stirs Conservative Pushback

Robert Redford's annual Sundance Film Festival draws thousands of filmgoers and millions of dollars to snowy Park City, Utah. But a state subsidy contributing to the event is drawing controversy from some conservatives, who say films screened at the festival don't reflect the values of the state.
Jemal Countess Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 6:48 pm

A disagreement between supporters of the Sundance Film Festival and a conservative think tank in Utah is raising questions about whether tax dollars should support the arts. The Sutherland Institute says some films screened at Sundance do not reflect Utah values.

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The Salt
12:36 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

The Inaugural Food Scene In 12 Bites

The restaurant Equinox served a Sunday brunch on Jan. 20 featuring courses inspired by President Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s favorite foods, including this salad of citrus cured arctic char with watermelon radish, mache leaves and lobster vinaigrette.
Daniel M.N. Turner Daniel M.N. Turner / NPR

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 7:32 am

Uptown and downtown in D.C. this weekend, some 600,000 people or so celebrated President Obama's second inauguration. And they were hungry.

Reflecting the president's message of diversity, city chefs and caterers turned out everything from highbrow brunches featuring smoked salmon and eggs Benedict to a luau, complete with leis and a spit-roasted pig. And there were plenty of hot dogs and chicken and waffles to be found between the balls.

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Parenting
10:09 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Comedian Margaret Cho As 'Mother To The World'

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice.

Today, though, we're going to go in a different direction for some observations about parenthood and, unusually for us, she is actually not a parent herself, but her observations about her own mom have been a cornerstone of her career. Here she is.

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Book Reviews
10:03 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Missing Out: On The Uses Of Dissatisfaction

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 9:11 am

From Malcolm Gladwell to the Freakonomics guys to (discredited) science writer Jonah Lehrer, writers these past few years have flooded bookstores with popular nonfiction titles that purport to tell us how we think. But something has been lost amid the recent vogue for cognitive science and behavioral economics. What about the human part of human behavior — the dreams and desires that set us apart from animals and computers? Are we just assemblages of neurons and chemicals?

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