Arts/Life

Movie Interviews
11:50 am
Tue December 18, 2012

'Unchained' Admiration Between Actor And Director

Christoph Waltz (right, with Jamie Foxx) stars in Quentin Tarantino's new film Django Unchained.
Andrew Cooper The Weinstein Company

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 10:56 am

When Christoph Waltz auditioned for the role of SS officer Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, he read the passage assigned for the audition, then kept going until he had gone through the entire role as Tarantino himself filled in for the other parts.

"It was partly hilarious, partly just fabulous, partly scary," Waltz tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And we arrived at the end and then we parted and I said to the casting director, 'If this should have been it, it was definitely worth it,' and, well, then they called me back."

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Music
10:11 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Danica McKellar: Billy Joel Helped Teen Stress

You may remember Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years. Today, the actress is also a math advocate and the author of Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. In Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, McKellar talks about the songs that helped her beat stress as a teen and inspire her as an adult.

The Salt
8:11 am
Tue December 18, 2012

In Search Of The Perfect Egg

Rupert Stephenson

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 11:23 am

Just as there are purebred dogs and purebred horses, there is also purebred poultry. Since its founding in 1877, the Poultry Club of Great Britain has been the main organization in the U.K. dedicated to safeguarding "all pure and traditional breeds" of chicken, ducks, geese and turkey.

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Books
7:03 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Don't Hide Your Harlequins: In Defense Of Romance

fortunes of love

Hi, my name's Bobbi. I read romance.

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Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Romantic Reads From Shakespeare To Steampunk (Heavy On The Steam)

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 10:41 am

My favorite "best of the year" list is the Bad Sex in Fiction award, even โ€” or perhaps because โ€” it eschews the romance genre. This year's winner was just announced: Nancy Huston's Infrared, whose heroine celebrates the "countless treasures between [her] legs." But I'm not writing a Best Romance of the Year list, because I don't think the idea even works for my genre.

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History
1:20 am
Tue December 18, 2012

WWII 'Canteen Girl' Kept Troops Company From Afar

During World War II, "Canteen Girl" Phyllis Jeanne Creore spoke and sang to the troops and their loved ones for 15 minutes every week on NBC radio.
Courtesy of Phyllis Jeanne Creore Westerman

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 4:07 am

American service members have long spent holidays in dangerous places, far from family. These days, home is a video chat or Skype call away. But during World War II, packages, letters and radio programs bridged the lonely gaps. For 15 minutes every week, "Canteen Girl" Phyllis Jeanne Creore spoke and sang to the troops and their loved ones on NBC radio.

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The Salt
11:26 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Sandwich Monday: The Mighty McRib Returns

NPR

[Note: Every year we celebrate the return of the McRib to McDonald's menus by not eating one. Below, our original review, with some updates.]

Once again, the signs outside McDonald's say "McRib is Back!" My girlfriend pointed out that it is indeed back. And front, and other parts probably best not to mention.

Eva: This reminds me of particleboard, but with meat.

Ian: It's Particlemeat.

Mike: In the Garden of Eden, God made Eve out of Adam's rib. Then he made Grimace out of a McRib.

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Monkey See
10:31 am
Mon December 17, 2012

2012 In Review: 10 Films Worth Going Out Of Your Way For

Dreama Walker in Compliance.
Magnolia Pictures

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Movie Interviews
9:25 am
Mon December 17, 2012

'Guilt Trip': Streisand On Songs, Films 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 โ€” a feat achieved by fewer than a dozen artists.
Sam Emerson Paramount Pictures

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:27 am

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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Three Books...
5:03 am
Mon December 17, 2012

3 Books To Read Before The End Of The World

Getty Images

According to the adherents of the 2012 apocalypse theory, rooted in a controversial reading of ancient Mayan numerology, Earth is going to break into pieces and/or be consumed by a solar flare and/or disappear into a black hole on Dec. 21, right before Christmas.

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Best Books Of 2012
5:03 am
Mon December 17, 2012

True Originals: Biographies That Defy Expectations

Nishant Choksi

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 4:26 pm

It's probably not true that truth is stranger than fiction, but in the hands of a great biographer, it can be just as compelling. Novelists can create unique and unforgettable characters โ€” there's never been anyone quite like Jane Eyre or Ignatius J. Reilly โ€” but there's no shortage of fascinating literary protagonists who just happened to exist in real life.

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Monkey See
1:30 am
Mon December 17, 2012

No. 1 At The Box Office? Four Reasons Why It Doesn't Matter

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was No. 1 at the box office this past weekend. But a No. 1 ranking means less about whether a movie will be profitable รขย€ย” and more about a fleeting cultural moment.
James Fisher Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 3:19 pm

This weekend, millions of Americans trekked across Middle Earth with Bilbo Baggins. The result? The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was No. 1 at the North American box office. It joins the list of other films that ranked No. 1 one their opening weekends, such as Underworld Awakening, Paranormal Activity 4 and Batman.

But here's the thing: The weekend battle at the box office doesn't necessarily decide the war in Hollywood, says Edward J. Epstein, author of The Hollywood Economist. Epstein says to be skeptical of what you read in Hollywood rags.

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Sunday Puzzle
4:43 am
Sun December 16, 2012

Sticking With The Sunshine State

NPR Graphic

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 10:25 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with "F" and the second word starts with "LA."

Last week's challenge: Name a major U.S. city in two words. Take the first letter of the first word and the first two letters of the second word, and they will spell the standard three-letter abbreviation for the state the city is in. What city is it?

Answer: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Winner: Mark Sobolik of Newburg, Ore.

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Movie Interviews
4:42 am
Sun December 16, 2012

Hunt For Bin Laden More Than Just One Woman's Fight

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 10:17 am

It is one of the most compelling real-life dramas in recent history โ€” chronicled in documentaries, news stories and books โ€” and now the hunt for Osama bin Laden is coming to the big screen.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are the latest to embark on a Herculean task of summing up the more-than-a-decade-long CIA search for the leader of al-Qaida.

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NPR Story
3:14 pm
Sat December 15, 2012

'Rock Me, Mercy': A Poem Written In Mourning

Originally published on Sat December 15, 2012 5:04 pm

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

We leave you tonight with a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa. He wrote it last night after hearing about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. And we asked him to read it for us tonight. It's called "Rock Me, Mercy."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Around the Nation
4:48 am
Sat December 15, 2012

No Orcs Allowed: Hobbit House Brings Middle Earth To Pa.

Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's descriptions and drawings, Lord of the Rings fan Vince Donovan built a hobbit-hole to house his collection of Middle Earth memorabilia.
Emma Lee NewsWorks

Originally published on Sun December 16, 2012 11:43 am

In rural Chester County, Pa., about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia, thick fog swirls around the trunks of knotty trees. This piece of 18th-century farmland could, by all outward appearances, be one of the misty forests of Middle Earth, the setting of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fantasy novels.

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Movie Reviews
4:48 am
Sat December 15, 2012

Hathaway, Jackman: No Complaints From These 'Miserables'

In the first act of Les Miserables, factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway) loses her job and is forced first to sell her hair and then become a prostitute in order to support her daughter, Cosette.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:29 pm

You may have heard of a little movie called Les Miserables, coming to many, many theaters on Christmas Day. It's based on a 27-year-old musical that was in turn based on Victor Hugo's classic 150-year-old novel about a man, Jean Valjean, who stole a loaf of bread and served 19 years on a chain gang. After his parole, he takes on a new identity and finds happiness and prosperity โ€” until he's tracked down by his old jailer. The epic story plays out over decades, eventually peaking against the backdrop โ€” and the barricades โ€” of the French student rebellion of 1832.

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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:42 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

NIH Director Francis Collins Plays Not My Job

NIH

Originally published on Sat December 15, 2012 9:25 am

Dr. Francis Collins is the director of the National Institutes of Health, which among other things means he's going to outlive us all. We've invited him to play a game called "OWWW!" Three questions about athletes and the surprising ways they find to injure themselves, inspired by Bleacher Report's list of The 50 Weirdest Injuries in Sports History.

Movie Reviews
12:52 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

Looking For Bin Laden In 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Stationed in a covert base overseas, Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a member of the elite team of spies and military operatives who secretly devote themselves to finding Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty.
Jonathan Olley Sony Pictures

Kathryn Bigelow's kill-bin-Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty is cool, brisk and packed with impressively real-sounding intelligence jargon. It presents itself as a work of journalism โ€” just the facts, ma'am โ€” but there's no doubting its perspective. It's the story of America's brilliant, righteous revenge.

The prologue is a black screen with sounds of Sept. 11: a hubbub of confusion and then, most terribly, the voice of a woman crying out to a 911 operator who tries vainly to assure her she'll be OK. The recording is genuine.

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Movie Reviews
11:49 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Behind The Scenes Of The Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour'

The Beatles look out of the Magical Mystery Tour coach skylight, on location in England in September 1967.
Apple Films Ltd Channel Thirteen

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:01 pm

On Friday night on PBS, Great Performances presents a documentary about the making of a Beatles TV special from 1967 โ€” Magical Mystery Tour โ€” then shows a restored version of that special. Magical Mystery Tour has the music from the U.S. album of the same name, but it's not the album. It's a musical comedy fantasy about the Beatles and a busload of tourists taking a trip to unknown destinations.

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Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers
11:20 am
Fri December 14, 2012

NPR Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction, Week Of December 13, 2012

Calvin Trillin's Dogfight sends up the 2012 presidential election. It debuts at No. 7.

Monkey See
10:18 am
Fri December 14, 2012

'Trouble Man' At 40: A Classic, But Where's Its Cult?

Robert Hooks is Mr. T, the abrasive detective hero of Trouble Man, a 1972 blaxploitation classic that gets less than its due these days.
JDF/B Productions The Kobal Collection

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Monkey See
8:56 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Is Everything Worse Than Ever? And A Gift Guide!

NPR
  • Listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour

You can't fill your end-of-the-year season with nothing but good cheer, or you'll turn into a candy cane. (That's science.) So we chose to tackle a slightly darker topic this week: Is everything worse than ever?

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Movie Interviews
1:21 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Laura Linney, Keeping History Hush-Hush In 'Hyde Park'

Linney's Daisy was on hand, along with Eleanor Roosevelt (Olivia Williams), to support the president on the weekend of a momentous visit by the king and queen of England in June of 1939, as Europe teetered on the brink of World War II.
Nicola Dove Focus Features

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 3:33 am

For presidential-film buffs, this holiday season has some high-profile offerings. First, there was Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln. And out now, there's Hyde Park on Hudson, a peek behind the curtain and into the life of America's longest-serving president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Movie Reviews
3:25 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A 'Hobbit,' Off On His Unhurried Journey

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) takes a fantastic adventure across Middle-earth in Peter Jackson's prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
James Fisher Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 6:01 pm

The Hobbit's path to the screen may have started out as tortuous as a trek through the deadly Helcaraxe, filled with detours (Guillermo del Toro was initially going to direct), marked by conflict (New Zealand labor disputes) and strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles (so many that the filmmakers threatened to move the shoot to Australia).

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

'Save The Date': Something Borrowed, Not Much New

When she leaves her boyfriend, Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) quickly rebounds with Jonathan (Mark Webber).
Elisha Christian IFC Films

You might know Lizzy Caplan, eternal sidekick, as Jason Segel's girlfriend on television's Freaks and Geeks. Or as the struggling comedienne from Party Down, or the vampire vegan on True Blood, or from the movie The Bachelorette earlier this year?

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A 'Girl' Deconstructed, And Rebuilt To Last

A series of mishaps and bad choices leaves the impetuous, impoverished Ashley (Abbie Cornish) caring for a young Mexican immigrant (Maritza Santiago Hernandez).
Brainstorm Media

Using illegal immigration as a frame to explore the slow awakening of a tough-shelled young Texas woman, The Girl is a patient chamber piece about the emotional bruises left by poverty and neglect.

Even before we fully know her circumstances, Ashley (Abbie Cornish) introduces herself as a victim of race and class discrimination. A sullen single mother and minimum-wage drone in a south Texas supermarket, she opens the film with a request for a raise. When denied, she refuses to accept her supervisor's criticism of her attitude.

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Movie Reviews
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Fighting For Their Family, One Day At A Time

When a boy with Down syndrome (Isaac Leyva) is abandoned by his mother, a neighbor couple (Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming) takes him in.
Music Box Films

It would take a heart of stone โ€” or zero tolerance for soap โ€” to resist Any Day Now, a full-throttle weepie about a West Hollywood gay couple trying to adopt a neglected boy with Down syndrome.

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A 'Love' Letter To The Blonde Everyone Preferred

Marilyn Monroe's life has captivated the public's imagination for decades, and most recently has been given voice by today's famous actresses in Love, Marilyn.
HBO

We're long past the point where, at least among half-sentient beings, we need to make a case for the intelligence and sensitivity of Marilyn Monroe. Even when cast as a dumb blonde, she was never just your stock ditzy dame: She always showed a breezy self-effacement that was too sly to be purely accidental.

And to look at her, of course, is to love her, particularly now that her sad story has become part of the cultural landscape: How can you not want to protect such beauty and vulnerability from the cruelty of the world?

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Movies
3:03 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

A Queens Chronicle That's A Little Too Lifelike

Without a supportive family, a rebellious teenager (Zoe Kravitz) must take care of herself in a troubled neighborhood.
MPI Media

The O'Haras don't talk much about what's wrong, but the members of this biracial Queens family โ€” the central characters of Yelling to the Sky -- are bedeviled by alcoholism (dad), mental illness (mom) and adolescent defiance (the two daughters). Indeed actress-turned-director Victoria Mahoney barely explains her characters' circumstances, which makes the movie obliquely intriguing. But whenever the story comes into focus, it's revealed as fairly conventional.

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