Arts

Arts and culture

We're lucky enough to be joined this week by Daisy Rosario and Margaret Willison for looks at two new girl-themed stories.

First, non-Gilmore Girls person Stephen Thompson sits out of our usual rotation as we cover the return of the people of Stars Hollow in four new movies available on Netflix. Did we get what we were hoping for from this reunion? Did we get too much of Logan's goofy friends, or not enough? And what of Jess and his duffel bag?

Last summer, Anna Pallai was leafing through her mom's cookbooks — sauce-splashed volumes of Robert Carrier recipes, issues of Supercook pinched together in a ringed binder — when she realized she'd stumbled across a gold mine. The books were full of meaty aspics and mousses coaxed into elaborate shapes: a crown made of blunted hot dogs, seafood mousse sculpted into the shape of a maniacally grinning fish.

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When you walk into the Smithsonian's "Art of the Qur'an" exhibition, you're met with a book that weighs 150 pounds. The tome, which dates back to the late-1500s, has giant pages that are covered in gold and black Arabic script.

Christmas is coming, and soon TV screens everywhere will light up with that 1946 holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. But the same story is coming a little early to the stage of the Houston Grand Opera. That's right: An operatic version of George Bailey's struggle with life and death opens this Friday.

Librettist Gene Scheer admits that adapting such a beloved movie has sometimes felt like a fool's errand. "It's almost secular scripture, this piece," he says. "Everyone knows all the lines."

Perspective is everything in horror films. The most important decision any scare flick can make is whether it expects the audience to identify with the villain or their victims. To see through the eyes of the prey (as in Rosemary's Baby, or this year's excellent Under the Shadow) requires only that the director make their situation realistically terrifying, so that we imagine we are frightened for our lives, too.

Late in mid-life Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert), a Paris high school philosophy teacher, suffers a string of punishing losses that threaten not just her well-being and sense of fulfillment, but her entire identity as a wife, daughter, mother and professional woman. Her husband (Andre Marcon) announces he's moving in with the mistress he's kept a secret for many years. Nathalie is forced to move the fragile mother (Edith Scob) she has propped up since childhood into assisted living; it doesn't go well.

The audacious biopic Jackie opens on the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts in 1963, merely a week after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Though she welcomes a journalist into one of the Kennedy residences along Cape Cod, the now-former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, has no permanent home. History has shredded her lease at The White House, which she had controversially renovated during her husband's time in office, and her belongings had been hastily shuffled to storage, like a college kid taking a break between semesters.

One of the visual motifs of the stark and shocking Lao Shi (Old Stone) is a cigarette burning in the dark. As the movie's taxi-driving protagonist inhales, the tip pulses red like a warning beacon. It signals danger on the road.

The hazard is explained casually in the opening scene, in which Lao Shi (Chen Gang) waits while listening to a radio report about a driver who hit someone, but didn't kill him. Rather than be responsible for the victim's medical costs, the driver backed up and ran over him. In China, life can be cheaper than hospital bills.

Oshun Afrique is getting her 35th tattoo.

She has come to the Pinz-N-Needlez tattoo shop in Washington, D.C., where practically every inch of wall space is covered in artwork. While Afrique lounges on the sofa at the front of the small, quaint shop, owner Christopher Mensah sits at his desk and sketches her tattoo design.

Afrique came to the store after seeing Mensah's work in her Facebook news feed. She and Mensah both agree that anyone looking to get tattooed should scour online portfolios to find the right artist.

The display cases in New York's Museum of the Moving Image are crowded with manifest nostalgia: paper dolls, lunch boxes, the Ben Casey M.D. board game. And in one corner, amid a trio of unassuming but unexpected books: Ginger Rogers and The Riddle of the Scarlet Cloak.

Author Andrea Davis Pinkney used to sleep with a copy of The Snowy Day. "I loved that book — it was like a pillow to me," she says.

You can hear Harold Lopez-Nussa's training when he plays. The 33-year-old pianist is reluctant to admit the classical influence on his jazz playing, but he's quick to acknowledge that he, like many other great Cuban pianists, was classically trained. "This is the school that we have to learn music in Cuba; it's classical," he says. "I did all my stuff there from 8 years old to 25."

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If any image haunts TV news, and perhaps our conscience, it's the seemingly ceaseless river of migrants seeking refuge from war, dictatorship and poverty. These desperate souls inspire pity, fear and election-year arguments about whether to offer them welcome or keep them out.

It was in 1974 that William Christenberry found the little red house.

The photographer and painter, a vital chronicler of rural Alabama, came across the building standing alone among the pine trees, deep in the Talladega National Forest. All he had with him was his tiny, no-frills Brownie camera — a long-cherished gift that "Santa brought my sister and me."

Odysseus was the man of many minds and many ways, according to his Homeric epithets. And among the many minds of Odysseus, there's room for a space queen.

Odyssia is warlike, merciless, "witchjack and wanderer," "starminded," '"wolfclever," "lightspeed," a "wolfwitch." Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Christian Ward, ODY-C is a beautifully colored space Odyssey, both graphic and novel, which makes Homer new.

Spain's national art museum, the Prado, has been around nearly 200 years and has one of the world's biggest collections of Renaissance and Baroque art.

But only now has it devoted a solo exhibition to a female artist: the 17th century Flemish painter Clara Peeters.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, TV shows didn't have a lot of love for mass transit — as Homer Simpson pronounced, "Public transportation is for jerks and lesbians."

Remember a couple of years ago, when it seemed like we were all one big happy family, Americans of every age and political stripe, joined in common pursuit? Millions of us spent that summer pouring buckets of ice water on our heads, to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

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Longtime activist Cleve Jones has dedicated his life to working with members of the LGBTQ community, but growing up he felt like the only gay person in the world. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he felt so isolated as a teenager that he considered suicide. Then he read about the gay liberation movement in Life magazine and his outlook changed.

Salisbury University website

Salisbury University's Cultural Calendar week of December 5th , 2016

At an exceptionally strong Toronto International Film Festival this year, Moonlight was the film I kept hearing that people couldn't get into. One critic told me he'd tried at three different screenings; all were full. That's not a terribly common Toronto tale, particularly with a film where the director/screenwriter and the lead actors are not especially famous. What was driving people to the film was word of mouth. What was driving them to it was that people kept telling them how good it was. That's how it ought to work; that's not how it always works.

The elusive dream of adolescent empowerment has been with us for at least as long as we've had Clearasil or wedgies. Tweens, teens, and everyone in between have enough wherewithal to know what they want, but not enough agency in their own lives to get it. And director John Hughes tapped into that youthful anxiety perhaps better than anyone in the history of Hollywood. Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Home Alone and his other early films all gave a voice to those caught in the age old battle between us and them.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Carrie Fisher was an insecure 19-year-old when she appeared as Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie, a role that would come to define her career. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that despite becoming romantically involved with her older, married co-star, Harrison Ford, she often felt isolated on set.

"I didn't have anyone to confide in," she says. "I had no friends, and I couldn't talk about [the affair with Ford] because he was married."

Ask any displaced Texan what they miss from home and they'll likely list a few items: brisket, football, higher speed limits, tacos and kolaches.

Now, if you're lucky enough to have had a kolache, you know it's a Texas staple, but if you haven't had one, you're probably still trying to figure out how to pronounce the word. It's "ko-lah-chee."

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