Arts

Arts and culture

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The opening vignette of In the Shadow of Women shows a man in front of a wall, slightly off-center in the widescreen frame. Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) does little more than chew on a bite of sandwich for about a minute, an opening that suggests this will be one of those French films that takes its time in pondering the ordinariness of daily life.

"Country's got to figure this [expletive] out, Amahl," growls a CIA security contractor to his Libyan translator on his way out of town in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Michael Bay's account of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound. That's about the level of sophistication the film brings to the controversial incident, which cost the lives of four Americans and remains a touchstone for critics of the Obama administration.

The poet C.D. Wright died in her sleep on Tuesday night at the age of 67. She was a well-known writer, a winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and a longtime teacher at Brown University. She'll be grieved in the public ways well-known writers are, but within the poetry community — on Facebook, Twitter, via text and email and phone — a kind of keening wail has sounded since the news of her death began to spread. Wright was beloved to many of us, a model poet and person.

For decades, a certain stripe of armchair researcher has insisted that we faked the Moon landing. A particularly persistent doubter once tried to goad "the truth" out of Buzz Aldrin and got punched out instead, as recently recounted in Margaret Lazarus Dean's spaceflight history Leaving Orbit. Maybe Buzz just isn't much of a cinephile: One common theory holds that the live footage of him and Neil prancing about the Sea of Tranquility was actually shot on a film set by none other than Stanley Kubrick.

If nothing else The Benefactor, an absorbing if uneven psychological drama from writer-director Andrew Renzi, provides Richard Gere with a liberating opportunity to come on like Al Pacino. As Franny, a wealthy Philadelphia philanthropist without boundaries who gets his way through hysterical giving, Gere throws himself around with overbearing flamboyance, clearly relishing the chance to inhabit a man who's always on but understands nothing.

Herman Wouk has written a lot of well loved novels like The Winds of War, War and Remembrance and The Caine Mutiny, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. But his latest achievment is a rare one — Wouk reached a milestone that few of us will ever see: the age of 100.

Years before he led the Nazis in the genocide of 6 million European Jews, Adolf Hitler staged a coup and spent several months in prison. Though his attempt to overthrow the government was unsuccessful, his trial and subsequent time behind bars would be pivotal.

Peter Ross Range, the author of 1924: The Year That Made Hitler, tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies that Hitler's public trial for the so-called "Beer Hall Putsch" was a confidence-builder that allowed him to sharpen the speaking skills that would help him win the German chancellorship nine years later.

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

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The competitors in the 2016 Oscars race were announced Thursday, in an event that was live-streamed from California. The winners will be announced on Feb. 28.

British actor Alan Rickman, a veteran of dozens of films, has died at age 69. Recently, Rickman was most well-known for portraying the complicated villain Severus Snape in the films based on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books.

"Rickman had been suffering from cancer," The Guardian reports.

Too bad there are more than 340 shopping days till Christmas, because if it were just around the corner, I'd be urging you to buy Helen Ellis' off-the-wall stories for anyone on your list who loves satirical humor as twisted as screw-top bottles — and more effervescent than the stuff that pours out of them. Since it's January, let me just assure you that American Housewife is a better cure for winter blahs than hot chocolate, Ellis' hyper-housewife's "gateway drug to reading."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Rites Of Springfield

Jan 13, 2016

There are more than 35 places named Springfield in America, all of them wonderful in their own unique way. But the most famous Springfield is the fictional one where The Simpsons is set. In this game, we imagine that Simpsons characters have moved to a real Springfield somewhere in the United States. Contestants tell us which U.S state we're talking about.

Heard in Taran Killam: The Day Before Sunday In Real Time

Breakfast With Rom-Coms

Jan 13, 2016

Put on your Discman and jam out to one of the greatest '90s songs, "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which, like all great '90s songs, was based on a romantic comedy from 1961. Naturally, we changed the lyrics to be about other rom-coms.

Heard in Taran Killam: The Day Before Sunday In Real Time

Is the quotation "death is an experience best shared" a an old Yiddish proverb, an old Klingon proverb, or a Bob Marley lyric? In this installment of This, That or The Other, contestants must determine the origin of some unusual phrases.

Heard in Taran Killam: The Day Before Sunday In Real Time

Okay, Okay, I'll Show You

Jan 13, 2016

Were you one of those people who went around yelling, "Show me the money!" in the 90s? If so, then this game is right up your alley. Contestants respond to questions with clues to words or phrases that start with the "muh" sound. As Jerry Maguire might yell, show me the Munchkins!

Heard in Taran Killam: The Day Before Sunday In Real Time

Famous Sons

Jan 13, 2016

From Jackie Robinson to Emma Watson, there are a lot of famous "sons" out there. In this final round, every answer is the name of a real or fictional person whose last name ends with the letters S-O-N.

Heard in Taran Killam: The Day Before Sunday In Real Time

Be Positive

Jan 13, 2016

Ever notice that "inscrutable" is a word, but "scrutable" is not? This game is about words that exist in a negative form without a common positive partner.

Heard in Taran Killam: The Day Before Sunday In Real Time

The Day Before Sunday in Real Time

Jan 13, 2016

Taran Killam was a fan of Saturday Night Live years before he joined the ensemble cast in 2010. Since then, he has graced the famous Studio 8H as 18th-century newspaper critic Jebidiah Atkinson, Matthew McConaughey and Robyn, among others.

Great Expectations: Dickens And The Powerball

Jan 13, 2016

The Powerball bonanza, which has touched an unprecedented $1.5 billion, may be the largest jackpot in human history, but the frenzied ticket buying and wild hopes attending it are hardly new. Ask Charles Dickens.

Lego says it is changing its guidelines for the purchase of large amounts of its iconic toy bricks, a policy that had generated a social media firestorm when used to block sales to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

The company said in a statement that it will no longer ask people who want to buy the bricks in bulk what they're using them for:

Jeremy Arambulo, a Filipino-American comic artist who lives in Los Angeles, says he basically came out of the womb knowing the legend of Bruce Lee, the kung fu king. "He's like our Elvis," says Arambulo. "If we didn't have him, geez, who would we have? Charlie Chan? I don't know. Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's?"

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

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is often called the Nobel for architects, and this year's winner is 48-year-old Chilean designer Alejandro Aravena. His prestige projects include the headquarters of a pharmaceutical company in China and a dormitory at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.

Simplicity And Restraint Make 'Lucy Barton' Shine

Jan 13, 2016

"Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress," goes the first line of Middlemarch. Simplicity is a brave choice in a novel as well as in a dress: it means there are no forgiving distractions and no flattering cuts. In My Name is Lucy Barton, there are no plot twists to distract or verbal acrobatics to charm: the story must rest instead on its bare emotional truth. The result is a novel of gorgeous simplicity and restraint.

Ask James Franco why a movie star might want to work in TV, and he won't mention a television show. He'll talk about a book.

Turns out, like a lot of TV nerds, Franco geeked out over the book Difficult Men, a detailed look at how the creators and showrunners of classic "quality TV" series like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Wire shaped the shows that built the foundation for modern TV drama.

There was a time when actor Ray Liotta would never have considered taking a role on television. "When I first started, television was kind of like the wasteland," Liotta tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It [was] like, 'Well, things are over now. Now you do television.' "

But the Goodfellas and Field of Dreams actor acknowledges that times — and TV — have changed. "Now television is very respected and people consider that when they're casting for movies. ... I thought, well maybe doing a show, a 13-episode type show, would be a smart move to make."

Pages