New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

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

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

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

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

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With De Palma, Too Much 'Passion' Is Precisely Enough

Aug 29, 2013

A pivotal moment in Passion, Brian De Palma's resplendent erotic thriller, centers on a splash of red.

An obvious color, maybe, but one that matters because the scene leading up to it — a tour de force of suspenseful montage that cuts between one character watching a ballet and another preparing for bed — is defined visually by the dark-blue canvases of the dance piece's set, and by the way they blend into the increasingly conspicuous blue filters used to film the rest of the scene.

So while many elements contribute to the tension leading up to the scene's conclusion, ultimately that sudden red is as shocking and brilliant as the actual event it represents in the plot. And the finesse of such an exacting use of color is just one element pointing to the presence of a master director behind the camera.

De Palma is such a dazzling stylist that for most of Passion, you'll find it perfectly acceptable to let the visuals wash over you, paying only passing attention to the plot, which follows the conniving, backstabbing relationship between ad-agency colleagues Christine (Rachel McAdams) and Isabelle (Noomi Rapace).

A betrayal early on in the film — Christine takes credit for Isabelle's successful commercial idea — sets off a series of increasingly dramatic paybacks, which unravel in the style of Basic Instinct. (Or, more recently, Side Effects.)

If that amounts to a dearth of innovation, De Palma has no intentions of apologizing for it. Passion is replete with homage, and in love with its own overblown drama. Its score by turns harks back to the rich orchestrations of Hitchcock films and the smooth saxes of '80s thrillers; its performances are utterly unnatural, but of course so are the characters. McAdams in particular does a fine job as the cold Christine, relishing the cutthroat viciousness of her lines.

In its first half, the film is also a study in fine-tuned pacing, never rushing through the setup and meticulously building suspense off of McAdams and Rapace's chemistry. If the second half proves unsurprising about its "shocking" revelations, that's hardly worth complaining about here: It's all genre, after all. What drags the movie down, rather, is that, unlike Steven Soderbergh's tightly wound Side Effects, De Palma lets some slack loosen up the line of his plot as he goes through the motions of his third act.

Most of these criticisms bounce straight off the film, however, since it's fairly clear that Passion's script — adapted by De Palma from the French thriller Crime d'amour -- is largely a vehicle for beautiful design and visual flair. De Palma's shots are an utter delight for their precision; Christine's fuchsia dresses punch against the primary colors of the ultramodern office in which she works. Even the characters' hair colors are planned for maximum visual appeal: Christine, Isabelle and Isabelle's inquisitive assistant form a complementary trio of blonde, brunette and redhead.

As the film goes on, De Palma's cinematography becomes increasingly audacious, his framing tilted on odd angles, his camera swooping into tight close-ups or smoothly slithering after the characters. That this all gives the film a significant artificiality has its opposite positive: Passion is also emphatically cool.

In all these respects, De Palma resembles Pedro Almodovar, another director working in or paying homage to time-tested genres, and one who can be counted on to pull you in through his mastery of style even when his films get too outlandish.

Passion has its excesses, but it revels in them — and you know there's not a drop more or less excess than De Palma wanted. Amid all the beauty, it's this rigor and control that ultimately prove such a pleasure.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.