Arts

7:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

Meet Brandon Darby, Grass-Roots Activist (And FBI Rat)

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 10:13 am

Brandon Darby, a onetime leftist activist who eventually became an FBI informant, has had his share of both detractors and admirers — many of whom appear in a new documentary about his life and work.
Music Box Films

For a while in Jamie Meltzer's mesmerizing documentary Informant, I wondered whether subject Brandon Darby, the lefty activist turned FBI informer, was being played by an actor.

But no: It's Darby, and he's a handsome fellow, with haunted eyes blazing out of a bone structure to die for, and with a Montgomery Clift dimple in his chin. Staring straight into the camera, he testifies with the intense calm of a messiah or a madman, which all too often comes to the same thing. Among other things, this powerfully confused man is a study in American extremity.

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5:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

A Marriage, A Mother, A Move From Culture To Culture

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 6:51 pm

The Iowa-born, Zimbabwe-bred actress Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) stars as half of a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn and coping with culture clash in Mother of George.
Oscilloscope Laboratories

From the start, Mother of George looks at its two protagonists, Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach de Bankole), across distinct gender lines. The film opens at their traditional Yoruba wedding with two contrasted, tightly framed, straight-on shots of the groom and bride's parties.

Later, after the ceremonies, the differences between the two groups become more defined: We watch the women give Adenike child-rearing advice, while the men talk about how best to hide their infidelities.

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5:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Movie Reviews

From A Saudi Director, A Familiar Story Made Fresh Again

All Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants is her own bicycle — but as Haifaa Al Mansour's film illustrates, that's a tricky proposition for a young girl living in Saudi Arabia.
Tobias Kownatzki Razor Film/Sony Pictures Classics

Wadjda is the sort of lovable young hustler we've seen in scores of films — a 10-year-old who wants something and will lie, threaten and cajole to get it.

But Wadjda's familiar premise is transformed by its unexpected location: The movie's protagonist lives in Saudi Arabia, and what she wants, even if she doesn't exactly realize it, is freedom.

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5:01pm

Thu September 12, 2013
NPR's Backseat Book Club

How One Unkind Moment Gave Way To 'Wonder'

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 6:16 pm

Random House

In Wonder, R.J. Palacio tells the story of Auggie, a tough, sweet, 10-year-old boy, who was born with distorted facial features — a "craniofacial difference" caused by an anomaly in his DNA.

Palacio tells NPR's Michele Norris that the book was inspired by a real-life encounter with her own kids six years ago. They were at an ice cream store and sat next to a little girl with a severe facial deformity. Palacio's 3-year-old son cried in fear, so the author grabbed her kids and fled. She was trying to protect the girl but also avoid her own discomfort.

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2:03pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Book Reviews

Filmmaker Turns To Education Reform, Gets 'Schooled'

While researching his buoyant, impassioned (and thoroughly subtitled) new book about education, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap, M. Night Shyamalan suddenly found himself at the head of an inner-city school English classroom. And he was terrified. "Time stopped," he writes, "similar to when you are on a plane with turbulence that's supposed to last thirty seconds, but it feels like much, much longer."

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12:52pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Monkey See

Toronto 2013: Some Film Festival Highs And Lows

Julianne Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County.
Toronto International Film Festival

Tastiest Scenery To Chew: August: Osage County, the John Wells-directed adaptation of the Tracy Letts stage play, stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a generally very impressive cast. But Streep is cranked up to 11 as the miserable, pill-popping matriarch. I expect her to win an Oscar for this role, simply because it's so over-the-top and because she is compelling in it.

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12:09pm

Thu September 12, 2013
The Protojournalist

How It Sounds To Be 28

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 1:12 pm

Andrew Crago

Andrew Crago, 28, is an in-house designer for a nonprofit group in Chicago. He wears hearing aids and has tinnitus, so he is especially attuned to certain sounds.

What does your life sound like? Please send four sounds that tell the story of your life — at this moment in time — to protojournalist@npr.org. Please include your name, age, phone number and a list of your sounds. You may be contacted for an interview.

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9:54am

Thu September 12, 2013
Ask Me Another

We're Not Gonna Bake It

Professional competitive eaters Eric "Badlands" Booker (left) and Crazy Legs Conti.
Josh Rogosin NPR

Professional competitive eaters Crazy Legs Conti and Eric "Badlands" Booker join Ask Me Another for a round that'll make you hungry. House musician Jonathan Coulton quizzes them about different types of baked goods, with clues sung to the tune of the Twisted Sister anthem "We're Not Gonna Take It." Plus, find out how many pounds of quiche Crazy Legs can put away, and get a taste of Badlands' other talent—competitive eating-themed hip-hop.

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9:54am

Thu September 12, 2013
Ask Me Another

Minimum Sentence

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 12:03 pm

Some people have a last name that is also a verb, so their full name forms a complete sentence--like George Burns and Stevie Nicks. (If you're one of these people, we salute you.) In this game, house musician Jonathan Coulton gives contestants clues about famous people whose names also tell a story--a very short story.

9:54am

Thu September 12, 2013
Ask Me Another

Isn't It Ironic?

Rest assured, this game contains no ironic t-shirts or mustaches. Here, irony is defined as an "incongruous yet appropriate juxtaposition that highlights the discordant, revelatory nature of the universe." Deep. Play along as host Ophira Eisenberg asks contestants about certain ironic situations, like how the best-selling holiday song of all time, "White Christmas," was written by Irving Berlin--who was Jewish.

Plus, Jonathan Coulton tops off this game with a rendition of the pop standard "Everything Happens To Me."

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