Arts & Life

Arts and lifestyle coverage from around the globe and Illinois.

Ways to Connect

Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said is her most conventional comedy since her 1996 debut, Walking and Talking. I don't love it as much as her scattershot ensemble movies Friends With Money and Please Give, but it has enough weird dissonances and hilarious little curlicues to remind you her voice is like no other. I love it enough.

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's biography of the eponymous tech icon, appears at No. 7.

Midwives and record salesmen face job woes in Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, appearing at No. 8.

Billy Crystal reflects on aging and his career in Still Foolin' 'Em, debuting at No. 3.

Jonathan Lethem's tale of two leftist generations, Dissident Gardens, debuts at No. 8.

NPR Bestsellers: Week Of September 19, 2013

Sep 20, 2013

The lists are compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide.

What do the books "The Catcher in the Rye," "Invisible Man" and Anne Frank's diary have in common? They've all been banned from libraries. On Sunday, the American Library Association begins its annual recognition of Banned Books Week. Tell Me More host Michel Martin talks to former ALA president Loriene Roy about targeted books, and efforts to keep them on shelves.

Is Public Numb To Mass Shootings?

Sep 20, 2013

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

What Makes A Good Story?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Andrew Stanton's TEDTalk

How Do Book Covers Tell Their Own Stories?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Chip Kidd's TEDTalk

Chip Kidd doesn't judge a book by its cover; he creates covers that embody the books — and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. Kidd showcases the art and deep thought of his cover designs.

About Chip Kidd

How Do You Find A Story In A Painting?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Tracy Chevalier's TEDTalk

When writer Tracy Chevalier looks at paintings, she imagines the stories behind them: How did the painter meet his model? What would explain that look in her eye? She shares the story of Vermeer's most famous painting that inspired her best-selling novel "Girl With a Pearl Earring."

About Tracy Chevalier

What Are The Dangers Of A Single Story?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Chimamanda Adichie's TEDTalk

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

About Chimamanda Adichie

What Are The Clues To A Good Story?

Sep 20, 2013

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Framing The Story.

About Andrew Stanton's TEDTalk

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton shares what he knows about storytelling — starting at the end and working back to the beginning. Earlier this episode, Stanton shared a story that does exactly that.

About Andrew Stanton

You might think that if the driving scenes in your auto-racing movie are the least interesting thing about it, that's a problem. But it's far from a sign of engine trouble for Rush, a swift-moving, character-rich biopic whose kinetic Grand Prix sequences are constantly being overshadowed by genuinely riveting scenes of ... people talking.

But then in a film written by Peter Morgan — of The Queen and Frost/Nixon -- maybe it's no wonder that questions like why they drive, why they want to win and who they want to beat take center stage.

This week's show finds me, Stephen, Trey and Glen together again in the studio, but due to a scheduling tweak, finds us in Historic Studio 45 instead of Historic Studio 44, so we hope you can all still follow the conversation.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Want to visit Paris and Venice in the same afternoon?

You can, if you're in China.

Chinese developers have for years built residential communities that mimic famous European cities and towns. They are the subject of a new book, Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China.

On Tuesday, famed evolutionary scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins' new book — a memoir called An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientistwill be published here in the United States. (It came out in the United Kingdom on September 12.) Spanning the years from Dawkins' birth in Kenya in 1941 to the publication of his bestseller The Selfish Gene in 1976, the book tells the story of how Dawkins fell in love with learning and then science.

Somewhere between Tim Robbins' angry assumption about his wife's pain pills and Pink's ecstatic-dance excursion with the guy from Book of Mormon, I realized that the dealing-with-addiction drama Thanks for Sharing really, really wanted to tell me everything it knows about life in recovery. As a critic, I've gotta acknowledge the problems that kind of crowding creates for a storyteller. As a person, I've gotta admire the generosity it bespeaks.

A 'Shot' In The Gloom, And All Hell Breaks Loose

Sep 19, 2013

Watch enough TV or movies these days, and you're likely to witness a throat getting slit. Not off-screen, or in a flash, but performed in full view of an unflinching camera. Call it authenticity, call it chutzpah or call it sadism, it takes only a few episodes of, say, Boardwalk Empire or Breaking Bad to realize that our visual storytellers are increasingly going for the gore.

It was writer-director Nicole Holofcener's good fortune, and her bad luck, to have snagged James Gandolfini for Enough Said, her comedy about two imminent empty-nesters dipping their toes into fresh romantic waters. Given his untimely death, the film is likely to be remembered less for its own modest virtues than as a last chance to say a bittersweet farewell to its star.

Israeli director Eran Riklis often depicts characters separated by borders. In The Syrian Bride, a Druze woman leaves Israel to marry, knowing she can never return to visit her family; in Lemon Tree, a privileged Israeli woman and a disadvantaged Palestinian regard one another warily from opposite sides of the fence between free and occupied territory.

Zaytoun is different: This time, the director allows his characters to cross the frontier. That makes for a story that's sweeter, but also less convincing.

If anyone thought Denis Villeneuve's attacks on his favorite targets might be tempered by his move from the art house to Hollywood-thriller territory, Prisoners should shut that line of thinking down in a hurry.

In the quirky little college town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, home to many unconventional ideas over the years, there's now a small insect factory.

It's an unassuming operation, a generic boxy building in a small industrial park. It took me a while even to find a sign with the company's name: EnviroFlight. But its goal is grand: The people at EnviroFlight are hoping that their insects will help our planet grow more food while conserving land and water.

While NPR's Melissa Block is in Brazil, we'll be showcasing the work of several Brazilian writers. On Tuesday we heard Tatiana Salem Levy's love letter to Rio. Now we turn to 20-year-old Yasmin Thayná, who discovered her love for writing as a teenager when she participated in a local program aimed at cultivating artistic talent in low-income communities.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In the new big-screen thriller "Prisoners," a police detective and a distraught father are at odds over how to solve a kidnapping case. That makes the film sound like a police procedural. But critic Bob Mondello says the filmmakers aim to make it something more.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Two couples, neighbors in a Pennsylvania suburb, have just shared Thanksgiving dinner, and their kids are restless.

(SOUNDBITE FROM MOVIE, "PRISONERS")

ERIN GERASIMOVICH: (as Anna Dover) Mommy, can I take Joy to our house?

This weekend through next week, two motion picture classics from 1962 will alternate screenings at the Lincoln Theater 4 in Lincoln, Illinois - To Kill a Mockingbird and Lawrence of Arabia.   Bob Meyer talks with independent theater owner David Lanterman about the two movies' enduring appeal and the advantages of screening great films of the past alongside the latest Hollywood releases.

In the mid-1970s, Arkansas' electric chair was being used by the prison barber to cut hair, and the execution chamber in New Hampshire was being used to store vegetables. That's because in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court shocked the nation by striking down Georgia's death penalty law, effectively ending executions in the United States. But the decision provoked a strong backlash among those who favored the death penalty, and within four years the high court reversed course and issued a set of rulings that would permit the resumption of executions.

Don Cheadle may be one of Hollywood's quietest superstars. He was known for having high impact in supporting roles before Hotel Rwanda catapulted him to fame. He earned an Oscar nomination for playing the real-life hotel manager who protected more than a thousand Tutsis from the Hutu militia during the Rwandan civil war. Cheadle appeared in other critical and box office hits like Crash and Flight. He's now earned an Emmy nomination for his role in the TV show House of Lies.

Sesame Street kicked off its new season this week, and it's putting a special focus on Hispanic heritage. There's also a new character on the block: Armando (also known as Mando). He's played by actor Ismael Cruz Cordova, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He earned a bachelor's in fine arts from New York University and has appeared in several films and the CBS drama The Good Wife. He's currently performing off-Broadway.

Pages