Arts & Life

It's tough to imagine a time when this country wasn't struggling with cocaine brought into the U.S. from Latin America, and the violence that often accompanies it. But when Netflix's new series Narcos introduces us to brash Colombian smuggler Pablo Escobar, it's the late 1970s and Escobar is busy with other contraband.

Without a second's hesitation, Alex Ross Perry's Queen of Earth dives right into its heroine's lowest moment, in medias res. The camera stays close to Catherine's face, as smears of mascara frame eyes alight with pain, anger and exhaustion; this has been going on a while and we're just seeing the end of it. Her boyfriend is breaking up with her, which is awful enough, but the timing makes it worse: She's still reeling from the death of her father, an artist who mentored her, and now the two central figures in her life are gone.

If you want to measure a society's political health, two films from Latin America slyly suggest, look at how it treats the help. Sebastian Silva's gleeful 2009 black comedy, The Maid, drew on his own experience as the cosseted son of a well-to-do Chilean family propped up by its housekeeper. Brazilian filmmaker Anna Muylaert began writing her new film, The Second Mother, two decades ago, when she hired a nanny to care for her first child.

In the climactic development of We Are Your Friends, a Los Angeles DJ has a breakthrough. Cole (Zac Efron) constructs a dance track from sampled sounds of his recent life, including zippers, staple-guns and remarks by the Girl Who Got Away and the Friend Who Died. Both the song and the scene are preposterous, but the autobiographical audio-collage neatly exemplifies the movie, an intermittently engaging medley of genres, moods and intentions.

Paul Kingsnorth's new novel, The Wake — a grim tale of medieval conquest and revenge — became a hit against all odds in the U.K. last year, and it's about to be released in the U.S.

I met Kingsnorth at his home in the countryside of far western Ireland. He and his wife grow their own food and home-school their two young kids. "I think we'll get bees and chickens, we hope, maybe something else," he told me, calling out to his daughter. "Lela, you want an alpaca, don't you? Lela wants an alpaca or a donkey or anything fluffy, really."

No one has ever written about having a body the way Alexandra Kleeman does.

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Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is one in a series of essays running last week and this week about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. The entire series is available here.

George is 10, loves to read and has a best friend named Kelly. Everyone thinks George is a boy, but she doesn't feel like one.

Lisbeth Salander is back. The latest book featuring the infamous girl with the dragon tattoo is being published internationally today, and will be out next week here in the U.S. But this fourth book in the Millennium series has a new author — the man who created Salander, Stieg Larsson, died before the books were published, and never had a chance to see how popular they would be.

Sister Versus Sister

Aug 26, 2015

Uzo Aduba and her sister Chioma revisit their childhoods with a game about '80s TV show theme songs. The winner gets to watch TV after dinner!

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

On The Double

Aug 26, 2015

We double dare you to try your hand at this final round-- every answer contains the word "double."

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Cooking The Books

Aug 26, 2015

Not all cookbooks are actually about food. Play along and mash up the titles of famous books with various delicacies. Who could forget Truman Capote's classic novel, In Cold Blood Sausage?

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

Take Me To This River

Aug 26, 2015

In this game, Jonathan Coulton sings Al Green's classic Take Me to the River to be about, you guessed it, various rivers of the world. Somehow, we made a geography game fun and exciting!

Heard in Uzo Aduba: Sister Versus Sister

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