Arts & Life

Their Finest is a film within a film about making wartime movies in Britain. Bill Nighy stars as an aging matinee idol, unhappy that he's been cast in an older role. Gemma Arterton plays a young copywriter — the script department's secret weapon.

It's during the Blitz, and they're tasked with making a British drama that will lift spirits at home and warm hearts across the ocean — a challenge that real filmmakers faced as well.

Some books can sweep you away in the first sentence. Sarah Dooley's new book Ashes To Asheville begins with a riff that includes sisterhood, death, cute pets and saucy widows.

The last few years have seen a bumper crop of published works by and biographies of many mid-20th century female writers: Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Lucia Berlin, Clarice Lispector — all reaching new generations of readers. Now, one more joins that list: the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, whose Complete Stories has just been published, to coincide with the re-release of her memoir Down Below.

In the heart of an ever-gentrifying New York City neighborhood, the Nuyorican Poets Café was once called "the most integrated place on the planet" by none other than Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Today it remains a wildly diverse venue still influenced by its mostly Puerto Rican founders who claimed it as a site of artistry and resistance in 1973.

Poet and founder Miguel Algarín and his artist friends just wanted a place to get together to create. By the 1990s, the Café was the epicenter of Slam Poetry in the country.

For the first two months of this year, the teen romance Your Name. (the period is part of the title) was the biggest box-office hit of 2017. Never heard of it? Well, it was bigger than Fifty Shades Darker; bigger than Lego Batman.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

We're all back at the table this week, and we're joined by our library consultant, Boston pal, and wearer of colorful clothing, Margaret H. Willison. First up, we all listened to the new podcast S-Town, which has again raised the profile of narrative podcasts. This one, in seven parts, is about a man who wrote to This American Life to air his complaints about his small Alabama hometown — and that was only the very, very beginning of a complex story.

Adam Galinsky: What Drives Us To Speak Up?

Apr 7, 2017

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Speaking Up.

About Adam Galinsky's TED Talk

Social psychologist Adam Galinsky studies why it's so daunting to speak up — and what can help. He says the most powerful factor that compels us to take that risk is "moral conviction."

About Adam Galinsky

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Speaking Up.

About Dalia Mogahed's TED Talk

After 9/11, Dalia Mogahed saw an increase in negative perceptions of Muslims in the media, so she made it her job to speak up for her faith and fight prejudice with better understanding.

About Dalia Mogahed

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Speaking Up.

About Clint Smith's TED Talk

Clint Smith is a poet and doctoral candidate at Harvard. As a high school English teacher, he taught his students the dangers of staying quiet and the importance of finding their voice.

About Clint Smith

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Speaking Up.

About James Hansen's TED Talk

When climate scientist James Hansen spoke up about climate change in the 1980s, he risked the loss of his job & reputation. But, he says, it was worth it — because he could not be silent about something so important.

About James Hansen

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Speaking Up.

About Esra'a's TED Talk

Esra'a is an activist who lives in Bahrain and identifies as queer — which puts her at great risk. Despite that, she's speaking out to build community and empathy within the LGBTQ community.

About Esra'a

Michael DeForge isn't satisfied with his work unless he's in over his head — and the 29-year-old Canadian cartoonist has become one of the comic-book industry's most exciting, unpredictable talents because of this eagerness to push himself outside of his comfort zone. "I need to feel challenged by what I'm working on," DeForge told me in an e-mail conversation. "Or that I'm grasping for something just a little out of my reach. That feeling is very important for me, and if that energy isn't there, I usually take it as a sign that the comic isn't worth drawing."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Howard Norman's new novel is set in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the core of the plot of "My Darling Detective" is a photograph and an auction.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Parents, consider this your trigger warning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARNEY THEME SONG")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN #1: (Singing) Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination, and when he's tall, he's what we call a dinosaur sensation.

Among its many virtues, the bittersweet 1979 caper comedy Going in Style has a distinct tone, located at the obscure intersection of irreverence and melancholy. As three retirees from Queens who rob a bank in Groucho Marx masks, George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg are both figures of fun and men who can't bear the thought of drearily cashing Social Security checks and feeding the pigeons until the sun finally sinks under the horizon.

Take my alcoholic girlfriend... please.

Colossal begins as a variation on the musty Henny Youngman line, crossed with a self-consciously wacky riff on the genre known in Japanese as daikaiju ("big strange beast"). But the premise can't sustain a nearly two-hour movie, so writer-director Nacho Vigalondo adds more twists, designed not only to keep the plot moving but also to partly exonerate Gloria, its heroine.

Gloria is fundamentally nice. (She has to be; she's played by Anne Hathaway, who rarely does mean.) But when she acts out, she really acts out.

In the charming and soulful Japanese anime Your Name, two teenagers who have never met wake up rattled to discover that they have switched bodies in their sleep, or more precisely their dreams. And it's not just their anatomies they've exchanged, or even the identities-in-progress each has managed to cobble together at such a tender age. Mitsuha, a spirited but restless small-town girl of Miyazaki-type vintage, and Taki, a Tokyo high school boy, have also swapped the country for the city, with all the psychic and cultural adjustments that will entail.

Graduation opens with a brick thrown through an apartment window, and unfolds with that same kind of propulsive force. The house belongs to a middle-class Romanian family, one that is about to get caught up in a whole host of trouble, although not directly related to that brick. But the sudden burst of violence does serve as a crystal ball, an assurance that despite any efforts to keep the brutal, destructive outside world at bay, consequence will find its way inside the home — one way or another.

Before Comedy Central's celebrity roasts, before American Idol's Simon Cowell, before Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, one man abused people on TV and in clubs like no other — as one emcee introduced him, "the Sultan of Insults, the Merchant of Venom, the pussy cat with claws, Mr. Don Rickles!"

Rickles died of kidney failure Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 90.

Back in the 1980s, Salman Rushdie wrote that the defining figure of the 20th century was the migrant. I think his claim may be even truer of the 21st century.

On April 6, 1917, the U.S. declared war on Germany and formally entered World War I. By late June, American infantry troops began arriving in Europe. One thing they couldn't do without? Coffee.

"Coffee was as important as beef and bread," a high-ranking Army official concluded after the war. A postwar review of the military's coffee supply concurred, stating that it "restored courage and strength" and "kept up the morale."

To James Kochalka, when words and pictures are mixed, "some kind of magic alchemy happens."

That alchemy is the creation of cartoons, an art form that Kochalka worked to promote as Vermont's first cartoonist laureate.

Rich, Colorful 'Afar' Reimagines The Magical Girl

Apr 6, 2017

There are a lot of magical girls in both comics and young adult fiction, but the heroine of Leila del Duca's graphic novel Afar is different from all of them. Boetema is far more down-to-earth than the sprites who populate "magical girl"-themed Japanese manga, and her gift is more cryptic than those of such recent YA heroines as the winged Ava in 2014's The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and Sarah Raughley's Effigies in last year's Fate of Flames.

The new animated movie, Boss Baby, was No. 1 at the box office last weekend. But before it was a full-length film, starring the voice of Alec Baldwin, it was a 32-page picture book written by award-winning author and illustrator Marla Frazee.

Frazee is a big name for young readers and their parents — the imagination behind Seven Silly Eaters and All the World. Her illustrations have earned two Caldecott Honors.

NPR Ed spoke with Frazee about the book and the new animated hit it inspired. The story of the Boss Baby is simple, she says:

In 1997 Talvin Singh, a British musician of Indian origin finished putting together a 12-track record with the help of his friend Sam Zaman, better known as the performer State of Bengal. Along with a few of their own compositions, the tracks were produced by musicians who were British nationals from families that had emigrated from South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Alec Baldwin has been keeping busy lately. The star of the animated film The Boss Baby has a new memoir out and also keeps popping up on Saturday Night Live to play President Trump.

Baldwin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that his impression of the president is purposefully exaggerated. "We're doing it live on a TV show at 11:30 at night in front of a live audience, so there's a kind of volume to it," he says. "It's kind of the Macy's Day Parade [version] of Trump — it's a very larger-than-life thing."

Gene and guest host Glen Weldon (our play cousin from Pop Culture Happy Hour) explore how comics are used as spaces for mapping race and identity. Gene visits Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Philadelphia and chats with proprietor Ariell Johnson, who is reclaiming the comic book store, which once made her uneasy as a black fan. Meanwhile, C. Spike Trotman, another black woman, has made a name for herself as an online comics publisher of Iron Circus Comics in Chicago.

YouTube is launching a streaming TV service Wednesday. It's one of many — Sling, PlayStation Vue and local cable companies among them. But Google-owned YouTube TV offers several features the others don't.

They include a cloud-based DVR with no storage limits, allowing users to record as many shows as they want for later playback. Membership also gives access to original series and movies featured on its other subscription streaming service, YouTube Red. And customers can create up to six accounts on one membership, with up to three streams running at once.

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