Arts & Life

This episode brings NPR Music editor Daoud Tyler-Ameen into the studio to talk with us about Dunkirk, the World War II film from The Dark Night and Inception director Christopher Nolan. Starring a big cast that includes Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and pop star Harry Styles, the film focuses on the drive for cornered men trapped on a beach to survive until they can be rescued.

During peach season, Georgia's roads are dotted with farm stands selling fresh peaches. Year-round, tourist traps sell mugs, hats, shirts and even snow globes with peaches on them. At the beginning of the Georgia peach boom, one of Atlanta's major roads was renamed Peachtree Street. But despite its associations with perfectly pink-orange peaches, "The Peach State" of Georgia is neither the biggest peach producing state (that honor goes to California) nor are peaches its biggest crop.

Russian, American and French ballet dancers are gathering Thursday night for a bit of cultural diplomacy at New York City's Lincoln Center. They're celebrating the 50th anniversary of George Balanchine's masterpiece Jewels, considered the first full-length, nonnarrative ballet.

It's pink and fleshy, it's a giant mass of tentacles and it's just crash-landed in Mexico from outer space. What should humankind do with such a marvel?

How about The Nasty?

Among the four stars of Girls Trip — the third and funniest summer comedy about hard-partying women in trouble, following Snatched and Rough Night — Tiffany Haddish is the least well-known, having bounced around in minor roles on film and television before landing a spot as a series regular on The Carmichael Show. All that stands to change overnight. As Dina, a pleasure-seeker of unapologetic, bull-in-a-china-shop relentlessness, Haddish is so incandescently filthy that a new ratings system should be developed to accommodate her.

Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan's enveloping and prismatic World War II movie, is the prequel — historically speaking — to Battle of Britain. That film, a jolly, G-rated celebration of British pluck from 1969, features an all-star cast, some of whom still show up in Nolan movies to this day. It made the deadliest conflict in human history seem about as scary as a V-E Day Parade.

Although Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is visually overstuffed and sometimes cloaked in darkness, one thing is easy to see: how its principal setting, the sprawling space-station Alpha, parallels writer-director Luc Besson's utopian filmmaking vision.

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

A year-long getaway to a Greek island; a week by the sea at an arts colony. Fantasies of escape are the common premise of two new comic novels, both smart and sprightly in style, and both informed by a sad wisdom that echoes John Milton's lines in Paradise Lost: that we carry "troubl'd thoughts" and "hell within [us]`" wherever we go.

Do you deserve your pets? Do you deserve your people? Nicole Georges suggests in her new graphic novel that the two questions are intimately related, and she leaves little doubt it's the first one that really matters. If you're a true pet person, you've known the agony of encountering someone who – whether ignorant, emotionally unavailable or just plain flaky – should not be in charge of animals: The dog walker who leaves his companion to wait in the cold while he plays scratchoffs in a liquor store; the kitten adopter who talks blithely of declawing.

When Bao Phi's family fled Vietnam in 1975 and settled in Minneapolis with other refugees, he was just a few months old. He was too young to understand the scene at the airport that day: Communist soldiers were firing rockets at planes filled with people trying to escape, incinerating them in the sky. Phi's parent's told him about their family history bit by bit, and he began to form a stronger sense of his own identity.

In England, there's something known as the "Dunkirk spirit," shorthand for coming together in times of adversity. It refers to the heroic evacuation of British troops by British civilians in small boats at the beginning of World War II — and it's a story director Christopher Nolan has wanted to tell for a long time.

This is the network TV definition of too little, too late.

On Wednesday, CBS announced the names of three new actors who will be joining the cast of its long-running cop drama Hawaii Five-0. To no one's surprise, all three actors are nonwhite: Ian Anthony Dale is half Japanese, Meaghan Rath is half South Asian and Beulah Koale is of Samoan descent.

More than 20 years ago, children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak and his friend Arthur Yorinks collaborated on a book. But they were both busy with other projects at the time, and they never bothered to get it published. Sendak died in 2012, but that decades-old collaboration, Presto and Zesto in Limboland, has been rediscovered.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And we're going to speak next with two new additions to the NPR family. Pioneering New York City hip-hop radio DJ Stretch Armstrong - hey there, Stretch.

ADRIAN BARTOS, BYLINE: Are we doing this right now?

It's hard to believe, but before the 1950s, guitars were rarely heard in British music. Billy Bragg says the first guitars to hit the British pop scene came as a part of skiffle, a musical movement inspired by African-American roots musicians.

There's no bigger name in comedy today than Dave Chappelle. At only 14 years old he started performing stand up in Washington, D.C., and since then, he's starred in cult classic Hollywood films, created one of the most beloved sketch comedy shows of all time, Chappelle's Show, and released some of the most widely watched comedy specials ever. He was also behind one of the biggest moments in underground hip-hop this century, a day-long concert documented in the film Dave Chappelle's Block Party.

Every year, I find myself looking out for new books that use genre fiction's tools to dissect the unique strangeness of women's lives. Some emerge from the science fiction and fantasy scene; others from the literary world. Enter Samantha Hunt's newest book, The Dark Dark, part of the same FSG Originals imprint that continues to bring us Jeff Vandermeer's crossover novels.

Londoners may feel hot this summer, but historian Rosemary Ashton says it's nothing compared to what the city endured in 1858. That was the year of "The Great Stink" — when the Thames River, hot and filled with sewage, made life miserable for the residents of the city.

"It was continuously hot for two to three months with temperatures up into the 90s quite often," Ashton says. "The hottest recorded day up to that point in history was the 16th of June, 1858, when the temperature reached 94.5 degrees Fahrenheit, in the shade."

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In August 2016, three months before the presidential election, Republican nominee Donald Trump was behind in the polls. Instead of staying on message, the candidate was engaged in a politically damaging fight with the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq.

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, the Bank of England has unveiled a new banknote featuring the beloved author.

The new notes, made of polymer, will be entering circulation in September.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has some 34,000 works in its collection — but you'll only find a fraction of those up on the wall.

"A little under 2,000 of them are on view at any one time in the galleries," says Keir Winesmith, head of SFMOMA's Web and digital platforms.

So what to do with the rest?

Don't let Tamara Shopsin's Thurberesque cover drawing of a helmeted girl in cleats kicking right through a football mislead you. Arbitrary Stupid Goal is not about football. It isn't about any sport — except, perhaps, smashing grand life goals to smithereens.

"Earlier that evening, she had found an old revolver in her father's room. But she had left it where it lay, for what good would it do to carry it? If it came to guns, her enemies used them better."

Ebony magazine has been the magazine of black America since it was first published in November 1945. Its stories of success and achievement were a welcome antidote to how its readers normally saw themselves portrayed in mainstream newspapers and magazines. (If they were featured at all, it was usually for something that reinforced the mainstream stereotype of who and what black Americans were.) Until a decade ago, Ebony regularly sold out on newsstands and had a large and loyal subscriber base.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now to a famous British export - "Doctor Who."

(SOUNDBITE OF MURRAY GOLD'S "DOCTOR WHO THEME")

Pages