Arts

Code Switch
7:03 am
Fri February 28, 2014

The Count Of Many Mistresses: Alexandre Dumas' Lively Life

For this second installment of the NPR Books/Code Switch Black History Month project, we asked the legendary Kyle Baker — his work includes Why I Hate Saturn, and stints on the X-Men, Deadpool and Plastic Man — to illustrate one of his literary inspirations. Baker chose Alexandre Dumas, creator of the Three Musketeers — whose life was almost as eventful as his fiction. We recommend you click on the enlargement to get the full effect of all the detail!

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Oscars 2014: The 86th Annual Academy Awards
3:20 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Keen Eyes, Uncanny Instincts Keep Films In Sharp Focus

On location for Walk of Shame, camera crew members Larry Nielsen (center) and Milan "Miki" Janicin (right) help set up a crane shot. The wireless focus remote Nielsen will use is hanging from that purple carabiner on his jacket.
Cindy Carpien NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 2:41 pm

You won't believe it — I didn't — but the person responsible for keeping each and every shot of a movie in focus never looks through a camera lens.

"No," says focus puller Baird Steptoe. "We do not look through the camera at all."

Steptoe has worked as a first assistant cameraman on films from The Sixth Sense to Thor to last year's Grownups Two. He says he's learned to judge distances — precise distances — with his naked eye alone.

"I mean, I can tell you roughly from you to me right now," he says. "I would say about 2-11."

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Oscars 2014: The 86th Annual Academy Awards
3:19 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Oscar Glow, Today's Tech Help Short Films Find Their Fandom

One of this season's Oscar-nominated shorts is Mr. Hublot, a French-language animated film about a reclusive man who must learn to adapt to a new housemate — a robot dog.
Zeilt Productions

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 9:53 am

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Movie Reviews
7:39 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Mouse, Meet Bear, And Let's All Make Friends

A bear named Ernest, voiced by Forest Whitaker, befriends the young mouse Celestine, voiced by Mackenzie Foy, even though their societies forbid it.
Gkids

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 1:26 pm

Animated movies excel in bringing to life the impossible stories, the ones drawn from fairy tales and mythology and the ones exploring the imaginary lives of creatures and things. It's an incredibly attractive notion, isn't it, to imagine there's a whole world going about its business, just out of sight?

The French-Belgian animated film Ernest & Celestine takes on that idea twice over, investigating the fictional lives of bears and mice, two societies living side by side, utterly intrigued by and terrified of each other.

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Code Switch
5:59 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

New Academy President Pushes For More Diverse Voting Members

Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and only the third female president.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:57 pm

For the first time, this year's best director Oscar could go to a Mexican (Alfonso Cuaron, for Gravity) or a black Brit (Steve McQueen, for 12 Years a Slave). That film's lead actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is also in the running for an award; so is his Kenyan co-star Lupita Nyong'o, who was born in Mexico. This year's nominees are diverse, but the people who vote for the Oscars are not.

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Movie Reviews
5:31 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

A Meet-Cute Romance With A Delicious Twist

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a Mumbai housewife who accidentally begins a correspondence with another man when the lunch she packs for her own husband goes astray.
Sony Pictures Classics

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:57 pm

When people talk about Bollywood movies, they usually mean Indian romances with extravagant musical numbers. But there are smaller Indian films, too, and one that has earned international acclaim at film festivals is opening tomorrow in major U.S. cities. It's called The Lunchbox.

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Movie Reviews
5:24 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

'Non-Stop': Liam Neeson, Armed And Dangerous Again

Liam Neeson is a federal air marshal on an imperiled flight in Non-Stop, the latest film to feature the actor as a troubled action hero.
Myles Aronowitz Universal Pictures

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 3:03 pm

"Have you ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?" So asks one character in Edgar Wright's excellent 2007 comedic tribute to buddy-cop movies, Hot Fuzz, in a moment meant to highlight the simultaneous ridiculousness and awesomeness of that particular action-movie trope.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

In 'Stalingrad,' Where The Fog Of War Is Plenty Thick

Teenage civilian Katya (Mariya Smolnikova) shares a ruined apartment with a gang of Soviet soldiers during the battle of Stalingrad in Fedor Bondarchuk's Stalingrad.
Sony Pictures

If you're only going to see one film about the Battle of Stalingrad — and there are many — Stalingrad would be the wrong choice. Russian director Fedor Bondarchuk's treatment of the World War II turning point is shallow and contrived, if sometimes impressively staged. The movie wins points, however, for sheer wackiness.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

A Legacy Of War, Hitting Home Decades Later In Norway

Katrine (Juliane Kohler) has a golden life in Norway — and a dark secret rooted in Eastern Germany, in the dark days of war and division.
Tom Trambow IFC Films

Decades after the end of World War II, the partly burned body of a young woman was found in a wooded area near the Norwegian town of Bergen. Her possible connection to a long-simmering Norwegian scandal, one dating back to the war, became the subject of a novel by Hannelore Hippe — and, in turn, of Two Lives, a new thriller loosely based on that novel.

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Book Reviews
4:07 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Book Review: 'Night in Shanghai'

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:57 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Shanghai in 1936 was on the verge of Japanese occupation. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it makes a terrific setting for new novel by Nicole Mones. It's called "Night in Shanghai." The book showcases the multicultural and moneyed scene of Shanghai's prewar heyday.

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