With intrepid host Linda Holmes trapped in the air-conditioned movie theaters of Toronto, the Pop Culture Happy Hour gang was forced to reconstitute itself yet again for this week's episode — this time with our old pal Tanya Ballard Brown, who returns via the power of popular demand. You talk, we listen, people.
What happens when hipsters grow up? Do they become less insufferable with age? Do they learn to contribute something useful to the society they've long scorned, and in turn were scorned by? Maybe they, like Norman Rush's deceased character Douglas, leave New York City and go live in a castle somewhere, work on secret projects for the Israeli government, get a trophy wife and raise a child who opts to worship Odin and live wild in the surrounding forest.
With her weird, wistful new novel MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood completes the apocalyptic trilogy she began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Like its predecessors, MaddAddam is a blend of satiric futurism and magic realism, a snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease. That mad scientist is the brilliant bioengineer Crake, whose story is retold in this novel by the Crakers, the post-humans he designed to experience no sexual jealousy, and to eat nothing but plants.
To mark the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, Jews fast from sundown to sundown. But before the sun sets, friends and family gather to enjoy one final meal. And for the Jews of Eastern Europe, that meal traditionally includes kreplach.
Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 10:13 am
For a while in Jamie Meltzer's mesmerizing documentary Informant, I wondered whether subject Brandon Darby, the lefty activist turned FBI informer, was being played by an actor.
But no: It's Darby, and he's a handsome fellow, with haunted eyes blazing out of a bone structure to die for, and with a Montgomery Clift dimple in his chin. Staring straight into the camera, he testifies with the intense calm of a messiah or a madman, which all too often comes to the same thing. Among other things, this powerfully confused man is a study in American extremity.
In Wonder, R.J. Palacio tells the story of Auggie, a tough, sweet, 10-year-old boy, who was born with distorted facial features — a "craniofacial difference" caused by an anomaly in his DNA.
Palacio tells NPR's Michele Norris that the book was inspired by a real-life encounter with her own kids six years ago. They were at an ice cream store and sat next to a little girl with a severe facial deformity. Palacio's 3-year-old son cried in fear, so the author grabbed her kids and fled. She was trying to protect the girl but also avoid her own discomfort.
The Iowa-born, Zimbabwe-bred actress Danai Gurira (<em>The Walking Dead</em>) stars as half of a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn and coping with culture clash in <em>Mother of George.</em>
Credit Oscilloscope Laboratories
Traditional Yoruba mores and American expectations are just the beginning of the hurdles that Gurira's Adenike and Isaach de Bankole's Ayodele must negotiate; the question of a child will enter the equation as well.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 6:51 pm
From the start, Mother of George looks at its two protagonists, Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach de Bankole), across distinct gender lines. The film opens at their traditional Yoruba wedding with two contrasted, tightly framed, straight-on shots of the groom and bride's parties.
Later, after the ceremonies, the differences between the two groups become more defined: We watch the women give Adenike child-rearing advice, while the men talk about how best to hide their infidelities.
While researching his buoyant, impassioned (and thoroughly subtitled) new book about education, I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap,M. Night Shyamalan suddenly found himself at the head of an inner-city school English classroom. And he was terrified. "Time stopped," he writes, "similar to when you are on a plane with turbulence that's supposed to last thirty seconds, but it feels like much, much longer."