Baby Jane Hudson is now 50 years old — or at least the strange and brilliant movie in which she's the main character is, just released as a beautifully remastered Blu-ray. Robert Aldrich's grotesque gothic tragedy is a cross between Gypsy, with its antithetical show-biz kid sisters, and Sunset Boulevard, with its decayed Hollywood glamour.
There have been a number of books about great Jewish athletes, starring legendary baseball players like Sandy Koufax or Hank Greenberg, the "Hebrew Hammer." But a new book doesn't focus only on Jewish players — it looks at the myriad ways Jews have contributed to the American athletic landscape. Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame is a collection of essays compiled and edited by Franklin Foer and Marc Tracy of The New Republic magazine.
Foer and Tracy join NPR's Linda Wertheimer to discuss the rise of Jews in big-league sports.
William Joyce's illustrated books for children are marvels of wit and wonder, rendered in softly shaded colors with an art-deco flair. In books like A Day with Wilbur Robinson and Santa Calls, winsome dinosaurs wear miniature fezzes on their tiny heads; a roly-poly Santa, complete with monocle (the better to read the names of good little boys and girls), looks as if he's just stepped off a '30s Christmas card; and modes of transport include Buck Rogers-style spaceships and locomotives of the sort Superman could stop with his bare hands.
Director Ang Lee has a surprising affinity for the Indian hero of Life of Pi — that's his name, Pi, and he's seen at several ages but principally as a 17-year-old boy adrift on a lifeboat in the South Pacific. He's the lone survivor of a shipwreck that killed the crew, his family and a variety of zoo animals his father was transporting to North America for sale.
Actually, Pi is the lone human survivor. He shares his boat and its dwindling food supplies with a man-eating Bengal tiger.
Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone is an unapologetic melodrama rendered in what you might call semi-stylized neo-expressionistic realism, and it works like gangbusters. The picture takes some turns you don't expect, and some you do. But the ultimate effect is that of a filmmaker striving not to make a work of art, or a subtle drama that will win big festival prizes, or an afternoon's worth of cinema for sophisticated people. He just wants to send you home with a story and with the memory of his characters' faces. In other words, he wants to give you the world.
A change of pace for PBS long-form documentarian Ken Burns, The Central Park Five revisits New York City's recent past to tell the story of a pack of ruthless predators.
Two packs, actually: Gotham's prosecutors and police officers, and its reporters and columnists. Both groups went feral in 1989 against five innocent Harlem teenagers accused and then convicted in a rape and assault.
Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly has been performing for over 50 years now. His TV credits include the sitcom "Head of the Class." He co-starred with Judi Dench in the movie "Mrs. Brown." New projects include Dustin Hoffmann's directorial debut, "Quartet," with, among others, Maggie Smith. And he plays a dwarf king in "The Hobbit." But what he does, as he puts it, is standup comedy.
When my nieces were small, I took them on a day trip to the Museum of the Moving Image on London's South Bank. We had fun touring a puckishly curated journey through the history of cinema, until my younger niece flushed the toilet in the noir-inflected bathroom — and set off the famous shrieking strings that amp up the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, creating the most terrifying moment in American cinema.