It's been a while since I've heard a distinctive new American voice in mystery fiction: That Girl With the Dragon Tattoo dame seems to have put our homegrown hard-boiled detectives in the deep freeze. The mystery news of the past few years has chiefly come out of the Land of the Midnight Sun, dominated by the late Stieg Larsson and fellow Swedes Camilla Lackberg and Hakan Nesser, as well as Norwegians Anne Holt, Karin Fossum and Jo Nesbo.
Mozart's The Magic Flute, the last opera he lived to complete, has some of his most sublime and sublimely comic music. Technically, it's more of a musical comedy, what in German is called a Singspiel, a play with songs and spoken dialogue. I was excited to learn that it was filmed by Kenneth Branagh, whose Shakespeare movies I really admire. Mozart's mixture of fairy tale and high morality presents a great opportunity for a filmmaker; in 1975, Ingmar Bergman released a version for Swedish television that has become a beloved classic.
Children's-book writer Maurice Sendak learned a lot from author and artist Tomi Ungerer. In Far Out Isn't Far Enough, a new documentary about Ungerer, Sendak says, "I learned to be braver than I was. I think that's why [Where The Wild Things Are] was partly Tomi — his energy, his spirit.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
For at least as long as there have been Fall Preview issues of TV Guide, there's been a sense of optimistic excitement about the start of new television series. But more recently, producers of long-running TV shows have injected excitement into the ends of their programs' life spans as well. By announcing, in advance, that a show is going into its final season, no matter what, it ups the emotional ante on what to expect — and, with a finite end in sight, what might happen.
Carole King initially found it extremely difficult to navigate the social hierarchies of high school. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter was a few years younger than her fellow classmates and was often dismissed as being "cute."
Saoirse Ronan plays Eleanor, an ancient (and uncharacteristically ethical) vampire in Neil Jordan's Byzantium.
Credit Sony Pictures Classics
I'm So Excited, a candy-colored comedy from Spanish director Pedro Almodovar (at right), finds an eclectic assortment of highly strung passengers coping with an airborne emergency en route to Mexico City.
The decade of the 1980s — when major corporations made their presence more felt in Hollywood — was for all kinds of reasons a low point in American moviegoing. But two beacons abroad, Pedro Almodovar and Neil Jordan, reminded us with movies like Law of Desire, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Mona Lisa how films could be personal and still reach a large (or large-ish) audience.
Thirty years later, we have Almodovar's I'm So Excited and Jordan's Byzantium — and these directors are still shining a light.
When the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was growing up in Nigeria she was not used to being identified by the color of her skin. That changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn.
Until 1977, Lyme disease was almost unknown. But in the decades since a Yale rheumatologist first described an unusual cluster of arthritis cases in Lyme, Conn., the disease has become the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the country. Acute symptoms of Lyme disease commonly include a bull's-eye rash followed by flu-like symptoms.
At the keys, Duke Ellington abstracted from stride piano, which modernized ragtime. Ellington's own spare percussive style then refracted through Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor, as well as a generation of freewheeling pianists active in Europe, like Aki Takase. Her new solo piano album is My Ellington, on which she plays some stride bass herself, as in "In a Mellow Tone."