1. Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of  "The Normal Heart", Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts and is directed by Ryan Murphy, producer of “Glee.” 
Our TV critic, David Bianculli says — 

"When Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart was presented by New York’s Public Theater in 1985, its inside-out look at the early history of the spread of the HIV virus and AIDS was both a howl of pain and a call for action and help. When a new production appeared in 2011, it won the Tony award for Best Revival of a Play. Now it’s back again, in a substantially revised made-for-TV movie on HBO – and one of the remarkable things about it is that, nearly 30 years after it first was staged, The Normal Heart still seems both raw and relevant.”

You can listen to the rest of Bianculli’s review here. 
Photo via HBO View in High-Res

    Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of  "The Normal Heart", Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts and is directed by Ryan Murphy, producer of “Glee.” 

    Our TV critic, David Bianculli says — 

    "When Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart was presented by New York’s Public Theater in 1985, its inside-out look at the early history of the spread of the HIV virus and AIDS was both a howl of pain and a call for action and help. When a new production appeared in 2011, it won the Tony award for Best Revival of a Play. Now it’s back again, in a substantially revised made-for-TV movie on HBO – and one of the remarkable things about it is that, nearly 30 years after it first was staged, The Normal Heart still seems both raw and relevant.”

    You can listen to the rest of Bianculli’s review here. 

    Photo via HBO

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    David Bianculli

    HBO

    The Normal Heart

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  1. Fresh Air and the Golden Globe Nominees

    The Golden Globe nominations are out. Here is a list of nominees in key categories. Interviews and reviews are linked accordingly.

    MOVIES

    Best Picture, Drama:
    “12 Years a Slave”
    “Captain Phillips”
    “Gravity”
    “Philomena”
    “Rush”

    Best Picture, Musical or Comedy:
    “American Hustle”
    “Her”
    “Inside Llewyn Davis”
    “Nebraska”
    “The Wolf of Wall Street”

    Best Director:
    Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity”
    Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
    Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
    Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
    David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

    Best Actress, Drama:
    Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
    Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
    Judi Dench, “Philomena”
    Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”
    Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”

    Best Actor, Drama:
    Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
    Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
    Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
    Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
    Robert Redford, “All Is Lost”

    Best Actor, Musical or Comedy:
    Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
    Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
    Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
    Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
    Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”

    Best Actress, Musical or Comedy:
    Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
    Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
    Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said”
    Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

    Best Supporting Actor
    Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
    Daniel Brühl, “Rush”
    Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
    Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
    Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

    Best Supporting Actress
    Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
    Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
    Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
    Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
    June Squibb, “Nebraska”

    Best Foreign Language Film
    “Blue Is the Warmest Color”
    “The Great Beauty”
    “The Hunt”
    “The Past”
    “The Wind Rises”

    TELEVISION

    Best Drama
    “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
    “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
    “The Good Wife” (CBS)
    “House of Cards” (Netflix)
    “Masters of Sex” (Showtime)

    Best Comedy
    “The Big Bang Theory”
    “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
    “Girls”
    “Modern Family”
    “Parks and Recreation”

    Best Television Movie or Mini-series
    “American Horror Story: Coven” (FX)
    “Behind the Candelabra” (HBO)
    “Dancing on the Edge” (Starz)
    “Top of the Lake” (Sundance)
    “White Queen” (Starz)

    Best Actor, Drama
    Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
    Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
    Michael Sheen, “Masters of Sex”
    Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
    James Spader, “The Blacklist”

    Best Actress, Drama
    Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”
    Tatiana Maslany “Orphan Black”
    Taylor Schilling, “Orange Is the New Black”
    Kerry Washington, “Scandal”
    Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

    Best Actor, Comedy
    Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”
    Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
    Michael J. Fox, “The Michael J. Fox Show”
    Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
    Andy Samberg, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

    Best Actress, Comedy
    Zooey Deschanel, “New Girl”
    Lena Dunham, “Girls”
    Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
    Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
    Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”

    Best Actor, Television Movie or Mini-series
    Matt Damon, “Behind the Candelabra”
    Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra”
    Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Dancing on the Edge”
    Idris Elba, “Luther”
    Al Pacino, “Phil Spector”

    Best Actress, Television Movie or Mini-series
    Helen Bonham-Carter, “Burton and Taylor”
    Rebecca Ferguson, “White Queen”
    Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Coven”
    Helen Mirren, “Phil Spector”
    Elisabeth Moss, “Top of the Lake”

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  1. First, a word about this list: it’s honestly just a fluke that my best books rundown for 2013 is so gender biased. I didn’t deliberately set out this year to read so many terrific books by women.


    Lets start with Alice McDermott. Without ever hamming up the humility, Alice McDermott’s latest novel, Someone, tells the life story of an ordinary woman named Marie who comes of age in mid-twentieth century Brooklyn and works for a time in a funeral parlor. McDermott reveals to readers what’s distinct about people like Marie who don’t have the ego or eloquence to make a case for themselves as being anything special.

    Unlike McDermott’s submissive Marie, the main character of The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud’s latest novel, is like a dormant volcano getting ready to blow.  Nora Eldridge is a single elementary school teacher in her thirties who’s grimly disciplined herself to settling for less.  When a glamorous family enters her life and reignites her artistic and erotic energies, Nora, like Jane Eyre, gets in touch with her anger and her hunger.  Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland is another stark novel that charts the fate of two brothers in Calcutta in the 1960s, one a political activist; the other a stick-in-the-mud academic.  The Lowland is an ambitious story about the rashness of youth as well as the hesitation and regret that can make a long life not worth living.  

    Ambition is what makes Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch my novel of the year: jumbo-sized, coincidence-laced, it’s Dickensian in its cast of characters and range of emotions.  In fact, there’s a lot of David Copperfield in the main character, Theo Decker, who’s thirteen when the sudden death of his mother propels him on a cross-country odyssey that includes a season in hell in Las Vegas and brushes with the Russian mob.  Always yearning for his lost mother; Theo is like the goldfinch in the 17th century Dutch painting that gives this extraordinary novel its name: an alert yellow bird “chained to a perch by its twig of an ankle.”


    My debut novel of the year is Adelle Waldman’s brilliant comedy of manners and ideas, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.  Waldman thoroughly inhabits the head of a sensitive cad named Nate Piven, a writer living in Brooklyn.  There are many throwaway moments of hilarity here, such as when Nate endures his weekly telephone chat with his father, who asks him the question every aspiring writer is asked nowadays:  “Have you given any thought to self publishing?”


    A boy-girl pair ties for my for best short story collection nod:  Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove contains some genuine creepers, like “Proving Up,” a tale of the American Frontier that reads like a collaboration between Willa Cather and Emily Dickinson.  The standout in George Saunders’ collection, The Tenth of December, is “The Semplica Girl Diaries”—a story whose power could singlehandedly change immigration policy.  


    In biography, the winner for me this year was Jill Lepore’s Book of Ages about Jane Franklin, Ben’s little sister.  To excavate the remains of Jane’s hidden story, Lepore augments her own training as a historian with literary criticism, sociology, archeology and even some of the techniques of fiction. 

    Patricia Volk’s boisterous memoir, Shocked, also breaks traditional genre rules. Shocked explores the two titanic women who impressed their ideas of beauty and femaleness on Volk: her mother, Audrey, a famous beauty, and the designer Elsa Schiaparelli.  In her writing and in her memoir’s gorgeous illustrations, Volk has embraced something of Schiaparelli’s surrealist approach to art. Roger Rosenblatt’s evocative memoir, The Boy Detective, also challenges easy categorization.  His book combines a walking tour around vanished Manhattan, with a meditation, not only on the classic mystery fiction he loves, but also on those larger metaphysical mysteries that defy even the shrewdest detective’s reasoning.


    Speaking, at last, of mysteries, my best mystery of the year turns out to be yet another stunner from Scandinavia.  The Dinosaur Feather is a debut novel by a Dane named S. J. Gazan, which takes us deep into the insular world of scientists investigating dinosaur evolution.  I could be wrong (but I don’t think I am) when I say that Gazan disposes of a murder victim here by an infernal means that no other mystery writer — not even the resourceful Dame Agatha — ever concocted. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, S. J. Gazan is a woman.  Everybody knows the female of the species is deadlier than the male. 

    Happy Reading to one and all.



    The list is available here with audio and links to the reviews

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  1. Have you seen NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums of 2013?
I spy some Fresh Air favorites on the list including:
Jason Isbell
Brandy Clark
Kacey Musgraves
Vampire Weekend
HAIM
Valerie June

    Have you seen NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums of 2013?

    I spy some Fresh Air favorites on the list including:

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  1. Posted on 4 December, 2013

    1,259 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from nprbooks

    nprbooks:

YOU GUYS!! It’s ALIVE! The NPR Book Concierge is at your service — see what we’ve been working on the past few months, and more importantly, see our favorite books of 2013 in a fantastic new clickable searchable playable-with format. 
Want book club ideas that are also love stories? Funny cookbooks? Kids’ books for geeks? And of course, our own staff picks. Check it out!
(If you really, REALLY miss our lists, here’s why we decided to do something a little different this year)


Several of NPR’s best books of 2013 were featured as interviews or reviews (By Maureen Corrigan) on Fresh Air. To name a few:
Scott Anderson, the author of Lawrence In Arabia 
Jesmyn Ward, the author of Men We Reaped
Review of The Book of Ages 
Chimamanda Adichie, the author of Americanah
John Bradshaw, the author of Cat Sense
A. Scott Berg, the author of Wilson 
Allie Brosh, the author/artist of Hyperbole and a Half
Review of Someone 
Review of The Goldfinch 
Review of Miss Anne in Harlem
Review of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P
Review of The Infatuations
Review of The Lowland 
View in High-Res

    nprbooks:

    YOU GUYS!! It’s ALIVE! The NPR Book Concierge is at your service — see what we’ve been working on the past few months, and more importantly, see our favorite books of 2013 in a fantastic new clickable searchable playable-with format

    Want book club ideas that are also love stories? Funny cookbooks? Kids’ books for geeks? And of course, our own staff picks. Check it out!

    (If you really, REALLY miss our lists, here’s why we decided to do something a little different this year)

    Several of NPR’s best books of 2013 were featured as interviews or reviews (By Maureen Corrigan) on Fresh Air. To name a few:

  2. fresh air

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    interviews

    npr books

    best books 2013

  1. Fresh Air’s Coverage of the 2013 National Book Award Nominees

    image

    The 2013 National Book Award Nominees have been announced. Fresh Air’s book critic Maureen Corrigan reviewed 4 of the nominees:

    Among the fiction nominees are Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland and George Saunders for The Tenth of December as well as Alice McDermott for her book Someone. In nonfiction, Jill Lepore is nominated for The Book of Ages.

    Terry Gross interviewed Lawrence Wright, author of Going Clear, about the world of Scientology and the life of its leader.

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    national book award

    reading

    books

    maureen corrigan

    reviews

  1. Maureen Corrigan reviews The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. a debut novel about a young male novelist living among young aspiring literary types in Brooklyn.  She says:

"Waldman largely structures her novel around the conversations that her characters have in the apartments, coffee shops, and bars of gentrifying Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.  She has a great eye for the absurd in the shifting New York cityscape."
View in High-Res

    Maureen Corrigan reviews The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. a debut novel about a young male novelist living among young aspiring literary types in Brooklyn.  She says:

    "Waldman largely structures her novel around the conversations that her characters have in the apartments, coffee shops, and bars of gentrifying Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.  She has a great eye for the absurd in the shifting New York cityscape."

  2. fresh air

    reviews

    maureen corrigan

    the love affairs of nathaniel p.

    adelle waldman

    brooklyn

    lower east side

    novel

  1. Fresh Air music reviewer Milo Miles did a piece on the 2012 soundtrack to the Festival au Desert, the world music festival that usually takes place near Timbuktu in Mali.

    The violence and unrest in Mali (due to Islamic radicals in the northern part of the country) has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and, inevitably, the cancellation of this year’s lineup.  So now, instead, some of the artists are performing at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors, a long way from West Africa, performing as refugees.  Singer guitarist Mamadou Kelly referred to the nomadic show as "a ‘caravan for peace’ and a ‘festival in exile.’"

    The video above is Toureg rock band Tinariwen singing one of their most popular songs, “Amassakoul.”

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    milo miles

    festival au desert

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  1. David Edelstein on the documentary Blackfish, about the SeaWorld orca who killed his trainer in 2010:

Whales have been shown to be complex, emotional beings, and former Orlando SeaWorld trainers recall the anguish of mother-child separations and the obvious psychological impact of captivity. The ex-trainers’ tearful — sometimes shame-filled — recollections alternate with footage of their younger selves smiling and declaiming for SeaWorld audiences, doing tricks with whales they came to love.

Image via EPK View in High-Res

    David Edelstein on the documentary Blackfish, about the SeaWorld orca who killed his trainer in 2010:

    Whales have been shown to be complex, emotional beings, and former Orlando SeaWorld trainers recall the anguish of mother-child separations and the obvious psychological impact of captivity. The ex-trainers’ tearful — sometimes shame-filled — recollections alternate with footage of their younger selves smiling and declaiming for SeaWorld audiences, doing tricks with whales they came to love.

    Image via EPK

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    David Edelstein

    Blackfish

    SeaWorld

    Orcas

  1. Maureen Corrigan on J.K. Rowling's new detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling:

Rowling tries to bring a more contemporary edge to this novel by featuring a beautiful biracial victim and delving into the demimonde of high fashion and hip-hop royalty, but the world here still feels curiously dated. In fact, the first time we glimpse Robin, the young secretary, she’s bedazzled by getting an engagement ring affixed to her finger by her stodgy fiance: throughout much of the story she serves coffee to clients, makes cow eyes at Strike, and tidies up the office loo. The most intriguing unsolved mystery in The Cuckoo’s Calling is why, in this post-Lisbeth Salander Age, Rowling would choose to outfit her female lead with such meek and anachronistic feminine behavior.
View in High-Res

    Maureen Corrigan on J.K. Rowling's new detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling:

    Rowling tries to bring a more contemporary edge to this novel by featuring a beautiful biracial victim and delving into the demimonde of high fashion and hip-hop royalty, but the world here still feels curiously dated. In fact, the first time we glimpse Robin, the young secretary, she’s bedazzled by getting an engagement ring affixed to her finger by her stodgy fiance: throughout much of the story she serves coffee to clients, makes cow eyes at Strike, and tidies up the office loo. The most intriguing unsolved mystery in The Cuckoo’s Calling is why, in this post-Lisbeth Salander Age, Rowling would choose to outfit her female lead with such meek and anachronistic feminine behavior.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    The Cuckoo's Calling

    JK Rowling

    Maureen Corrigan

    Harry Potter

  1. David Bianculli on Orange Is The New Black:

When Piper goes through her first day — meeting her bunkmates, going to the cafeteria — every step is tricky. If she befriends the wrong person or says the wrong thing (which she does, a lot), the consequences can be severe. We, as the audience, are taken along, experiencing the same steep learning curve.
By the third episode, we’re as familiar with the nightly head-count routine as Piper is — and by the end of these 13 episodes, we not only know all the characters in this very large, very diverse ensemble comedy-drama, we feel for them, too. And that’s quite an achievement.

    David Bianculli on Orange Is The New Black:

    When Piper goes through her first day — meeting her bunkmates, going to the cafeteria — every step is tricky. If she befriends the wrong person or says the wrong thing (which she does, a lot), the consequences can be severe. We, as the audience, are taken along, experiencing the same steep learning curve.

    By the third episode, we’re as familiar with the nightly head-count routine as Piper is — and by the end of these 13 episodes, we not only know all the characters in this very large, very diverse ensemble comedy-drama, we feel for them, too. And that’s quite an achievement.

  2. Fresh Air

    reviews

    David Bianculli

    Orange Is the New Black

    Netflix

  1. Milo Miles on LGBT icon Sylvester:

In music, as in so many aspects of life, finding the right partners can make all the difference. When Sylvester hooked up with backup singers Martha Wash and her friend Izora Rhodes in 1976, it was clear he needed to bring back gospel heat to help his vocals carry the day. Showing a fine sense of humor, the substantial women called themselves Two Tons o’ Fun. Sylvester’s second album with them, Step II  in 1978, resulted in a couple of smash singles, “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” — and the LP itself went gold.

Image via The Washington Blade View in High-Res

    Milo Miles on LGBT icon Sylvester:

    In music, as in so many aspects of life, finding the right partners can make all the difference. When Sylvester hooked up with backup singers Martha Wash and her friend Izora Rhodes in 1976, it was clear he needed to bring back gospel heat to help his vocals carry the day. Showing a fine sense of humor, the substantial women called themselves Two Tons o’ Fun. Sylvester’s second album with them, Step II in 1978, resulted in a couple of smash singles, “Dance (Disco Heat)” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” — and the LP itself went gold.

    Image via The Washington Blade

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Milo Miles

    Sylvester

  1. Posted on 11 July, 2013

    529 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from silva1996

    Ken Tucker on Jay-Z's new album Magna Carta Holy Grail:

In the song “Oceans,” he locates the irony of cruising the high seas in a fancy boat while being haunted by the notion that these may be the same waters that transported slaves to America. No one is asking Jay-Z to become a morose historian, but as he’s proved in the past, he’s frequently at his best when he’s not merely self-aware, but aware of a world that existed before his arrival, beyond money, yachts, jewelry and boasting.

    Ken Tucker on Jay-Z's new album Magna Carta Holy Grail:

    In the song “Oceans,” he locates the irony of cruising the high seas in a fancy boat while being haunted by the notion that these may be the same waters that transported slaves to America. No one is asking Jay-Z to become a morose historian, but as he’s proved in the past, he’s frequently at his best when he’s not merely self-aware, but aware of a world that existed before his arrival, beyond money, yachts, jewelry and boasting.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Ken Tucker

    Jay-Z

    Magna Carta Holy Grail

  1. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead on a new album from Wheelhouse:

Wheelhouse’s CD is called  Boss of the Plains — the original name for the broad-brimmed Stetson that evolved into the hat of choice for cowboys and Boy Scouts. The photo inside the CD sleeve depicts a vintage GMC truck cab dominating a flat landscape. There’s an air of wide-open spaces about this mostly subdued music, too — but then Chicago does lie at the edge of the Central Plains. Jason Adasiewicz’s vibes can evoke windchimes on a farmhouse porch when the weather changes, and light and dark clouds billowing on the horizon.
View in High-Res

    Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead on a new album from Wheelhouse:

    Wheelhouse’s CD is called Boss of the Plains — the original name for the broad-brimmed Stetson that evolved into the hat of choice for cowboys and Boy Scouts. The photo inside the CD sleeve depicts a vintage GMC truck cab dominating a flat landscape. There’s an air of wide-open spaces about this mostly subdued music, too — but then Chicago does lie at the edge of the Central Plains. Jason Adasiewicz’s vibes can evoke windchimes on a farmhouse porch when the weather changes, and light and dark clouds billowing on the horizon.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Kevin Whitehead

    Jazz

    Wheelhouse

    Boss of The Plains

  1. David Bianculli on the new FX crime series The Bridge:

The Bridge opens with a crime scene that couldn’t be more symbolic, or more gruesome. An unknown killer has managed to place a body on a border bridge between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas — so precisely on the border that half of the body is in each country. That makes it, at first, a jurisdictional issue for the respective first responders: an El Paso police detective named Sonya Cross… played by Diane Kruger, the German actress from Inglourious Basterds.
View in High-Res

    David Bianculli on the new FX crime series The Bridge:

    The Bridge opens with a crime scene that couldn’t be more symbolic, or more gruesome. An unknown killer has managed to place a body on a border bridge between Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas — so precisely on the border that half of the body is in each country. That makes it, at first, a jurisdictional issue for the respective first responders: an El Paso police detective named Sonya Cross… played by Diane Kruger, the German actress from Inglourious Basterds.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    David Bianculli

    The Bridge

    FX

    Diane Kruger