Originally published on Sun January 27, 2013 9:18 am
In the decade since Israeli director Eytan Fox made Yossi & Jagger, the precursor to his sublimely tender new drama Yossi, Israel has undergone two significant changes. A tacit and active homophobia has given way, at least in the open cultural climate of Tel Aviv, to a matter-of-fact acceptance of gay rights. At the same time, Israeli cinema has bloomed, becoming a thriving international presence in just about every genre.
Time now for a home-viewing recommendation from NPR movie critic Bob Mondello. A quiet recommendation — because Bob is touting the Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection, a 14-disc set of classic silent comedies.
Silent film had three great clowns. Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp is the one everyone remembers; all-American daredevil Harold Lloyd is the one who made the most money; and Buster Keaton was the genius.
Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 1:05 pm
Our inaugural Curious Listener post focused on NPR broadcast style for talking about the President of the United States on first, second and subsequent references. As the next term begins, however, we're practicing some new policies when it comes to talking about the country's Chief Executive.
Frigid temperatures are blasting the northeast and in the Rockaway section of Queens — one of the areas worst hit by Superstorm Sandy — some 8,200 homes and businesses remain without power and many also living without heat are improvising, often dangerously, to stay warm.
Another new consequence of Greece's economic crisis is that the skies of Athens and other cities are filled with smoke due to the increase in the use of wood burning stoves. The cost of heating oil has gone up 40 percent — a tax increase imposed by the troika. The Greek Environment ministry has issued a warning that the increase in pollutants in the air is posing public health risk.
The share of the American work force that belongs to a labor union has hit a 97 year low. Today only 11.3 percent of workers hold a union membership. Labor expert Tony Carnevale of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce says the federal government has replaced the labor union for many American workers, in pushing for health and safety regulations, minimum wage legislation and equal pay.
President Obama has nominated former prosecutor Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). White made her mark in high profile cases against terrorists and the mobster John Gotti. She would be the first prosecutor to head the SEC, and that could blunt criticisms that the administration hasn't been tough enough on Wall Street. But White also advised securities firms as a corporate lawyer after her stint as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
One Paris neighborhood is known as "Little Bamako," named after the capital of Mali. It's a place where Malian immigrants welcome and closely follow the French military campaign against Islamist extremists in their home country. Some express disappointment that President Obama did not send U.S. troops alongside the French soldiers. They reject the harsh Sharia law of the extremists, saying Mali is in fact a very tolerant nation.
Senate leaders have reached an agreement to limit filibusters in the new Congress, especially as they relate to presidential nominations. But they stopped short of requiring senators to hold the floor in person and in real time, as the classic filibuster required.
Melissa Block talks to Col. Ellen Haring about the announcement of the end to the ban on women in combat. Haring is one of two women in the Army Reserves who filed a lawsuit last year against the Department of Defense seeking to reverse the ban.
Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 12:11 pm
There's a fine line between a genre filmmaker with an offbeat sensibility and a maker of prefab cult movies — someone who appeals too aggressively to a cult audience that doesn't yet exist. Don Coscarelli's career has inched too far across that line.
The creator of the Phantasm series, which developed a dense and satisfying (if fan-oriented) mythology, and the prime fantasy cheese The Beastmaster, Coscarelli has lately been a cult alchemist, mixing up quirky elements aimed at winning a following that his previous films won effortlessly.
Staging a one-on-one intervention with a drug-addicted friend carries certain risks. At the very least, the long-term survival of your friendship is in jeopardy. If the friend is a gun-obsessed meth head living in an abandoned shack in the middle of nowhere, your own survival may be in question.
But surely, whatever the other dangers of staging a forced detox, at the very least you don't usually have to worry about malevolent and potentially supernatural forces stalking you.
Framed for television and photographed in faded panels of astonishing blahness, Knife Fight is a dull political dramedy that ping-pongs between caustic misanthropy and soapy sentiment. Playing like a mashup of tropes from far superior small- and large-screen entertainments (Scandal, House of Lies, Ides of March), this clunky feature from Bill Guttentag is satire at its most soft-bellied and toadying.
Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 5:11 pm
Melissa Block speaks with Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, about the approved one-time use of peaceful civil disobedience for the first time in the group's history. They will be participating in a climate rally in February in Washington, D.C.