Arts and Culture

Arts and culture

Chinese writers and publishers are being celebrated this week in New York at BookExpo America — the industry's largest trade event in North America. Organizers of the event say China deserves a seat at the table because it is such a big and potentially lucrative market. But some authors and free speech advocates have seen this as opportunity to shine light on censorship in China.

Rocks Versus The Rock In 'San Andreas'

1 hour ago

In the Universal Pictures release Earthquake, one of the biggest hits (no pun intended) of 1974, The Big One takes a big bite out of Los Angeles — God's vengeance, the film implies, for Charlton Heston cheating on Ava Gardner with Genevieve Bujold.

French director Anne Fontaine's Gemma Bovery is a comic reworking of Madame Bovary, but that's merely the first of the movie's several layers. The bilingual film is adapted not from Flaubert's classic but from British cartoonist Posy Simmonds' graphic novel, set in contemporary times and with the Boverys as a London couple that just relocated to Normandy.

Kat, a personal trainer played with rabid verve by Cobie Smulders in the terrific new comedy Results, is a recognizable gym rat modestly enlarged for comical promise. "I lead with my butt," the dedicated workout queen tells a client, oblivious to the fact that he's already rather taken with that highly buffed part of her anatomy. She's obsessive and blunt and aggressive almost unto unbearable. It can safely be said that empowerment is not Kat's problem.

'Aloha' Brings A Muddled Romance To Hawaii

1 hour ago

It's hard to tell what, exactly, Bradley Cooper's deal is in the imperfect yet oddly compelling tropical dramedy Aloha. His character, Brian Gilcrest, is a military contractor assigned to oversee a ceremony in Hawaii that will allow his employer to launch a new satellite of dubious motives. That part's easy enough. After his role in the megahit American Sniper, it's intriguing to see Cooper playing what amounts to a cynical, bizarro-world version of Chris Kyle.

If actor David Oyelowo projects a regal air, it's one he comes by naturally. Born in England to Nigerian parents, Oyelowo's father had always told him that theirs was a royal family, a claim the actor initially discounted.

"I was like, 'Yeah, whatever,' " Oyelowo tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But then the family moved back to Nigeria where they lived on a street named after his family and the actor realized that his father had not been joking.

Photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman's portraits feature friends and acquaintances, activists and poets, Americans and immigrants — some naturalized, some undocumented.

All of them are queer people of color.

"I wanted to specifically focus on this community because queer and trans people of color are so rarely represented in the art world," says Roman, who is Mexican-American and also identifies as queer.

What kind of birthday gift do you get a man who has everything? It's a well-worn riddle — and one that gets all the more difficult if the man in question happens to have died a half-century ago.

Luckily for Ian Fleming, today's 107-year-old birthday boy and the creator of James Bond, novelist Anthony Horowitz knows just the gift: a reunion with an old friend.

Another day, another all-white list of recommended reading. This year's New York Times summer reading list, compiled annually by Times literary critic Janet Maslin, offered up zero books by non-white authors.

'The Water Knife' Cuts Deep

11 hours ago

In The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi's best-selling, Hugo- and Nebula-winning debut, the author imagines a 23rd century in which the forces of commerce have run amok over the basic, biological building blocks of life. In his equally powerful sophomore novel, The Water Knife, he takes a similar approach to an inorganic substance without which human life wouldn't exist: H2O. But where The Windup Girl takes place hundreds of years from now in Southeast Asia, The Water Knife hits closer to home for U.S. readers.

If the book is dead, nobody bothered to tell the folks at Capitol Hill Books in Washington, D.C. Books of every size, shape and genre occupy each square inch of the converted row house — including the bathroom — all arranged in an order discernible only to the mind of Jim Toole, the store's endearingly grouchy owner.

What's the best piece of trivia you learned this week? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter, and we'll figure out whether it's true or false.

True or false: in outer space, tears stick to your eyeballs, effectively blinding you if you can't wipe them off.

Heard in Veep of the Rings

Wardrobe Of Games

May 27, 2015

For this final round, every answer contains an article of clothing or wardrobe accessory. So if we said, "colorful wasps sometimes mistaken for bees," the answer would be "yellow jackets."

Heard in Veep of the Rings

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Give 'Em The Go-Ahead

May 27, 2015

We all remember Clint Eastwood's character Dirty Harry and his famous line, "Go ahead, make my day." In this game, contestants deliver that line... Ask Me Another-style. So go ahead, make our pâté.

Heard in Veep of the Rings

I'm Quitting The Band

May 27, 2015

It's hard to keep a good rock band together; you're always losing members. In this game, we take the names of famous bands and drop a letter to make a whole new band. For instance, a "Seven Nation Army" couldn't stop The White Strips from selling out to a Crest bleaching product.

Heard in Veep of the Rings

Back In Time

May 27, 2015

In this game, we've rewritten the famous Beatles song "Get Back" to be about movie characters going back to their own time period, where they once belonged. Get back, Cusack, Jacuzzis aren't safe transport.

Heard in Veep of the Rings

Ampers And What?

May 27, 2015

Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley, Will & Grace — how hard was it to come up with those titles? In this game, we quiz contestants on TV show titles that are just two words plus an ampersand. But it's not as easy as it sounds. For example, "Actor Jude & a restaurant request" translates to Law & Order.

Heard in Veep of the Rings

Veep Of The Rings

May 27, 2015

In this game, VIP Anna Chlumsky is quizzed about something near and dear to her heart — Lord of the Rings. And just like Frodo had Samwise to help him on his quest, Anna brings along a friend to join her onstage.

Heard in Veep of the Rings

After a successful career as a child actress, starring in films such as My Girl and Trading Mom, Anna Chlumsky walked away from the big screen and went back to school. But while working as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins, she began feeling an itch. "There was a month where I was really open to [the question] 'what should I do with my life?'" Chlumsky told Ophira Eisenberg at The Bell House in Brooklyn. "And I'd get signs from the universe."

Underneath railway arches on a nondescript street in North London, you'll find an old warehouse that's the epicenter of the Ottolenghi food empire.

Jerusalem-born food impresario Yotam Ottolenghi and his business partner, Sami Tamimi, started out over a decade ago with one restaurant in London selling fresh, Middle East-inspired food. The business now encompasses several restaurants, an expanding online food business and some cookbooks that have been wildly successful on their home turf and here in the U.S.

Maria Bello is famous for her roles on television's ER and in films like Coyote Ugly and A History of Violence, but her new book is about her life off-screen. Whatever ... Love is Love is a memoir about family and relationships that expands on a column Bello wrote in 2013 for The New York Times.

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Fat Is Not A Four-Letter Word In 'Dietland'

May 27, 2015

Editor's note: A Dietland quote in this review contains language some may find offensive.


In fiction, there are the Good Fats (Clara Peggotty, Mrs. Weasley and various other pillowy matrons) and the Bad Fats (Ursula, Augustus Gloop, assorted despicable characters whose fatness is shorthand for moral decay). Oh, and the Funny Fats. Don't forget the Funny Fats (Falstaff and his schlubby ilk). But complicated, dangerous, compelling Fats? These are rare.

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Documentary photographer Dorothea Lange had a favorite saying: "A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera."

And perhaps no one did more to reveal the human toll of the Great Depression than Lange, who was born on this day in 1895. Her photographs gave us an unflinching — but also deeply humanizing — look at the struggles of displaced farmers, migrant laborers, sharecroppers and others at the bottom of the American farm economy as it reeled through the 1930s.

At least 2,500 years ago, tea, as we know it, was born.

Back then, it was a medicinal concoction blended with herbs, seeds and forest leaves in the mountains of southwest China. Gradually, as manners of processing and drinking tea were refined, it became imbued with artistic, religious, and cultural notes. Under the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907), the apogee of ancient Chinese prosperity, the drink involved ritual, etiquette and specific utensils. During this period of splendor, the first book dedicated solely to tea was written by Lu Yü.

Mary Ellen Mark, the influential photographer known mostly for her humanist work, has died. She was 75.

Mark died Monday, a representative said Tuesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that she died in New York.

Mark's work appeared in Life, New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. Her photo essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of Streetwise, an Academy Award-nominated film that was directed by her husband, Martin Bell.

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British science-fiction and fantasy writer Tanith Lee has died, according to her publisher. Lee, 67, was a prolific author who also worked in radio and television; her dozens of books include Don't Bite The Sun and Death's Master -- the latter of which was part of her popular Flat Earth series.

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