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WYPR Arts

When God's Own Country, a superb feature debut from British writer-director Francis Lee about a love affair between two male farmhands, drew wide acclaim at film festivals, it spawned comparisons with Brokeback Mountain. They're understandable but misleading, and not only because the time and place are different. God's Own Country is set in the West Yorkshire wilds where Lee grew up and still lives, and where sex is organic to the everyday flow of lives surrounded by animal activity.

Well, at least George Clooney can still claim to be the handsomest screenwriter/producer/director in Hollywood.

Sweden is often described as one of the world's most progressive and equal societies. In a new film called The Square, things aren't as perfectly Scandinavian as they seem.

It's a satire of Sweden's cultural elite set in a modern art museum. An early scene pits an American journalist against the museum's director, and the journalist reads him a confusing, academic-sounding passage he once wrote. Filmmaker Ruben Östlund says the museum director's language is real.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Watch Out: This Halloween, Horror Is Back

Oct 26, 2017

Marshia Miller of Washington D.C. is looking through the back of Total Fright, a Halloween party store, for a costume for her 12-year-old son. Wispy ghosts with glowing green eyes hang from the ceiling. Towards the back of the shop, the ceilings are covered with bloody ski masks, evil clown faces, and zombie heads. Walls are lined in packaged costumes for serial killers, escaped inmates, and famous monsters from horror films.

Miller says her son usually "likes fighting crime and things of that nature." But for the first time this year "now he wants something scary."

It's easy to send thoughts and prayers and move on if you're not among those whose lives were altered by the storms. But natural disasters continue to destroy lives long after the damage is done. In his new book Ghosts of the Tsunami, author Richard Lloyd Parry considers the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese tsunami, which took thousands of lives, and which haunts its survivors to this day. It's a wrenching chronicle of a disaster that, six years later, still seems incomprehensible.

In 1880, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, age 41, wrote to a friend that he was in a riverside town near Paris painting oarsmen. He'd been "itching" to do it for a long time: "I'm not getting any younger," he wrote, "and didn't want to defer this little festivity." Now that painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party, is the star of a new exhibition at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

On the coastal edge of Georgia sits a small, dwindling community known as the Gullah Geechee. The people in the community are direct descendants of enslaved West Africans who settled on the barrier islands there. The Gullah Geechee's unofficial historian and vocal advocate for the preservation of the community, Cornelia Walker Bailey, has died. She was 72.

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Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Candy is not a food known for its use of wholesome ingredients. In fact, it barely qualifies as a food at all. But Jami Curl, the confectioner behind Portland's Quin candy shop, is trying to change that.

If you're looking for a stylish, atmospheric mystery with a startling twist, look no further: The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau by Graeme Macrae Burnet will be your cup of strong Continental coffee. Set in a very sleepy Alsatian town on the Gallic side of the Rhine, this novel titillates with its homage to Georges Simenon, that master of French suspense who never met a detail he didn't like.

The television police procedural is a genre, and like any genre, it makes an implicit contract with its audience.

Chiefly, that contract is about plot. Here's what you'll get, it says. Each episode, a crime will be committed, investigated with a certain amount of technical detail, and ultimately solved. That's it. We may introduce some embellishments — a chewy performance here, an out-of-left-field twist there, or maybe a tiny amount of character development — but week in and week out, we'll stick to the parameters.

The actress and comedian Amy Sedaris has become famous for her roles in shows like Strangers With Candy and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At the same time, she has always harbored a not-so-secret love of home crafting projects.

She's written books about it — Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, and I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence — and now, she has a program on Tru TV, At Home With Amy Sedaris, inspired by the shows she loved as a kid.


Interview Highlights

On her inspirations

When NPR's David Greene spoke with Tom Hanks on Monday night in Los Angeles, the actor offered a blunt take on the recent scandals engulfing Hollywood.

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Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

John Hodgman is a notorious liar. In his previous three books, the most recent being 2011's That Is All, the humorist and former The Daily Show correspondent presented a parade of fake knowledge in almanac form. Hilarious on its surface, the trilogy also deeply satirized our country's drift toward a post-truth reality. On a less alarming level, those books underscored the remoteness that Hodgman has always cultivated as an entertainer. Quirky, nerdy, and cerebrally charming, his persona never felt very candid or intimate.

So, you're at your friend's elaborately decorated Halloween party. There are cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, bloody handprints on the wall, a frothing potion brewing on the stove. It's creepy! And scary! But is it ... spooky?

There is a moment about fifteen minutes into the premiere of the eight-episode Netflix series American Vandal when I knew it had its hooks in me.

It's a scene in which two student documentary filmmakers — Peter (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam (Griffin Gluck) — are examining evidence.

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:

The ongoing wildfires in Northern California have reminded many Americans of the courage — the heroism — of the men and women who fight fires in forests and wilderness.

A new film called Only The Brave is based on the true story of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who battled, and ultimately lost their lives, in Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire during late June of 2013. Hotshots are the elite crews that attack and try to contain wildfires with chainsaws, shovels and flames of their own (to create firebreaks).

The world Philip Pullman created is back—in his hands, and now ours.

The His Dark Materials trilogy, which was introduced more than 20 years ago with a book called The Golden Compass, is set in a world ruled by theocratic overlords collectively known as the Magisterium, and in which children often disappear into the hands of people called the Gobblers. However, human souls — especially those of children — take shape outside their bodies as daemons: talking animal spirits who give humans aid, comfort and companionship.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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No One's Hands Are Clean In 'The Butchering Art'

Oct 21, 2017

To read The Butchering Art, you should have a stronger stomach than mine.

Myth-ed Connections: 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'

Oct 20, 2017

We need to talk about Keoghan.

If there's one constant throughout Steve Bannon's career, it's his ability to reinvent himself. His resume includes time in the U.S. Navy plus jobs working with Goldman Sachs; Biosphere 2; a Florida maker of nasal sprays; and a Hong Kong company that employed real people to earn virtual gold in the online video game World Of Warcraft.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Barry Blitt drew his first New Yorker cover back in 1992. Ever since, he has been skewering politicians of all stripes. In 2008, he drew Barack and Michelle Obama fist-bumping in the Oval Office, and in 2016, he drew Donald Trump in a tiara and a women's bathing suit.

"I have a sketchbook open and I'm just trying to make myself laugh," Blitt says.

His new book, simply titled Blitt, features some of the cartoonist's most memorable and merciless work.

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