Arts

Arts and culture from around the Tri-State, including theater, music and poetry.

With Love Songs, his 2007 musical, French writer-director Christophe Honore updated such 1960s bonbons as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg for our age of expanded erotic frankness and possibility. Beloved, Honore's second musical, goes even farther, layering death, AIDS and Sept. 11 among the merry melodies.

This stylish film is enormous fun, whirling and warbling across four decades of amour. But it stumbles a few times in its last half-hour and ultimately seems a little too frisky for the graver issues it addresses.

The words "inspired by true events" are the first things to appear on screen in Compliance, Craig Zobel's queasy thriller of discomfort. I knew that this was the case going in, and had heard the basic facts of the "strip-search prank-call scam" that serves as the movie's inspiration. But I didn't know the full details — and as an ever-increasing load of humiliation and indignity was piled on the teenage fast-food worker at its center, I found myself getting angry with the film, assuming that Zobel was amping up the severity of real events for dramatic effect.

A parable of art and love, and a political allegory to boot, Chicken with Plums centers on an Iranian musician who wills himself to die. Yet the story that then unfolds, mostly in flashback, could hardly be more vital and engaging.

A matinee idol for the age of HDTVs and "retina displays," Robert Pattinson has a face that seems to require a higher resolution — glossy and ghostly pale, all sleek lines and alabaster skin. As Edward Cullen, the emo vampire in the Twilight saga, Pattinson plays a creature so immaculately inhuman that he literally sparkles in the sunlight. Edward may be over a century old, but Pattinson has become a thoroughly modern, even futuristic teen heartthrob, looking at all times as airbrushed as his many Entertainment Weekly covers.

The monosyllables fly fast and furious in The Expendables 2. It's the joints that are a little creaky, but what would you expect from this sequel to the 2010 blockbuster in which a cadre of aged action stars, led by Sylvester Stallone, gathered to fire guns, blow things up and beat the living daylights out of assorted baddies?

Frank Langella's career has not been an upward trajectory of success — and he likes it that way. He's had memorable roles on stage and screen, and times when he couldn't find work, or even an agent.

Now at 74, Langella is as busy as ever, and, as he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, he's never been hungrier to act.

If lately you've noticed the farmers' market flooded with signs that say "donut," "cling," "whiteflesh" and "freestone," you won't be surprised to learn that August is National Peach Month. Though the juicy fruits pack the produce aisles now, in a few short months a good peach might be hard to find.

Many fruits, though harvested in other parts of the world, are available in the United States all year long. So why are peaches so seasonal, and in the winter, either difficult to find or hard as a rock?

New In Paperback Aug. 12-19

Aug 16, 2012

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Sebastian Rotella, Tahmima Anam, Jermaine Jackson and Charles King.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In a memorable (and much-parodied) 1983 television ad for a brand of instant, decaffeinated coffee, a gravel-voiced announcer asked: "What kind of people drink Sanka? People like Joe Zebrosky, underwater welder." The ad, one of a series featuring manly men in a variety of high-stakes professions, featured the aforementioned Zebrosky intoning: "Too much caffeine makes me tense. And down here, I can't afford that."

Beyond bratwurst, we generally don't think of German food as summertime food. In fact, many of us don't think about German food much at all. But one delicious German tradition is catching on this barbecue season — schwenker.

It seemed normal enough when President Obama chatted with a coffee shop patron about beer in Iowa Tuesday. The president has shown he's a fan of beer — and it's the most politically expedient, "everyman" beverage a candidate can drink. But then the president told a man at Knoxville, Iowa's Coffee Connection cafe that he travels with his own home-brew — and gave him a bottle to prove it.

As India celebrates the 65th anniversary of its independence, the cultural landscape of the nation is transforming rapidly.

According to Man Booker prize winning author Aravind Adiga, "If you are an Indian of my generation... there really was only one place you wanted to go to make it big and that was Bombay. "

The longing for children is fertile literary ground; from it, authors have brought forth everything from satire to tragedy. In his new novel, Breed, Chase Novak goes for black-comic body horror, liberally splashed with blood. Alex and Leslie Twisden are a rich couple desperate to fill their Upper East Side townhouse with children. After years of failed fertility treatments, they learn from Alex's friend Jim about a mysterious, miracle-working doctor.

This year, some of the biggest names in cartooning offered major releases in genres ranging from alternative science fiction to historical fiction to memoir. Through a masterful blending of words and images, these five titles reveal the vast storytelling possibilities of the graphic-novel medium. Each book is created by a singular writer/artist, and offers a wholly unique point of view in both narrative and illustration.

Few French writers can rival the success of Marie NDiaye, whose acclaim as a novelist and playwright is matched by her massive commercial success. At just 45, she has a quarter-century of best-selling books behind her, and in 2009 she became the first black woman to win the Prix Goncourt, France's top gong for literature, for the passionate and unsettling novel Three Strong Women.

Romance fiction is the Rodney Dangerfield of the publishing world: It don't get no respect.

This, despite the fact that romance is the most consistently profitable genre in an unsettlingly shaky business. Last year, romance alone contributed more than $1 billion to publishing's diminished coffers. And a growing amount of that income comes from romances written by ethnic writers for ethnic readers.

This is the third in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Jorge Ramos has a humbling problem.

He is one of the best-known Hispanics in the U.S. and a respected news anchor for the Univision networks on which millions of Americans routinely rely.

And yet, in Ramos' telling, his 14-year-old son, Nicolas, and his 25-year-old daughter, Paola, don't watch his newscasts.

Travel The World Through Portuguese Cooking

Aug 15, 2012

It was day 12 of our trip through Spain and Portugal, and my friend and I were ready for some traditional Portuguese cooking when we arrived in the quaint, cobblestoned city of Lisbon.

Walking along the tiered and winding roads, the Atlantic Ocean horizon would greet us and then disappear again behind the hilltops. Above, clothes hung out to dry along white, curved iron balconies, a rainbow of clips holding the waving pants or undergarments in place.

Actress Julie Delpy first beguiled American audiences in 1995, playing the enigmatic French student in Richard Linklater's film Before Sunrise. Ever since, Delpy has enjoyed life on the Hollywood fringe, preferring indie projects where she can help shape her roles.

She co-wrote the Oscar-nominated script to Linklater's sequel, Before Sunset, and has also begun directing her own projects. For her latest, 2 Days in New York, she directed, produced and helped write the script.

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