Get obsessed with us. Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Join arts journalists Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Aisha Harris - plus a rotating cast of guest pop culture aficionados. The Happy Hour team leaves room at the table for exploring a range of reactions and opinions on every bit of the pop universe. From lowbrow to highbrow to the stuff in between, they take it a...more
The United States v. Billie Holiday is the latest dramatization of the singer's tumultuous personal life. Directed by Lee Daniels and starring Andra Day, it focuses on the government surveillance Billie Holiday endured for her drug addiction and her song "Strange Fruit."
This year's Golden Globes ceremony took place under a cloud, following fresh reporting on accusations that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is too small, too secretive, and not remotely diverse enough. Still, even during the pandemic, a hybrid part-live, part-remote telecast went on. It honored actors like Chadwick Boseman, Jason Sudeikis and Catherine O'Hara, films including Nomadland and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, and television projects like The Crown and The Queen's Gambit. And it ev...more
Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, Minari follows a Korean-American family who moves to Arkansas in the 1980s to follow their father's dream of becoming a farmer. The grind of trying to make the farm a success strains the parents' marriage and often confounds the kids, but it's a story about the choices families make and the ways they stay together.
There are many versions of Cinderella, but few are as beloved as Disney's production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, starring Brandy as the titular character and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother.
In the new Netflix comedy-thriller I Care A Lot, Rosamund Pike plays a slick grifter named Marla who tricks her way into becoming the legal guardian of elderly people, then drains their bank accounts. It's a well-oiled scheme, until she chooses a woman with a dangerous background as her new target.
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books of the year in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. Today, we're talking about some of the best nonfiction picks that show up in this year's guide.
It's A Sin chronicles the AIDS epidemic as experienced by a group of friends in London in the early 1980s. They come from different backgrounds, and deal with the dawning realization that a virus is ravaging their community in different ways. None of them will get through it unchanged, and some of them won't get through it at all.
The new film Nomadland is about a woman named Fern who's lost her husband, her home and her entire community: a company town that collapsed when the company did. She's played by Frances McDormand, and in Chloé Zhao's film, she falls into a new community of people who live on the road, out of vans and RVs.
In 2018, To All The Boys I've Loved Before was a breakout hit for Netflix. Based on Jenny Han's novel, it followed Lara Jean Covey through the adventure of falling in love with one Peter Kavinsky. A sequel followed in 2020 and now, it's time for the finale, which finds Lara Jean and Peter dealing with the complication of graduating and heading off to college.
On Shark Tank, a group of wealthy investors like Mark Cuban and "Queen of QVC" Lori Greiner listen to pitches from people who have invented something. Might be an app, might be a toy, might be a belt that can hold a beer can. Then the investors decide whether to invest in the business, and they negotiate with the entrepreneur — sometimes competing with each other to get the deal. In this encore episode, we revisit our conversation about the hit ABC show.
In Supernova, Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci play a gay couple coming to terms with the fact that Tucci's character is experiencing early onset dementia. They take one last trip together around the British Lake District and try to enjoy these moments together, even though their shared knowledge of what's to come exposes their fears and secrets.
A special bonus episode from NPR's It's Been A Minute With Sam Sanders. Desus Nice and The Kid Mero went from calling up "anyone in their phone book" in the early days of their podcast Bodega Boys, to booking big names in politics like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Barack Obama on Desus & Mero, their late-night show airing on Showtime.
Fred Hampton, the charismatic chairman of the Black Panther Party's Illinois chapter, was just 21 years old when he was killed during a police raid in 1969. In Judas And The Black Messiah, he's given the cinematic treatment via a stirring performance by Daniel Kaluuya. The new film directed by Shaka King focuses on Hampton's activism and how it made him the target of the federal government. The Judas in this story is the FBI informant who played a crucial role in Hampton's death: William O'Neal,...more
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. It can help you find exactly the read you're looking for. Today we're talking about some of the best books for music lovers that show up in this year's guide.
For six seasons, the NBC comedy Superstore has told the story of a fictional big-box store in St. Louis. Until the last handful of episodes, the show starred America Ferrera, and found humor in serious topics like income inequality, health insurance, unionization, and corporate greed. Its final season is airing now, with storylines about COVID-19 and racial justice. Superstore is also a big, broad, goodhearted workplace comedy in the spirit of The Office, full of wacky oddballs and slow-burning ...more
Television production changed practically overnight when COVID-19 began to spread in the United States in March 2020. One corner of TV that's carried on is the late-night talk show. There have been no live audiences — and in some cases, no studios in use — but projects like Showtime's Desus & Mero have carried on nonetheless. Comedian and writer/producer Josh Gondelman sits down to talk about creating a talk show remotely during a pandemic.
It has been a truly bizarre NFL season, as the pandemic threatened players' health and compelled teams to play in empty or near-empty stadiums all season long. But it all ended in familiar fashion: with Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl championship, this time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeating the Kansas City Chiefs. We couldn't have a Super Bowl party this year, but we did gather around our TVs to watch the game, the halftime show with The Weeknd, and lots of commercials. Plus, we take a mom...more
After production of HBO's Euphoria was shut down in March 2020, creator Sam Levinson turned to the show's star Zendaya and filmed Malcolm & Marie. The sleek Netflix feature follows a couple who spends a turbulent evening dissecting every contour of their fraught relationship. John David Washington and Zendaya play the troubled pair who spiral into madness as this intense, dialogue-heavy film goes on.
One of the most anticipated moments of any year in movies is the Sundance Film Festival. This is not a year for gathering in crowds, so the Sundance Film Festival in 2021 went virtual. More than 70 feature films, including both narrative films and documentaries, were at Sundance this year. Today we round up some highlights, including two big winners, CODA and Summer Of Soul.
Reality television has long had a fascination with some factions of the extremely rich. Bling Empire shifts the focus a little bit, to a group of Asian-Americans in and around Los Angeles. Executive produced by Jeff Jenkins, who also worked on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Bling Empire definitely shares a lot of that DNA while asking where the show falls on the scale of Asian-American representation.
The actress Cicely Tyson died last week at the age of 96. Over a career that spanned seven decades, she brought grace, grit and gravitas to any role she played. She'd just released a memoir, Just As I Am, and had been making the rounds, doing a slew of interviews in which her intelligence, wisdom and dignity shone through. Today we're looking back at a few favorite performances by Cicely Tyson and what set them apart.
The off-Broadway show In & Of Itself, performed by Derek DelGaudio, was a one-man show, a magic act and a piece of interactive theater. The show is now available on Hulu and it showcases a series of storytelling vignettes that are punctuated by different illusions. One has card magic, a couple have interactions with the audience, but the focus is really on identity.
Lupin is a smart and twisty French series that's new to Netflix. It's about a young Parisian man named Assane, played by Omar Sy, who molds his life on classic French tales about a fictional gentleman thief and master of disguise named Arsène Lupin.
The writer and veterinarian James Herriot wrote a series of beloved books about his adventures as a vet in Yorkshire beginning in the 1930s. They were adapted with great success into a series called All Creatures Great And Small, which ran on the BBC and PBS. Now, there's a new take airing on PBS with a whole new cast.
The film Almost Famous recently turned 20. Writer and director Cameron Crowe looks at the ecosystem surrounding a rising rock band in the early '70s. Starring Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, and so many more, it's a coming-of-age story that touches on journalism, sex, rock and roll, parenthood, and the perils of trying to be cool.
In the dark comedy Search Party, four narcissistic millennials become amateur sleuths following the disappearance of a former classmate. Alia Shawkat plays Dory, the ringleader whose growing obsession with solving the mystery eventually entwines them all in a murder investigation. The fourth season has found new ways to dial up the absurdity while bringing in new guest stars like Busy Phillips and Susan Sarandon.
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books of the year in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. Today, we're highlighting three great 2020 books about families from year's guide.
Disney Plus has big plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first show to arrive from its slate of Phase Four projects is WandaVision. Wanda's got magic powers, Vision's a synthetic android and together, they're trapped in a series of simulations of comedies from decades past. However, slowly but surely, the superhero world you know and love begins to creep back in.
In Locked Down — a movie to be filmed and released during the pandemic — Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anne Hathaway play a couple sheltering in London together. The film takes them on an adventure that might not have been possible in normal circumstances, answering the question: What do bored and frustrated people do during a pandemic?
When The Karate Kid ended with a crane kick in 1984, it seemed like it was all over. But then came sequels. Then came a remake. And now we have Cobra Kai, a surprisingly good series that catches up with the film's hero Daniel and villain Johnny many years later. In this encore episode, we revisit our conversation about Cobra Kai from back in 2018 when it premiered on YouTube Red. The show just dropped its third season earlier this month Netflix.
Promising Young Woman is a revenge thriller, and a dark comedy, and a few other things, too. It stars Carey Mulligan as a woman who spends her evenings in bars being picked up by men who misunderstand who they're dealing with. Directed by Emerald Fennell, the film has been billed as a #MeToo tale, but its perspective feels timeless, and there are surprises each step of the way.
Regina King has won an Oscar and a collection of Emmys as an actor. Now, she's making her debut as a feature film director with One Night In Miami. The film imagines what might have happened in a real night in 1964 when Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown hung out with Cassius Clay. The men talk about success, celebrity, responsibility and history.
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books of the year in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. Today, we're highlighting books about the United States from this year's guide.
Despite its preponderance of bustles and bonnets, the Apple TV+ series Dickinson is not some fusty old biopic. It casts Hailee Steinfeld as a young Emily Dickinson: a feminist free-thinker and iconoclast, chafing against the rigid social and sexual mores of her time.
The cheerleading film Bring It On recently turned 20. It spawned direct-to-video sequels and a Broadway musical. And with an all-star cast of Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, and Gabrielle Union, the movie remains a quotable classic. But a lot has happened in the past 20 years that might make it feel very timely, or very dated.
Sylvie's Love follows a relationship that blossoms in the late 1950s between a spirited young woman who loves television and a gifted saxophone player. Written and directed by Eugene Ashe, Sylvie's Love has all the swoon and the style of old Hollywood but this time, it places a Black couple at its center.
We spent a lot of time watching movies in 2020. Plenty of our favorites ended up on this show, but with release schedules scrambled and publicity scattered, there are still things that manage to slip through the cracks. Today we are recommending a few of the films we really think you should see.
In 1995, critics howled and self-appointed guardians of good taste were horrified at the release of Showgirls. Directed by Paul Verhoeven with a screenplay by Joe Eszterhas, the NC-17 film was a notorious flop at the time but is now considered a camp classic and a window into a moment of moral panic.
What if you took Gossip Girl and set it in Regency-era London, where members of the aristocracy plot to find love, sex and spouses? You'd have Bridgerton. Created by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton is the first project to emerge from Shonda Rhimes' production company under a lucrative Netflix deal.
The game show Card Sharks has lived many lives: It's been on NBC, on CBS, in syndication, and now it's on ABC, in prime time, hosted by Joel McHale. The game seems simple — you're guessing whether a card will be higher or lower than the one before it. But it's also complicated. And now, in its latest iteration, there's big money involved.
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books of the year in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. Today we're talking about some of the love stories that show up in this year's guide.
It's the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, as much as it seemed like we might never get here. That means we're looking back, and we're looking ahead. What did we resolve to do in 2020, did we accomplish them and what do we want to do in the year ahead? We've still got goals, plans and the willingness to look back at our ambitious plans and wonder what in the world happened to all of them.
To say we could not have predicted the course of 2020 is a ridiculous understatement. But nevertheless, we press on. We'll check in on last year's predictions, while turning our eyes to the future to try and figure out what the next year will bring, even when that seems nearly impossible.
The 2017 movie Coco is about a Mexican boy named Miguel who has an adventure on Día de los Muertos, a holiday dedicated to remembering the dead. He finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he learns about the importance of memory and how we tell the stories of our families. In this encore episode, we revisit our conversation about the excellent Disney-Pixar film.
In Disney and Pixar's Soul, a jazz musician voiced by Jamie Foxx falls down a manhole and finds himself teetering between life and the afterlife. He winds up on a New York adventure with a wandering soul, voiced by Tina Fey, who needs help getting ready to be reborn on Earth.
Wonder Woman 1984 arrives as one of the biggest films yet to stream at home at the same time it hits theaters. Like its successful predecessor, 2017's Wonder Woman, it's directed by Patty Jenkins and stars Gal Gadot as our heroine. Chris Pine is back as Steve Trevor, and new cast members include Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal.
The new George Clooney movie The Midnight Sky takes place in two very lonely, post-apocalyptic settings: the Arctic, and outer space. Clooney plays a scientist at an Arctic research station who tries to tell the crew of a NASA mission that Earth is no longer any kind of a place to return to.
Director Christopher Nolan's latest film, Tenet, is a riff on spy movies — featuring globe-trotting CIA agents, Russian arms dealers and big set pieces — but with a decidedly Nolan-esque time-travel twist. Is it brilliant blockbuster filmmaking or an emotionally empty miss?
At the end of the year, we like to look back on some of our favorite things from the last 12 months of pop culture. We revisit some of the TV, film and music that helped us make it through.
The excellent new film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a story about art. It's a story about anger, and it's a story about respect. Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted from August Wilson's play, the film is inspired by the life of real blues singer Ma Rainey, and includes performances from Viola Davis, Glynn Turman, and the late Chadwick Boseman.
A tense courtroom, an intimate house party, a stifling police academy. These are just a few of the environments depicted in Small Axe, the ambitious anthology film series from director Steve McQueen. The result is a collection of poignant stories buoyed by excellent performances from stars like John Boyega and Letitia Wright; as well as searing imagery, and a scene that could arguably be called the best movie moment of the year.
A woman wakes up after a night of partying and realizes something is very, very wrong. That's the premise of the HBO Max series The Flight Attendant. It's a taut, darkly funny thriller starring Kaley Cuoco as a woman in search of some answers about the present that also might shed light on the past.
On Friday, Dec. 11, just four and a half months after she released the heavily Grammy-nominated Folklore, Taylor Swift released her ninth album, Evermore. Swift describes Evermore as a "sister" album to Folklore, and once again, she's crafting moody and autumnal folk songs with Aaron Dessner of The National, Jack Antonoff and Bon Iver.
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. It can help you find exactly the read you're looking for. Today we're talking about some of the best realistic fiction picks that show up in this year's guide.
Based on a sudsy, splashy 2018 Broadway musical, The Prom has been adapted for Netflix with big stars like Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Keegan Michael-Key and James Corden. But will the theater-people in-jokes land in your living room the way they did on Broadway?
Singer and rapper Bad Bunny started releasing songs on SoundCloud in 2016. He has released three albums in 2020 and his latest, El Último Tour Del Mundo, is the first entirely Spanish-language record ever to hit No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart. On Spotify, Bad Bunny is the most-streamed artist of 2020.
Peacock has made a reboot of Saved By The Bell, which aired Saturday mornings from 1989 to 1993. With a mix of the old cast — including Mario Lopez as Slater and Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie — and new students at Bayside High, the show walks a fine line between earnestness and self-parody. You can support NPR by donating to your local member station at donate.npr.org/happy
In 1990, a young woman with a big voice and equally big hair stepped onto the pop scene with her self-titled debut album, Mariah Carey. Thirty years later, she's as omnipresent as ever, thanks to a perennial holiday hit, a devoted fanbase, and recent memoir The Meaning Of Mariah Carey. What is it about Mimi that's made her one of our most enduring pop stars?
The 2010 film Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World starred Michael Cera as a directionless and not terribly bright 22-year-old in Toronto. Despite an amazing cast and director Edgar Wright's kinetic visual style, the film underperformed. In the ten years since, it's attained cult status. But does it hold up?
Starring Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried, Mank captures the artistic process behind the conception and writing of Orson Welles' first movie, Citizen Kane. Director David Fincher's black-and-white ode to classic film is a story about tycoons, studio heads, addiction, creative credit, and the politics of Old Hollywood during the Great Depression.
Everybody from basic cable to streaming services have started to roll out their holiday fare. We're going to survey the tinsel-strewn landscape to bring you the brutal truth about some of this year's holiday offerings, including Happiest Season, Hallmark's A Christmas House, Dash & Lily, and Dolly Parton's Christmas On The Square.
BE is the latest album from Korean boy band BTS, making it their fifth record to top the U.S. album charts in two and a half years. Along with their earworm Dynamite, BE feels like a milestone in BTS' career, which has yielded billions of dollars and one of the world's most intensely devoted fan bases. You can support NPR by donating to your local member station at donate.npr.org/happy
Every year, NPR brings together some of the best books in a searchable, explorable guide called the Book Concierge. It can help you find exactly the read you're looking for. Today we're talking about some of the science fiction and fantasy books that show up in this year's guide.
It was a little over a year ago that the first episode of The Mandalorian debuted on Disney Plus. Can you remember a world before Baby Yoda was a thing? Now that season two is underway, we're bringing you an encore episode of our discussion of a show that has since gone on to become a digital phenomenon, while launching a thousand memes.
A special bonus feed drop from the new NPR podcast Louder Than A Riot. Hosts Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden have been working on a deep-diving exploration of the relationship between hip-hop and mass incarceration. Episodes cover the likes of Nipsey Hussle, Bobby Shmurda, Killer Mike and many more. We're dropping the first episode here.
The Emperor's New Groove came out 20 years ago, during a time when Disney's animation department was going through an identity crisis. The plot is simple: David Spade is a bratty emperor. Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton turn him into a llama. And John Goodman is the peasant who helps make things right. It was originally gonna be an epic musical, but then it became a comedy, a box-office disappointment, and now, we would argue, a beloved classic.
The book Hillbilly Elegy was a phenomenon in 2016. Writer J.D. Vance wrote about growing up in Ohio and Kentucky, and about his family's struggles with addiction, abuse and poverty. He tried to both explain and critique the white Appalachian experience, to profoundly mixed reviews. Now, a film adaptation on Netflix sticks mostly to the dramatic elements of Vance's story, from his mother's battles with addiction to his path to law school. It's directed by Ron Howard and stars Glenn Close and Amy ...more
Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has had a massive year. Her song with Cardi B, "WAP," topped the Billboard Hot 100 — as did, of course, her remix of "Savage" with Beyoncé. On Friday, Megan Thee Stallion dropped her first official full-length album, called Good News. It's stuffed with explicit sex and raunchy confidence, with features from fellow stars like SZA, Young Thug, 2 Chainz and Da Baby. But it also opens with "Shots Fired," in which Meg bluntly addresses the July shooting that led to bullet w...more
Because everything in Hollywood must be revived these days, the Animaniacs are back after being locked in that Warner studio water tower for more than 20 years. Led by the fictional siblings Yakko, Wakko and Dot, the super-meta cartoon featured slapstick humor and cultural references that appealed to both kids and adults alike. Hulu has released a new batch of Animaniacs episodes and much of the original voice cast returns — though this time around you should expect fewer Goodfellas jokes and mo...more
The West Wing chronicles the inner workings of a fictional presidential administration. The president is Democrat Jed Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, and his staff includes heavy hitters played by folks like Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, John Spencer, and Richard Schiff. For the first four seasons, most episodes were written by Aaron Sorkin, who created the show and gave it many of its signature flourishes — the snappy banter, the walking and talking, and, of course, the big speec...more
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special brings back computer animated, extruded-plastic versions of Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewie, Rose, Lando and the droids. The only actors voicing their original characters are Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran, and Anthony Daniels. It's Life Day (a Wookiee holiday of peace and harmony). While the rest of the characters set up for a party on the Millennium Falcon, Rey and BB-8 go off on a journey that brings them in contact with pretty much every major character in the...more
The game show Supermarket Sweep has run in the '60s, the '90s and the aughts. This fall, it's been revived for a fourth iteration — this time in primetime on ABC. While the previous two versions of the show were hosted by the affable David Ruprecht, the new Supermarket Sweep is hosted by the delightfully amped-up Leslie Jones. She helps a new generation of shoppers as they run around a fake grocery store and attempt to fill their shopping carts with high-priced hams, fancy olives and anything el...more
The fourth season of Fargo stars Chris Rock as Loy Cannon, a ruthless Kansas City crime boss battling an Italian-American gang for power in the 1950s. In order to keep the peace while doing business, Loy and his rival swap their youngest sons as hostages. The series is both an immigrant tale and a migrant tale viewed through the familiar lens of a gritty mobster saga. Though true to the Coen Brother's sensibilities, creator Noah Hawley injects it with darkly oddball humor and characters.
Ted Lasso knows football, but not, you know, football. He is an American football coach who finds himself in the U.K. coaching soccer in the Premier League. Jason Sudeikis originated the character in a promotional campaign for NBC's soccer coverage back in 2013. Now, Apple has given Ted his own ten-episode underdog sports series, called Ted Lasso. The show follows Ted's first season of play, which begins as a doomed campaign masterminded by an embittered team owner who's trying to tank her own t...more
When the country went on lockdown earlier this year, Saturday Night Live was forced to end their 45th season earlier than expected. After producing three shows remotely, SNL returned to Studio 8H in October with COVID-related precautions. So far, SNL has brought on a deep bench of A-list hosts like Issa Rae and Dave Chappelle, and they've had plenty of election commentary with a fair share of social distancing jokes.
Whether you live in a big house or a tiny apartment, on a beach or in a bustling city, television is full of opportunities for you to ruminate on your living space. And nowhere is that impulse more prevalent than on HGTV. One of basic cable's most basic networks, HGTV has been handing out advice and house-envy for a long time. We're revisiting our discussion of HGTV and home makeover shows.
On the vaguely unsettling, but satisfyingly pulpy FOX techno-thriller series Next, John Slattery plays a genius billionaire who blows the whistle on an artificial intelligence he created called "neXt." When people who know too much about the AI start dying in mysterious, tech-adjacent ways, the FBI Cybercrime Unit takes notice, and teams up with Slattery to stop it.
The game show host Alex Trebek died Sunday following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 36 years — his last episode airs on Christmas Day. Trebek hosted a number of game shows dating back to the early '70s. But he'll be forever known for his work on Jeopardy! — both for his steady demeanor and for moments when he couldn't bring himself to suffer fools gladly.
Comedy specials come in many forms. Stand-up, sketch, improv — and there are times when they really come in handy. But there are also so many of them circulating right now that it can be tough to find the ones that are worth your time. We're here to help. We want to share a few specials that have managed to make us laugh in 2020, despite 2020, so that when you have a moment when you can really use one, you'll have one on hand.
NXIVM gained mainstream attention when several high-ranking members were charged with crimes, including racketeering, forced labor conspiracy and sex trafficking. The group called itself a self-help organization while a lot of other people called it a cult. HBO and Starz both have documentary series about the organization, and they're a little different, but pretty shocking nonetheless.
The new Netflix series The Queen's Gambit finds its story in the equally intense if less obviously bruising world of competitive chess. Based on a 1983 novel, it stars Anya Taylor-Joy as a young woman whose brilliance at chess is threatened by trauma and addiction as she goes from child prodigy to international star. We're joined by this year's Tiny Desk Contest winner Linda Diaz, who also happens to be a chess expert.
Election Day is stressful. It's full of news that might or might not mean anything. The stakes are high, and the consequences are serious. And whatever you do from that point forward, first, you have to get through today. So we want to offer you some ideas for things you can use purely to manage Election Day itself. To stay away from the incremental updates and the high anxiety until you actually know what's happened. Which might take a while.
Sir Sean Connery has died. He was 90 years old. Though he became a star by creating the role of James Bond onscreen, over the course of his career he played many characters — all with his distinctive, much-imitated, Scottish brogue. We're remembering the life and work of Sean Connery by spotlighting three of his iconic performances.
Ariana Grande is one of the world's biggest pop stars, and on Friday, she released her sixth album, Positions. The singer's follow-up to Thank U, Next finds her celebrating hard-won happiness in a string of poppy, sexually frank R&B songs.
Whether you like an éclair or a bagel, a biscuit or a Bakewell tart, The Great British Baking Show will bring all your feelings about baked goods to the surface. The hosts have changed, and the challenges have evolved, but it's still about getting that perfect bake. The current season is airing on Netflix, and was filmed in a so-called bubble to protect everyone from the pandemic. It also comes at a time when a lot of viewers at home have been taking out their sourdough starters and their cake p...more
In 2006, Sacha Baron Cohen's movie Borat was an unlikely blockbuster. It starred Cohen as a fictional reporter from Kazakhstan who journeys across the U.S. and interacts with Americans who don't know they're part of a comedy. Borat made hundreds of millions of dollars. It spawned catchphrases, and became a pop-culture phenomenon. Now, 14 years later, that unlikely blockbuster has an equally unlikely sequel. The new movie Borat Subsequent Moviefilm grabbed headlines last week because of a controv...more
The Witches, starring Octavia Spencer and Anne Hathaway, is streaming on HBO Max. It's an adaptation of the 1983 Roald Dahl book about a kid and his grandmother who get caught up in the dastardly plans of a group of child-hating witches at a seaside hotel. The book's action takes place in Britain, but director and co-writer Robert Zemekis has changed the setting to 1960s Alabama, and made the kid and his grandmother Black.
We are deep into the Halloween season, and many of us are cooped up at home with our streaming services, scrolling through movie after movie full of monsters, murderers, jump scares, and rivers of blood. But what about those of us who are scaredy cats? Maybe we're into the idea of horror movies, but aren't looking to be grossed out by gore or freaked out by jump scares? Well, this is the discussion for you.
In the horror satire Bad Hair, a meek young woman named Anna becomes emboldened after getting her very first weave. At first, the new 'do brings her professional and personal success, but soon enough, it begins to take on a mysterious life of its own. Written and directed by Dear White People creator Justin Simien, Bad Hair is heavy on social commentary and cheeky pastiche, served with a star-studded cast that includes Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe and more.
You may know Rebecca as a 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier. You might know it as a 1940 adaptation directed by Alfred Hitchcock that won Best Picture. But if you've always wanted a version with Armie Hammer playing the role once occupied by Laurence Olivier, Netflix is on it. The new Rebecca stars Lily James as a woman who becomes the second wife of Maxim de Winter, played by Hammer. When she gets to his massive estate, she finds it occupied by his housekeeper, played here by Kristin Scott Thomas...more
David Byrne and Spike Lee. Two artists with very defined, very distinct, and yet very different, sensibilities — but when you put them together, it works. The theatrical concert film David Byrne's American Utopia, now streaming on HBO Max, is a career-spanning celebration of Byrne's music, both with Talking Heads and his solo work. Director Spike Lee shoots the stage of Broadway's Hudson Theater from a host of angles to capture the exuberant, rollicking — yet rigorously choreographed energy — of...more
Like many of you, the Pop Culture Happy Hour team is socially distancing at home. And we are watching more TV shows and movies than ever before. So that's one of the reasons we are going to start coming to you five days a week. We'll talk about great movies, television, books, music and videogames. So make sure to join us starting Monday, October 26th when Pop Culture Happy Hour goes daily.
Writer-director Aaron Sorkin knows his way around a courtroom drama: He wrote the screenplay for A Few Good Men nearly 30 years ago. Now, he's written and directed The Trial of the Chicago 7. The new movie dramatizes the trial of a far-flung group of anti-Vietnam War activists, including Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale, who were each charged with inciting violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Ethan Hawke plays the abolitionist John Brown in the new series The Good Lord Bird, which traces the events leading up to the 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. Told from the point of view of a fictional Black teenager nicknamed "Onion," the series has plenty of drama. But it's also a dark comedy about following a leader who's extremely passionate and wildly unpredictable.
In the wonderful new film The Forty-Year-Old Version, playwright Radha Blank plays a variation on herself. In it, the fictional Radha, frustrated by a stall in her theater career, finds a new passion: she becomes a rapper. The Forty-Year-Old Version won the dramatic directing award at Sundance, and now it's on Netflix. It's about getting older, getting honest, and, yes, finding yourself.
Latinx music has experienced a huge boom in the last 10 years. We've seen the rise of global superstars like Bad Bunny and J Balvin. We've seen Shakira and Jennifer Lopez take over this year's Super Bowl halftime show. And, of course, we've seen the chart domination of "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. The decade has also produced countless musical discoveries across the Latin world. And the whole time, our pals at NPR Music's Alt.Latino have been there to guide us through it all.
Fifty two years ago, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band debuted off-Broadway. The structure was simple, and not unfamiliar to anyone who'd seen a play before: Over the course of an evening, characters gather, get drunk and turn on one another. The groundbreaking difference was that it was a group of gay men doing all that gathering and drinking and lashing out. Now, a new Netflix film adapts the recent Tony-winning revival of the play.
The Legend of Korra is a sequel to the hugely popular animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It takes place 70 years later, in a darker, more industrialized world where bending the elements is commonplace. Korra is now the Avatar, and she's everything her predecessor Aang wasn't. She's a confident, headstrong teenage girl much more comfortable with combat than with the spiritual aspect of her role.
The new, bright and breezy Netflix movie Enola Holmes stars Millie Bobby Brown as the 16-year-old sister of Sherlock Holmes. She sets out on an adventure when her eccentric mother (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing. It also features Sam Claflin as her stuffy brother Mycroft, Louis Partridge as a romantic interest, and Henry Cavill as Sherlock.
It was not your usual Emmy Awards ceremony. Because of the pandemic, there was no crowd, and host Jimmy Kimmel worked mostly alone. People accepted their awards from home. But surprisingly enough, it turned out pretty well. Schitt's Creek, Watchmen, and Succession all had big nights. And it was kind of fun to watch people dressed up in their own living rooms.
In the new horror film Antebellum, Janelle Monáe plays an enslaved woman on a plantation run by Confederate soldiers. She's desperate to escape. But Monáe also plays a successful contemporary author and speaker with a beautiful family, living a life of success and wealth. But does the film successfully tie the story together? Note: This conversation discusses specific spoiler-y plot points to explore how those roles fit together, break down what's really going on, and whether or not the movie is...more
It's hard to predict how the current pandemic will affect the work of artists in television and film and theater, but that doesn't mean we can't try. What will change? What won't change? How might creators react? Today, we're stepping back to make some guesses about the future of pop culture and think about what's to come.
A special bonus feed drop from the NPR podcast It's Been A Minute With Sam Sanders. Billy Porter is a force to be reckoned with. A Tony Award-winning Broadway performer. A fashion icon with unforgettable red carpet looks. An Emmy Award-winning actor (with another nomination under his belt this year). Currently, Porter stars in the acclaimed FX show Pose, all about New York's underground ball culture in the 80s and 90s. It's also takes place during the height of the HIV-AIDS crisis. Sam talks to ...more
In the Netflix film, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, the plot is easy to follow. A young couple played by Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons drives through a snowstorm to the farmhouse where Plemons' character grew up. They have dinner with his parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis, then they drive home. That's it. That's the movie. Simple, right? Wrong! This is a Charlie Kaufman movie, and that means things are trippy and dreamlike and just plain weird from the jump. Note: This conver...more
The fantasy adventure Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. But this year, as the pandemic struck, the animated series became one of the biggest streaming hits on Netflix. In the world of Avatar, some people are essentially equipped with superpowers: They can bend fire, water, earth, or air. Only the Avatar — in this case a 12-year-old boy named Aang — can develop the power to bend all four elements and keep the world in balance.
The biggest movie so far to be bumped from theaters to home viewing during the pandemic is Disney's Mulan. The live-action reimagining of the 1998 animated musical doesn't have songs or a cartoon dragon. But the story still finds young Mulan disguising herself as a man so she can fight in her father's place.
The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards took place Sunday night. The telecast was in the shadow of a pandemic, in the midst of major civil unrest, and in the aftermath of actor Chadwick Boseman's death. The VMAs couldn't have live audiences, so we got a lot of pre-taped performances in front of green screens from artists like BTS. Plus, it was a big night for masked Lady Gaga.
Back in 1989, we met Bill S. Preston and Ted "Theodore" Logan in the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. They returned in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey in 1991. And now, almost 30 years later, they're back. In Bill and Ted Face the Music, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return as... well, Bill and Ted, respectively. And this time, they'll need not just their triumphant band to save the world, but also their daughters.
In October, Pop Culture Happy Hour will publish episodes five days a week. Also, Aisha Harris will join us as a fourth permanent host.
The best horror is the horror that feels true. That's one of the reasons the new HBO series Lovecraft Country works. Set in the 1950s, it follows a young Black man who sets off with his childhood friend and his uncle to search for his missing father. A series of connected stories follows these characters around and through the very real dangers of being Black in America, and not just in the Jim Crow South. But it also throws in some beasts and ghosts and bloody battles because after all, it's st...more
The world of politics is not pretty, even in high school. That's one of the takeaways from the new documentary Boys State, about a week-long program sponsored by the American Legion. In it, a thousand Texas high-school boys form political parties, nominate candidates, and hold elections to form a government. The film shows how a few of these students think about politics and running for office. And it considers how they've been influenced by the last few years of American political discourse.
The mega-franchise Star Trek has produced a slew of movies and ten different TV series — the latest of which is a brand-new animated comedy called Star Trek: Lower Decks. The show was created by Mike McMahan, who worked on Rick And Morty, and it tells the story of some of the least powerful officers on Starfleet's least important starship, the U.S.S. Cerritos. And, because it's animated, we also get epic battles, space zombies, and spectacular mass destruction.
Ten years ago, we started Pop Culture Happy Hour. And ten years later, it's time to celebrate. Recently, we invited one of our great pals, actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, to join us for a quiz looking back at 2010. And this time, Linda wrote the questions, but she didn't come up with the right answers--our listeners did.
The HBO miniseries Watchmen recently earned 26 well-deserved Emmy nominations. And if you haven't seen the series, now is a good time to catch up. It stars Regina King as an ex-cop in Tulsa Oklahoma who's not-so-secretly the masked vigilante Sister Night. Showrunner Damon Lindelof has set the show within a big, weird world that keeps getting bigger and weirder, even as it seeks to comment on some very contemporary, real-world issues. (This episode originally aired on November 6, 2019.)
The Starz drama P-Valley is set in a Black strip club in the Mississippi delta. The dancers are acrobatic, artistic and independent. The show is about their labor, but also about a wide variety of stories about power, money, and a community's identity. It's really good, and it's really different from anything else on TV right now.
Last summer, Beyoncé released an album called The Lion King: The Gift. It was based around Disney's remake of The Lion King — a film that included voice acting from Beyoncé herself, among many others. Last Friday on Disney+, Beyoncé released a movie-length video that's meant to serve as a companion to the album. It's called Black Is King, it's visually grand and sumptuous, and it's got a huge cast — you'll see Lupita Nyong'o, Pharrell Williams, Kelly Rowland, and many looks at Beyoncé's children...more
There's marriage, and then there's love marriage. That's the philosophy of Sima, the matchmaker at the center of the new Netflix reality series Indian Matchmaking. And her focus is not helping you find love. It's arranging marriages for young people and their families based on everything from economic and social status to height. The show has gotten a lot of attention, but also some critiques.
Taylor Swift was supposed to spend this summer touring with songs from Lover, an album she'd put out last August. Instead, she wound up cooped up at home. The isolation sparked her creativity, leading her to write and record an entire new record in collaboration with producers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner of The National. It's called Folklore, and it's a massive left turn in terms of style and subject matter. And it's already earned Taylor Swift some of the best reviews of her career.
Sometimes, all it takes to change your life is a cow. In the new film First Cow, director Kelly Reichardt follows two men who meet by chance and come up with a plan to get rich. All they need is a couple of ingredients. First Cow is a western, a friendship story, a caper movie, and even a meditation on nature.
Kristy, Claudia, Mary-Anne and Stacey are back. Netflix has adapted the book series The Baby-Sitters Club, and hopes to reintroduce it to young viewers, nostalgic millennials, and anyone else who longs for days spent with friends when worries aren't too worrisome. Starring a cast of fresh young actors, and a few familiar faces among the adults, the show is getting solid reviews and might be just the thing for summer viewing.
The big summer action movie is one of the things we've been missing this year, and now, we've got one. And it's a good one, too. The Old Guard stars Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne as members of a squad of fighters who have been in the battle game for much, much too long. The Netflix film is based on a series of comics by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández, and Rucka wrote the screenplay. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood is much loved for films including Love and Basketball.
There's a new game show so silly, so stupid, so low-stakes that we can't stop watching it. Teams of three try to cross a course made of furniture and obstacles without touching the ground. It's called Floor Is Lava, it's based on a game played by children, and let's be honest — it couldn't be played by anyone else. You won't want to miss a minute of the craziest, the wackiest, the goofiest game show on Netflix, because the Floor! Is! Lavaaaaa!
On this bonus episode of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we bring you a conversation from our pal Sam Sanders. Sam recently had a wide-ranging conversation with the one and only Tracee Ellis Ross on his podcast It's Been A Minute. They talk about her work on Girlfriends, Black-ish, and the recent film The High Note--plus, what it's like to be a black creative right now.
Food media has become one of the many arenas in which debates about inclusivity and justice have taken center stage in recent months. And now, into this troubled world comes Taste The Nation. Hosted by Top Chef's Padma Lakshmi, the marvelous Hulu series visits immigrant and indigenous communities around the United States to explore food. Taste The Nation puts everything from chop suey to pad Thai in cultural, political and culinary contexts, with Lakshmi as your hungry, curious guide.
Once upon a time, a man named John Wick retired from his successful career as an assassin. But then he returned to it. And across what's now a three-film series, he's been having a heck of a week ever since. In the third film, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Wick, played by Keanu Reeves, is on the run from foes and former friends alike. This episode originally aired on May 17, 2019.
Let's cut to the chase: the Hamilton film has arrived, and it's great. Four years after Lin-Manuel Miranda's show won 11 Tony Awards, you can watch an original Broadway cast performance at home. The film is now available on Disney+. It's a chance to see already legendary performances from Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., and Phillipa Soo, among others, and to see how this sweeping historical story was staged.
Close watchers of smart television know Michaela Coel from Chewing Gum, the acclaimed comedy series she created and starred in. Her new show on HBO is called I May Destroy You. It's just as strong, but finds her going in an entirely new direction. Coel plays Arabella, a writer whose life changes one night while she's sexually assaulted at a nightclub. She is missing pieces of her memory, and as she tries to figure out what happened, the show fans out to consider other questions about sexual ethi...more
In Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, four Black war veterans return to Vietnam. They're there to retrieve the remains of a fellow soldier, who died on the battlefield. They're also after millions of dollars' worth of gold bars they'd hidden during the war. Da 5 Bloods was supposed to roll out in theaters this summer; instead, it dropped on Netflix earlier this month. But it's still a major Oscar contender — a war epic that's grand in scope, with generational scars that run deep.
Giancarlo Esposito has appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies — from several of Spike Lee's early films, to his role as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. In this interview from Bullseye, Esposito talks about the complexity of his characters, his time on The Electric Company and his work on Do the Right Thing. Plus, we talk to him about a very difficult time in his life and working through the trauma of racial profiling.
In 2017, the #MeToo movement brought to light accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct against powerful people in entertainment. Most of the women whose allegations received detailed media consideration were white, and so were most of the men they accused. But late that year, a number of women, several of them black women, alleged sexual assault and other misconduct by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Simmons is the enormously powerful man behind Def Jam. The new HBO Max documentary On The Recor...more
In The King Of Staten Island, comedian Pete Davidson plays a wayward stoner whose life isn't going anywhere. He still lives with his mom, he doesn't have a job, and his plans for his life involve a vague — and foolish — plan to open "a tattoo restaurant." The film is directed by Judd Apatow, who also made Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Trainwreck. Apatow's movies often involve a protagonist who faces some sort of need to grow up, and The King Of Staten Island may feature the biggest rec...more
The new Apple TV+ series Central Park is an animated musical with a lot of interesting DNA. It shares creative and performing talent with Bob's Burgers, Frozen, and Hamilton, among other projects. The show follows the manager of New York's Central Park, who tries to keep the park safe from trash overflows, a demanding public, and city politics.
Sales are surging for books like Ibram X. Kendi's 'How To Be Anti-Racist,' Robin DiAngelo's 'White Fragility,' and Michelle Alexander's 'The New Jim Crow.' That's in part because these titles often appear on so-called "anti-racist reading lists." But what is an anti-racist reading list for? We talk with Lauren Michele Jackson, an Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University, and the author of 'White Negroes,' about the limitations of such lists — which she wrote about in an essay ca...more
Right now, many of us are thinking about the ways we can start to address the shortfalls in our own knowledge that have grown out of structural racism in every part of life, entertainment very much included. And if you're looking for one place to start, we want to point you toward Slate's Black Film Canon. Four years ago, Slate published a list of 50 great films by black directors. It was put together by Dan Kois and Aisha Harris in 2016, and Aisha came on Pop Culture Happy Hour to talk about it...more
It surprised a lot of people when Ramy Youssef won a Golden Globe in January. But it shouldn't have. His show, the half-hour comedy-drama Ramy on Hulu, is a smart, fresh take on a young man navigating family and his Muslim faith. Ramy recently released its second season, and it's added Mahershala Ali to its cast. The result is a show that's well deserving of that Globe, and more.
You may not have needed another streaming service, but last week, one came along anyway. It's HBO Max, and it's part HBO, part Warner Brothers — and yes, it's where you can now stream all the episodes of Friends. They've put out a modest slate of original programming as well, and it's safe to say some of their new shows are better than others. Is it worth your while? Good question. We run down what's new on HBO Max and what you might find in its deep library.
There have been countless movies about real and fictional musicians. And in the new movie The High Note, Tracee Ellis Ross plays the fictional legendary singer Grace Davis. Dakota Johnson plays Maggie, an aspiring record producer and Grace's personal assistant. The two women have to figure out everything from whether Maggie has a future in the music industry to whether Grace should take a residency in Vegas.
Last year we talked about the movie Booksmart, and we really, really liked it. It's about two young women about to graduate from high school who spend one last night trying to catch up on everything they missed. Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, it's the directing debut of actress Olivia Wilde. The comedy came out last summer — and it's currently streaming on Hulu and available to rent on demand. And because so many students are wrapping up their school year and graduating, we thoug...more
This is not a normal summer movie season. Theaters are closed, big projects are delayed, and we're missing the flood of new films that would usually have already started. But you don't have to go without movies. That's because even if you see a lot, you miss even more. We do too, and that's what we're talking about today: some recent films we missed that are well worth your time. Plus, we remember the lives and work of Fred Willard and Lynn Shelton.
Hulu's new series The Great bills itself as "An Occasionally True Story." And it's a big story: a sweeping epic about Russia in the 1700s, full of palace intrigue, sex and violence, and the rise of Catherine the Great. Elle Fanning plays Catherine, and Nicholas Hoult also stars as the sociopathic emperor Peter. The show shares a lot of thematic DNA with the 2018 film The Favourite -- it was created by one of the film's screenwriters, Tony McNamara. And it's more than willing to scramble history ...more
Twenty years ago, before the Harry Potter movies or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie landscape looked really different. Take a look back at some of the movies that came out in 2000 and why we think they're still relevant today.
The new comedy Never Have I Ever is a great binge from Netflix. It might remind you of a lot of warm and funny shows about navigating high school. Its hero is an Indian-American girl named Devi. She is juggling her friends, the boys she's interested in, and plenty of drama at home. One of the creators is Mindy Kaling, who gives the show some of the same energy she put into The Mindy Project. Devi is a little confused, a little selfish, and very consumed by her dreams of romance
When a popular book becomes a television series, the stakes are high. Sally Rooney's novel Normal People is no exception, and the very good Hulu adaptation has finally arrived. The new series tells the story of Marianne and Connell, who go to high school together in Ireland. We follow the couple for a few years as they drift toward adulthood, sometimes apart and sometimes together. And while the show features other characters like their mothers and friends, it's mostly a study of Marianne and Co...more
Derry Girls might remind you of a lot of warm and funny shows about high school. It has the group of loyal friends, the adventures and humiliations, and the slow progress toward adulthood. But these kids are taking on these challenges in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. It's a time when an ordinary day can be interrupted by everything from an encounter with soldiers to breaking news of violence. Still, high school rolls on, and high school students do too.
In the mid-1990s, sports teams didn't get any bigger than the Chicago Bulls. Led by supermegastar Michael Jordan, the Bulls won six NBA championships in eight years. And now, ESPN is presenting a ten-part documentary series all about them. The Last Dance follows the Bulls' final championship season, and it dips back into history to look at how the dynasty was made. Plus, what's making us happy this week.
We've been playing games. Stuck at home, exhausted from streaming all the good TV we can find, looking for distractions, we've all been exploring games for the Nintendo Switch. And not just Animal Crossing, either. We've been trying adventure games and puzzle games, beautiful games and silly games. And we have a few to recommend.
Staying in can be hard on everybody. But it's a special kind of hard for little kids and the people who love them. So we're here to help, with some TV recommendations for those who are toddling through isolation. We've brought some ideas for things to watch that we hope will delight your littlest quarantine companions, and maybe you as well.
A woman sitting in her car gets a text message. It says "RUN." She texts back the same thing: "RUN." That's the beginning of a new HBO series, also called Run, that tells you what happens next. Starring Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson, Run is part romantic comedy, part thriller, and part road trip.
Today, we're excited to be bringing back a classic Pop Culture Happy Hour segment — the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz. We've each brought clips of some of our favorite regrettable shows, and our fellow panelists will have to see if they can guess the source. Plus, what's making us happy this week.
Started out eating rats, and now they're here. Forty seasons in, Survivor is midway through a season where former winners are playing against each other. And as you'd imagine, it's a doozy. From which season is best to which winner is best to whether host Jeff Probst is a hero or a villain, we take a look at why Survivor has been a staple of TV conversation for 20 years.
Let's talk about solutions. Specifically, solutions to the problems we're running into entertaining ourselves at home. There's a lot to watch and read and hear, but there's also a lot that we're missing--like live sports, concerts, and spending nights out with friends. And we've got some ideas about how to fill those voids.
Almost three weeks ago, as isolation at home tightened its grip on many of us, Netflix released the documentary series Tiger King. It seemed to capture a binge-ready audience at just the right moment, and it's been burning up social media channels ever since. Tiger King tells the story of a man who calls himself Joe Exotic, who bred and exhibited big cats and other animals in a sketchy private zoo. Joe is now in prison, convicted of hiring someone to kill an activist named Carole Baskin. She tri...more
Schitt's Creek is a Canadian comedy from the minds of Eugene Levy and his son Daniel follows a wealthy family that falls on hard times. They have no choice but to retreat to the small town they bought as a joke.
There are plenty of binge recommendations out there if you find yourself with a lot of free time in isolation. But with work at home, and kids at home, and everything else going on, you might be busier than ever. That's why our focus today is happiness in small bites. Quick jolts of energy to brighten up even the worst days.
There's no wrong time for a good book. But as we tape this, many people are stuck at home more than usual, which makes it an exceptionally right time. So we're here to pass on some book recommendations we hope will make your isolation feel a little less isolated.
When you're staying in, it can be hard to keep everybody happy. But never fear, we're here to help. We've got a few recommendations to keep everybody in the family happy and stave off cabin fever.
Every year, the South by Southwest music festival provides a showcase for many hundreds of musicians, who travel to Austin, Texas, from all over the world. But this year's festival was canceled due to concerns surrounding the spread of coronavirus. And even though this year's festival isn't happening, NPR Music still found a ton of amazing new artists. To prepare for South by Southwest each year, we listen to countless hours of music in search of discoveries to share, from this year's Austin 100...more
There's a time for excitement, for the things that make us angry or scare us silly. But then there are all the other times. Sometimes we want something that will calm us down and slow our heart rates. We recommend some calming pieces of pop culture.
Jane Austen's Emma tells the story of a young woman who knows what's right for everyone else and knows very little about herself. In a new film adaptation directed by Autumn de Wilde, Emma is as foolish and as endearing as ever. Even some who don't know Emma might know Clueless, the 1995 Amy Heckerling film that's now 25 years old. We discuss how both films work as Jane Austen adaptations.
Being stalked by a tormentor you can't see is scary enough on its own. But the film The Invisible Man suggests that the worst part might just be the fact that no one would believe you. In writer and director Leigh Whannell's new adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel, Elisabeth Moss plays Cecilia, a woman who finally escapes an abusive partner. But soon, she senses that he's everywhere, following her.
Tom Holland and Chris Pratt have already worked together as pals of the Avengers. And now they provide the voices of two elves in the latest film from Disney and Pixar, Onward. These two elves are brothers, and they go on a classic quest to find a magic jewel. They just need a van, a map, and their mom.
When Project Runway launched in 2004, competitive reality shows were in their infancy. Now, they're in their mature pantsuit years, but the series, now in its 18th season, rolls on. The show moved from Bravo to Lifetime, and last season it returned to Bravo with a new cast. Host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn have been replaced by Karlie Kloss and season 4 winner Christian Siriano. But the sewing machines continue to buzz, and it's still hard to make a dress in a day.
The Netflix plan to take over television has extended to dating shows for a while. But perhaps they've never made one so weird, so baffling, so cringe-inducingly embarrassing for everyone involved as Love Is Blind. And you probably know someone who's watching it. In this series they insist on calling an experiment, couples sit in separate cells that they call pods, where they can hear each other but not see each other. And once they've had a conversation or two, if they're getting along, they ge...more
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire begins with a woman named Marianne assigned to paint a woman named Heloise. It's the second half of the 18th century, and the portrait is the best way to present Heloise to a man who might marry her. In writer and director Céline Sciamma's film, it's relationships between women that are at the center of the story — a story about art, sex and navigating limited choices.
The new movie Sonic the Hedgehog is about this hedgehog — who runs fast. Ben Schwartz voices the Hedgehog, Jim Carrey is the evil Dr. Robotnik, and James Marsden is also in there somewhere. When the film's trailer first dropped last fall, Sonic's appearance — the legs! the teeth! — creeped a lot of people out. The studio went back and redesigned the character completely, which got us thinking about the power of fan reaction.
In 2018, Netflix had a big hit with its adaptation of Jenny Han's YA novel To All The Boys I've Loved Before, a high-school rom-com with a big heart. Stars Lana Condor and Noah Centineo are now back in the sequel To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. Before you check that one out, we wanted to revisit our conversation about the first film. (This episode originally aired on September 5, 2018.)
Margot Robbie played Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad in 2016. Now, she's back in Birds of Prey. It finds Harley crossing paths with characters played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, and a very bad villain played by Ewan McGregor. The film provides the backstory for the team that will become the Birds of Prey, and it develops the character of Harley beyond her relationship with the Joker.
We are wrapping up the 92nd Academy Awards. Parasite took home the Oscar for best picture--the first time a film not in the English language has one the prize. Parasite also took home awards for best director, international feature, and original screenplay. Acting awards went to Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, Joaquin Phoenix, and Renee Zellweger.
The Oscars are Sunday night, and while some of the races have clear front-runners, plenty still seem to be up in the air. As always, we're ready to help you put together your watch list, and prepare for your Oscar pool by giving you some of our own guesses.
On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs came from behind to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV. But of course there was more than football — there was also an exuberant, hip-shaking halftime show from Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
In 1995, while Will Smith was on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Martin Lawrence was on Martin, the two teamed up for the cop buddy movie Bad Boys. They reunited in 2003 for Bad Boys II, and now, almost 17 years later, they're back in Bad Boys For Life. Bad Boys For Life comes to theaters in a very different atmosphere around policing than existed in 1995. And the cops in the film have changed, too: There are still car chases and guns and bad guys, but there are also grandkids and deteriorating ...more
We've just gotten done watching the 62nd Grammy Awards. Billie Eilish swept the night's four biggest categories and won five Grammys overall. But two major news events cast shadows over the ceremony: the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and a scandal inside the Recording Academy which includes allegations of vote rigging and sexual misconduct.
Competitive cheerleading is on a pop culture roll. Netflix recently dropped the documentary series Cheer, about a highly successful Texas squad. And USA is midway through the series Dare Me. Based on Megan Abbott's book of the same name, Dare Me is a moody thriller about a charismatic cheer coach and the best friends who are at odds over her influence.
Cars that are going very fast have been cinema staples for decades. In the Oscar best picture nominee Ford v Ferrari, we find out a little about what it can take to make them go that fast. Starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, the film indeed tells the tale of an epic battle of Ford versus Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1966.
A gambler, a rock, a ring, and Kevin Garnett are the primary ingredients in Uncut Gems, a thriller directed by Josh and Benny Safdie. Adam Sandler stars as compulsive gambler Howard Ratner, and the film is so tense that calling it tense seems completely inadequate.
From 2004 to 2009, the Showtime TV drama The L Word examined the lives of a group of queer women in L.A. The show was uneven, but it also marked an important milestone for queer representation on television. Now, the series has a sequel called The L Word: Generation Q. It's moved to a different L.A. neighborhood, it's added a diverse cast of new young stars, and it catches us up on the lives of Bette, Alice, and Shane, among others.
The war epic 1917 startled a lot of awards watchers Sunday night when it won the Golden Globe for best dramatic film. That's in part because it's just now going into wide release. 1917 is directed by Sam Mendes and follows two young World War I soldiers who are sent on a dangerous mission to deliver a crucial message. And just to increase the level of difficulty a little, the whole movie is crafted to look like one continuous shot.
We've just gotten done watching the Golden Globes. In TV, Succession, Fleabag, and Chernobyl won multiple awards. As for the movies, big winners included 1917, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Awkwafina, and Taron Egerton. We saw big speeches, a few surprises, and lifetime achievement prizes for Ellen DeGeneres and Tom Hanks.
Created by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, Friends was little more than a bunch of pals who hung out, dated and broke up with each other and a variety of guest stars, and had unrealistically large apartments. But 25 years later, it's still popular in endless reruns and on Netflix.
It's New Year's Day, so it's time to make some resolutions for 2020. We'll talk about what we want to change, how we hope to improve our lives, and what we plan to do. We'll also check in on last year's resolutions just to keep ourselves honest. We'll also make some predictions for the new year, and we'll undertake the often painful job of seeing whether we got anything right 12 months ago when we did the same thing.
Greta Gerwig was nominated for an Oscar for directing 2017's Lady Bird. She's following it up with an adaptation of Little Women that features two of her Lady Bird stars, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet. Ronan plays Jo, the free-spirited March sister. She's joined by Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep. Gerwig also wrote the script, which makes some changes to the story and the structure of Louisa May Alcott's book.
What has ears, tails, Andrew Lloyd Webber music, and the Idris Elba/Taylor Swift duet you've been waiting for all your life? That's right, it's Cats, the new film adaptation of the musical that became a surprise smash in the 1980's. The movie directed by Tom Hooper, who also made the Les Miserables adaptation that won Anne Hathaway an Oscar. Cats wrestles with how to present a variety of cat characters, dance numbers, and even a drug-induced catnap.
It's time to say goodbye to a story that began in 1977 with a movie then known as Star Wars. Nine films later, this branch of the saga concludes with Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. In this chapter, director J.J. Abrams attempts the almost impossible by trying to bring all this in for a landing. Scavenger Rey, her friends Finn and Poe, and the mysterious Kylo Ren are all back for one last lap, and so are brief glimpses of many faces from movies past.
We loved a lot of things in 2019. And now, as the year comes to a close, it's time to give you just a taste of some of our favorite things of the year. We've got movies, music, television, and theater. (Support your local station at donate.npr.org/happy)
The Mandalorian is the highest profile and most expensive original series to debut on the Disney+ streaming service. Set in the Star Wars universe soon after the fall of the Galactic Empire, it follows a be-helmeted, be-armored bounty hunter played by Pedro Pascal. He goes rogue to protect the most memeable thing to hit the Star Wars universe since Han shot first.
What's the opposite of a love story? It might be the new Noah Baumbach film Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple we meet when they're just starting their divorce. For the next two hours, we watch them argue and negotiate over how to separate and how to co-parent their young son. Marriage Story also stars Laura Dern and Ray Liotta as aggressive divorce lawyers and Alan Alda as a gentler hand who tries to give less combative representation. Baumbach both wrote an...more
The movies and the mob have made a winning combination for decades. The Godfather, Goodfellas, The Departed — and that's on top of television projects like The Sopranos. Now, Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese brings you The Irishman, and he's put together quite a cast. Robert DeNiro plays a hit man, Joe Pesci is his boss, Al Pacino is Jimmy Hoffa, and that's before you even get to Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano and others. In a sign of some of the changes shaking up the industry...more
Apple TV Plus launched a few weeks ago, and its highest profile series was unquestionably The Morning Show. Apple spent a massive amount of money on it and landed a cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. It's the story of a morning news show that winds up in turmoil after the male anchor is fired following allegations of sexual misconduct. Aniston plays the female anchor left to pick up the pieces with a new partner, and Witherspoon is the local reporter who une...more
Who can possibly play Fred Rogers? That's a question that the new film A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood tries to answer with a performance from Tom Hanks as the beloved TV host. In the movie a journalist played by Matthew Rhys has a transformative experience with Rogers that reshapes his relationship with his troubled father. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is directed by Marielle Heller, who most recently made the Melissa McCarthy film Can You Ever Forgive Me? It uses unconventional tech...more
Whodunit? Was it Jamie Lee Curtis? Chris Evans? Michael Shannon? Don Johnson? Toni Collette? This is the question at the center of the marvelous new comedy Knives Out. The film is directed and written by Rian Johnson, of films like Looper and Brick as well as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The stellar cast goes on and on to include Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, LaKeith Stanfield, and, playing the man in the whodunit to whom it was done, Christopher Plummer.
1.3 billion dollars will buy a lot of ice. That's how much Frozen made after its release in 2013. The film also gave Disney princess fans two new favorites in sisters Anna and Elsa, and it made a star of Olaf the talking snowman. Now the band is back together for Frozen 2, which finds Anna and Elsa on yet another adventure.
Netflix's The Crown is back for season three, and it's got a fresh polish in the form of a brand new cast playing the British royal family. This time out, the great Olivia Colman steps into Claire Foy's sensible brown shoes as Queen Elizabeth. This season follows the Royals from the mid-60s to late 70s, as we watch them contend with both external events — labor strikes, a mine disaster, a possible coup — and with internal strife — Margaret's wild ways, Charles coming-of-age, and the fact that Ph...more
Dolly Parton might be one of the most famous women in the United States. She's one of our great country singers, she produces television including an upcoming Netflix series, and she has her own theme park. And now, inevitably, she's the subject of a podcast. The nine-episode series, Dolly Parton's America, from Jad Abumrad of Radiolab, talks about Parton's life, her music, her home, and what she means to other people.
There are a lot of Christmas movies with a lot of different inspirations. The new film Last Christmas, is inspired by Wham! song of the same name. The film is directed by Paul Feig and written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson, and stars Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. It tells the story of a woman who's struggling to get back on her feet after an illness knocked her out.
Stephen King's novel the shining was about a haunted hotel and a boy named Danny Torrance with psychic powers. In 2013, Stephen King wrote a sequel. In that book Danny Torrance is all grown up, but still haunted — literally and figuratively — by the ghosts of his past. He's played by Ewan MacGregor in the new film Doctor Sleep, which adapts King's novel.
HBO's series Watchmen is not strictly an adaptation of the landmark comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons — it's technically a sequel. It stars Regina King as an ex-cop in Tulsa Oklahoma who's not-so-secretly the masked vigilante Sister Night. It also stars Don Johnson and Tim Blake Nelson, alongside Jean Smart and a very odd Jeremy Irons, who are both playing characters from the comic. Showrunner Damon Lindelof has set the show within a big, weird world that keeps getting bigger and ...more
We know — you're tired. The next presidential election is still just over a year away, but it feels like the last one never ended. And if that's how you feel, imagine what it's like for folks who cover this stuff for a living. We asked Ayesha Rascoe and Danielle Kurtzleben from the NPR Politics Podcast to tell us what pop culture they turn to when they need a break.
Dolemite Is My Name is a new Netflix biopic about comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who created a flamboyant alter ego and became a blaxploitation legend in the 1970s. The film stars Eddie Murphy, who's joined by a fantastic cast that includes Keegan-Michael Key, Tituss Burgess, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps and Wesley Snipes. It's a behind the scenes look at the making of the 1975 cult hit film Dolemite.
Jojo Rabbit is already an Oscar favorite. The dark comedy from director Taika Waititi won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival. That's preceded a best picture nomination in 10 out of the last 11 years. Based on a 2004 novel by Christine Leunens, the film follows Jojo, a German boy who remains loyal to Adolf Hitler as World War II winds down. In fact, he envisions the leader as his imaginary friend.
Even if you've seen a lot of movies about class struggle, you can bet you've never seen one like Parasite. From director Bong Joon-ho, it tells the story of two families, one with a lot of money and one that's just struggling to get by. Parasite won the top prize, the Palme d'Or, at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and it's South Korea's entry into this year's Oscars race.
The Emmy-award winning series Breaking Bad chronicled the transformation of Walter White, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher played by Bryan Cranston, into a ruthless and deadly crystal meth kingpin. It ended in 2013, after six seasons. The show also starred Aaron Paul as Cranston's punching-bag of partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman. Now, series creator Vince Gillgan has written and directed a new Netflix movie that explores what happens to Jesse in the immediate aftermath of Breaking Ba...more
Last month at an Advertising Week event in New York, Linda Holmes had the chance to sit down with a legend of public radio and of good conversation. Terry Gross has hosted Fresh Air since 1975. She still brings listeners daily conversations about news and books, film and science. Today, we're sharing an edited version of that conversation.
Ryan Murphy and his collaborators are responsible for everything from Glee to American Horror Story. And now, they've made their first project for Netflix. It follows Payton Hobart, a high school student determined to be president of the student body, and one day the United States. Murphy has gathered another of his impressive casts: Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bob Balaban, Bette Midler, and of course Jessica Lange.
Summer is turning to fall where we are, and that means it's time for a couch, a blanket, and a book. Fiction and nonfiction, essays and memoirs, we've got some ideas for things you can read this fall. And we're bringing in a couple of our favorite book lovers to help us out.
In the new Todd Phillips film Joker, Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, an aspiring comic. Neglected by the world and beaten down everywhere he turns, Fleck does what any discouraged clown would do: he becomes a menace.
The Netflix series Unbelievable brings together a group of actresses including Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, Dale Dickey and Danielle MacDonald. It's based on a true story about a young woman named Marie who was sexually assaulted and pressured by the police into recanting her story. Based on reporting from ProPublica and the Marshall Project, the series follows Marie, but also the two detectives who, much later, gave her case a chance to be solved.
In our fall movie preview, we will cover the ones we're excited about, the ones you'll be hearing more about, and the ones that might be picking up awards in a few months. Whether you like comedies or dramas, and whether you like to see your films in a theater or in the comfort of your own home, we're here to give you the scoop.
It was a huge night for Fleabag and a coronation for Game Of Thrones, and there were a few surprises and big moments along the way. The awards got spread out quite a bit this year, including a historic acting win for Billy Porter, several awards for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Ozark.
If you thought the end of the series Downton Abbey would be the end of the Crawley family's adventures, a new film has arrived to prove you wrong. The movie continues the story of this very wealthy group and their loyal staff. The large cast is reunited, from sharp-tongued dowagers to scheming butlers. And this time, the King and Queen are coming for a visit.
Anyone who's surprised at the big weekend the new film Hustlers had at the box office probably shouldn't be. Not only does it star popular women like Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, with drop-ins from Cardi B and Lizzo, but it got very good reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival. What's not to like? Hustlers is based on the true story of a group of women who danced at a strip club together and later drugged and scammed some of their wealthy Wall Street customers. Directed by Lorene ...more
Donna Tartt's 2013 book The Goldfinch won a Pulitzer Prize for its story of a boy whose mother dies in a bombing. It's an epic tale of grief, abandonment, friendship, drugs, and a stolen painting of a goldfinch. Now, The Goldfinch has been adapted into a movie starring Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Nicole Kidman, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Finn Wolfhard and Sarah Paulsen.
The animated show Steven Universe has told the story of a human-alien hybrid boy and the race of alien women called Gems who've helped raise him on Earth. The show has told lighthearted stories of life in the fictional Beach City — and headed to space for a more epic saga about a group of intergalactic leaders, a past rebellion, and a plot to destroy the world. Creator Rebecca Sugar has said that there will be more episodes, but for now, Steven Universe: The Movie has just premiered on the Carto...more
The 2017 movie It was a massive blockbuster, and became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time. Adapting the Stephen King novel of the same name, it tells the story of seven misfit kids in the late 1980s, and a supernatural being that preys on children in a small town in Maine. The sequel revisits the kids 27 years later — they're now played by the likes of Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader.
Just about every week, we talk about what we're watching or reading or listening to right now. Today, we're doing something different. We're going back 20 years to talk about some of the movies of 1999, including Drop Dead Gorgeous, Office Space, and The Talented Mr. Ripley. We'll talk about what holds up, what looks really different, and what we miss the most.
It's autumn again. And that means we're getting a wave of new television. So it's time for the annual fall TV preview. Whether you like superheros or detectives, broadcast or cable or streaming, we're here to share what we're excited to see.
We just spent three hours watching the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, which are never really about awards so much as moments: big performances and the memes and soundbites we may or may not remember for years to come. This year's show brought lots of Taylor Swift, and Missy Elliott, not to mention Lizzo, Normani, Lil Nas X, Rosalía and more.
The gang takes a look at Amy Sherman-Palladino's award-winning comedy, starring Rachel Brosnahan as a '50s housewife-turned-comedian. And, as always, What's Making Us Happy this week. Guests: Writer Katie Presley and Weekend Edition Books Editor Barrie Hardymon. (This episode originally aired on January 19, 2018.)
The panel discusses Netflix's new wrestling comedy GLOW with NPR's Code Switch Kat Chow. (This episode originally aired on June 23, 2017.)
In Maria Semple's novel Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Bernadette Fox is a wife and mother who mysteriously vanishes from her ordinary life in the middle of a personal crisis. Her daughter is left to piece together what happened. The new film adaptation is directed by Richard Linklater and stars Cate Blanchett as Bernadette.
Of all the TV shows about monstrous rich people, the HBO series Succession might be one of the most cutting. It follows heartless media mega-mogul Logan Roy and his ruthless children as they try to outmaneuver each other. And while the family is awful, the show is great. And if you're not watching it, you're missing out on a lot of high-quality scheming.
Back in 2004, Veronica Mars was a high school student working for her private-eye father on the side. After three seasons on the air and a crowdfunded movie in 2014, Veronica is back. Now an adult and still a detective, Veronica tackles a fresh mystery in a set of new episodes available on Hulu. She still works with her father, she's still in love with reformed bad boy Logan Echolls, and she still has a one-liner for nearly every occasion.
The new film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham. The two play their characters from the Fast & Furious franchise, spun off into a fresh adventure. They race a mechanically enhanced super soldier played by Idris Elba to recover a deadly virus before it can melt the entire population of the planet into a series of small puddles.
In The Farewell, Akwafina plays Billi, a young woman whose beloved grandmother back in China is diagnosed with lung cancer. The family decides not to tell the grandmother that she's got only months to live — a decision that Billi strongly disagrees with. The Farewell was written and directed by Lulu Wang based on a piece she did on This American Life.
Once Upon A Time In... Hollywood is writer-director Quentin Tarantino's ninth film. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a fading western actor named Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt as his loyal stuntman Cliff Booth. It's set in the changing Hollywood of 1969, and in many ways, it's a breezy romp through studio backlots and makeup trailers — but hanging over every frame is the threat of violence, in the form of a very real historical tragedy — the brutal Manson family murders in the Hollywood Hills. It's glo...more
Queer Eye is back for a fourth season, so we figured it'd be interesting to review our first impressions of the series, back when it premiered last year. We talk about the show's broader mission statement, the new Fab Five, and how thoroughly the world has changed since the first iteration of the show went off the air. (This episode originally aired on February 21, 2018.)
Jeopardy! has been in the news a lot this year, both for James Holzhauer's historic championship run and for Alex Trebek's recent cancer diagnosis. But when we talked about the long-running game show last year, it was just an eternal juggernaut. (This episode originally aired July 11, 2018.)
For the last few years, Disney has been turning its beloved animated films into live-action revamps . But this revamp isn't live-action — even though it looks like it is. The digital animation is ridiculously advanced, bringing Simba, Mufasa, Scar, Nala, Timon and Pumbaa to eerie, ultra-realistic life. The voice cast is full of ringers — Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, Donald Glover and Beyoncé. But do the changes they make to the story — and the songs — improve on the ...more
What has music, neon signs, classic cars, and Vegas gangsters in a dramatic story of love and death? Believe it or not, it's the Metropolitan Opera's production of Rigoletto, which we recently checked out in New York. Not only did we see the show, but we went backstage to see how they make the show happen.
Los Espookys is a very odd HBO comedy series about a group of horror-loving friends who start up a business that provides scary experiences for their clients.The six-episode series, which is now four episodes into its run, is co-written by two of its stars — comedians Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega. Its biggest-name co-star, Fred Armisen, also co-wrote the pilot.
In the film Midsommar, writer-director Ari Aster follows up his cult horror hit Hereditary with a film about a literal cult. Florence Pugh plays a young woman who tags along with her awful boyfriend and his pals to a remote Swedish village as they enact their bloody rituals. We discuss the sun-drenched Scandanavian creepiness.
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Tom Holland's Peter Parker deals with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame by not dealing with it — he takes a class trip to Europe, attempting to leave his great power, and his great responsibility, behind.
It's our second annual songs of summer spectacular! Every year at NPR Music we debate which hits might be remembered as "the song of the summer" — sometimes it's a frothy pop song, or a star-packed hip-hop banger, or simply a song that gets played on the radio over and over again until we're beaten into submission. This week we're bringing in a revolving cast of my colleagues from NPR Music, each of whom will play us one song — one nominee to be the unofficial Song Of The Summer for 2019.
In Yesterday, Himesh Patel plays Jack Malik, an English singer whose career is going nowhere. His parents don't understand him, but he's got the support of his friends — especially Ellie, his manager, played by Lily James. One night, Jack gets hit by a bus at the precise moment of a worldwide power outage. When he wakes up, he learns that he's in a world where the Beatles never existed. So he starts playing their songs — the world soon hears them for the first time, and Jack finds his entire lif...more
When Avengers: Endgame came out in late April, it got good reviews and it did huge business. As with everything we talk about, we didn't want to spoil it for you, so some of its biggest developments went un-analyzed. But no more. We thought this one deserved a second look before we bid this chapter of the Marvel Universe farewell. So today, we're discussing and revealing with abandon.
The Toy Story movies have been skittering around the closets of our hearts for almost 25 years. Anchored by Woody the sheriff, voiced by Tom Hanks, they're central to the story of Pixar. Now we're up to Toy Story 4. This time, Woody has to protect a homemade toy named Forky, voiced by Tony Hale. Forky may just be a spork with a face, but he's special to Bonnie, the little girl Woody lives with.
When Big Little Lies came to HBO, it boasted a cast full of stars: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz and Laura Dern. For season two, they upped their game by adding Meryl Streep. The end of season one solved a mystery the show had been circling, and season two is about the aftermath.
In the movie Late Night, Mindy Kaling plays Molly Patel, a woman who gets her big break in the writers' room of late night host Katherine Newbury. Newbury, played by Emma Thompson, is on thin ice with the network and wants to add Molly as a way of diversifying her very white and very male writing staff. But once Molly gets there, she finds that being considered a diversity hire comes with challenges of its own. Late Night also features John Lithgow, Denis O'Hare, and Reid Scott.
A few weeks ago we talked about the wonderful new teen comedy Booksmart. the film is directed by Olivia Wilde, who is also an actress known for her roles on House, The O.C., and Tron: Legacy. In this bonus episode, you'll hear Wilde's recent appearance on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. She played 'Not My Job' where she was quizzed about Buffalo Wild Wings.
We are recapping this year's Tony Awards. James Corden was back as the host, and it was a big night for the musical Hadestown and the Irish play The Ferryman. The musicals Tootsie and Oklahoma! also picked up multiple awards.
In 2016, Phoebe Waller-Bridge presented the world with Fleabag. She not only writes the show, but she stars in it too. She plays a young woman only referred to as Fleabag who is bruised by external and internal struggles. And in 2019, the show came back for a wonderful second and, we're told, final season.
Rocketman is a new biopic about queer rock icon Elton John. It is in many ways a typical rise-and-fall, dangers of fame kind of rock star biopic. But there is a difference: this is a full-on jukebox musical on film. And star Taron Egerton doesn't just lip-sync — he actually sings.
In the new movie Booksmart, two young women about to graduate from high school spend one last night trying to catch up on everything they missed. Starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, it's the directing debut of actress Olivia Wilde. The cast also includes Jessica Williams, Billie Lourd, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow and many more. And we really, really like it.
We recently packed up and road-tripped to New York to check out some selections from the current Broadway theater season. We went to musicals and plays, revivals and new works, and we have a lot of thoughts.
Aladdin is the latest Disney live-action remake of an animated classic. The 1992 original starred Robin Williams as the genie, and this time it's Will Smith. The genie is still blue and there's still a mischievous monkey. But director Guy Ritchie has some ideas of his own, too.
After eight seasons, 73 episodes, and way too many characters busting out the phrase "bend the knee" all the time, HBO's Game of Thrones has come to an end. And there's a lot to unpack.
Once upon a time, a man named John Wick retired from his successful career as an assassin. But then he returned to it. And across what's now a three-film series, he's been having a heck of a week ever since.
The Pokémon universe has brought the world television cartoons, trading cards, video games, plush toys, the mobile-game sensation Pokemon GO, and a string of animated movies. Now, the franchise makes the leap into live action with a big-budget summer blockbuster called Pokemon Detective Pikachu.
Everyone needs inspiration. And we need it too. So from time to time, we pause just to single out some of the people whose work we're appreciating. People from whom we want more. We call this segment People We're Pulling For.
While summer is a time of spectacles and sequels, there is always time for love. The new romantic comedy Long Shot stars Charlize Theron as a beautiful and sophisticated presidential candidate and Seth Rogen as the grubby speechwriter with her on the campaign trail.
We revisit our 2016 discussion of the film Popstar. We The also look at back at other films that find humor in the foibles of musicians.
Nothing fascinates the world like a meteoric rise. Except, of course, for a spectacular fall. The story of the Silicon Valley startup Theranos and its young founder Elizabeth Holmes has both. And the coverage it's received has been huge. There's the book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, the podcast The Dropout, and the HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. Today we look at three ways of telling the same story.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought us Iron Man movies, Thor movies, Captain America movies, Avengers movies, and many other superhero franchises over the last decade, and they all feed into one epic that ties up many of the loose ends. Today we're talking the juggernaut to end all juggernauts, Avengers: Endgame.
On Wednesday, Beyoncé released two major projects. On Netflix, a new documentary captures the process of putting on headlining appearances at last year's Coachella Music Festival. She also surprise-released a double-length live album that contains just some of the highlights from Beyoncé's two ambitious Coachella performances. Both projects are called Homecoming, and they help immortalize a huge stage show full of dancers and drum lines and impeccable choreography and songs that reach across Bey...more
It's time again for our summer movie preview. We'll take a shot at guessing hits and misses, and we'll tell you what we can't wait to see.
Today we open up the vault to finally bring you a segment we recorded back in 2016 with our pal Audie Cornish. You'll hear us live in Seattle offering advice on some classic pop culture problems.
It's been 60 years since The Twilight Zone first aired, with the voice and eventually the face of its creator, Rod Serling. Now, CBS All Access has brought the anthology series back in a new incarnation. This time, the host is Jordan Peele. He is also an executive producer, and the big cast includes Adam Scott, Kumail Nanjiani, Steven Yeun, Chris O'Dowd, Tracy Morgan, Sanaa Lathan, and a whole lot more.
For the last four seasons, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has followed Rebecca Bunch as she pursued love, dreaded her mother, and tried to address her mental health. The show stars Rachel Bloom as Bunch, who created the show with Aline Brosh Mckenna. Now, it's all over, and we're going to talk about it.
"Shazam!" is what young Billy Batson says to morph into a big red superhero. It's also the name of the new movie about him. Starring Zachary Levi as the big lug in the suit, Shazam! makes for a lighter DC Comics movie.
Spring is here, but it's been a long winter. And we're a little overwhelmed by the news of the world, so we're taking a moment to share some of the things that lift our spirits in a segment we call Pop Culture Serotonin.
The comedy series What We Do In The Shadows imagines what a slacker reality show might look like if all the roommates were vampires. The show is based on a 2014 film of the same name, which was helmed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. A new cast of vampires inhabits the FX show.
The new Hulu series Shrill follows Annie, a young writer. She's trying to get her career moving, figure out what's up with her sort-of boyfriend, and learn to feel good about her body. Annie is played by Saturday Night Live's Aidy Bryant, who developed Shrill with TV writer Ali Rushfield and with Lindy West. West wrote the 2016 book of the same name that forms the backbone of the show.
Us is Jordan Peele's follow up to his 2017 film Get Out. The film stars Lupita Nyong'o as a mother whose whole family is confronted by their own doppelgängers.
The South by Southwest music festival brings together artists from around the world to perform in big venues and small ones, on sidewalks and sprawling stages. Every year, we bring back some musical discoveries that just might be your next favorites.
The much-praised Hulu series PEN15 is about two middle-school girls who feel like they might never figure out how to grow into adults. The show was created by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle and Sam Zvibelman. And the hook is that Erskine and Konkle play versions of themselves as kids, awkwardly surrounded by actual tween actors.
Comedy Central's very funny new show The Other Two is about the older siblings of a newly minted YouTube star. His fame makes them feel overshadowed in some of the ways you might expect. But it's also a chance for them to look out for him, and to learn a lot about the broad outlines of fleeting fame.
NPR Music is heading to South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. It's a huge feast of musical discovery that brings together bands and fans from around the world. All Songs Considered convened a panel to preview some of the new discoveries we're most excited to see and hear.
Captain Marvel is the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first movie to give a woman the lead role. Brie Larson stars as a badass space-warrior fighting in an intergalactic war between two alien races. Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, albeit digitally de-aged, because Captain Marvel is set in the '90s.
If you came of age in the 1990s, you might know Luke Perry as the rebellious teenage fantasy boyfriend Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. But you also might know him from the original movie version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Or as Archie's dad on Riverdale. Perry was only 52 when he died on Monday. We take a moment to celebrate Perry's contributions to pop culture.
Today we're diving into the complicated and tangled world of Netflix's Russian Doll, a series anchored by a dynamic performance from Natasha Lyonne. She co-created the series with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler.
Green Book is your best picture, and Bohemian Rhapsody and Roma took a bunch of the top prizes, too. And it all got done in a ceremony without a host. We're breaking it all down: the winners, the speeches, the songs, why we're mad, and why we're glad.
Where will you find rock bands going up against jazz pianists, superheroes, and scheming women in beautiful dresses? At this year's Oscars. We're going to talk actors, directors, and much more. We'll also make some predictions, so we might help you win your Oscars pool.
Pop Culture Happy Hour is in its ninth year, so Linda decided to write a quiz about the ninth seasons of television shows. Stephen and Glen faced off against one of our favorite podcast teams, Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings of The Nod. This episode was recorded live at the Bell House in Brooklyn.
We're diving into the Oscar-nominated documentaries and foreign language films. We'll tell you which ones to watch and where to find them, which might make you the star of your Oscar party.
This year's awards were a big night for Childish Gambino and Kacey Musgraves. It was also a night of strong performances from artists like Janelle Monae and Cardi B. And don't forget Diana Ross, who wished herself a happy birthday a month and a half early.
The Lego Movie was a surprise commercial and critical hit. It starred Chris Pratt as an every-man construction worker named Emmet and Elizabeth Banks as a rugged bad ass called Wyldstyle. Together, they saved the Lego world. Now, five years later, Emmet is back — and so is the fusillade of cameos, both surprising and not so surprising — to take on a new threat to the extruded plastic world.
Another year, another Patriots Super Bowl win. But was it a high scoring game? It was not. In fact, no one had even scored a touchdown when Maroon 5 came out to headline the halftime show. We recap the game, the halftime show, and the commercials.
What do Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, and Green Book have in common? Two things: one, they're nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars; and two, they're based on events in the lives of real people. Today, awards season leads us to a wide-reaching conversation on some very different movies.
If you've noticed your friends have been a little more "tidy" than usual, or your thrift store a bit better stocked, it might be because of Netflix. The streaming series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo has spurred an organizational renaissance. Or at least a conversation about one.
Alfonso Cuarón directed the award-winning film Gravity in 2013, and won an Oscar for it. Now he's back with a movie that's equally ambitious, and much more personal. Roma is inspired by Alfonso Cuarón's childhood, and the movie tells the story of Cleo, a nanny and housekeeper in 1970's Mexico City.
Despite how firm our opinions often seem when we first declare them, there have been times when they've changed. During our recent live show at the Brooklyn Podcast Festival, we took a moment to talk about some things we have different feelings on now then we once did.
In 2000, director M. Night Shyamalan presented Unbreakable, the story of two men whose epic tales of good and evil collided. Then came 2016's Split, a stealth sequel. Now, Shyamalan wraps up the trilogy with Glass.
The Masked Singer isn't your everyday singing competition. Based on a South Korean format, each week we learn the identity of the elaborately costumed "celebrity" who gets voted off. So far, we've unmasked football player Antonio Brown, and comedian Tommy Chong.
After winning an Oscar in 2017 for Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins is back with If Beale Street Could Talk. This time, he adapts a James Baldwin novel for the screen.
Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody unexpectedly won big. So did thanking your parents and going on just a little too long. It's the wee hours of Monday morning, and we are wrapping up this year's big winners and big surprises.
The sci-fi series Black Mirror has always been about changing technology and its usually dark implications for the future. Its latest episode, Bandersnatch, is itself the result of new technology developed at Netflix. As you watch it, you make your own on-screen choices that determine which of several possible endings you reach.
Fox canceled Brooklyn Nine-Nine at the end of its fifth season, but much to our delight, NBC picked it back up again. It's coming back for a sixth season starting on January 10th, and we thought that would make it just the right time to revisit our conversation about it.
Today, we look back on our 2018 resolutions to see how we fared, and make some new ones for the year to come. We also make our fearless pop culture predictions for the next 12 months, and see how last year's predictions panned out.
The animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse focuses on one of the Spider-People who has come along in the years since the world first met Peter Parker, in 1962. In the film, Miles Morales is a Brooklyn teenager who acquires spider-powers at the same time he discovers that there are other versions of himself across alternate dimensions.
It's the end of the year, and that makes it the perfect time to talk about the things we loved the most in 2018. From Black Panther, to Crazy Rich Asians, to the viral moments you might have missed, we are rounding up our fifteen favorites of the year. So get ready for a whole lot of recommending.
In 1964, the original Mary Poppins made Julie Andrews a movie star and introduced a generation to Dick Van Dyke's regrettable Cockney accent. Now, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda head up Mary Poppins Returns.
The Favourite, set in the early 1700s, tells the story of Britain's Queen Anne and two women who are jostling for her favor. Rachel Weisz plays the Queen's close adviser Sarah, and Emma Stone plays an ambitious servant named Abigail who has her eye on a bigger prize.
Comedian Guy Branum joins NPR's Sam Sanders to talk about his new book My Life As A Goddess and the many challenges presented by a mostly white, hetero-normative comedy scene.
What's warm and fuzzy, emotionally manipulative, and desperate for attention almost every hour of every day? Linda's dog, sure. But also the Hallmark Channel's endless supply of holiday movies and the competitors nipping at their heels.
You can't have an abundance of Christmas songs without also having an abundance of opinions about Christmas songs — songs we love, songs we hate, songs we love when they're sung by one person, but hate when they're sung by another. This week on Pop Culture Happy Hour, we've convened a special panel to tackle our favorite songs for the season.
Wreck It Ralph was a hit when it came out in 2012. Ralph Breaks the Internet picks up where that film left off, and is even more ambitious than its predecessor. This time, Ralph travels to the Internet — which gives the movie a lot of material to work with.
It's been three years since the Rocky movies were reborn with Creed, starring Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed's son, Adonis. Now, in Creed 2, Adonis is up against the son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father in the ring in 1985.
Widows is not your average heist movie — director Steve McQueen and co-screenwriter Gillian Fylnn have created something far more interesting. The film also has a star-studded cast that includes Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Brian Tyree Henry, and Liam Neeson.
Die Hard turned 30 this year. So as the season of Season's Greetings approaches, it's time for the Pop Culture Happy Hour conversation we've always been dying to have.
In the Amazon thriller Homecoming, Julia Roberts plays a caseworker at a facility that helps soldiers re-adjust to civilian life. Or at least that's what she thinks it does. But calls from a mysterious boss and sessions with a young soldier make her question everything.
Stan Lee helped create some of the most indelible comic book characters in American popular culture, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and Black Panther. He died Monday. He was 95.