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 1992 film A League Of Their Own is a beloved sports movie classic – thanks to a memorable all-star cast led by Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, and repeat showings on cable TV. It's a fictionalized account of The Rockford Peaches, the real-life professional women's baseball team that was formed during World War II. With a new TV series adaptation on Amazon, now seems like the perfect time to revisit the original and reflect on its enduring legacy.
The professional women's baseball team the Rockford Peaches were immortalized in the 1992 box office hit A League Of Their Own. Thirty years later, they're back in a new Amazon Prime series of the same name. Co-created by and starring Broad City alum Abbi Jacobson, the series showcases a new set of fictionalized characters, played by Chanté Adams, D'Arcy Carden, and more. While exploring queer themes and racial segregation, the show is a fresh take that both pays homage and stands on its own.
There's marriage, and then there's love marriage. That's the philosophy of Sima, the matchmaker at the center of the Netflix reality series Indian Matchmaking. The show has gotten a lot of attention, but also some critiques. It recently returned for a second season, so in this encore episode, we thought we'd revisit our conversation about the show's first season.
Bodies Bodies Bodies starts with a fairly standard horror-movie premise: A group of wealthy and attractive pleasure-seekers gather at a mansion to party and ride out an oncoming hurricane. But things get quickly messy when one of them turns up dead. With a cast that includes Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Chase Sui Wonders, Myha'la Herrold, Rachel Sennott, Pete Davidson, and Lee Pace, the movie mixes horror, comedy, Gen-Z satire, and a whodunit-style mystery that will keep you guessing.
The new film Prey isn't just another installment of the Predator franchise. For one thing, it's a prequel to the original 1987 movie — set more than 300 years ago. More important is who's telling the story this time: Amber Midthunder plays Naru, a tough, smart, young Comanche woman determined to prove herself, as well as to protect her people — and her dog — from a seemingly undefeatable enemy.
For nearly a decade, Desus and Mero cultivated a unique space in media. With popular podcasts and late night talk shows, the comedy duo earned a devoted fanbase and became the destination for any celebrity looking to earn some cultural cache. But, alas, the brand is gone. Recently the pair announced they've parted ways. Today, we offer five favorite Desus and Mero moments, and look back on their legacy and influence.
The new Netflix series The Sandman is based on Neil Gaiman's much-beloved comic book series about an immortal and powerful being known as the Master of Dreams. The series introduces us to a world of fantastic adventure where dreams and nightmares come to life. But beneath all its imaginative trappings is a story of a man who loses everything, and has to fight to get it all back, even if that means facing down Hell itself.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of HBO's crime drama The Wire. Creators David Simon and Ed Burns spent five seasons dissecting various institutions in Baltimore, producing what is now considered one of the best television series of all time. The large cast included many then-unknown actors who've gone on to become stars, like Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Dominic West and the late Michael K. Williams.
In the new film Bullet Train, Brad Pitt plays an assassin hired to steal a briefcase from a pair of rival assassins played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry. Also in the mix are Andrew Koji, Joey King, Bad Bunny, and Hiroyuki Sanada. It's directed by David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw).
On Beyoncé's new album Renaissance, the superstar channels a rich history of Black and queer music. There's disco, dancehall, bounce, house, gospel, freestyle and funk — all served up in a confident, sexy and thotty gumbo. Now that we've had some time to sit with (and get down to) the album, how are we feeling? Was it worth the wait?
The new Netflix comedy series Uncoupled stars Neil Patrick Harris as a man whose partner leaves him after 17 years together. The show comes from Darren Star, the prolific producer behind Sex and the City, and Jeffrey Richman, who worked on Modern Family and Frasier. They bring that experience to this new story about being gay and middle-aged and suddenly single.
What do you do when you need a good movie, but you don't have much time? The answer is that you find a short one. We recommend three films that deliver a lot of punch without taking up your whole day.
We've got dirty words on the brain. In this encore episode from 2013, we chat about the use and functions of profanity in entertainment. We cover everything from Anchorman to South Park to Shakespeare.
B.J. Novak (The Office) wrote, directed, and stars in the new indie comedy Vengeance. He plays Ben, a New York City journalist who decides to turn the mysterious death of his former hookup into fodder for a podcast. The film features Issa Rae as his podcast editor and Ashton Kutcher as a record producer.
The Netflix movie The Gray Man stars Ryan Gosling as an inmate who becomes an assassin for the CIA in exchange for his freedom. When a mission goes awry, he has to contend with a sociopathic ex-agent played by Chris Evans. It's directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, who made the Captain America and Avengers movies for Marvel.
Today there's more TV than ever before. And in such a crowded landscape, we can't get around to everything. That's why we wanted to highlight some of the recent shows that we didn't get around to, but we still think you might wanna check out. We recommend: The Summer I Turned Pretty, Dark Winds, Loot, Flowers In The Attic: The Origin, Chloe, and Trixie Motel.
Actors Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward had one of the most legendary partnerships in Hollywood. They were married over 50 years, and made 16 films together. Now they are the subject of a compelling new HBO Max docuseries called The Last Movie Stars. Directed by Ethan Hawke, it's a tale of Hollywood and love, but also of how heroes are made and sometimes robbed of their complexities.
The film Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings and horse wranglers living in a small California town where things get weird, people disappear, and a threat must be stopped. Jordan Peele wrote and directed the film, so there are bound to be some surprises. So we're hitching a ride on horseback into spoiler territory.
Jordan Peele's third film Nope comes with some hefty expectations: eclectic thrills, unexpected twists, and standout performances. Starring Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings who get caught up in some weird occurrences in a small California town, the film is giving Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan vibes. And it's sure to stir up a lot of debate.
The novel Persuasion is the story of a woman who gives up a great love, then finds him again. Written by Jane Austen, it's now the subject of a Netflix adaptation starring Dakota Johnson. The film tries to be of its own time and contemporary, with Austen characters talking about self-care and being "single and thriving."
Grammy-winning artist Lizzo enjoyed a major breakthrough in 2019 with her album Cuz I Love You. Now she's back with Special, which features one of the summer's most inescapable songs "About Damn Time." The album features songs about love, affirmation, friendship, empowerment, and confidence.
We debate: what is the greatest movie soundtrack of all time?
The fun mystery-comedy Only Murders in the Building series stars Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez as a trio of true-crime podcast fans who live in the same ritzy building on New York's Upper West Side. The Hulu series recently racked up 17 Emmy nominations, and its second season is airing right now. So we thought it would be a good time to encore our conversation about the first season.
The new film Where The Crawdads Sing stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya, a girl who was abandoned in the marshes of North Carolina as a child and raised herself into adulthood. It's part mystery, part courtroom drama, part love triangle, and part nature film. The film is based on Delia Owens' bestselling novel, and features a new Taylor Swift song.
The Korean pop sensation BTS recently announced that its members are taking a break to pursue solo projects. The band has had massive success in the U.S. with songs like "Dynamite" and "Butter", but their discography is farther-reaching than casual fans might think. So we thought now would be a good time to showcase some of the best deep cuts in the BTS catalog.
The Emmy nominations have arrived, and Succession leads the pack in most nods, followed closely by Ted Lasso and The White Lotus. This was also a good year for the folks behind Only Murders In the Building, Hacks, Squid Game, and Abbott Elementary, which each picked up their fair share of recognition from voters. We're going to get into the snubs, surprises, and everything in between.
If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you likely understand how intense it can be — it's fast-paced and you're constantly in close proximity with your colleagues. The excellent new FX on Hulu series The Bear understands this environment well. The dramedy stars Jeremy Allen White as Carmy, a fine dining chef who takes over his family's beloved, but troubled Italian beef sandwich shop following the death of his brother.
RRR is one of the most expensive and highest grossing Indian films ever made, and also the most-watched non-English language film on Netflix. It's a sweeping and bloody sort-of-historical epic about an unlikely friendship between a villager fighting against India's British colonizers (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and a soldier working with them (Ram Charan). Directed by S.S. Rajamouli, RRR has breathtaking stunts and stirring songs that's made it an international phenomenon.
Marvel's Thor: Love And Thunder follows in the footsteps of the much-loved Thor: Ragnarok. Both are directed by Taika Waititi, and both offer a lighthearted take on the godlike superhero, played again by Chris Hemsworth. The new film introduces Christian Bale as a villain named Gorr, The God Butcher, and brings back Natalie Portman as Jane Foster — who now wields Thor's hammer.
The fourth season of Stranger Things was split up into two chunks, with its nearly 2.5-hour-long season finale airing on Friday. This time around, those kids on bikes we met in season one are scattered to the four winds. We got some major revelations about the origin of the Upside Down, we met the Big Bad of the series and we got teed up for the show's fifth and final season.
The Peacock comedy Rutherford Falls is now back for its second season, and makes for a great summer binge watch. Co-created by Mike Schur, and starring Ed Helms (also a co-creator), the series follows a conflict over a historical statue in a small town. But what really sets it apart is that it centers several Native American characters, and its third co-creator, Sierra Teller Ornelas, is TV's first Native American showrunner. In this encore episode, we revisit our conversation about the first se...more
The Disney+ series Ms. Marvel introduces Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenager from Jersey City who loves superheroes. When she discovers an artifact linked to her family's history that imbues her with superpowers, she's delighted — at first. But she's dealing with family, friends, school and faith, all of which tend to get in the way of saving the day.
There are new, (mostly) more accurate dinosaurs to squeal over in Jurassic World: Dominion, the sixth and reportedly final film of the Jurassic film franchise. In this episode from our friends at NPR's Short Wave, get to know them a little more with help from Riley Black, a paleontologist and author of the book The Last Days of the Dinosaurs.
Minions: The Rise Of Gru is the fifth film in the animated Despicable Me series. Set in the late 1970s, the new movie chronicles the early days of the supervillain Gru (voiced again by Steve Carell) and his relationship with the silly yellow babbling banana-loving henchmen who do his bidding.
There are songs you want to groove to, and songs you want to pump up to. But sometimes, you just want something for the come down at the end of a long day. If you're having trouble sleeping in silence, or are just looking for some new songs to throw into your bedtime rotation, we've got you covered.
In the supernatural horror film The Black Phone, Ethan Hawke plays the Grabber, a sinister masked figure who abducts a series of teenage boys in a Colorado suburb. When 13-year-old Finney (Mason Thames) gets grabbed, he's locked in a dank basement, waiting to be murdered, when suddenly a disconnected telephone on the wall starts to ring.
Sunday's BET Awards were a four-hour celebration of Black culture, with a heavy emphasis on music. The night was packed with live performances from Latto and Jack Harlow, and surprise guests Mariah Carey and Brandy, and featured a lavish tribute to Lifetime Achievement Award winner Sean "Diddy" Combs.
The new film Marcel The Shell With Shoes On tells the story of a tiny shell who searches for his long-lost family. He's voiced by Jenny Slate and rendered using stop-motion animation. Based on a series of viral YouTube shorts, the feature-length movie is directed by Dean Fleischer Camp, who also appears on-screen as a filmmaker who discovers and interviews Marcel while living in an Airbnb.
The legacy of Elvis Presley is often reduced to gaudy iconography and tales of excess: the white jumpsuit, Las Vegas, drugs. So what happens when director Baz Luhrmann takes on the man, the myth, the legend? You get the dizzying biopic Elvis. Austin Butler stars as "the King of Rock and Roll," and Tom Hanks plays Elvis' shady longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker.
In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, USS Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Spock (Ethan Peck) and their diverse crew boldly go exploring the galaxy. The Paramount+ series takes place a few years before the original series from the '60s, and new show's tone and narrative certainly feel like a return to old-school Star Trek.
In Cha Cha Real Smooth, Andrew (Cooper Raiff), an aimless 22-year-old, finds a new direction when he becomes a party motivator at bar and bat mitzvahs in his hometown. He develops a bond with Domino (Dakota Johnson), who's at her own crossroads in life. The film was a breakout hit at Sundance earlier this year and is now streaming on Apple TV+.
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 recently returned for a second season, so in this encore episode, we revisit our discussion about the show's first season.
If you've seen any of the Toy Story movies, you know about Buzz Lightyear, the heroic space ranger immortalized in a line of action figures. Now, the character is getting a Disney and Pixar prequel — an origin story starring Chris Evans as the space ranger who started it all. (Take our annual survey at npr.org/podcastsurvey)
In Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Emma Thompson plays a widow yearning to fulfill a desire that's somehow eluded her her entire life: an orgasm. She sets about achieving her goal by hiring a much younger, highly attractive sex worker (Daryl McCormack). But their time spent together turns out to be much more than transactional. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande will stream on Hulu starting June 17th.
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the break-in at the Watergate Hotel that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Watergate not only had profound impacts on how Americans see the government and the press, but it has influenced decades of film and TV, books and podcasts.
The big winners of the 75th Tony Awards included the play The Lehman Trilogy, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop. The evening was hosted by the charming and completely committed Oscar winner Ariana DeBose, and filled with musical performances, emotional acceptance speeches, and a tribute to Stephen Sondheim.
In the Star Wars Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ewan McGregor returns as one of the last remaining Jedi Knights as he's hiding out on Tatooine. When young Princess Leia is kidnapped, Obi-Wan is convinced to come out of retirement and pull "one last job" to rescue her — even if that means crossing lightsabers with his former apprentice, the evil Darth Vader, played by Hayden Christensen. (Take our annual survey at npr.org/podcastsurvey)
Jurassic World Dominion is the sixth and reportedly final film in the Jurassic film franchise, in which genetically engineered dinosaurs run dependably amok in the modern world. This film brings together Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard with Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern, the three leads of the film that started it all — 1993's Jurassic Park. (Take our annual survey at npr.org/podcastsurvey)
Crimes of the Future marks director David Cronenberg's return to the body horror genre. The film is set in a dystopian future where humans no longer feel pain, as they are evolving to adapt to a world riddled with synthetic chemicals. Viggo Mortensen stars as a man who spontaneously grows new organs. Together with his partner, played by Léa Seydoux, he turns the tattooing, surgical removal and display of these organs into performance art.
This is Going to Hurt is by turns a caustically funny and gut-wrenching series about a young doctor of gynecology and obstetrics struggling to keep his mind, body, and soul intact. Ben Whishaw stars in the British series, which is based on the bestselling memoir of a doctor in Britain's National Health Service. It's streaming on AMC+ and Sundance Now.
This Friday would have been Judy Garland's 100th birthday. Everyone of course knows her iconic portrayal of Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz, but Garland delivered a variety of unforgettable performances over her variously triumphant, troubled and ultimately tragic life. If you're not familiar with her non-Oz-related work, here is a guide that speaks to her unique and enduring appeal. (Take our annual survey at npr.org/podcastsurvey)
The Netflix game show Floor Is Lava is 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. Floor Is Lava recently returned for a new season, so in this encore episode, we revisit our conversation about the series.
The new rom-com Fire Island puts a queer spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Written by and starring Joel Kim Booster, the film centers around a group of queer friends who decamp to Fire Island every summer. Booster and his best friend (Bowen Yang) are outsiders among the cliquish community of white wealthy gay privilege, and when love comes along, it places their friendship in jeopardy. Fire Island is directed by Andrew Ahn and is streaming on Hulu.
It's been 20 years since the beginning of American Idol. It has inspired imitators and parodies, and it's also a show that actually made people stars. So we asked you to vote for the best American Idol contestants of all time.
The Emmy-winning animated series Bob's Burgers is making the hop to the big screen. The Bob's Burgers Movie captures the show's distinct look and feel, but introduces a new sense of urgency. Perpetually worried fry-cook Bob Belcher, his wife Linda, and their three oddball kids need to pay off the bank right away or lose their restaurant.
This is the time of year when so many students graduate from so many schools in so many caps and gowns. Whether it's graduation episodes of our favorite TV series, high school songs, or movies about the last wild night of high school, we're here to commence a show about commencement.
Our pals at NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me have a new show called "Everyone & Their Mom." In this episode, host Emma Choi and comedian Emmy Blotnick discover long lost love letters and learn how to use bookmarks properly. They also interview director Domee Shi about her Pixar movie Turning Red.
Top Gun first hit theaters in 1986, starring Tom Cruise as a cocky fighter pilot who trains in an elite military program. Now, there's finally a sequel called Top Gun: Maverick, in which Cruise returns to train a new generation of pilots.
Harry Styles has just released his third solo album, called Harry's House. The new record finds the former One Direction singer presiding over a bunch of breezy, unfailingly pleasant love songs. The new album has already spawned a No. 1 single with the song "As It Was" and comes after 2019's Fine Line, which won Styles his first Grammy.
The hugely influential Canadian sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall is back in a new Amazon show that marks their first return to writing and performing original sketches on television. These 8 episodes look and feel like another season of their first show, though of course the kids aren't kids anymore – something the new series has some fun with.
In Men, Jessie Buckley plays Harper, whose estranged husband (Paapa Essiedu) has recently died in a horrific manner. To decompress, she rents out a quiet stately home in the English countryside from Geoffrey (Rory Kinnear). It doesn't take long before her trip is disturbed by increasingly strange and invasive occurrences. The film was written and directed by Alex Garland, whose previous features include Ex Machina and Annihilation.
The latest edition of NPR's Books We Love project rounded up hundreds of book recommendations from critics, writers and NPR journalists to try to give you just the read you're looking for. Today, we're giving recommendations for our favorite books about identity and culture.
Downton Abbey is back again. Three years after the 2019 movie that extended the popular TV series, the Crawleys are once again dealing with the clash of the old ways and the new ways. This time, the interloper is early Hollywood. While a director, a crew, and a bunch of actors descend upon the estate for filming, the story also travels to the south of France for a story that might reveal secrets from the Dowager Countess' past.
It's been five years since Kendrick Lamar released his last album, DAMN. Since then, he's won a Pulitzer Prize, been nominated for an Oscar, and become a parent. His new double-length album, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, is anything but a breezy victory lap. Lamar examines generational trauma, sexual politics, and his own attempts to grow amid high expectations and heavy introspection.
Irish writer Sally Rooney's book Normal People was adapted into a Hulu series in 2020. Now, her first novel Conversations with Friends gets its own Hulu adaptation. It tells the story of two college friends and exes (Alison Oliver and Sasha Lane) who meet a married couple (Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke) and get very deeply entangled with them, which makes everything very complicated.
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 of The Big Bang Theory as a woman in search of some answers about the present that also might shed light on the past. In this encore episode, we're revisiting our conversation about The Flight Attendant, which recently returned for a second season.
The 66th Eurovision Song Contest took place in Italy over the weekend. Every year, dozens of countries face off in a competition full of pageantry, strobe lights, and sparkles. But Eurovision isn't just a talent search. It's also a lavish spectacle that attempts to unify the world in song. This year's winner was Kalush Orchestra, from Ukraine.
The Netflix series Heartstopper is a new romcom for soft hearts everywhere. Based on Alice Oseman's graphic novels, the show follows Charlie and Nick, who are young and navigating the hallways of high school. When the two meet, they instantly take a shine to each other and go from rugby teammates to good friends to something more.
Bad Bunny is one of the world's biggest pop stars and a multimedia superstar. Now, the Puerto Rican singer is back with a new record called Un Verano Sin Ti, or A Summer Without You. It's a 23-song, double-length album that sprawls across many genres, including pop, trap, reggaeton and much more — and features musical guests galore.
HBO's We Own This City zeroes in on rampant corruption and abuse within Baltimore's criminal justice system. It features drug dealers, civilians and the police officers who recklessly target them both. There's also politicians and federal agents with competing interests and egos. If this sounds like The Wire, they do share some DNA: David Simon and George Pelecanos are its creators. And while a few Wire-verse alumni appear, is this series more than just a rewiring of Baltimore politics?
NPR's annual Books We Love project rounded up hundreds of books that scratch whatever your reading itch might be. Today, we're going to talk about some of the nonfiction we loved.
Hosted by Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg, NBC's American Song Contest is a singing competition that tries to duplicate the Eurovision formula by having each entry represent their home state or territory.
In Marvel's Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch returns as a powerful sorcerer who must protect Earth from mystical menaces. The new film finds Doctor Strange battling an unexpected nemesis as he comes to the aid of America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, who has the power to travel across alternate universes. Directed by Sam Raimi, the film also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, and Rachel McAdams.
In the first season of the Netflix show Russian Doll, we meet Natasha Lyonne's Nadia, a woman who gets stuck in a seemingly endless loop of death scenarios, and is forced to confront her personal demons in the process. Now season two has arrived, and Nadia's next phase of self-discovery manifests itself in a completely different way: time travel.
The delightfully cheesy Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as frenemies-turned-co-dependent besties after their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) come out as gay and marry each other. As the final episodes of the final season are out now, the series is attuned to the realities of aging, as well as the importance of bonds both familial and romantic.
The Netflix series Ozark recently dropped its final episodes. After a lot of Emmy recognition and four seasons of the increasingly criminal Byrde family seen through moody blue filters, it's over. Did Wendy and Marty Byrde (Laura Linney and Jason Bateman) make it? Did young Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) manage to get away from the life Marty and Wendy dragged her deeper and deeper into?
When Titanic pulled into theaters 25 years ago, it quickly became an inescapable cultural juggernaut. Everything about it was huge: Its budget, runtime, box office, and accolades. And it catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into a whole new stratosphere of fame. Now that we've got some distance from Leo Mania and "king of the world" jokes, how does James Cameron's epic hold up all these years later? Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
It's about to be summer. While that means sunshine and maybe even a chance to relax, it also means summer entertainment. Whether you're ready to venture out into theaters or you're still enjoying the comforts of your couch, we are here to talk about some of the best TV, film and music that's coming straight to you. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In the terrific horror thriller X, a ragtag film crew sets up shop in a creepy rural farmhouse, where they plan to shoot a porno movie without attracting the attention of their elderly hosts. But it's only a matter of time before things get stabby. Starring Mia Goth and Brittany Snow, and directed by Ti West, X has an arty, stylish feel – as well as larger points to make about filmmaking, aging, exploitation, and sex. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
A Very British Scandal focuses on the tumultuous marriage and bitter divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The Amazon Prime miniseries chronicles the couple's courtship, marriage, and their eventual split. Paul Bettany plays the drunken, abusive Duke, and Claire Foy plays Margaret, a woman determined to hold onto her station in life, even as she gets pilloried by a misogynistic British press and legal system. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In The Northman, Alexander Skarsgård plays a Viking prince who flees his island kingdom when his uncle kills his father and marries his mother. It's based on a very old but familiar story that predates Shakespeare's Hamlet by a few centuries. Directed by Robert Eggers, The Northman is a tale of bloody revenge with painstakingly researched historical accuracy surrounding the gods and monsters of Viking culture. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In Slow Horses, Gary Oldman plays Jackson Lamb, the slovenly, burnt-out head of Slough House — a rundown, disregarded division of MI5, and serves as a dumping ground for British spies who've made huge mistakes. This team of misfits is the laughing stock of the British intelligence community, led by Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas). Based on a series of spy novels by Mick Herron, series is streaming on Apple TV+. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In the action comedy The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized Nicolas Cage. This down-on-his-luck version of the actor must get out of a jam after he is offered a million dollars to attend the birthday party of a potentially deadly superfan, played by Pedro Pascal. Also starring Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz and Sharon Horgan, the movie gets meta as it draws heavily on the Cage's career and long history of eccentric performances. Vote for your favorite Americ...more
The hilarious HBO Max comedy series Our Flag Means Death follows the misadventures of Stede Bonnet, a posh aristocrat who decides to give up his pampered life and become a swashbuckling pirate on the high seas. It soon becomes clear that he lacks the ruthlessness necessary to be any good at the job, but when he meets the fearsome pirate Blackbeard (played by Taika Waititi) the two men find they have much to teach one another about pirating and self-acceptance.
Law & Order and its trademark format evolved into a massive TV franchise. The original Law & Order ended in 2010, but this year, in the middle of a broader conversation about policing and the problems with police procedurals, NBC has decided to bring the original Law & Order back. The result is a strange effort to replicate an old success in a very different environment.
In Marvel's Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac plays Steven, a mild-mannered Londoner who works in a museum gift shop. He also plays Marc, a mercenary who can turn into the mysterious Moon Knight. The series has psychodrama, tomb raiding, and a bad guy (Ethan Hawke) with very familiar motivations. Several episodes were directed by Mohamed Diab, the first Arab director in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the show also features strong performances from May Calamawy and F. Murray Abraham. Moon Knight is st...more
The Great Pottery Throw Down is one of the gentlest, kindest, and warmest competitive reality shows you will ever see (even when things literally explode). The fifth season aired in the U.K. earlier this year, and it's now streaming on HBO Max. In this encore episode, we talk about a show that will help you relax at the end of even the longest day.
Pachinko is a deeply intimate, yet hugely expansive multi-generational historical saga on Apple TV+. Adapted from Min Jin Lee's 2017 novel, the series features several intersecting characters and storylines, but focuses mainly on Sunja, a Korean woman whose family suffers under Japanese imperial rule. With an impressive cast including Lee Min Ho and Oscar-winner Yuh-Jung Youn, Pachinko depicts Sunja throughout her life amid conditions of poverty, bigotry and institutionalized injustice against K...more
To comedy fans, Jerrod Carmichael is known as a stand-up comic with an acerbic brand of observational humor, and he's starred in his own family sitcom, The Carmichael Show. Now his recent HBO special Rothaniel has made headlines. Carmichael comes out publicly as gay for the first time and he talks about secrets that have haunted his family for multiple generations. It's a profoundly immersive experience that pushes the boundaries of stand-up and confessional art.
There's been no shortage of biographical material about Julia Child, who in the 1960s became one of the first food television personalities in the United States. HBO Max adds to the story with Julia, a scripted series about her life in the early years of public television's The French Chef, when she was uneasily navigating a transition from cookbook author to TV star.
Cameo is an online service where you can pay a celebrity to record a personalized video message. Maybe it's for your birthday, maybe it's for someone's anniversary — or maybe you're just bored. The videos can costs you tens, hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. In this episode we play a game involving the Cameo prices of some extremely famous, modestly famous, and delightfully niche celebrities.
The latest edition of NPR's Books We Love project rounded up hundreds of books to try to give you just the read you're looking for. Today, we're talking about some of the books we loved in 2021 about life in the United States, present and past.
Ambulance is Michael Bay's latest action movie, and if you think you know exactly what you're going to get — you'd be correct. It's more than two hours of pure, unrelenting adrenaline featuring gun fights, explosions and dizzying camera work. The film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal as adoptive brothers who get caught up in a bank heist gone spectacularly wrong. And true to the title, it involves a high-speed ambulance chase.
In Morbius, Jared Leto stars as the mysterious and brilliant Dr. Michael Morbius, who was born with a rare and debilitating blood disorder. With the aid of vampire bats, he comes up with a treatment that gives him superpowers, but also gives him a taste for blood. The movie takes place in the Sony wing of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and serves as an origin story for this vampiric antihero.
On the FX series Better Things, Pamela Adlon plays Sam Fox, a working actor in L.A. and a single mother to her three children. Sam and her family deal with many familiar pangs of life, like aging and puberty, in ways that are funny, profound, and sometimes cosmic. The semi-autobiographical show was co-created by Adlon, and after five seasons, it's coming to a close.
It might sound like fun to date a glamorous movie star, but in reality, it would probably get very messy. That's the premise of HBO Max's Starstruck, created by and starring New Zealand comedian Rose Matafeo. The romantic comedy series is complicated, funny and charming — treating fame as the isolating pain in the neck it often can be. It's a great weekend binge watch, and just returned for a second season. In this encore episode, we discuss the first season.
Last night's Grammys featured wins for Olivia Rodrigo, Silk Sonic, Jon Batiste, and more. Plus we got a lavish stage show with performances from BTS, Lady Gaga, and many others.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is the kind of movie that lives up to its title. It's a zany and profound sci-fi action comedy set in multiple dimensions, bursting with ideas about the pursuit of happiness, familial duty and the meaning of life. It stars Michelle Yeoh as a businesswoman whose world is turned upside down the day her family attempts to file their taxes. Forced to confront her life choices, she clashes with her daughter, her husband and a cranky IRS inspector in the weirdest of w...more
In the new film The Lost City Sandra Bullock plays a romance novelist who is kidnapped by a duplicitous billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) looking for the real-life lost treasure referenced in her writing. Her cover model (Channing Tatum) embarks on a bumbling quest through the jungle and save her.
The Netflix series Bridgerton is back for a second season. And now, Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) is having his story told with the addition of a new love interest, played by Simone Ashley. Based on a series of Regency romance novels by Julia Quinn, there's still high drama, scandalous gossip and elaborate period costumes that sometimes take over entire scenes. So what's different, what's the same and how do Daphne and her duke figure into this season?
The Netflix animated series Human Resources is a spinoff of the filthy and funny Big Mouth. The series takes place in an office where the creatures that embody human emotions work, including Hormone Monsters voiced by co-creator Nick Kroll and Maya Rudolph. The show centers on a Love Bug voiced by Aidy Bryant. And there are plenty of other new faces, including a Logic Rock voiced by Randall Park and an Ambition Gremlin voiced by Rosie Perez. We also spend some time with Aidy Bryant's human clien...more
The 2022 Oscars included a best picture win for CODA, plus awards for Jessica Chastain, Dune, Encanto, and Jane Campion. But the proceedings were overshadowed when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. Later in the ceremony, Smith won a best actor Oscar for his role in King Richard.
The 2022 Oscars are finally upon us. There are always two big questions as we approach the Oscars: Who will win, and who should win. Today, we're offering up a guide to this year's nominations to try to help you win your Oscar pool and see some terrific movies at the same time.
The new Hulu thriller Deep Water is about unhappily married couple Vic and Melinda, played by Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Melinda is involved with other men, and when those other men start to run into some bad luck, suspicion falls on Vic. Directed by erotic thriller king Adrian Lyne, Deep Water delves into the specifics of this particular marriage, the intersection of sex and violence, and one man's lonely devotion to his collection of snails.
History and music, economics and journalism, freedom and family are all prominent in this year's impressive crop of Oscar nominees for documentary feature. They tackle issues including mass incarceration, the plight of refugees, and what parts of the past we celebrate most. Plus, most of the films are available to stream now.
In honor of this year's Oscars, we polled listeners to ask a simple question: What's the best best picture winner of all time? Today, we run through our listeners' ranking of the Top 10, and give our picks for the best winner of all time.
The latest edition of NPR's Books We Love project rounded up hundreds of book recommendations from critics, writers and NPR journalists to try to give you just the read you're looking for. Today, we're talking about the love story.
The new film Master is a thriller set at a predominantly white liberal arts college, where a history of systemic racism still haunts the campus in the present day. The film stars Regina Hall as a professor who steps into a new role as the school's first Black house master. Plus, a Black incoming freshman (Zoe Renee) is facing challenges in adjusting to her surroundings. The film, directed by Mariama Diallo, is sure to get viewers talking. It's streaming on Amazon Prime.
In Netflix's The Adam Project, Ryan Reynolds is a pilot from the future who goes back in time to the present day, where he enlists the aid of his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell) to save the timeline. Toss in small roles for Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo as Adam's parents, and you've got yourself a 13 Going on 30 mini-reunion. This is Reynolds' second team-up with director Shawn Levy, who directed last year's Free Guy.
Films from Italy, Norway, Denmark, Japan, and – for the first time in Oscars history – Bhutan are vying for this year's Academy Award for international feature. While they share several common themes – finding yourself and your purpose, coming to terms with your past – they're five films that vary wildly in subject, in tone, and in what they have to say. Plus, many of the films are streaming now.
In the excellent new Apple TV+ series Severance, a group of office workers are experiencing work-life balance on a whole other level. Adam Scott, John Turturro, and others play employees that have undergone brain surgery that completely separates their memories of work from their memories of their regular lives. Severance is a workplace satire, a futuristic thought experiment about identity, and a drama about the dimensions of grief.
Hulu's The Dropout moves the needle on the Theranos story. The series stars Amanda Seyfried as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, and shows how the tech wunderkind and her company went from darlings to defendants. The cast also includes Naveen Andrews, William H. Macy, Sam Waterston, Stephen Fry, Alan Ruck and Laurie Metcalf.
Pixar is back with another movie aiming to hit you in all the feels: Turning Red. It's about a charismatic 13-year-old girl named Meilin (Rosalie Chiang) who discovers that whenever she gets too excited about anything, she now turns into a giant red panda. Directed by Domee Shi, the film features the voice talent of Sandra Oh, as well as some fun nods to the early 2000s boy band era. The film is streaming on Disney+.
In the new sci-fi film After Yang, a family suffers a loss when their human-like android Yang (Justin H. Min) suddenly breaks down. It stars Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith as the parents of an adopted child who are faced with deep existential conundrums. The film was written and directed by Kogonada, and is currently in theaters and streaming on Showtime.
What if you took The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but made it a gritty, modern drama where Will is sent to Bel-Air to avoid facing an illegal gun possession charge? That's the basic premise of Bel-Air — the reboot of the classic 90s sitcom that made Will Smith a TV star. Jabari Banks steps into the role of Will, who this time around is less a goofy charmer and more a cool star athlete. It's a show that barely resembles its predecessor, with each member of the Banks family getting a radically dramati...more
Few shows had quite the same reach and impact in the 1990s as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The NBC series catapulted Will Smith into movie stardom, and it remains infinitely memeable — from the Carlton Dance to its instantly recognizable theme song. And while it was a goofy fish-out-of-water sitcom, the series also revealed layers and heft, with humor (and occasionally some very special drama) that frequently touched on class and race.
Kanye West is a successful rapper and producer who has won 22 Grammys. But West has also been a public lightning rod for his outbursts at awards shows, his outspoken support of Donald Trump, his acrimonious divorce proceedings with Kim Kardashian, and much more. Netflix recently released a documentary called jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy. So it seems like a good time to assess the artist himself.
The new film The Batman slaps both a definite article, and an emo haircut, on the Caped Crusader. This time, it's Robert Pattinson who is cleaning up the streets of Gotham. He's facing off against Paul Dano's Riddler, and – under a lot of padding and prosthetics – Colin Farrell's Penguin. Bruce gets help from not-yet-Commissioner Gordon, played by Jeffrey Wright, as well as Zoë Kravitz's Catwoman.
Tyler Perry's character Madea has occupied a unique and polarizing space within Black American culture for more than two decades. A gun-toting elderly lady who curses and often finds herself at odds with the law, Madea has been criticized for playing into harmful stereotypes by some and beloved by others. After a brief absence, she's back in her 12th film, now streaming on Netflix: A Madea Homecoming. We talk about the film and how Tyler Perry's work straddles the line between being extremely to...more
This year's Academy Award nominees for original song are a mix of old and new. Songs by Beyoncé, Billie Eilish and Lin-Manuel Miranda are squaring off against tunes by boomer mainstays Van Morrison and Diane Warren. They're all emotional songs, which is no surprise, though some are more anthemic than others. But whichever original song takes home the Academy Award this year, it stands to make some kind of Oscars history — including a possible EGOT.
The latest edition of NPR's Books We Love project rounded up hundreds of books to try to give you just the read you're looking for. Today, we're going to talk about some of the books we loved in 2021 about the lives of women.
Belfast is nominated for seven Oscars, including best picture and best director for Kenneth Branagh. The film is loosely based on Branagh's own childhood as he came of age during The Troubles in 1969 and 1970. Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds are up for best supporting actress and best supporting actor, respectively, and it's also nominated for best sound and best original song for Van Morrison's "Down To Joy".
With HBO's The Gilded Age, Julian Fellowes airlifts Downton Abbey's soapy plots, its baubles and ball gowns, its sneering servants and quippy old ladies out of Yorkshire and plops them down in 1882 Manhattan. The series stars Carrie Coon, Christine Baranski, and Cynthia Nixon, plus a sprawling cast of socialites, servants, and members of the working class.
In the HBO Max film Kimi, Zoë Kravitz plays a woman with high anxiety and agoraphobia, who may or may not have observed a murder via a Siri-like voice assistant. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film is a tight, 90-minute surveillance thriller that takes its cues from some classics of the genre, including Rear Window and The Conversation. Yet it feels contemporary and fresh, particularly as it plays against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HBO drama Euphoria depicts a world in which modern teenagers navigate a minefield of traumas. We see heavy drug use, illicit sex, destructive technology, damaged parents, physical violence, and so much more. The series stars Zendaya as Rue, whose drug addiction threatens both her life and the stability of those around her.
The Hulu miniseries Pam & Tommy is about what was arguably the first viral celebrity sex tape. It depicts the stars of the tape, actor Pamela Anderson (Lily James), and musician Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) as sympathetic figures and victims. It also tells the story of Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogan), the man who unwittingly stole the tape from them and began selling it through the internet.
In Netflix's dating show Love Is Blind, 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 get engaged. And only then do they meet. The second season is now airing on Netflix and in this encore episode, we're revisiting our baffling fascination with the dating show.
In Netflix's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, online influencers descend on the mostly abandoned town of Harlow, Texas, only to be slaughtered by the man known as Leatherface. Directed by David Blue Garcia, the film is the ninth installment in the long-running horror franchise that started in 1974. The movie stars Sarah Yarkin and Elsie Fisher, and it also brings back the character of Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré) the lone survivor of Leatherface's first rampage.
The new Showtime docuseries We Need to Talk About Cosby seeks to better understand Bill Cosby, a man full of contradictions and complexities. Director W. Kamau Bell traces Cosby's remarkable career and legacy and how he became one of the biggest stars of the 20th century. He also traces the comedian's downfall – over 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault.
In our current era of headline-making scammers, Anna Delvey is one of the splashiest. A few years ago, she posed as an heiress and conned several wealthy people out of their money before ultimately spending time in prison. Now, her schemes have been dramatized in Inventing Anna, a Netflix miniseries created by Shonda Rhimes. The show is inspired by a viral New York Magazine article, but is Anna's story as fascinating on screen as it was on the page? (Vote for the BEST best picture Oscar winners ...more
The funny, tender-hearted HBO series Somebody Somewhere is a semi-autobiographical story starring comedian and cabaret performer Bridget Everett. She plays a woman who long ago gave up on her dream of being a singer and moved back to her hometown in Kansas to care for her beloved sister. After her sister dies, she reconnects with a high school classmate (Jeff Hiller) who urges her to sing again. (Vote for the BEST best picture Oscar winners at npr.org/bestpicture)
The 2022 Super Bowl resulted in Los Angeles Rams coming from behind to win over the Cincinnati Bengals. There was also the halftime show, which showcased some of the biggest stars in the history of hip-hop and R&B: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and 50 Cent. And, of course, there were nostalgia-packed commercials for cars and crypto. (Vote for the BEST best picture Oscar winners at npr.org/bestpicture)
In the romantic comedy Marry Me, Jennifer Lopez plays as a pop star who is set to marry a singer played Maluma. The wedding is supposed to take place on stage as part of an elaborate publicity stunt, but she learns her fiancé has been cheating on her. Devastated, she decides to marry a man in the crowd, who is played by Owen Wilson. You can find it in theaters or streaming on Peacock. Vote for the BEST best picture Oscar winners at npr.org/bestpicture
The HBO Max series Peacemaker stars John Cena as a shiny-helmeted super soldier who loves peace so much he's willing, even eager, to slaughter folks to get it. It's a direct spinoff of the 2021 film The Suicide Squad, and the series shares a lot of that movie's comedic DNA. And it, too, was written and directed by James Gunn.
This year's Oscar nominations were announced today, and it's a big year for The Power of the Dog, Dune, West Side Story, Drive My Car, and more. We've got an overview of the nominees in the major categories, plus some surprises and snubs. Vote for the BEST best picture Oscar winners at npr.org/bestpicture
In the film Mogul Mowgli, Riz Ahmed stars as Zed, an on-the-rise rapper whose biggest gig yet is threatened by the sudden onset of an illness. He's also forced to confront his own insecurities about his family and British-Pakistani identity. Ahmed co-wrote the movie along with the director Bassam Tariq, and the result is a compelling and surprising story that dances between fiction and autobiography, realism and fantasy.
The moody, introspective film Drive My Car is one of the best-reviewed films of the last year. It's about a widowed theater director who grows closer to the young woman hired to drive him to and from rehearsals. Directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, the film has already racked up a number of critics awards, and it's Japan's entry for this year's best international feature Oscar.
If you've ever posted a celebrity's picture inside a locker, used a photo of them as your lock screen, or followed every moment of someone's career, you know all about pop culture crushes. There are the ones you're proud of, the ones you're less proud of, and the ones that never quite go away. Today, we're sharing some of our earliest crushes and how they informed our later adorations along the way.
Janet Jackson. is a four-part TV documentary from Lifetime and A&E that shows how the pop star became one of the biggest and most influential artists of the last four decades. With new interviews and never-before-seen footage, the series also documents many of her personal struggles and controversies, including the infamous wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl.
One of our favorite movies of the last few years is now streaming on Hulu. 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 Scafaria, the film stars Jennifer Lopez as their ringleader Ramona, Constance Wu as her protégé Destiny — and also features Cardi B and Lizzo. In this encore episode, we're revisiting our conversation about Hustlers.
The sitcom The Golden Girls followed the adventures of four women who were living together in Miami. The women were Dorothy (Bea Arthur), Sophia (Estelle Getty), Rose (Betty White), and Blanche (Rue McClanahan). Betty White's death in December marked the passing of the last of the four actresses who made up this cast, each of whom won an Emmy for her work on the show. It's a fine time to take a look at what is, for a lot of us, an old favorite.
When it comes to the Sundance Film Festival, you never really know what you're going to get. Each year brings a chance to stumble upon surprises and delights from filmmakers both well-known and emerging. Today, we've picked a few films, touching on everything from misogyny to arrested development to racism, that we think are worth keeping on your radar in the coming year.
The daily online word game Wordle has absolutely exploded in popularity in recent weeks. It's a game that gives you six chances to guess a five-letter word, giving you clues along the way about which letters are right and whether they're in the right places. It's addictive, but it can drive you mad.
What do Dancing With The Stars, the Sex and the City spinoff, and one of the most viral ads of 2019 have in common? They represent some of the many pop culture touchpoints of the ubiquitous fitness brand Peloton. We talk about the Peloton universe, including it's star-making stable of instructors complicated relationship with the wellness industry.
A Hero is the latest film from Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman). In this story, Amir Jadidi plays Rahim, a man who comes into possession of a lost handbag and some coins. But nothing goes as expected, and he becomes everything from a local celebrity to a suspected criminal. A Hero is on the short list for this year's international feature film Oscar, and is streaming on Amazon Prime.
In the new Disney+ series The Book of Boba Fett, Temuera Morrison brings new layers to the mysterious bounty hunter from the original Star Wars films. The story vacillates between flashbacks to how he escaped his presumed death in Return of the Jedi, and the present day as he and his lieutenant Fennec Shand (played by Ming-Na Wen) take over Jabba the Hutt's criminal empire on Tatooine.
If you're looking to discover a new book, NPR has a marvelous mechanism to help you out: It's called Books We Love, and it's a sortable guide to hundreds of great books from 2021, as handpicked and recommended by the NPR staff. Today we're talking about some of the music-related books we loved in 2021.
The fantastic new ABC series Abbott Elementary is a sitcom set at a severely underfunded Philadelphia public school. Quinta Brunson is the creator and very funny star of the mockumentary-style comedy, which follows a cast of teachers who are dedicated, but burnt out as they make do with limited resources and a hilariously incompetent principal.
And Just Like That... the ladies of Sex and the City are back. (Well, most of them anyway.) The HBO Max series finds Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon reprising their roles as Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda. The new cast features several non-binary characters and performers of color including Nicole Ari Parker, Sara Ramirez, Karen Pittman, and Sarita Choudhury. But do these updates make the nostalgia trip worth it?
Today we're recommending some of the great music documentaries we missed in 2021: The Velvet Underground, Framing Britney Spears, Controlling Britney Spears, and Tina.
The slyly innovative HBO Max series Sort Of follows Sabi, a gender fluid millennial in Toronto trying to figure their life out. Sabi, played by co-creator Bilal Baig, nannies for a family whose matriarch winds up in a coma, placing Sabi in a tough spot between living their life and caring for others first. It's a show with good word of mouth that makes for a great Saturday afternoon binge.
The Tragedy of Macbeth adapts Shakespeare's familiar tale of blood and betrayal, dreamlike daggers and stubborn stains. But its stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are significantly older than the leads usually are, which makes the whole thing hit differently. Directed by Joel Coen, the film fuses black-and-white cinematography with a clean, minimalist production design that underscores the story's theatrical roots. It's now streaming on Apple TV+.
The Weeknd's album After Hours was one of the biggest hits of 2020, and now the elusive artist is back. He's had a decade of massive highlights from "Blinding Lights" to last year's Super Bowl Halftime Show. His new album is Dawn FM, and it's a set of sleek synth-pop songs with assists from Oneohtrix Point Never and comedian Jim Carrey.
The HBO Max miniseries Station Eleven begins with a highly contagious and deadly virus wiping out 99 percent of humanity. That might not sound like comfort viewing, but hear us out. The show follows many characters as their individual stories intersect — both in the 100 days after the virus hits, and 20 years later, as civilization attempts to rebuild. Based on Emily St. John Mandel's novel, the series stars Himesh Patel, Mackenzie Davis, Gael García Bernal, Danielle Deadwyler, and Lori Petty.
In the movie C'mon C'mon, Joaquin Phoenix plays an audio journalist who, after visiting his sister (played by Gaby Hoffmann), takes his young nephew (played by Woody Norman) on the road as he interviews kids about the world. Along the way, the two learn a lot about each other. Directed by Mike Mills, it's a film about family, loss, and joy — and it's about radio.
Hollywood legend Sidney Poitier died last week at age of 94. He was a man of many firsts, including the first Black performer to win the best actor Oscar for the 1963 film Lilies of the Field. He was also a humanitarian who was active during the civil rights movement, and also someone who was quite obviously dedicated to his craft. And today we remember Poitier's work, including In The Heat Of The Night and To Sir With Love.
We cover a lot of movies here on Pop Culture Happy Hour, but we can't come close to hitting every great film. Today, we're inviting some of our favorite film critics to share the movies they loved from 2021 — the ones that got past us the first time, but should definitely get added to your queue.
The Showtime drama Yellowjackets is a series in two halves: In the first part, a plane crashes in 1996, and a high school girls' soccer team is stranded in the Canadian wilderness. The other part follows some of the girls more than 20 years later, as they realize the full ramifications of what they did during the time before they were rescued. Part horror and part suspense, Yellowjackets boasts a killer cast and a tangle of dark mysteries at its heart.
In the Netflix film The Lost Daughter, Olivia Coleman plays Leda, a professor on a working holiday in Greece who becomes fascinated by a young mother played by Dakota Johnson. This leads Leda to think about her own past, and to flashbacks in which the young Leda is played by Jessie Buckley. Adapted from the 2006 Elena Ferrante novel of the same name, The Lost Daughter marks the directorial debut of Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris, and Paul Mescal.
This winter, we've been at home, playing games. And we've been exploring games for the Nintendo Switch. We've been trying adventure games and puzzle games, beautiful games and silly games. And in this encore episode, we have a few to recommend.
Actress and icon Betty White died Friday at the age of 99. Her career as a comic actress – on TV, on radio, in movies, and more – lasted more than 80 years. She was probably best known for her work on The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But White was a trailblazer, a record-setter, and one of the most venerated figures in the history of television.
It's the end of 2021, and the cusp of a new year — which means we're looking back, and we're looking ahead. It's time to see how we did sticking to our pop culture resolutions we made a year ago. And it's time to make some new ones for 2022.
If there's one thing we can tell you about 2021, it's that we didn't see it coming. And we might not see 2022 coming either, but we're going to try — by making some pop culture predictions for next year. And on top of that, we'll look at last year's predictions and see how things turned out.
The new Netflix film Don't Look Up has a crazy Academy Awards pedigree. Writer-director Adam McKay won an Oscar for The Big Short and the Oscar-studded cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as scientists who discover that a massive comet is hurtling toward Earth. The only problem: They can't get the media's attention (represented here by Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry) or get the president (played by Meryl Streep) to care. But with all these stars in the mix, did Don't Look Up mi...more
When Insecure premiered on HBO in 2016, Issa Dee (played by the show's co-creator Issa Rae), her bestie Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) and the rest of their cohort were a bunch of millennials who were stuck in unhappy relationships and jobs, and didn't have a clue how to make better choices for themselves. After five seasons, we're bidding farewell to Insecure — only now, these characters have finally seen some growth.
Licorice Pizza is a freewheeling slice of life story about an odd friendship/flirtation set in the San Fernando Valley. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film stars Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim (who play 15- and 25-year-olds, respectively) as they deliver waterbeds and embark on meandering adventures during the gas crisis of the 1970s.
When The Matrix opened in 1999, it thrilled audiences with its strangely cerebral mix of stylized violence, existential crisis, and tight, black leather. The new movie The Matrix: Resurrections continues the story. Directed by Lana Wachowski, the film takes us back inside the simulation that the machines are using to keep humanity docile as they harvest our energy. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss return as Neo and Trinity, who, alongside an array of new characters, attempt to, once again, lea...more
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the TV power couple. In the new film Being the Ricardos, we spend an eventful week with Lucy (played by Nicole Kidman) and Desi (played by Javier Bardem) as they try to get a show on the air. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the film showcases the complicated relationship and creative process of America's favorite couple.
Nightmare Alley is a stylish neo-noir that's as seedy as its title sounds. The film is directed by Guillermo del Toro and is inspired by the book and 1947 movie adaptation of the same name. It stars Bradley Cooper as Stan, an ambitious 1940s drifter who joins a traveling carnival and learns to develop his own mentalist act. An encounter with a mysterious psychologist, played by Cate Blanchett, leads to a fateful and destructive turn of events.
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, we spend time with some familiar characters. The film stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker and Zendaya as MJ, and, this time, also brings in Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), plus an array of villains who'll already be familiar to fans of the franchise. But the film is more complicated than that, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe delves deeper into the mysteries of the Multiverse.
It's tradition here at Pop Culture Happy Hour to look back on some of our favorite things from the last 12 months of television, movies and music. Today, we're revisiting the pop culture that thrilled us, moved us and kept us company in our best and worst moments.
Spotify Wrapped has become both an annual end-of-year event, and a viral sensation. In 2019 the service starting pairing its year-end listening data with eye-catching and extremely shareable graphics. But, when the algorithm curates so much of our listening experience... are we just creating a perpetual feedback loop?
Marvel's latest TV entry is the series Hawkeye. Jeremy Renner reprises his role as the arrow-slinging Avenger, and the show gives us a glimpse of what the guy gets up to when he's not busy saving the universe. Here, he's just trying to enjoy New York at Christmastime with his kids, but he's forced to team up with Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop — a young, wealthy and headstrong Hawkeye superfan who runs afoul of some Russian gangsters.
For many, It's A Wonderful Life is the quintessential Christmas movie. George Bailey's story is filled with life lessons, the importance of community, and a little kid playing carols on the piano. While it wasn't a box office hit when it first debuted 75 years ago, It's A Wonderful Life has somehow persisted and become a staple of holiday viewing.
The classic musical West Side Story has now been remounted and rethought in a new film directed by Steven Spielberg with a screenplay from Tony Kushner. The new film stars Rachel Zegler as Maria, Ansel Elgort as Tony, and Ariana DeBose as Anita. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, returns in a new role.
The Beatles: Get Back captures the tumultuous process of writing and recording some of their best-known songs. Directed by Peter Jackson, the mammoth three-part docuseries shows the day-to-day boredom and grind and thrill of life in the studio — plus, lots of goofing around and never-before-seen footage of The Beatles. If you didn't have opinions about Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, you surely will after watching The Beatles: Get Back, which is now streaming on Di...more
Season 3 of HBO's Succession had us all — yet again — asking ourselves that perennial question: Why do we love watching this show about terrible, horrible, no-good, and very bad people? We may still not know the answer, but it's been a wild ride with the Roy dynasty nonetheless. The empire has been threatened and is sputtering, while these megalomaniacs continue to do what they do best: look out for themselves.
Amazon Prime's The Wheel of Time series is an adaptation of Robert Jordan's best-selling 14-volume fantasy epic of the same name. It's set in a high-fantasy world of magic and mystery, and it stars Rosamund Pike as Moiraine, a member of the Aes Sedai an elite organization of female mages who are seeking someone called the Dragon Reborn. The twist? There are several possible candidates for the Dragon Reborn title.
NPR's Books We Love is back! Previously known as the Book Concierge, we have a whole new crop of great reads and today, we're highlighting a few NPR staff picks. Whether you want sci-fi or romances, books about politics or literary fiction, you can find exactly what you're looking for, just in time for a chilly winter night.
The new Netflix film The Power of the Dog stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons as a pair of brothers who run a cattle ranch in Montana in the 1920s. When one brother marries, and brings his new bride (Kirsten Dunst) and her teenage son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) back to live with him at the ranch, the other brother gets jealous and sets out to destroy their happiness. The film is the latest from writer and director Jane Campion, and it's bound to be a big contender come Oscar time.
The Netflix movie tick, tick...BOOM! is the story of composer Jonathan Larson and the musical he wrote a few years before he wrote Rent. The film marks the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and stars Andrew Garfield as Jonathan. It's set in 1990 and takes place over a few days leading up to Jonathan's 30th birthday.
Adele is one of the most successful artists of her generation. Her last two records combined sold more than 25 million copies and both won Album Of The Year at the Grammys. Now, the U.K. pop star has put out her fourth studio album 30, which finds Adele reflecting on her divorce with songs that don't shy away from emotional vulnerability or deep melancholy.
Encanto is the latest animated Disney musical that tells the story of the Madrigal family, whose members are tucked away in the mountains of Colombia. The film is stuffed with characters who wield magical powers and perform lavish musical numbers written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. But for all its magical realism, it's also a fairly simple story about a family whose bonds need healing.
Stephen Sondheim, the most influential composer in modern Broadway history, died on Friday at the age of 91. He wrote music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods, Sunday In The Park With George, Company, and more. Sondheim won eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And along the way, he made work so beloved that it's been produced again and again around the world, and influenced other Broadway composers like Lin Manuel-Mir...more
In this episode of NPR's Book of the Day podcast, we're spotlighting two thrillers. First, astronaut Chris Hadfield talked with former NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro about his novel The Apollo Murders, which is set in the 70's around, you guessed it, the Apollo missions. Then, a 2015 interview with NPR's Robert Siegel and author Anthony Horowitz about his James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, and what it's like giving a classic a 21st century twist.
Ridley Scott's House of Gucci is a whole lot of movie. Adam Driver plays the wealthy Mauritzio Gucci, and Lady Gaga plays his wife Patrizia. Al Pacino and Jared Leto play Mauritzio's uncle and cousin, who eventually battle Mauritzio for control of the Gucci empire. It's got fashion, it's got tragedy, and it's got terrible accents.
King Richard is a sports movie about the early days of superstar tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. But, as its title suggests, the film focuses on their demanding and ambitious father, Richard Williams. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the movie stars Will Smith as a man who'll do anything to get his daughters from Compton to Wimbledon.
The new Netflix series Cowboy Bebop is a live-action remake of the wildly popular Japanese anime about bounty hunters in a neo-noir future. Stylish and satirical, violent and cynical, the show is a bold mashup of genres – western, crime, science-fiction, buddy comedy, melodrama, thriller, and martial arts. It stars John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda as bounty hunters with dark pasts. But does the series hold up to the original?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife reconnects with the original timeline of the Ghostbusters films from the 80s while introducing a bunch of new characters. Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard play a family who teams up with Paul Rudd to fight a new supernatural threat. The movie is directed by Jason Reitman — son of Ivan Reitman, who directed the first two Ghostbuster films.
There's no good way to share terrible news. Pop Culture Happy Hour panelist and NPR Books editor Petra Mayer died suddenly on Saturday of what is believed to be a pulmonary embolism. We take some time to remember our friend and colleague, and revisit some of our favorite episodes featuring Petra.
Silk Sonic is a new musical showcase for two familiar faces: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. Their soulful collaborations started trickling out this past March, when the duo released the single "Leave The Door Open." Now they've dropped the album An Evening With Silk Sonic, which features classic funk and soul updated for the present day.
If you've always wondered what it would be like to see the world while making espresso martinis for the super-rich, you might already be watching the Below Deck franchise. For the past eight years, the Bravo reality series and its many spinoffs have been showing viewers the world of deckhands and chefs, housekeeping and party planning, as young hot people work on luxury yachts chartered by people who have too much money.
Earlier this month, ABBA released a new album called Voyage. It's the Swedish pop sensation's first set of new material in 40 years. Voyage gives us a perfect excuse to talk about all things ABBA: the massive sales, the jukebox musical Mamma Mia!, the endless hiatus, and — of course — those classic songs.
What has a wisecracking Ryan Reynolds, a glamorous Gal Gadot, a muscled Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and a very convoluted story about priceless eggs? It's the new Netflix action comedy Red Notice, which combines cars, boats and secret safes with ballroom dancing and a jailbreak — all in the same frame as three big-budget action leads.
When Project Runway launched in 2004, competitive reality shows were in their infancy. Now, they're in their mature pantsuit years, as Project Runway airs its 19th season. Longtime mentor Tim Gunn has been replaced by former winner Christian Siriano, but the sewing machines continue to buzz, and it's still hard to make a dress in a day. In this encore episode we're revisiting our conversation about Project Runway.
In the Netflix melodrama Passing, Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga play childhood friends who are reunited years later in 1920s Harlem. Both women are Black and fair-skinned, but only one of them has chosen to "pass" — to completely abandon their ties to the Black community and identify as white. The movie premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and marks the directorial debut of actress Rebecca Hall. And it's already gaining some awards season heat.
Netflix's The Harder They Fall is the latest modern take on the movie western, with nods to real-life Black cowboys and cowgirls. In it, an outlaw and his gang seek revenge for a horrific crime committed many years ago. Gunfights and showdowns ensue, of course. The film boasts an impressive cast, including Jonathan Majors, Regina King, Idris Elba, and LaKeith Stanfield. Does this revisionist tale live up to the incredible talent involved?
What if the story of Princess Diana wasn't a fairy tale, but instead a psychological horror movie? That's the premise of Pablo Larraín's intriguing new film Spencer, in which Kristen Stewart plays Diana. Here, Diana is trapped, frightened and sometimes uncertain of reality. It's a different perspective on the figure, but unlike other art about the royals, it has a clear point of view and a reason to revisit this tale.
Eternals, the latest film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a sweeping saga about ten immortal aliens with super-powers. The cast includes Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, and Richard Madden. The film is directed by Chloé Zhao, the indie director behind small, intimate films like the Oscar-winning Nomadland. Eternals is unlike anything she's done before, but it's also unlike anything Marvel's done before.
So do you have a slow Saturday afternoon, and need something to watch while folding laundry? Perhaps check out Netflix's heist movie Army of Thieves. It's also a prequel to Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead, and it stars that film's squirrelly German safecracker, Ludwig Dieter, played by Matthias Schweighöfer, who also directed the film. Dieter joins a rag-tag crew of bank robbers that includes Game of Thrones' Nathalie Emmanuel.
Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick has been a prominent activist and a Rorschach test in the culture wars — and he's been widely reconsidered in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests. But he hasn't really gotten to tell his own story until now. He stars in the Netflix series Colin In Black & White, which he co-created with director Ava DuVernay. It's a dramatization of his life as the biracial son of white adoptive parents.
Judy Sheindlin has been one of the highest-paid people in TV for years, churning out episode after episode of Judge Judy. But after years of syndication, Sheindlin has shut down the CBS show and moved over to streaming service IMDB TV to make the almost identical new show, Judy Justice. Despite the new platform, the cases still revolve around dog bites, landlord-tenant conflicts, and people who fail to learn the most important lesson: never put anybody else on your cell phone plan.
Your calendar might say it's November, but among movie buffs, this month is also known as Noirvember. It's a time to settle in and enjoy an old movie that features a washed up detective, a sultry femme fatale, or hardened criminals. And whether you're familiar with the genre or looking for great places to start, we're here to help by recommending a few great noirs.
Last Night in Soho is a psychological horror film about a young, naïve fashion student in London named Eloise, played by Thomasin McKenzie. Eloise is so obsessed with the Swinging London of the 1960s that she begins dream of and (sort of) inhabit the body of a glamorous aspiring singer played by Anya Taylor-Joy. The more this happens, the more the wall separating her dreams and her waking life begins to crumble. The film is directed and co-written by Edgar Wright and features the late Diana Rigg...more
If you like secret relationships, morning television melodrama, men singing Neil Diamond unexpectedly and a rom-com set against the backdrop of COVID, you're going to love the kooky, uneven and profoundly strange second season of the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup still lead the show, whose first season examined the aftermath of a sexual harassment scandal. Now, it's another wild ride, where hair color, allegiances and the ye...more
Foundation is set in the far future, when humanity has expanded into a vast galactic empire. A mathematician comes forward to announce that he's crunched the numbers — and found that the empire is on the verge of collapse, and humanity is about to enter a 30,000 year dark age. The Apple TV+ series is based on a series of books by Isaac Asimov that was once awarded a Hugo Award for best science-fiction series of all time.
Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch is a love letter to classic French cinema and The New Yorker magazine. Like all of his films, it's highly stylized — this one adopts the format of a magazine. It's an anthology of sorts, featuring three different main stories. The film's actors Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Timothée Chalamet, and Jeffrey Wright.
A lot of us are about to have the experience of opening our front doors to find witches, goblins, ghosts, and those guards from Squid Game standing on our porches. Why? Because it's almost Halloween. We decided this would be a good time to talk about what kinds of entertainment scared us when we were kids, and maybe even whether they still scare us now.
Dune is a sweeping epic set way into the future, where various groups are vying for control of a planet's highly coveted substance. Timothée Chalamet plays a duke's son who comes of age and exhibits messianic tendencies. The cast also includes Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and Jason Momoa. Sci-fi fans have been waiting years for director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel to arrive, and it's finally arrived in theaters and on HBO Max. But was it worth the wait?
NPR Music has song recommendations for every occasion, from major life events to tidying up the house. As we enter the fall season, it doesn't hurt to spruce up and start afresh with a new playlist. Today, we're recommending three songs to play while dance-cleaning the bathroom.
This fall, a number of auteurs are directing major blockbusters: Cary Joji Fukunaga took on the James Bond movie No Time To Die; Chloe Zhao joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Eternals; and Denis Villeneuve hopes to launch a film franchise with Dune. So we thought it would be a good time to revisit our conversation about how auteur directors shape genre films. In this encore episode recorded on stage in Los Angeles, we're talking about auteurs and film franchises — and dream up some great a...more
FX's Impeachment: American Crime Story is less about President Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment and more about three women who played central roles in the saga, including Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was a consultant on the series, which examines how a young intern not only began a sexual relationship with the president, but also became the subject of ridicule and even the threat of prosecution. The series stars Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp, and C...more
When the Netflix thriller series You premiered three years ago, it started a lot of conversations. The show was told largely from the point of view of a charismatic serial killer named Joe, played by Penn Badgley, and it followed his obsession with and stalking of a young woman. Now in its third season, Joe hasn't changed much as a person, even though his circumstances have. He has a wife now, and a baby, although he's hardly living the typical suburban dad life.
It's been more than 20 years since Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote their Oscar-winning screenplay Good Will Hunting, but that changes with Ridley Scott's bloody epic The Last Duel. Co-written by Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener, the film features performances by Damon, Affleck, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer. Together, they play out a tale of anger, vengeance and the fine points of 14th century property ownership.
The Korean drama Squid Game is a worldwide sensation. According to Netflix, it's topped their rankings in more than 90 countries. Written and directed by the filmmaker Hwang Dong-Hyuk, it's a violent and artful horror miniseries, a survival drama, and a commentary on debt and capitalism. With a plot that's both simple and ambitious, the series is fast-paced but character-driven, and unbelievably addictive to watch.
Based on Stephanie Land's memoir, the Netflix series Maid stars Margaret Qualley as a single mom who must learn to survive on public assistance. While the series takes a hard look at the logistics of poverty, it's also a riveting personal story that will keep you guessing until the very end of its tenth episode.
The FX on Hulu drama Y: The Last Man is the latest in a long line of post-apocalyptic narratives of TV, but this one comes with a novel twist: A mysterious event wipes out every mammal on Earth with a Y chromosome, except for two: an aimless would-be escape artist named Yorick, and his companion monkey, Ampersand. In a world overrun by militias and fueled by paranoid conspiracy theories, a beleaguered government attempts to rebuild — and keep certain secrets from getting out.
When Soul Train was first nationally syndicated in October of 1971, there was nothing else like it on TV. It became an iconic Black music and dance show — a party every weekend that anyone could join from their living room. In this episode of It's Been A Minute With Sam Sanders, we break down the lasting influence of Soul Train on our culture, with Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America.
No Time To Die is Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond. This time, he's dealing with the skeletons of his past while trying to build himself a future. That future may or may not include Léa Seydoux, who returns as Madeleine Swann — she's nursing a secret involving Rami Malek's Safin, who's a kind of classic Bond villain, factory-installed with a master plan, a secret headquarters and access to a terrible bioweapon. The film is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, and add newcomers Lashana Lynch...more
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is not your standard superhero action flick. With more human-on-goo romance and symbiote-on-symbiote violence, the sequel to 2018's Venom already posted the biggest box-office opening weekend of the pandemic. Tom Hardy returns as reporter Eddie Brock and voices Venom, and he's joined by Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Naomie Harris and Reid Scott in a film that makes up for lack of plot with plenty of action, passion and utter chaos.
Director Antoine Fuqua is no stranger to compromised cops — he famously put Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke through their paces in Training Day. Now, he's back with The Guilty, a Netflix thriller that stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a suspended police officer temporarily assigned to 911 dispatch. A call comes in from a woman in terrible trouble, and for the rest of the film, we follow his efforts to rescue her without leaving his desk.
Two years ago, Beyoncé unleashed two major projects called Homecoming. On Netflix, a documentary captured the process of putting on headlining appearances at the Coachella Music Festival. She also surprise-released a double-length live album containing just some of the highlights from Beyoncé's Coachella performances. In this encore episode we're revisiting our conversation about Beyoncé's Homecoming.
Star Wars: Visions is a new animated anthology series on Disney+ that brings together seven anime studios to tell nine stand-alone Star Wars stories. There's some recurring elements — Padawans and Masters, Lightsaber duels — but the choice to view the Star Wars universe through an anime lens isn't merely cosmetic. There's a wholly different sensibility at work in the animation, the imagery, and especially, the storytelling.
If you've been waiting for more of Tony Sopranos's universe, you're in luck. The Many Saints Of Newark isn't a sequel but a prequel to the influential HBO series The Sopranos. Co-written by Sopranos creator David Chase, the film examines how the man we knew on television as mafia boss Tony Soprano was made from the kid and then the teenager we see here, portrayed by the late James Gandolfini's son, Michael.
The Sopranos changed television. The HBO series was centered on mobster Tony Soprano — a deeply flawed male antihero played by James Gandolfini. But the thing that really set The Sopranos apart was the fact that Tony was in therapy, a genius touch that granted viewers special access to his inner conflicts. Today, we're taking your questions about the influential series — and delving into how it ended.
The original Scenes From A Marriage was an influential 1973 Swedish miniseries written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Updated for a modern audience, HBO's remake is written and directed by Hagai Levi, who takes many elements from the original, while making some important shifts. In this version, the five-part limited series stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in an intimate story about a dissolving relationship with a constantly shifting dynamic.
The Tony Awards came back last night, after being gone for over two years. It was an unusual ceremony — a mix of performances and award presentations that aired on two different platforms. It was all a coordinated, tuneful effort to lure audiences back to Broadway. And, it was a big night for Moulin Rouge! and The Inheritance.
Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros loom large over the literary landscape. In fact, their respective careers have a lot of parallels. They both published their first novels around the same time: Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits was published in 1982, and Sandra Cisneros published The House on Mango Street in 1983. Today, we're teaming up with our pals at the fantastic Alt.Latino podcast to bring you interviews with both writers.
The stage musical Dear Evan Hansen debuted on Broadway five years ago. It won six Tony Awards, including one for its star, Ben Platt. It's now a movie, and Platt, who's now 27, is back to play Evan, a deeply troubled high school student who tangles himself in a lie. There's still singing, there's still dancing, and there are still a lot of questions to struggle with in this story. Plus, we remember the work of filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles.
In just two short years, Lil Nas X has proven he's much more than "Old Town Road." He's taken a successful novelty song and parlayed it into a budding and influential music career. He's come out as gay and arguably become pop's biggest out star. He's a master of performance art and marketing, and his eponymous debut studio album Montero easily became one of the year's most anticipated projects.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a coming-out story with some familiar contours, but it doesn't have your typical splashy musical pedigree. Adapted from a successful West End production, the Amazon Prime film follows Jamie, a teenage boy in England, who's determined to become a drag queen. Max Harwood stars as Jamie, and he's met with barriers and supporters along the way, including Sharon Horgan to the great Richard E. Grant.
Curling up with a good book is a pleasure with which we're all familiar. But when you find just the right narrator to bring characters to life, a novel can be even better. The right voice, or the right cast of voices, has pleasures all its own, beyond the printed page. Today, we're bringing you three favorite fiction audiobook recommendations worth a listen.
It was a really good night for three very popular TV shows, and a groundbreaking night for Netflix. Yes, it was time again for the Emmys, which saw Ted Lasso, Mare of Easttown, and The Crown win big. There were also a few real surprises, genuinely touching moments, and memorable speeches — some memorable for perhaps all the wrong reasons.
The Toronto International Film Festival traditionally helps launch awards season. This year has been a little different, with pandemic restrictions leading to a hybrid remote and in-person festival. After watching a batch of entries from home, we've seen some things you'll want to know about — some of which you might be hearing about for the first time.
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 co-directed and co-written Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. A new cast of vampires inhabits the FX series, which is now in its third season. On this encore episode we revisit our conversation about the series' first season.
Kacey Musgraves's 2018 album Golden Hour was a huge breakthrough. It's a soft but spangly celebration full of love songs that helped cement Musgraves as both a country star and a pop star. Now, she's released her follow-up. Star-Crossed is a breakup record, written in the aftermath of the singer's divorce. Plus we remember the work of comedian Norm Macdonald, who died at 61.
A strong first season and a huge haul of Emmy nominations gave Ted Lasso all kinds of momentum going into its second run this summer. It's the story of American football coach, Ted Lasso, who gets a job coaching AFC Richmond, an English soccer team. Or, you know, football team. And today we're going all the way to London to catch up with some fresh perspectives on the series.
This week, the police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine will end its eight-season run. Starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher, among many other gifted comic actors, the show has enjoyed a devoted following and strong reviews. It's also survived shaky ratings and a change in networks, and its last season is airing against a backdrop of more intense conversations around real-life police violence that can't be laughed off or swept aside.
We're here to bring you some of the things we're most interested to check out and talk about this fall. Whether you read it, watch it, or listen to it, we want to make sure you know about it.
In the Netflix animated action-comedy series Q-Force, a rag-tag team of queer spies who've been relegated to working out of a West Hollywood garage finally get their shot at the big leagues. Starring Sean Hayes, Wanda Sykes, Patti Harrison, Laurie Metcalf and many more, Q-Force tackles international terrorism, smuggling, brainwashing and homophobia. There's action, intrigue, suspense, sex, plenty of queer inside jokes and pop-culture references and, yes, stereotypes.
Hulu's fun mystery-comedy series Only Murders in the Building stars Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez as a trio of true-crime podcast fans who live in the same ritzy building on New York's Upper West Side. When a mysterious death occurs in their building, they band together to make a true-crime podcast about it. And as their amateur murder investigation goes on, long-buried secrets come to light, the plot gets twistier and and the stakes get higher. Plus, we remember the many iconic ro...more
On Friday, Drake dropped his long-awaited sixth album: Certified Lover Boy. The album contains 21 songs in 86 minutes, and it's generated conversation around everything from its many guest stars (including Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Future, and Lil Wayne) to its cover art, which features a diverse array of... emoji pregnancies.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe opens a new chapter with the release of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the movie is ambitiously packed with dizzyingly choreographed battle scenes and complex family dynamics. It's also a compelling origin story for a hero, who is played by Simu Liu. He must battle his superpowered father, played by Tony Leung, to prevent the release of an apocalyptic evil force.
Heading back to school is always a stressful but exciting time of year, whether you're doing it at home or in a classroom full of people. And we are always up to talk about books. Summer reading lists, class syllabi, there's no shortage of pages turned in the average school career. We're here to talk about them in this encore episode all about high school required reading.
In the film Pig, Nicolas Cage plays a once-famous Portland chef who's now a recluse, living in a cabin in the woods with his beloved truffle-hunting pig. When some nefarious types kidnap said pig, Cage comes out of seclusion to hunt down those who did it. It's at once a critique of bougie food culture, a melancholy character study, and a showcase for what Nicolas Cage can do when he's not dialed up to 11.
The Disney+ animated series What If...? mixes and matches major and minor characters and events from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to explore what might have happened if things shook out differently than they did in the films. Many of those films' actors return to voice their animated, alternate universe selves, and there's cameos, Easter eggs and sly references galore. But who's this series for?
The early-2010s sitcom Happy Endings was a show about six best friends in Chicago. Created by David Caspe, the series was sharp, hijinks-filled and altogether fun. The show aired on ABC for three seasons before its cancellation, but it's now available to stream on Hulu, Netflix and HBO Max. Today, we're taking your questions and talking about the glory days of Happy Endings.
Legend has it that if you say "Candyman" in front of a mirror five times, you'll summon the spirit of a terrifying killer with a hook for a hand, who's constantly surrounded by a swarm of bees. That's the premise of the 1992 horror movie Candyman, about a white Chicago grad student who becomes obsessed with an urban myth haunting Black residents of the notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects. Now there's a sequel, directed by Nia DaCosta and co-written with Jordan Peele, that brings back the vi...more
The worlds of science fiction and fantasy can be almost anything — a distant planet, an alternate timeline, a land of magic and mystery, or our own familiar world, just tweaked a bit. Whether you're a longtime science fiction/fantasy reader, just getting your feet wet — or maybe you've stepped away, only to realize how much these genres are changing, in recent years — we've got you covered with some basic background, some things to look for, and some solid recommendations from experts.
It's been 20 years since the untimely passing of Aaliyah in a plane crash when she was just 22. In that time, her influence has been felt everywhere in music and pop culture, even though the bulk of her catalog has been notably inaccessible to fans — until now. Aaliyah's second studio album One In A Million finally became available on Spotify for the first time, and more of her discography will be released in the coming weeks. And today, we're looking back at some of Aaliyah's essential tracks.
In the Netflix show The Chair, Ji-Yoon Kim (played by Sandra Oh) has just become the first woman to chair the English department at the fictional Pembroke University. Ji-Yoon is determined to usher in a new era, but is immediately saddled with unexpected challenges, most notably the tensions between an older, whiter faculty and a younger, multicultural student body.
The new series Reservation Dogs follows four Indigenous teenagers who live in Oklahoma, but are scheming and saving to get to California. It's a loose and dry-witted comedy that has notes of countless teenager hangout stories. And it's made by an entirely Indigenous group of writers, directors, and actors, who bring a level of detail and specificity to these kids and their experience that American television has practically never had.
Lorde became a pop superstar at 16 with her hit single "Royals" — winning two Grammy Awards and following up with her second album, Melodrama. The New Zealand singer's third album Solar Power finds the artist reflecting on stardom, boredom and the aftermath of a youth filled with debauchery. Reunited with Melodrama producer Jack Antonoff, Lorde brings a more subdued sound, positioning her as a worldly 24-year-old who's found peace with herself, while wondering what's next.
The new Netflix series Brand New Cherry Flavor is weird. It starts off pretty straightforward: A student filmmaker played by Rosa Salazar heads to Hollywood, hoping to direct her first feature, and gets screwed over by a sleazy producer. But when she enlists a witch played by the fabulous Catherine Keener to place a curse on that producer, things get creepy. And slimy. And bloody. And trippy. And kinda funny. It's not for everyone — but is it for you?
In the Netflix film Beckett, John David Washington plays an American tourist who gets in way over his head in an action thriller that skips over the mountains and through the streets of Greece.
Great songs often come around more than once. They're re-interpreted, reimagined, reconsidered. In fact, sometimes cover versions bring out new qualities even in songs we think we know well. Today we bring you an encore episode all about cover songs.
The family film CODA tells the story of Ruby, a high school senior who wants to leave home to study music, but doesn't know how to separate herself from her family. Her parents and her brother are deaf, and she's spent years as their interpreter and a key employee on the family fishing boat. CODA cleaned up at the Sundance Film Festival in January, winning the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award, and it was bought by Apple in a record-breaking deal.
There has never been anybody like Aretha Franklin. A legendary singer, an activist, a pianist, Franklin is the subject of the new film Respect. She's played by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Directed by Liesl Tommy, Respect is focused on Franklin's childhood and the first 10 years or so of her career. It spends much of its energy on her relationships with men, especially her father, played by Forest Whitaker, and her first husband, played by Marlon Wayans.
The Apple TV+ musical comedy series Schmigadoon! stars Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong as a couple that stumbles on a small village. But it's not just any village — it's a village out of 1940s musicals. The people sing and dance, and the original music sounds very reminiscent of everything from Oklahoma to The Music Man to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. And how can this couple escape? By finding true love, of course.
Sometimes you want someone to tell you a story. Sometimes, you want it to be a true story. Today, we're bringing you three nonfiction audiobook recommendations, from memoirs to deep histories of special places.
When the ambitious musical Annette opened the Cannes Film Festival earlier this summer, all anyone seemed to be talking about was a certain scene involving its stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, singing a ballad during an intimate moment. But there's a whole lot more than that going on in Annette, which is directed by Leos Carax. It's a contemporary rock opera! About a famous comedian and his famous opera singer wife! And their daughter is played by a puppet!
A resort should be relaxing. But the HBO series The White Lotus, which takes place at a resort of the same name, is instead uncomfortable, even painful. Boasting a cast that includes Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge, and Natasha Rothwell, the show is about the way self-involved rich guests interact with a staff that has no choice but to tolerate them.
The Suicide Squad is about a team of super-villains do black-ops missions for the government in exchange for lighter sentences. It brings back several characters, including Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Viola Davis' Amanda Waller, and adds a slew more, played by people like John Cena and Idris Elba. The tone is a lot jokier, the violence more visceral — literally — and the stakes are higher, thanks to a giant alien starfish bent on world domination.
The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are taking place in a swirl of controversies, some chronic and some acute. COVID, mental health, support for athletes with disabilities, racism, doping, and sexual violence have all become intertwined with this year's games. At the same time, the competition has, as always, provided moments to be excited for athletes, impressed by the skills they've spent so much time building, and thrilled for their successes.
Billie Eilish's first album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, was a sensation in 2019 — it swept the major categories at the Grammys and established the singer as a huge pop star. Eilish is back with a follow-up called Happier Than Ever. It's a quieter, subtler collection that examines the singer's relationships, reputation, and place in the world.
Back in 1971, Richard Nixon was president, the Beatles were newly broken up. But also, a new network called National Public Radio broadcast for the first time. In honor of the anniversary of NPR's first broadcast, this special edition of What's Making Us Happy This Week offers recommendations from 50 years ago.
The Green Knight is a lushly epic fantasy film full of striking visuals and strangely moody adventures. Directed and written by David Lowery, the film stars Dev Patel as King Arthur's nephew Gawain, who sets off on a quest to earn a knighthood. Along the way, he attempts to resist giving into various temptations, including the temptation to turn back and live out a comfortable life.
What do you get when you take one part The African Queen, one part Raiders of the Lost Ark, two parts Pirates of the Caribbean, a pinch of the Fast and Furious series, and every Disney movie trope ever? You've got Jungle Cruise. Emily Blunt and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson team up to play a researcher and a riverboat skipper on a quest to track down a highly coveted object in the Amazon. But of course, they must face some adversaries along the way, including a scenery-chewing villain played by Jess...more
Shrek is many things: a pop culture canvas, an Academy Award winner and a recent entry into the National Film Registry. And it all started with the story of a crabby green ogre who just wants a bunch of fairy tale characters to stay out of his swamp. Today, Shrek has spawned a multibillion-dollar franchise, become a cultural milestone and above all, remained relevant — even 20 years later.
The young adult genre features protagonists who are often still figuring things out about the world and themselves. Today, we're teaming up with Life Kit to bring you recommendations and criteria to look for as you wade into the inviting, but turbulent waters of young adult fiction.
The very funny mockumentary series Wellington Paranormal follows a pair of New Zealand police officers as they investigate strange occurrences in and around that nation's capital city. It's technically a spinoff of the 2014 film What We Do In The Shadows from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. It shares the film's bone-dry, deadpan mix of horror and humor. But what sets Wellington Paranormal apart is how seamlessly it channels that sensibility into the very familiar format of the TV show COPS.
We're having a summer of carefully and safely going out into the world again. And what happens when you go out into the world is that more things tend to happen to you. The good and the bad, the amazing and the mortifying. In this encore episode, we share some of our favorite — and most embarrassing — summer stories.
The psychological horror thriller Old comes with the kind of twist we've come to expect from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan. That twist is right there in the title: A bunch of tourists find themselves trapped on a secluded beach where they all age at an alarming rate.
On Netflix's new dating competition show Sexy Beasts, contestants go on blind dates where everyone involved is wearing Oscar-worthy prosthetic makeup. It begs the question: are people so desperate to find a mate that they would do so on TV, and without knowing whether their date is hot or not? According to Sexy Beasts, the answer is a resounding yes.
What would life as a sitcom wife really be like? That's the premise of the AMC series Kevin Can F**k Himself. Annie Murphy plays a woman who exists in a sitcom when she's with her husband, but lives in a moody drama whenever he's not around.
Naomi Osaka is one of the best tennis players in the world. She's a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, and she's about to represent Japan in the Olympics. And in a new Netflix documentary series, directed by Garrett Bradley, it's clear that these pressures and others have taken a toll on the 23-year-old. What you see in these three episodes also sheds light on her recent decision to withdraw from Wimbledon to prioritize her mental health.
Boy bands have been a staple of pop music for generations. They've won over millions of fans and provided gateways to fandom and pop-cultural obsession. From New Edition and New Kids On The Block in the '80s to BTS today — with a whole lot of acts like *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys in the middle — there've been countless boy bands to choose from. Today we're offering up a brief modern history of boy bands.
Twenty-five years ago, the movie Space Jam paired Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan. Now, Space Jam: A New Legacy brings together Bugs Bunny and LeBron James. It's now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
In 2018, Blindspotting was one of the buzziest movies to come out of the Sundance Film Festival. Now, it's has been spun off into a series on Starz, offering a fresh and more expansive take on the movie's themes around incarceration and race. Jasmine Cephas Jones plays Ashely. She had a supporting role in the film, but now she is story's central focus. And there's a colorful cast of new characters and musical set-pieces to boot.
For more than 13 years, Britney Spears has been under a conservatorship. Her assets and career have been kept under the control of her father, Jamie Spears, as well as an attorney. A movement called #FreeBritney has pushed for that conservatorship to be lifted — and Spears herself recently gave a speech in court asking for autonomy over her own life. Today, another court hearing will help determine where she stands. So we're breaking down everything you need to know about Britney Spears' conserv...more
This year's Emmy Award nominations brought some expected triumphs (Ted Lasso, The Queen's Gambit) and welcomed surprises (WandaVision, Pose). The Crown and The Mandalorian tied for the most nominations for a drama, and Saturday Night Live earned the most nominations for a comedy. HBO and HBO Max came away with the most nominations for a network. We recap this year's nominations: the highlights, the shockers, the snubs and the headscratchers.
Two years ago, the first season of the Netflix sketch comedy series I Think You Should Leave introduced viewers to Tim Robinson's distinctive comic voice: It's male, it's often loud, and it varies in tone from belligerent to outraged to defensive to performatively wounded. But because Robinson and his fellow comedians are so good at exposing the deep wells of insecurity and vulnerability beneath that bluff, masculine, angry-doofus surface, the show is also hilarious. Now it's back for a second s...more
When Scarlett Johansson started playing Natasha Romanoff, she was the only female Avenger. And despite multiple appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Widow never got her own movie. That changes with the release of Black Widow, which looks back on a previously unexplored part of the character's history.
Every summer gets its own unique soundtrack — a fresh batch of hit songs, all vying for an unofficial title: Song Of The Summer. Often these songs are on the wind, everywhere, dominating not just the airwaves, but also the cultural conversation. And sometimes, a song of the summer is just a great new music discovery. So we gathered together a bunch of NPR Music contributors and asked them to name their Song Of The Summer.
It might sound like fun to date a glamorous movie star, but in reality, it would probably get very messy. That's the premise of HBO Max's Starstruck, created by and starring New Zealand comedian Rose Matafeo. Over six episodes, the romantic comedy series is complicated, funny and charming — treating fame as the isolating pain in the neck it often can be.
The immersive HBO series Betty follows an eclectic bunch of young women skateboarders navigating adulthood while fostering community within a bro-dominated environment. Based on Crystal Moselle's 2018 film Skate Kitchen, the show returned for a second season, and we think it's worth a look if you haven't checked it out.
The Pop Culture Happy Hour team is off today, so we thought you might like to check out the latest episode of New Music Friday from the All Songs Considered podcast. It highlights the biggest album releases of the week, across many genres, and it's full of music by big stars and new discoveries. Hosted by Robin Hilton, it's a great way to get caught up on the week in music — and maybe even find your new favorite band.
In the summer of 1969, hundreds of thousands of fans flooded Harlem's Mount Morris Park to attend the Harlem Cultural Festival, which hosted the likes of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, and Sly And The Family Stone. Now, some of that footage is unearthed in a new documentary, directed by Questlove from The Roots, titled Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).
It's summer time after a long stretch indoors, and many of us are returning to the world outside, including amusement parks. We thought it was a good time to bring you an encore episode about our favorite amusement park experiences: the rides, the attractions, the deep-fried snacks and the rigged games of chance.
Over the years, Hollywood has built movie narratives out of unusual source material, but the dark comedy Zola is one of the first to originate via Twitter. The Sundance hit was inspired by A'Ziah 'Zola' King's series of viral tweets in 2015, detailing her first-person account of a truly bizarre road trip involving exotic dancers, a pimp and a hapless boyfriend. Director Janicza Bravo and her co-writer Jeremy O. Harris have inventively translated much of that thread onto the screen, and it featur...more
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tom Hiddleston's Loki has faced off against Thor and the other Avengers. And now in the new series Loki on Disney+, he gets roped into working with the MCU's time cops, the Time Variance Authority. Alongside TVA agent Mobius, played by Owen Wilson, Loki hunts down another Loki variant (played by Sophia di Martino) seeking to overthrow the TVA. Along the way, it's developing into something the superhero genre usually doesn't have time for — an honest-to-the-gods ...more
In 2001, The Fast and the Furious debuted as a scruffy car-culture movie, and it was a hit. it was followed by two sequels that didn't quite satisfy, so they regrouped. Since then, it's become the blockbuster machine some love, some hate, some love to hate, and some hate to love. When you do this much business for this many years, it's hard not to have an impact.
What better way to kick off a summer of movies than with F9, the ninth installment of the main Fast & Furious franchise. Directed by Justin Lin, and starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, and the rest of the beloved Fast family, the movie's got cars, it's got bad guys, and it's even got John Cena. And in case you're wondering whether there's anywhere to boldly go where no one has gone before, there sure is. Join our very own Glen Weldon for a virtual launch party to discuss the new book NPR's ...more
In the new Apple TV+ series Physical, Rose Byrne plays a woman whose early '80s journey from miserable wife to powerhouse businesswoman goes directly through the fitness industry. Created by Annie Weisman, who used to write for Desperate Housewives, the show centers around Sheila Rubin, who despite being very beautiful, has a profoundly miserable relationship with her body, from bulimic behavior to an unrelentingly abusive interior monologue.
You have to love a love story: the meeting, the flirting, the falling, the struggling, and ultimately, the happily ever after. Maybe you're an experienced romance reader, or maybe you're just getting your feet wet. Either way, it's always good to get some recommendations, some basic background, and a few things to look for when you choose love stories for yourself.
The Peacock series We Are Lady Parts is a bold, bracing and very funny comedy series about an up-and-coming London punk band called Lady Parts, and the young, awkward and extremely anxious microbiology PhD student who reluctantly becomes their lead guitarist. The members of Lady Parts, and its manager, are all young Muslim women, from various racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The animated series Tuca & Bertie stars two best friends in the classic odd couple tradition: Tiffany Haddish voices free-spirited Tuca and Ali Wong plays anxious Bertie. That setup may sound familiar, but the setting isn't: Tuca and Bertie are birds, and they live in a surreal world pulsing with color, drugs and plant-people. When it debuted back in 2019, Tuca & Bertie developed a rabid fanbase, but Netflix canceled it after one season. Now, it's found a new home on Adult Swim.
Luca, the latest movie from Disney and Pixar, whisks us across the globe and into a fictional coastal Italian town in the 1950s. There, the titular young hero and his new friend Alberto get into adventures and dream of buying their very own Vespa. But, there's a catch: In a quite literal take on the fish-out-of-water story, Luca and Alberto are humans on land and — unbeknownst to the rest of the townspeople — sea monsters when wet. Hijinks ensue as they attempt to keep their identities a secret ...more
It's good to be a star. In the world of the comedy Friends, that meant being Rachel or Ross, Monica or Chandler, Phoebe or Joey. But it takes more than just stars to make a hit.
The recent Friends reunion on HBO Max set off a new wave of nostalgia. So we put the most important question to you: Who's the best friend? Who's the worst friend? Thousands of you voted, and the results are in.