Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

It's the afternoon lull at Bongo Java East, and five students from KIPP Academy are tripping over each other behind the counter of this hip Nashville coffee joint, trying to show off what they've learned. They're grinding espresso beans. They're packing the grounds. They're steaming milk.

"Let's see how this goes," 10th-grader Ayanna Holder says as she knocks a steel pot of scalding milk on the counter to keep foam from forming. She takes a freshly pulled espresso and begins pouring the latte, aiming for a quintessential leaf design on top.

It doesn't quite go as planned.

Welcome, friends, to a discussion featuring four of the only people in America to see Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping in theaters last weekend. Though the movie wasn't a box-office hit, to put it lightly, we whip up an extraordinary amount of affection for The Lonely Island's goofy comedy — a lightweight but joke-dense look at "Conner4Real," a vaguely Bieber-esque singer and rapper (Andy Samberg) who used to belong to a boy band called the Style Boyz with Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer.

Copyright 2016 Louisville Public Media. To see more, visit Louisville Public Media.

A wildlife hospital in Britain had no trouble spotting — or smelling — this patient. After all, the sea gull had doused itself in a vat of chicken tikka masala. After an exam, two findings emerged: The bird would be fine, and "boy did he smell good!"

The most telling aspect of The Conjuring 2, the gonzo sequel to the 2013 horror smash, is that it's 133 minutes long. A running time like that is a rarity—The Exorcist, at 132 minutes, may be the strongest analogue—because the genre draws intensity from concision, and its dread-soaked mysteries are not so easily sustained over time.

In Benoit Jacquot's Les Adieux à la Reine (Farewell My Queen), the vivacious 18th-century protagonist moved purposefully through dark passageways reserved for royal servants. In the director's Journal d'une Femme de Chambre (Diary of a Chambermaid), set a century or so later, our heroine spends more time in the sunlight, but has scarcely more freedom.

Three other things the two films share: the ever-watchable Lea Seydoux, a mix of opulent costume-drama sensibility and unadorned new-wave style, and a setting near the end of a rotten era.

Genius, a likable, if sluggish adaptation of A. Scott Berg's biography of old-school New York book editor Maxwell Perkins, is thrown out of joint from the start by a British cast — great actors all — wrecking their vocal chords on regional American accents from Montauk to the Carolinas. In principle I'm all for anyone playing anyone, but the story of Perkins' turbulent personal and professional relationship with Southern writer Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel) couldn't be more North-versus-South Yankee if it wrapped itself in stars and stripes.

So wide is the fame-gap stretching between filmmaker Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Francis Ford Coppola that the new feature-length profile De Palma makes a point of reminding us that the four pals were in more or less the same place at the dawn of the 1970s: trying to make personal statements amid what remained of the studio system.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Mars candy company brought M&M's to Sweden in 2009. But the country already had a famous chocolate candy marked with an M — and now a court says M&M's should melt from the market, owing to a trademark infringement.

The case pitted Mars against Mondelez International, which uses its Marabou label to sell M-marked chocolates that it calls Sweden's "all-time favorite."

Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to impose a tax on sugary drinks after its City Council voted on June 16 to approve a 1.5 cents-per-ounce surcharge on soda and other sweetened beverages.

Here is our original post from June 9:

What's included in the proposed new tax?

Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf.

Family, survival and small town values are all on display in Peter Geye’s latest novel, Wintering.

Doug Seymour

Sometimes all that is needed to create art is a starting point.

The Milwaukee duo of cellist Janet Schiff and drummer Victor DeLorenzo have been performing as Nineteen Thirteen for the last couple of years. But, it wasn't until Schiff was asked to play live cello to accompany a theater piece at Danceworks that the two had the creative inspiration to make an album. 

"It got us into the recording studio making new pieces of music for this [Danceworks] performance," says Schiff.

You'd be forgiven for mistaking the beginning of this new ad running in several battleground states for a message from a conservative Christian group.

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