Arts & Culture

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

The Amazon series Transparent is about a transgender woman named Maura who for decades was known to her kids as Mort, or Dad. Actor Jeffrey Tambor plays Maura and has just won a second Emmy for his performance. "When those roles come along, you don't run away," he tells NPR's Kelly McEvers. "It's a perfect role, you know? I thought I was gonna do Lear, but I'm gonna do Maura."

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The Milwaukee Film Festival opens today. The eighth annual edition of the festival runs through October 6th and features some classic movies, along with remarkable recent films from national, international, and local filmmakers.

Back in 1988, Indian-American director Mira Nair burst onto the scene with her debut feature Salaam Bombay!, a ground-level portrait of Bombay street kids that brought the qualities of Italian neorealism — and its key successors, like Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy" — to a nascent American independent scene. With her new film Queen of Katwe, Nair comes full circle, at least in the sense that she's again addressing the perils of extreme poverty and the resilient children who withstand it.

In the 1960s, Choi Eun Hee and Shin Sang Ok were South Korean cinema's first couple. She was a movie star, he was an acclaimed director, and life with their two young children was considered glamorous. Then things got complicated.

Shin had two kids with a younger actress, and his financially struggling production company was shuttered by the government. He and Choi divorced, and in 1978 the actress vanished. Later the same year, Shin also disappeared.

Earlier this year the New York-based filmmaker Oren Rudavsky released (with Joseph Dorman) Colliding Dreams, a fair-minded history of the Zionist ideal. The film documented the tension between Zionism as both a response to the mass persecution of Jews, and a catalyst for endless bloody conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, when Israel declared independence.

Even 60 years ago, there were westerns that interrogated the genre's veneration of masculinity and might-for-right.

The Magnificent Seven wasn't one of them.

If the idea of a group of women in pristine haute couture dresses milling about the dirt and grime of an Australian backwater burg makes you giggle, you may be the target audience for The Dressmaker, a perplexing Down Under oddity in which a woman uses her talents for crafting top-line designer wear to exact revenge on her childhood home. The woman is played by Kate Winslet, who is a delight—the Oscar winner rarely takes on comedic roles, and she brings an almost frightening enthusiasm to the part.

For all the international furor over genetically modified food, or GMOs, the biotech industry has really only managed to put a few foreign genes into food crops.

The first of these genes — actually, a small family of similar genes — came from a kind of bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Those genes make plants poisonous to certain insect pests.

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If there were a hall of fame for criminals, it would have to include notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

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This is FRESH AIR.

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen's memoir set for release on Tuesday, is a virtuoso performance, the 508-page equivalent to one of Springsteen and the E Street Band's famous four-hour concerts: Nothing is left onstage, and diehard fans and first-timers alike depart for home sated and yet somehow already aching for more.

Until Sept. 19, if diners had wanted to see Yelp reviews for Elizabeth, N.J., restaurant First American Fried Chicken, they would have found just two of them, praising the food, wide selection and late hours. Now, the majority of reviews give the restaurant one star, refer to the owners as "terrorists," talk about "72 virgin bucket specials" and mention — repeatedly — that their chicken is "the bomb."

Say one thing for certain: The lists don't lack for leading lights.

When President Obama doled out the 2015 National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals on Thursday, plenty of the artists and arts patrons he draped with awards had familiar names — including Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Terry Gross and nearly two dozen others.

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