Mandalit del Barco

We all know about the lumbering, old American cars on the roads in Cuba. But right now, it's very fast cars and motorcycles getting the attention. The latest installment of the enormously successful Fast and Furious franchise is shooting in Havana.

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A new version of a classic Disney animated movie, The Jungle Book, opens Friday. It features a live-action Mowgli and digitally created animals. The new movie is a feat of animation and technical magic — the new smoke and mirrors of Hollywood. Combining multiple animating techniques into a seamless, life-like experience in the jungle, director Jon Favreau called on some of the industry's biggest talents to bring Rudyard Kipling's animals to life.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Thai community outside of Thailand. This week, Thai-Americans are celebrating the traditional three-day water festival called Songkran to mark the new year. And many of them regularly shop at LA's landmark Bangkok Market, the first Thai food store in the U.S.

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Fans of the caped crusader and the man of steel will finally have a chance this weekend to see their heroes fight each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE")

Artist Robert Mapplethorpe was as controversial as he was celebrated. In 1989, his photographs depicting nude men and sexual fetishes helped ignite the culture wars. Now, an upcoming HBO documentary, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, examines the artist's life and work. He's also the subject of a major retrospective spanning two L.A. museums — the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

British costumer Sandy Powell already has three Oscars, and now she's been nominated for two more. This year she's up twice for best costume design: one for Cinderella -- with its sweeping ball gowns — and another for her work in Carol -- featuring impeccable 1950s dresses.

Carol is a love story starring Cate Blanchett as a wealthy woman whose marriage is falling apart. Powell says Carol can afford the latest 1952 clothes — including a blonde mink coat.

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Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein may be best-known for producing movies like Pulp Fiction, The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. But the indie film mogul has also been busy producing TV. His latest project is a version of War and Peace, a co-production with the BBC and Lifetime.

The miniseries — which airs simultaneously on A+E, Lifetime and History — is an updated retelling of Leo Tolstoy's classic Russian novel. And it's a passion project for Weinstein.

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The Sundance Film Festival begins tonight in Park City, Utah. NPR's Mandalit del Barco is there with a preview of what's to come over the next 10 ten days. Hey, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

Last year filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu won the best picture, best director and best screenplay Oscars for Birdman. His new film, set to open Christmas Day, is already getting Oscar buzz. The Revenant is a Western, set in the American frontier in 1823. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as legendary explorer Hugh Glass. In the harsh, icy American wilderness, he gets mauled by a grizzly bear. A fellow fur trapper murders Glass' son and then buries Glass alive, leaving him to die. The movie chronicles the hero's struggle to survive, bent on revenge.

Before the new Star Wars movie had its splashy Hollywood premiere, producer Kathleen Kennedy joined the cast onstage. "It's a real privilege to make movies," she said. "Everyone involved on The Force Awakens knows how lucky we've been to carry on this incredible legacy that George began over 40 years ago."

Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, handpicked by George Lucas to take over his company and the franchise.

Like many fans, Kennedy remembers waiting to see the first Star Wars movie, back in 1977.

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