"It was a miraculous year," film critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. At a time when Hollywood is churning out Blockbusters and superhero movies that are guaranteed to make money at home and overseas, "it's really great when so many interesting movies, somehow or other, manage to bleed through," he says. " ... You really feel as if directors are taking chances in their storytelling. They are creating a new syntax for every story."
Kevin Spacey (left) and Robin Wright star in <em>House of Cards, </em>directed by David Fincher. The Netflix series, which follows a Machiavellian politician, is an adaptation of a BBC series of the same name. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/01/31/170465471/spacey-and-fincher-make-a-house-of-cards">Hear an interview with Spacey and Fincher</a>.
Credit Patrick Harbron / Netflix
Bryan Cranston (left) stars as chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White, and Aaron Paul plays former student and drug-dealing co-conspirator Jesse Pinkman in AMC's <em>Breaking Bad</em>. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/10/03/228813142/breaking-bad-writers-this-is-it-theres-no-more">Hear an interview with the writers of <em>Breaking Bad</em></a><em>.</em>
Credit Ben Leuner / AMC
Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan portray pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson in the Showtime series <em>Masters of Sex,</em> based on a book by Thomas Maier. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/07/30/206704520/pioneering-masters-of-sex-brought-science-to-the-bedroom">Hear an interview with Maier</a>.
Credit Craig Blankenhorn / Showtime
Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman in Netflix's <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>, which is based on Piper Kerman's memoir of her year in prison. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/08/12/211339427/behind-the-new-black-the-real-pipers-prison-story">Hear an interview with Piper Kerman.</a>
Credit Jessica Miglio / Netflix
Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Beth Greene (Emily Kinney), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) on AMC's <em>The Walking Dead</em>.
Credit Gene Page / AMC
Carrie Underwood played Maria in NBC's live production of <em>The Sound of Music</em>. "If you give people reasons to watch live TV, or TV at the same time, they still will," says Bianculli.
This was a good year for TV, says critic David Bianculli, and that had a lot to do with two new shows from Netflix: House of Cards, the American adaptation of the BBC political thriller series, and Orange Is the New Black, a dramatic comedy which takes place in a women's federal prison. "I was very impressed with the overall quality of what Netflix gave us," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "... That was quite a string of good shows."
So, without further ado, here's Bianculli's top-10 TV list for 2013:
What is Connecticut food? Which crops, livestock and seafood have shaped the complex cuisines that its people have cherished for more than four centuries? From familiar comforts like chicken potpie and fried oysters to curious concoctions like Grape-Nuts pudding and steamed cheeseburgers, Connecticut's food history is long and varied. Eric D. Lehman and Amy Nawrocki, authors of A History of Connecticut Food, join us on The Food Schmooze for the full hour.
A couple of weeks ago, we did a whole show about blood pressure only to have an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association blow a lot of the current thinking about blood pressure right out of the water. We talk to UConn's hypertension expert, Dr. Billy White, about new guidelines saying people over 60 may not need to keep their blood pressure as low as previously thought.
On today's Where We Live, we could have spent the entire time just playing Duke Ellington's music. Since we didn't play any of the songs in their entirety, we're sharing the playlist below with the songs that you heard on the show.
Armstrong Christmas tree surrounded by presents. Photograph by William Dudley, ca. 1924. Muriel Armstrong lived in Groton, Connecticut.
Credit The Connecticut Historical Society, 1995.36.1583
Muriel Armstrong and another girl with Christmas tree and presents. Photograph by William Dudley, ca. 1924. It’s not clear who the second girl might be. Muriel didn’t have a sister, so she may be a cousin or a close friend.
Credit The Connecticut Historical Society, 1995.36.1584
Decorated Christmas tree in front of bookcase. Photograph by William Dudley, ca. 1920-1923. This photograph was also taken in the Armstrong family home in Groton, probably a few years earlier than the previous two photographs.
Credit The Connecticut Historical Society, 1995.36.1580
Decorated tabletop Christmas tree with toys. Photograph by William Dudley, ca. 1916-1927.The Connecticut Historical Society. It’s not clear whose Christmas tree and presents are depicted in this photograph.
Credit The Connecticut Historical Society, 1995.36.1652.
Small tabletop Christmas tree with clothing and toys. Photograph by William Dudley, ca. 1915. This tiny tabletop tree may have been the Armstrong’s Christmas tree when Muriel was an infant.
Credit The Connecticut Historical Society, 1995.36.1582
Decorated Christmas tree with glass ornaments, electric lights and toys. Photograph by William Dudley, 1920s. Note the teddy bear and mittens, both popular gifts at the time.
"For Muriel Armstrong From Santa" These words are written on a child’s easel blackboard sitting next to a tree decorated with tinsel, beads, glass ornaments and even an American flag. Other presents, including dolls, a sewing set, Bradley’s Toy Village, and “Denslow’s One Ring Circus and Other Stories” surround the tree. This black and white photograph captures the Christmas morning scene for a comfortable Connecticut family about 100 years ago.
Here are the topics for The Nose today -- and this week we had to throw out a lot of perfectly good ones because there were so many:
We pretty much have to tackle the controversy around Duck Dynasty. One of the real life characters in the reality TV show gave an interview in which he aired his strong religious views, which included multiple denunciations of homosexuality as a sin.
Duke Ellington is one of the pivotal figures in jazz. He was a pianist, composer and bandleader whose impact lasted well beyond his death. Terry Teachout joins us in studio to talk about his new book, Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. We’ll also talk to local musicians about Ellington’s musical influence on their work.
If you read magazines and live on the North half of the East Coast there is a good chance that you believe that The New Yorker is the ne plus ultra of magazine writing and if you believe that there's a good chance you run around using phrases like ne plus ultra.
With The New Yorker's Olympian status goes a certain preciousness One of the reasons there's nothing else quite like The New Yorker is The New Yorker deeply believes that to be true and communicates it to us in subtle ways.
From Faith Middleton: Our Food Schmooze crew decided to throw a Downton Abbey dinner party on the air to celebrate the return of our beloved PBS series, Season 4. As you can see, we've provided you with all of our delicious recipes, in case you decide to have your own Downton Abbey feast.
Across America, fans of the show are getting ready with celebratory foods ranging from a simple bowl of popcorn to dinners worthy of the royal family.
Dave Brubeck, the jazz genius and venerable Wizard of Wilton who died a year ago this month at 91, was mad about time. Playing with time brilliantly, bending, reshaping and rewinding it, he constantly experimented with the permutations of odd-seeming, even weird time signatures, notated with funny-looking fractions like 5/4, 9/8, 7/4 and 13/4.
A Francis Bacon triptych, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" sells for $142.4 million.
Jeff Koons work sells for $58.4 million, making it the most expensive art by a living artist to sell at auction.
Is any art really worth this much or do a few wealthy investors artificially drive up the market to divert the rest of us from the reality of overall declining sales. If art is not worth as much as certain vested interests want us to believe, how do we determine the real worth of art?
From Faith Middleton: Our check-up on our health care enrollees reveals Connecticut has one of the nation's most successful exchanges. The state doubled what the Obama administration set as a target for Connecticut—more than 14,000 of us have enrolled in the exchange.
The majority of enrollees are between the ages of 55 and 64, which raises the question of whether the majority are also unemployed.
This is the Monday Scramble, the show we assemble on very short notice to challenge ourselves and keep things fresh.
Two film icons died over the weekend, Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine. Attention gravitated to O'Toole because of his larger than life roles and his larger than life off-screen behavior. We'll be talking about O'Toole with one of his co-stars and with a director but we didn't want to ignore Fontaine, famous for her Oscar-winning role and for her decades-long feud with her sister, Olivia DeHaviland.
Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as <em>Lawrence of Arabia</em> and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, died Saturday. He was 81.
Throughout his career, launched by <em>Lawrence of Arabia</em>, O'Toole was nominated for eight Oscars.
Credit Dennis Oulds / Getty Images
O'Toole receives an honorary Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards, presented by actress Meryl Streep, in March 2003.
Credit Kevork Djansenzian / AP
In 1983, O'Toole starred as Professor Higgins with Canadian actress Margot Kidder as Eliza Doolittle in a U.S. television production of <em>Pygmalion</em>.
O'Toole started on the stage in London. In 1960, he starred as Petruchio, with Peggy Ashcroft as Katherine, in Shakespeare's <em>The Taming of the Shrew,</em> at the Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
<em>Lawrence of Arabia</em> was filmed in the Jordanian desert in 1961. The role of T.E. Lawrence<em> </em>would make O'Toole famous.
Actor Peter O'Toole performed on stage and on film in many leading roles, and began his acting career in the 1950s when he was serving in the navy. He died on Dec. 14 at the age of 81.
Blond, blue-eyed and wearing blazing white robes in Lawrence Of Arabia, Peter O'Toole was handsome enough — many said beautiful enough — to carry off the scene in which director David Lean simultaneously made stars of both his title character and his leading man.
It's been one year since the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School transformed Newtown, Connecticut, the country, and the world. Over the last year, there have been countless musical tributes to the victims.
This hour, we share some of the music that came out of this tragedy.
Today we do not think of Farmington and Hartford being distant from each other, but in 1839 it was a journey not to be taken lightly. That is why Charlotte Cowles in Farmington wrote frequently to her brother Samuel in Hartford, asking him to do errands for her. On December 5, 1839, she requested that he procure the type of whale bones generally used in bonnets from Mrs. Orcutt, a milliner. Charlotte also asked him to find a yard and three quarters of “backing” to put under the stove in their keeping room.
When he’s not playing professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, artist Mark Milloff sculpts, paints, and envisions gigantic pastel drawings. He also moonlights as a musician. But all things being equal, he’d rather be fishing.
Today we're talking about the afterlife of characters from classic Christmas stories. What happened, in later years, to Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" or Susan Walker from "Miracle of 34th Street" or Charlie Brown or Clara from "The Nutcracker?"
The grief and sadness of December 14, 2012 has been expressed through countless poems, songs and other works of art, including the choral work, "Solace," a simple, solemn remembrance of the victims of Newtown, written by one of America's leading poets, and set to music by a Pulitzer prize-winning composer.
From Faith Middleton: Crack open the champagne… prepare for a mind-blowing experience. Truffle butter lobster combines chardonnay, vermouth, shallots, heavy cream, ginger, mushrooms, and, of course, black truffle butter, available at gourmet stores and markets, or online from D'Artagnan.
I suppose you could say that today's show is about a fairly obvious truth--singing with other people feels good.
But, it's a little bit more complicated than that. When you go to a church and pick up a hymnal and sing what everybody else sings, it feels okay. And, a fairly complex set of activities takes place in your brain, and that's nice, but it pales in comparison to really singing with others.
That is, getting together with other people and rehearsing and working toward a truly successful blend of voices.