haru__q / flickr creative commons

Everybody loves a bulldozer. In fact, we all grew up loving bulldozers, didn't we? From Benny the Bulldozer to Katy and her big snow, from all the Tonka toys to all the die cast model Caterpillars, the bulldozer is more of an icon in American popular culture than we maybe realize.


It's just by happenstance that we ran into three short films this week that are both remarkable and newly available online. One of them is really something, and because of that, you have to figure, it won this year's Oscar for Best Live Action Short. One of them is merely clever and well done. And the last is an animated short that will utterly defy your expectations of an animated short.

And the best part is: You can watch all three of them in just 27 minutes.

Home Box Office, Inc.
Open Road Films, LLC

The biggest surprise about Oliver Stone's Snowden is probably how controversial it isn't. Which isn't to say that it isn't somewhat controversial -- anything about Edward Snowden is bound to be somewhat controversial. But for an Oliver Stone conspiracy thriller, The Nose finds Snowden to be pretty tame.

Tony Alter / flickr creative commons

Normally by Friday morning we've got the first one or two topics for The Nose ironed out, and we maybe spend some time hashing out what the third and fourth might be.

Not this week.

In the mid-1960s, Larry Kane was a young, straight-arrow radio news guy who lucked into what had to be the greatest assignment in the history of rock: flying from show to show with The Beatles. Ron Howard's new documentary, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, follows the band through their early years on tour. It also features Kane, the reporter who got to ride along when The Beatles traveled through the U.S. in 1964.

USA Network

The cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction emerged in the '70s and '80s with books like Neuromancer and movies like Blade Runner set in the early 21st century in a world full of high tech and lowlifes, in a society divided and unequal, dominated by mega corporations, where the lines between actual reality and virtual reality have started to blur.

Sound familiar?

JD Hancock / flickr creative commons

At 8:30 pm on Thursday, September 8, 1966, NBC aired the premiere of a new series called "Star Trek". The episode was "The Man Trap." The star date was 1513.1, in case you're interested in that kind of thing.

I am not interested in that kind of thing.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Editor's note: Gene Wilder died Sunday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2014, WNPR's Jeff Cohen reported on a screening of "Blazing Saddles" with Wilder in attendance, followed by a Q&A with the actor. This was first published on October 30, 2014.

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

Anne Hudson / The Ivoryton Playhouse

After a four-year gestation period, and more than a year's worth of delays, Frank Ocean's second studio album dropped last weekend. There are two different versions of the album: a physical version that was only available in pop-up shops in four cities last Saturday and the currently iTunes-exclusive digital version. The album is called Blonde, but the cover says "Blond." And there's a separate, different video album, Endless, that was released last Friday. It's all very complicated. The Nose gets into it.

If you've seen Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book or the Toy Story movies, you've seen the work of animator Floyd Norman; for decades, he has helped bring Disney and Pixar classics to life.

Now 81, Norman still works for Disney, where he has plied his trade, on and off, since he became the studio's first African-American animator in the 1950s.

Rarely has an actor not seen or heard made such a big impact.

Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2 in six of the Star Wars films, died Saturday, his agent confirms to NPR.

Standing at 3 feet 8 inches tall, the British actor also appeared in The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon, among other films.

"He was just a lovely guy," said agent Johnny Mans, "and I shall miss him terribly."


Start with four parts "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." That's your base. Then you'll need two parts "The Goonies," two parts "Poltergeist," and two parts "Alien." Mix in one part each of "It," "Stand by Me," "Firestarter," "Explorers," "Carrie," and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Add a Winona Ryder-shaped dollop of "Beetlejuice," and top off with a dash of the covers of classic '70s and '80s horror novels.

That's the recipe for the newish Netflix series "Stranger Things."

Joss Whedon: His Work, His Life, He's Here!

Aug 2, 2016
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

Originally, we planned on doing a show about Joss Whedon -- without Joss Whedon. We invited a scholar of his work to talk about his television and film resume, and a close friend, professor and mentor to speak on his directorial style. However, Joss was interested enough in what we're planning to join the show! So now, it's a show about Joss Whedon -- with Joss Whedon. 

Trevor / flickr creative commons

As we were preparing for our show on underdogs a few months ago, I kept saying that we shouldn't overlook the fact that, often, to be an underdog in the first place, you have to be really bad at the thing you're an underdog about.

The more we talked about it, the more I found myself making the case that losers and losing are fascinating.

Jonathan McNicol / WNPR

In January 2015, when it was announced that a planned new Ghostbusters movie would feature four female leads, internet fanbros went crazy. And then, this March, when the first Ghostbusters trailer came out, the internet fanbros went crazy all over again.

And now the movie is finally out. (And guess what the internet fanbros did.)

When most of us think about computer hacking, we picture Julian Assange leaking government secrets or a shadowy, bad-shave crook in some former Soviet republic hoovering up credit card info from a chain store. But while folks like these do stir up all manner of trouble, a much deeper danger lies elsewhere.

Jim Glab / Flickr

There are few genres of entertainment more American than the Western. But for a genre so steeped in the iconography of our past, its accuracy in portraying historical event leaves much to be desired. Many argue that the Western is more myth than reality, and that this myth is akin to revisionist history.

Warner Bros.

There's a new entry in the long, long canon of Tarzan stories and adaptations and shows and movies and musicals and Happy Meals toys or whatever. This time around, True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård stars as the bare-chested, animal-whispering titular character. The Nose went to see "The Legend of Tarzan," and we can't help but recognize its troubles of race and unending violence in this week's news.

Flickr Creative Commons

My Batman story begins with a crime. I was in third grade. I went to the barber shop in West Hartford Center where there were comic books to read while you waited.

I had never seen any superhero comic before and I started reading a Batman story. It was great but I didn't have enough time to finish it. So, when my haircut was done, I took it home with me. 

Earlier this year at the Golden Globes, the top TV honor, Best Television Series -- Drama, went to USA's hacker technothriller series "Mr. Robot." Last year, the trophy went to Showtime's "The Affair."

Between those two new shows, there are three point-of-view characters, three narrators. And you can’t really trust, you can't fully believe a one of them.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Sunday is Juneteenth, a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. This hour, we reflect on this history and legacy of slavery with Alika Hope and The Ray of Hope Project. We hear music and talk with members of the group who are performing at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

A24 Films

America's Greatest Living Film Critic David Edelstein has called "Weiner," the new documentary about former Congressman Anthony Weiner's ill-fated 2013 run for mayor of New York City, "one of the most provocative [docs] of its kind" that he's seen.


Last Friday, "Captain America: Civil War" debuted in theaters. It is the inaugural film in 2016's summer movie season. It's also the third Captain America picture. And people are calling it The Avengers 2.5. It is the first movie in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which it is the thirteenth film. Some people are choosing sides, declaring allegiance to one "team" or another. Some people just want to know if Bucky got his plums.


This hour, the Nose does its best to tackle four full topics.