Arts & Culture

Arts & culture

Canadian-born psychologist Jay Van Bavel likes Canadian beer.

"I can't say what it is," he says, laughing, "I just love the taste."

When Van Bavel sips a beer from his hometown, there is a feedback between his taste buds and his brain. He's reminded of his Canadian-ness, he feels more Canadian, and Canadian beer tastes better to him than other beers.

If you've flipped through a radio dial recently, there's a good chance you've stumbled on Charlie Puth's voice — maybe on a few stations at once. His song "Attention" has been everywhere for months; the full album, Voicenotes, is out today.

Nostalgia is a paralytic toxin.

It's killing us slowly, steadily: Every time an old, smarmy sitcom, or a pallid network drama, or a toy ad that masqueraded as a cringeworthy children's cartoon gets dredged from the feculent muck of history's lake bed and rebooted for a contemporary audience, our cultural blood pressure incrementally drops, our collective pulse grows that much threadier, our soft tissues go just a scosh more necrotic. That's because these properties exude nostalgia's deadly poison — they're sticky with it — and there is no antidote.

Leon Vitali was a young and talented British actor on the rise when he signed his soul away to Stanley Kubrick. He'd just given a magnetic performance as the spoiled, seething yet sensitive Lord Bullingdon in the director's droll period epic Barry Lyndon (1975), and offers were pouring in. Instead of acting on them, Vitali decided he'd rather become Kubrick's devoted assistant. He had been lucky enough to earn the good graces of a true master, he reasoned, and you don't let true masters out of your life. Instead, Vitali allowed Kubrick to subsume him into his.

As Beast's handheld camera careens around the isle of Jersey, it's nearly always focused on Moll (Jessie Buckley). But the movie also seems to live inside the young woman's head, which churns with feral intensity and adolescent bewilderment. And Moll, a breakout role for flame-haired Irish actress Buckley, may not even be this murder mystery's title character.

Michael Mayer's The Seagull, a fluid and faithful reading of the endlessly remounted stage play by Anton Chekhov, opens and closes with what looks like the same scene. The curtain has just gone down on a final act, and we hear clapping as the camera moves in to focus on leading lady Irina (Annette Bening, in superb command as always), flushed and beaming under the adulation she plainly can't get enough of. Until, that is, someone whispers troubling news in Irina's ear and rushes her away to — where else?

There are plenty of reasons why many consider Die Hard one of the great action films of the last 30 years: Bruce Willis' reinvention of the Western cowboy as wisecracking everyman, Alan Rickman as his slippery Eurotrash counterpart, the escalating tension within the confined space of a Los Angeles office tower, a script dense with quotable one-liners. But the primary reason is this simple: You always know where people and objects are in relation to each other.

Melissa McCarthy's capacity for sweetness has come full circle.

Her first big role was on Gilmore Girls, where she played the gentle, funny, burbling Sookie St. James. Sookie's dimples, her delightful chirp, and her unrelenting sunniness could have sunk the character as a little bit of a sap, but McCarthy carried it off, using about 10 percent of what she turned out to be capable of.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

One of the first shots in the new documentary called, simply enough, Mountain, is of a solo climber hanging from a the face of a cliff, hundreds of feet up ... untethered.

Annette Bening has made her career in film and television, but she hasn't always been comfortable in front of the camera.

"For so many years I was really intimidated ... " she says. "I felt very comfortable on the stage ... I didn't really do movies 'till I was almost 30."

Now 59, Bening has "fallen in love" with filming. "You can get so many things across with the camera that one just can't do onstage," she says.

Benedict Cumberbatch, the deep-voiced, strikingly handsome actor whose roles have ranged from Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Strange, once said there were only two roles on his long-standing acting "bucket list."

One was Hamlet, a role he played in 2015. The other? Patrick Melrose, a role he tackles — and conquers — in a new Showtime miniseries beginning Saturday. Parts of it are wickedly funny; other parts are searingly dramatic. But all of it is riveting, and excellent.

When it comes to motherhood, at least if you're a fish, big is better. Bigger fish produce more far more offspring pound for pound than smaller fish. And that can mean more on your plate.

The new research comes from a team in Australia and Panama and reinforces fishing practices that protect larger fish as well as marine protected areas, which are like fish "sanctuaries" in the ocean.

Branding experts might tell you that an ideal elevator pitch should take 20 to 30 seconds. Our guest Dr. Demento requires only five words: "Mad music and crazy comedy." That's how he describes the legendary Dr. Demento Show, which gave a radio home to songs like "Fish Heads," "Dead Puppies," "Pencil Neck Geek" and "Shaving Cream" for the better part of four decades.

Romy Hall has run out of time and hope. The protagonist of Rachel Kushner's third novel, 29 years old when we first meet her, has resigned herself to the likelihood that she'll die in prison; she's been sentenced to two life sentences for beating to death a man who stalked her. "I don't plan on living a long life," she says. "Or a short life, necessarily. I have no plans at all. The thing is you keep existing whether you have a plan to do so or not, until you don't exist, and then your plans are meaningless."

Pages