Arts and Culture | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Arts and Culture

Netflix

Martin Scorsese is a grump. He doesn't like Marvel movies. He says they aren't "cinema." He says they aren't even narrative films, and "we shouldn't be invaded by it." The internet, as you can imagine, has takes.

And: The Eddie Murphy comeback is on. He appeared on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee this summer. He's hosting Saturday Night Live in December. He's got multiple standup comedy specials in the works. And right now he's starring in the briefly-in-theaters-but-hitting-Netflix-next-weekend biopic Dolemite Is My Name.

The Hartford Fringe Festival

The first Hartford Fringe Festival gets underway Thursday, a celebration of new and often edgier works in the areas of dance, theater, music and comedy.

brownpau / Flickr Creative Commons

From the penny press, to yellow journalism, to supermarket tabloids and beyond, sensationalized news has been around for centuries. But while this style of reporting may have its critics, it may also serve as an important reflection of American culture and democracy.

Sparsh Ahuja / Creative Commons

In January of 2018, a seemingly racist incident occurred on the National Mall. Photos and videos were posted to social media showing a group of MAGA hat-wearing high school students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky. One of them, Nick Sandmann, seemed to be mocking and blocking the path of Native American activist, Nathan Phillips. People either jeered or cheered on social media, depending on how it was perceived, long before most of us had any idea of the context of the situation. 

sferrario1968 / Pixabay

The bed. It’s a central feature of daily life. We rest on it, recharge in it. But rarely do we reflect on our relationship with it. Until now. 

This hour, we sit down with Brian Fagan, co-author of the new book What We Did in Bed: A Horizontal History. We talk double beds, pod beds, Murphy beds ... even Mark Twain’s bed. And we also hear from you. 

On Monday in the nation's capital, there is no Columbus Day. The D.C. Council voted to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day in a temporary move that it hopes to make permanent. Several other places across the United States have also made the switch in a growing movement to end the celebration of the Italian explorer in favor of honoring Indigenous communities and their resiliency in the face of violence by European explorers like Christopher Columbus.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Joker is director Todd Phillips's modern take on movies like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. It stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role in what happens also to be... a Batman movie. It's been called "a gloriously daring and explosive film" and "a movie that borders on genius" but also "bleak and juvenile" and "a movie of a cynicism so vast and pervasive as to render the viewing experience even emptier than its slapdash aesthetic does."

Witney Browne / New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas

Has performing in front of a live audience been on your bucket list for a while? Well, you may be in luck. A modern dance group is holding a series of free workshops in New Haven this weekend. The workshops are for tailored anyone who wants to dance, regardless of age or experience. The end result will be a performance at next year's International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven.

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

.Jimmy Webb was possibly the most successful songwriter of the 1960's and 1970's. Classics like "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up, and Away," and "MacArthur Park," were recorded by hundreds of artists from Glen Campbell to Donna Summer. Webb wrote the songs that others made famous.

HarshLight / Dapper Dans

We’re exploring the world of Barbershop Harmony; from its roots in the African American community to its influence in other genres, Barbershop is an important piece of the puzzle in the American music scene.

Connecticut Historical Society

Bicycles helped inspire modern cars, paved roads...even airplanes! But did you know they were also an inspiration for the women's movement?

This hour we take a look back in time at the origins of the bicycle, including innovation that happened right here in Connecticut. We find out the history of how this vehicle spurred social change and helped empower women to break through gender barriers a little more than a century ago.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

The Netflix limited series Unbelievable stars Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever. It tells the true story of a serial rapist and the investigation that caught him, and it's based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Marshall Project and ProPublica article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape" and the This American Life episode based on that.

Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons

Not only is Charles Ives a revered American composer, but he is also Connecticut's native son. This hour, we take an in-depth look at Ives’ life and profound musical output, and we ask: What is his legacy today? 

From her studio in western Massachusetts, regardless of material or scale, Beckie Kravetz sculpts remarkably human faces, even when they're abstract.

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

On September 5, our team traveled to Glen Cove, New York to interview legendary songwriter, Jimmy Webb

The interview has been on our "to do" list for four years, and it was worth every minute of the wait. For the first time in CMS history, we've decided to create two shows from Webb's stories and music.

Courtesy: Live Well

About 75,000 people in Connecticut live with dementia. And in a stage production in Hartford, five of them are telling their stories. To Whom I May Concern is a readers-theater style performance – and part of an effort to invite those living with cognitive change to educate others about what they’re experiencing. 

Derek Morrison / Flickr Creative Commons

Today's show might get a bit dicey. In fact,  it's almost certainly headed for Trouble. And all we can say is Sorry, that's Life! Okay, fine, let's drop the Charades. Today's show is about board games. Is that a big enough Clue?

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

The Nose couldn't decide which of last weekend's two big new movies to go see, so it went to both.

Downton Abbey, the feature film continuation of the incredibly popular PBS series, is the number one movie in the country. Its $31 million opening was the biggest ever for the studio that made it, Focus Features. Not bad for a PG-rated, special effects-free drama made for grownups.

Writer Ocean Vuong, 30, who teaches at UMass Amherst and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, is among the two dozen recipients of the 2019 MacArthur "genius" awards.

Bob Ross, Inc.

It's been 25 years since Bob Ross's The Joy of Painting went off the air (and 24 years since Ross died). But there are 52 episodes of the show available to stream on Netflix. Bob Ross and Chill is a thing. The 403 full episodes available on YouTube have accumulated something approaching 250 million views. And this summer, The New York Times did a big Bob Ross investigation.

This hour: a look at the undying force for permed hair and puffy little clouds and happy little trees that is Bob Ross.

Plus: Could we do a show about Bob Ross without also talking Thomas Kinkade? No we could not. And so no we do not.

Courtesy: Seaview Productions

When it ran off-Broadway, the show Slave Play left audiences stunned. The provocative new script centers on three interracial couples – diving deeply into issues of racism, sexuality and love. Slave Play is now in previews and opening on Broadway in October.

Twenty-six creators and thinkers drawn from a vast array of fields just got a big financial boost — and an even bigger name to add to their résumés. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation unveiled the winners of this year's MacArthur fellowships — often better known as the "genius" grants — recognizing the host of artists and scholars for their creativity and potential.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Merriam-Webster has added 533 new words to its dictionary. Words like "deep state," "pickleball," "escape room," and "Bechdel test." My favorite is probably "fatberg." But there's a particular new dictionary entry that The Nose is specifically interested in: "dad joke."

Tim Wolf

A recent report paints a picture of the arts in Greater Hartford, a scene that’s both colorful and rocky.

This hour, we learn about the Greater Hartford Arts Landscape Study, and consider efforts to better support the region’s artists.

We also look back on the early years of hip-hop and breaking (a.k.a. breakdancing) in Connecticut, and hear how some young people are learning and performing these styles today. 

Joerg Neuner / CreativeCommons.org

Though country music is considered the most popular genre of music in America, its influence is profoundly regional. The style is known for appealing to the white working class, and is largely sequestered in southern and midwestern pockets of the country.

Meanwhile, coastal elites tend to regard the genre with disdain. "I like everything but country" is a popular refrain.

Facebook

Once a year, about 50 alumni of the University of Liberia Chorus come together to make music, reminisce, and raise money for the university’s music department. This year's performance is this weekend in New Haven.

Tom Hines

Ocean Vuong emigrated to Hartford from Vietnam when he was two-years-old. His family brought with them the trauma of an American-led war that ravaged their people and their culture. How do they retain their culture and assimilate into one that doesn't want them? 

Columbia Pictures

Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Belushi, John Candy, Rick Moranis.

Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Beverly Hills Cop, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, ¡Three Amigos!, Funny Farm, Spaceballs, Stripes.

We maybe didn't properly appreciate it at the time, but the 1980s were one of the most fertile periods ever for screen comedies and screen comedians.

This hour, a look at the mavericks who shaped a whole comedy aesthetic and at some of the most popular movie comedies ever made.

Dying For A Photo

Sep 12, 2019
Sam Hawley / CreativeCommons.org

A photo of people inching their way up a snaking line to the peak of Mount Everest last month has drawn attention to a number of problems, one of which was the jostling at the top of the mountain to take social media-ready selfies and photos.

Kevin Kuhl, CT Public

One of the most recognizable sounds of country music comes from an instrument that’s often overlooked: the pedal steel guitar. And one of the nation’s top pedal steel players lives - no, not in Nashville - but in Connecticut.

John Widgren has performed with recording artists including Jonathan Coulton, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Toby Keith and others. He’s played on Broadway, done hundreds of commercials and been a guest instrumentalist with the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Pages