Arts & Life

Pop Culture
1:46 pm
Tue December 25, 2012

How To Handle Santa-Heavy TV In A Jewish Home

The Christmas season is a peculiar time for Jewish children, many of whom are drawn to Christmas specials like A Christmas Story. What should Jewish parents do? Guest host John Donvan talks to Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick about her Jewish parent's guide to Christmas specials.

Arts & Life
10:19 am
Tue December 25, 2012

No Sugar Plums Here: The Dark, Romantic Roots Of 'The Nutcracker'

E.T.A. Hoffmann's original story, "Nutcracker and Mouse King," is darker and spookier than the ballet version most people know.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 4:20 pm

This is the time of year when one man's work is widely — if indirectly — celebrated. His name used to be hugely famous, but nowadays, it draws blank stares, even from people who know that work. We're speaking about E.T.A. Hoffmann, original author of The Nutcracker.

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Books
10:18 am
Tue December 25, 2012

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual 'Christmas Book Flood'

A shopper browses in a branch of the Icelandic book chain Penninn-Eymundsson.
Courtesy of Bryndís Loftsdottir

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 2:46 am

In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what's really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It's a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the "Christmas Book Flood."

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The Salt
9:33 am
Tue December 25, 2012

'Canadian Peanut Butter' Connects Mainers To Their Acadian Roots

Robert Bisson of Bisson and Sons Meat Market in Topsham, Maine, with his granddaughter. The butcher shop sells traditional cretons during the holidays.
Lauren McCandlish NPR

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 2:08 pm

Last Christmas, we told you about tourtières, the savory meat pies Canadians serve around the holidays. Now, we bring you cretons, a Québécois delicacy found throughout Canada and parts of New England this time of year.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Tarantino's Genius 'Unchained'

Django confronts Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the man who owns his wife.
Andrew Cooper The Weinstein Co.

There's a wordless sequence in Quentin Tarantino's anti-bigotry neo-Spaghetti Western exploitation comedy Django Unchained in which Jamie Foxx, as recently freed slave Django, hitches up his horse and, along with the man who bought him his freedom — Christoph Waltz's Dr. King Schultz — sets off on an elegiac amble through a snowy western landscape. It's one of the most gorgeous sequences of any film this year, a reverie borrowed, with love, from rare snowscape Westerns like McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Sergio Corbucci's 1968 The Great Silence.

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Movie Reviews
5:03 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

In Paris, Misery And Music Blended For The Big Screen

Jean Valjean and young Cosette (Isabelle Allen), two of the most iconic characters in contemporary musical theater, come to the big screen.
Laurie Sparham Universal Pictures

Half an hour into Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables, he fixes his camera on Anne Hathaway's tortured, tear-streaked face, and she delivers what ought to become one of the great moments in musical cinema history — right up there with Dorothy singing wistfully of a land far away, Gene Kelly swinging happily around damp lamp poles, and a problem like Maria singing to the grassy Austrian hillsides. She's that good.

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The Salt
3:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Christmas A Busy Season For Tamale-Makers

Tamales in Ofelio Crespo's home on Dec. 20.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:18 pm

For Christmas, Central and Mexican-American families don't crave a holiday turkey; they want a plate of steaming hot tamales.

Gustavo Arellano, author of the book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, says that to him, tamales are more than food. They transmit Latino culture during Christmas.

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Movie Interviews
3:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Fact-Checking 'Hitchcock:' The Man, The Movie And The Myth

Alfred Hitchcock pictured with his wife, Alma Reville. The couple's romance stands at the center of the 2012 film Hitchcock.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 8:22 pm

It's awards season for Hollywood as the film industry starts doling out accolades. And this year, some of the films hoping to grab the attention of voters will have these words in common: "inspired by true events."

Think Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty — and, of course, Hitchcock.

In the film, Anthony Hopkins plays the legendary film director, and Helen Mirren plays his wife, Alma Reville.

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Television
3:51 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Beyond 'Downton': BBC Imports That Got Away

Trixie (Helen George, left), Chummy (Miranda Hart), Jenny (Jessica Raine) and Cynthia (Bryony Hannah) are midwives serving London's poor East End in the 1950s.
Laurence Cendrowicz PBS

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 7:50 am

There was so much great stuff in arts and entertainment this year that we just couldn't report on all of it as it was happening. So we're playing a little catch-up on the ones that got by us.

In 2012, the BBC delivered some thrilling new TV dramas to its two primary outlets in the U.S.: PBS, which has been programming its shows for decades, and the cable channel BBC America.

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Race
1:58 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Descendants Of Slaves, Slave Traders Come Together

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. And a Merry Christmas to you, if you celebrate. Your kids might've gotten a visit from jolly St. Nick last night, but did you know St. Nicholas was a real guy? We'll talk with the man who traveled the world in search of the man who would become Santa Claus. That's just ahead.

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