Filmmaker David O. Russell first talked with Fresh Air's Terry Gross back in 1994, and two decades later, he tells her: "It's taken me 20 years since I first spoke to you to really make the films that I think I was meant to make, and to be at the level of filmmaking and storytelling and writing that I think I had ever aspired to."
Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic "blur" called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation "makes music sound nicer," acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, "but you don't want too much," he warns.
When you're faced with something as heinous as the Holocaust, it's tempting to turn it into a simple morality play. This isn't to say one can't pass moral judgments — Hitler and his cohort were undeniably evil. But judging can become a form of lazy evasion, a way of closing the book on the tricky realities of failure, guilt and complicity.
Opening nights of new incarnations of late-night TV talk shows are good, mostly, for first impressions — or, in the case of Jay Leno, sometimes a second impression. It's not fair to make strong judgments on the content alone, because a first show always is top-heavy with ideas, special guests and nervousness. But it is fair game to judge the set, the environment, the overall mood, and how well the host fits into the history of late-night television.
Teen years are sort of a "rehearsal" for adulthood, author Meg Wolitzer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, and that's particularly true at the performing arts summer camp where her latest novel begins. It's 1974, and the main character, Jules, a newcomer to the camp, is invited into a circle of 15- and 16-year-olds who nickname themselves — with knowing irony — The Interestings.
For the past 37 years, Robert Caro has devoted his life to writing the definitive biography of Lyndon Johnson. So far, The Years of Lyndon Johnson has four acclaimed volumes and has shown readers just how complex the 36th president was, as both a politician and a man.
Every year, students come into my office and say, "I don't know what I want to do with my life." Of course, plenty of people in the world don't have the luxury of such cluelessness, but my students don't look like they're enjoying their privilege; they look scared and depressed, as though they've already failed some big test of character. They might find some comfort in Michael Sims' new biography of the young Henry David Thoreau called, simply, The Adventures of Henry Thoreau.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Robert Redford isn't merely the star of the movie All Is Lost — he plays the only character. He plays a man stranded alone on a small yacht in the Indian Ocean, and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott says it's "the performance of a lifetime."
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Corporations work hard to influence Congress and public opinion. My guest, Eric Lipton, is an investigative reporter for the New York Times who's been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates on issues ranging from whether we should raise the minimum wage to whether high-fructose corn syrup is less healthy than sugar.