"Dickensian" is one of those literary modifiers that's overused. But before I officially retire this ruined adjective (or exile it to Australia, as Dickens himself would have done), I want to give it one final outing, because no other word will do. Here goes: Donna Tartt's grand new novel, The Goldfinch, is Dickensian both in the ambition of its jumbo, coincidence-laced plot, as well as in its symphonic range of emotions.
Dallas Buyers Club is based on the story of Ron Woodroof, a rodeo cowboy and electrician, who was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1985. With the latest drugs still in the trial phase, he was told he didn't have long to live. Without access to possibly life-prolonging drugs, he sought out alternative treatments in Mexico and smuggled those drugs into the U.S., forming a buyers club for fellow HIV patients.
It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and polls show that a majority of Americans still believe Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy, not a lone assassin. Though an official investigation concluded that Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, conspiracy theories about the assassination were spawned almost immediately, and they keep coming to this day: Republican consultant Roger Stone has a new book — The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ — arguing Lyndon Johnson was behind the crime.
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:
Clarinetist Anat Cohen is one of a handful of Israeli jazz musicians making a mark on the American jazz scene. She's been voted Clarinetist of the Year six years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association, and her album, Claroscuro, showcases the range of her talents and musical influences, from New Orleans-style jazz to Israel to Latin music — particularly that of Brazil.
Blue Is the Warmest Color is a lesbian coming-of-age movie, and its long and graphic sex scenes have already generated controversy. The director, Abdellatif Kechiche, is a man, and at least one prominent female critic has accused him of leading with his own libido — a charge that I vigorously dispute, but of course I'm a man so take that as you will. Here's what I saw: a film that captures the intensity of sexual discovery — and dependency — in a way I've never seen. It's 179 minutes, every one of them charged. It's a remarkable experience.