from the Raleigh News & Observer

“Radiolab,” the hugely popular podcast and public radio show about “science, wonder and discovery,” is one of the most curious storytelling specimens on the media landscape. Co-hosted by musician/producer Jad Abumrad and veteran science reporter Robert Krulwich, “Radiolab” digs into knotty scientific and philosophical issues with a dense and highly stylized approach that’s often radically different from the traditional public radio show format.

Each “Radiolab” episode is centered on a theme and uses a layered audio production style drawn from Abumrad’s background in experimental music composition. It truly sounds like nothing else on the radio dial or podcast charts. “Radiolab” won a Peabody award for broadcast excellence in 2010, and the next year Abumrad was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. (“Radiolab” airs on Sundays at 2 p.m. on WUNC radio.)

Abumrad, appearing Sunday at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, estimates that the show now reaches about five million people through airwaves and podcast. Speaking from his home in New York City, Abumrad talked with the N&O about creativity, chemistry and chrysanthemums.

from Indy Week 

Watching scary movies at home is a time-honored Halloween tradition, but needing to plan ahead at Blockbuster is a thing of the past. Now, if you’re a Netflix subscriber, hundreds of horror movies are instantly available online. Here are 10 recommendations for streaming Halloween chills, focusing on relatively under-the-radar selections that are worth digging up from the vault—or, if you will, the grave.

The Awakening (2011)
An old-school haunted-manor-on-the-moors-type ghost story, this moody mystery stars Rebecca Hall as a 1920s scientific investigator whose skepticism is challenged by paranormal happenings at an old boarding school. Nice and creepy. re_animator_poster_01

Devil (2010)
Strange things happen when five people get trapped in a broken elevator, and one of them may be the Devil. A slight but clever indie thriller from producer and writer M. Night Shamalayan.

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
John Malkovich plays silent film director F.W. Murnau, who goes to disturbing lengths to ensure authenticity in his famous vampire film Nosferatu. Willem Dafoe is perfect as Murnau’s decidedly freaky lead actor, Max Schreck.

Nosferatu (1929)
Perfect for a double feature, Netflix also has the original Nosferatu on instant streaming, cut together from several prints in the 2006 restoration edition. The story of the menacing Count Orlock is considered a masterpiece of German Expressionist film, and some say it’s the best vampire movie ever made.

Let the Right One In (2008)
My vote for the best vampire movie ever goes to this 2008 horror film out of Sweden. It tells the story of an ancient vampire who appears to be a 12-year-old girl and the subsequent weirdness that transpires. Part art-film horror, part pre-adolescent Gothic romance, it transcends the horror genre to become something genuinely beautiful and disturbing.

The Ninth Gate (1999)
Johnny Depp plays a rare book collector who stumbles across a cult of wealthy Satanists trying to conjure the Devil. Nothing particularly scary happens, but director Roman Polanski creates a nice atmosphere of chilly dread.

Stake Land (2010)
Desperate survivors try to outrun feral vampire hordes in this fun indie thriller, which finds new things to do in the well-worn zombie apocalypse genre. Hey, is that Kelly “Top Gun” McGillis as a nun on the run? Yes! Yes, it is!

Monsters (2010)
A truly impressive ultra-low-budget indie, Monsters imagines a future in which skyscraper-sized aliens have been walled off in a Mexican quarantine zone. Director Gareth Edwards generated the remarkable visual effects with two PCs and some Adobe software, and went on to make this year’s creature feature Godzilla.

Re-Animator (1985)
Like Monsters, the immortal cult classic Re-Animator is based in part on the work of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and his pantheon of cosmic nightmare personages. Campy and exuberant, it’s a riff on the Frankenstein story packed with black humor and excessive, goofy gore.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
From producer Joss Whedon, Cabin is both a satire and celebration of the slasher genre, with horny young people making poor decisions about basement stairs, knives, forbidden tomes—those sorts of things. The movie’s final act goes full-tilt bananas, making this is a great choice for a rowdier Halloween movie party.

Also recommended: The House of the Devil, The Host, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, From Dusk Till Dawn, Evil Dead 2, Children of the Corn, You’re Next, The Grudge and director Barry Levinson’s surprisingly great found-footage eco-horror freak-out, The Bay

No, not really.

October 31, 2014

AMAI recently started contributing games and puzzles to the very funny public radio show Ask Me Another. From NPR HQ: “Ask Me Another is the rambunctious live show from NPR and WNYC that blends brainteasers, pub trivia, comedy and music into an hour of mind-bending fun. Host Ophira Eisenberg invites guests and listeners alike to stretch their noggins, tickle their funny bones and be serenaded by house musician Jonathan Coulton.”  It really is a great idea and a great show — you can get to the podcast and archives here.

Here’s most recent game I contributed: This, That or the Other: Indie Band, Foreign Film or D&D Monster? We give you a name, you decide what category it belongs to. Whale Rider? Sparklehorse? Shambling Mound? There’s a surprising amount of crossover.

from Indy Week

EraserheadThirty-seven years after its initial theatrical release, David Lynch’s debut feature film Eraserhead has been reissued and upgraded to U.S. Blu-ray format in a gorgeous package from the stalwart archivists at the Criterion Collection. The reissue includes a full 4K digital restoration, six additional short films and the usual generous assortment of new and archival bonus materials.

Several years in the making, Eraserhead remains a masterpiece of American independent film, albeit one shelved back in the darker aisles—where the spiders and the molds grow. It defies synopsis. The story, so far as it goes, follows a fearful man named Henry (Jack Nance), caring for his deformed infant child in an industrial wasteland. Abstract sounds and visuals float about, and nothing is as it seems. (“They’re still not sure it’s a baby,” his girlfriend proclaims.) It’s dedicated Surrealist art all the way, teeming with personal and archetypal anxieties. Like much of Lynch’s later work, it’s also frequently funny.

Read more…

Evolution of the Batmobile

September 30, 2014

from Discovery News

batmobile-comic-cover-091214-670After a series of on-the-set photo leaks, filmmaker Zack Snyder recently posted an official image of the new Batmobile as it will appear in his upcoming film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Starring Ben Affleck as everyone’s favorite brooding crime-fighter, the film is scheduled for a 2016 release. The new Batmobile has some heavy-duty hardware, but the vehicle’s origins are a bit more humble. We take a look at the evolution of the Batmobile in comics, TV and film.

Read more…

from Indy Week

In 2002, director Richard Linklater began a remarkable movie-making experiment known as The Twelve Year Project. The idea: to make a series of short films, one per year, following a boy’s growth from age 6 to 18—from first grade to college freshman—using the same cast each year, with the intention of cutting the footage together into a feature film.

boyhoodThe result is BOYHOOD, one of the most engaging and flat-out fascinating films ever made. It’s one thing to dream up such an ambitious project. It’s another to pull off the logistics and make it come together as a story. From concept to execution, Boyhood is a thrilling piece of art.

Ellar Coltrane stars as the boy, Mason, appearing in initial scenes as a typical 6-year-old, playful and vulnerable. Mason’s parents, portrayed by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, have split up. Olivia is introduced as a harried single mom, loving and committed but perhaps resentful of losing her freewheeling twenties to early parenthood. Mason Sr. is the absent dad, just returned from adventures in Alaska.

Linklater’s daughter, Lorelei Linklater, takes the fourth main role as Mason’s older sister Samantha, and we watch her grow up, too. Every ten minutes or so, the timeline bumps up a year. It’s an uncanny sensation to watch those early scenes and realize that they were shot more than a decade ago. As the early-2000s cultural signifiers roll by—Harry Potter at the multiplex, Roger Clemens on the mound—the film narrows its focus on Mason and his broken family.

The kids get taller and thinner, the grown-ups sadder and wiser. Olivia goes back to school and subjects the children to some truly awful stepdads. Mason Sr. settles down and finds that responsibility isn’t all that bad. The kids become teenagers and discover sex, drugs and heartbreak. Everyone does the best they can.

As with Michael Apted’s Up documentary series, which has profiled a group of British people every seven years since 1964, it’s a time-lapse view of human lives unfolding. The best cutting-edge digital technology or makeup artistry could never achieve what Linklater does here.

Even the most vérité films have subtle layers of artifice that we learn to accept almost subconsciously. We suspend our disbelief. Linklater’s grand experiment, using the same actors over 12 years in a narrative film, tinkers with the fundamentals of cinematic storytelling. It registers somewhere back in the brain stem that we’re watching real people age and change through time.

This would just be a gimmick if it weren’t executed with such artistry. But because the story is so strong, the dialogue so natural and the performances so uniformly excellent, something is essentially altered.Boyhood doesn’t feel like a movie. It feels like something altogether different. I suspect that the next generation of film scholars will be flagging this one in the books, or holo-archives, or whatever the future may hold.

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