Michael Keaton talks about his Oscar-nominated performance in the film Birdman. He plays a Hollywood actor, once famous for his role as the superhero Birdman, attempting to reinvent himself by directing and starring in a Broadway play. Not coincidentally, Keaton, like his character, starred in a superhero franchise as Batman.
Breaking Bad's fast-talking, sleazeball lawyer Saul Goodman knows how to bend the law, or break it, depending on his clients' needs. Odenkirk tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about playing the AMC drama's most comedic character, and the origins of Saul's comb-over. The prequel spin-off Better Call Saul premieres Sunday February 8th. Then film critic David Edelstein reviews The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
Bradley Cooper on American Sniper: The film's depiction of the Iraq war has come under scrutiny. Cooper, who portrays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, says the conversation is moving away from "the fact that 22 vets commit suicide each day." A Review of Better Call Saul: The new AMC show is about public defender Jimmy McGill who adopts a sleazy new persona as Saul Goodman. The show has the same tight plots, rich characters and delicious twists as its parent series. The Science of 'Touch': In his latest book, neuroscientist David Linden explains the science of touch. He tellsFresh Air how pain protects, why fingertips are so sensitive and why you can't read Braille with your genitals.
Asali Solomon's novel is about a girl growing up in West Philadelphia whose parents were black nationalists. "My parents taught us to revere Africa — people at school made fun of Africa," she says. Then we remember the late Charlie Sifford, the first black player admitted to the Professional Golfer's Association. Terry spoke to him in 1992.
The Huffington Post's Jason Cherkis investigated the heroin epidemic in Kentucky, and found that the abstinence-based approach used in most treatment centers was leading to many fatal relapses. Then jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly released live recording of Lennie Tristano's sextet at Chicago's Blue Note Club. Also, David Bianculli reviews the Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul on AMC.
In his new book, neuroscientist David Linden explains the science of touch. He tells Fresh Air why pain can protect you, why fingertips are sensitive and why you can't read Braille with your genitals. Then Ken Tucker reviews Bob Dylan's new album, Shadows in the Night, a collection of songs recorded by Frank Sinatra.
Actor Bradley Cooper discusses his Oscar-nominated film American Sniper. He plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who is considered to be the most skilled sniper in U.S. military history. Cooper talks about the controversy surrounding the film, working with director Clint Eastwood, and portraying Joseph Merrick in the Broadway revival of The Elephant Man.
Jennifer Senior writes about how about children change the lives of their parents—for better, and sometimes for worse. She’s the author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Senior considers the impact of children on marriage, sex, work, friendships, and one’s sense of self. Her book draws on a wide variety of studies, surveys, social histories and interviews with parents. Then David Edelstein reviews Timbuktu, one of the five nominees in this year's Academy Award race for Best Foreign Language Film. It centers on the radical Islamist occupation of Mali.
Religion scholar Jack Miles edited the first ever Norton Anthology of World Religions. The anthology includes ancient and contemporary interpretations of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. Miles discusses primary texts, extremism and death. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Outline by Rachel Cusk, a novel about divorce that pushes back against convention -- not so much in its sentiment but in its form.
Why do teenagers behave like -- teenagers? We get an explanation from neuroscientist Dr. Frances Jensen, who says our brains are still maturing through our 20s and that the front part of the brain is the last to develop. "And what's in the front? Your frontal cortex and prefrontal cortex; these are the areas where we have insight, empathy, impulse control," she says. "Risk-taking behavior is suppressed by activity in your frontal lobes." Her new book is called The Teenage Brain. Also critic at large John Powers comments on the controversy surrounding American Sniper. He says the film isn't as simple as some people seem to think.
We talk to Kevin Howlett, the executive producer of The Beatles: On Air Live at the BBC Volume 2. The album is a collection of recordings of the Beatles performing originals, covers, and chatting with BBC hosts in the early '60s.
Veteran crime reporter Jill Leovy talks about the epidemic of unsolved murder cases in African American communities. Leovy, with a unit of LAPD homicide detectives, got to know the families of victims and saw the impact on a community besieged by crime, violence and witness intimidation. Her new book is called Ghettoside.
Also book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Almost Famous Women, a collection of short stories about historical women with unruly lives.
Scientists believe the asteroid that caused the fifth extinction killed off the dinosaurs. This time we're the asteroid; the sixth is being caused by human behavior. Elizabeth Kolbert talks about her book, The Sixth Extinction – which is a finalist for the Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction and is out in paperback. Kolbert says amphibians are the world’s most endangered class of animals. Also heading toward extinction are “a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles and a sixth of all birds.”
Also rock historian Ed Ward tells us about Cosimo Recording Studios – New Orleans’ only studio in the ‘60s. It made great records by Aaron Neville, Johnny Adams, Robert Parker and others.
Sportscaster Al Michaels says, "I've always felt that the game itself is pretty much a melody -- and I am there to provide the lyrics." He talks about how he became interested in sports, the hardest sport to announce, and the upcoming Super Bowl next weekend. Then, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews composer and French horn player Tom Varner's new album, Nine Surprises.