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Michael Ryan, 45, is a juvenile judge in Cleveland, Ohio. And like many of the kids who end up in his courtroom, he didn't have an easy childhood.

He adored his mother, he tells his son — also named Michael, 19, at StoryCorps in Cleveland, but she was addicted to heroin.

President Trump has promised to build a wall along the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

A third of the border already has a barrier, thanks to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by then-president George W. Bush. That initiative ran into issues with landowners near the Rio Grande. If the wall goes forward as Trump promises, more lawsuits may be coming.

In America, there is a rare echelon of pop stars so big they only need one name: Madonna, Cher, Prince. In Italy, that name is Zucchero.

The war against ISIS is entering a tough new phase, as Iraqi fighters with growing U.S. assistance push into western Mosul, warns the senior American commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend.

"ISIS is a brutal, brutal enemy," said Townsend, speaking in Erbil as Iraq's security forces were about to attack Mosul's airport with help from the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.

This week United Nations officials declared that a famine in South Sudan is growing — fueled by a deadly combination of drought and conflict. They estimate that nearly 4 million people are already struggling to get enough food. And officials expect the famine will spread to more areas in the coming months affecting an additional 1 million people.

Meanwhile the threat of famine is looming over three other countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, putting a total of 1.4 million children at risk of death this year.

Animated films can do more than babysit kids; instead of simply quieting children for an hour or two, they can act to open conversations with them. Most American animation does not share this goal, however, and aims instead to feed kids a steady diet of hyperactive screen candy. That's why the Oscar-nominated French-Swiss cartoon My Life as a Zucchini might feel like a vegetable instead of the delightful treat that it is.

Horror parodies are seldom as funny, and never as scary, as fright-flicks that play their scares, er, straight. Jordan Peele — the shorter half of the 21st century's funniest sketch-comedy duo — understands this, and that's why Get Out, his debut feature as writer and director, is so truly, madly, mercilessly entertaining, even when it makes you want to jump out of your skin.

The awkward flirtation between the Chinese and American movie industries continues with Rock Dog, an amiable but generic talking-animal cartoon about a mastiff who dreams of rocking in the free world. Not that the movie has a political subtext: The only oppressor that Bodi (Luke Wilson) seeks to escape is his caring but rigid dad, Khampa (J.K. Simmons).

As You Are, a coming-of-age movie in which no one comes of age (putative adults included), opens and closes with an aerial shot of two figures crossing a lawn in front of a house. A shot rings out both times, and the action in between circles around that event in time, framed by scenes of an unseen detective grilling the major players for their selective memories of a trauma for which everyone's responsible — yet that no one, least of all the shooter, meant to happen.

Little Bandit is a group devoted to the songs of Alex Caress, who's making classic country music with a sassy and subtly political twist. Caress first impressed Nashville audiences as part of the dream-pop band Ponychase, which was led by his sister, Jordan. More recently, he's played keyboards in breakout punk-blues star Adia Victoria's band.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his way to the Duma, the lower house of parliament, on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day. The Feb. 23 national holiday was once known as Soviet Army and Navy Day, and Shoigu, dressed in the uniform of a general, came to boast about the Russian military's latest achievements.

"We tested 162 types of contemporary and modernized weapons in Syria, which showed a high level of effectiveness," Shoigu said. Only 10 weapons systems performed below expectations, he added.

The oft-overlooked Oscar category of best documentary short has a dramatic theme this year: Three of the five films nominated are about Syrians, and each offers an intimate, eye-witness account of the devastation in that country.

One of the shorts, The White Helmets, follows a group of civilian volunteers in Aleppo who search for and rescue bombing victims. They're the only first responders left and they've saved tens of thousands of people, digging them out from the rubble. (The sound of bombs blasting can be heard throughout the film.)

As the shorter half of the sketch-comedy duo Key & Peele, Jordan Peele was ever on the lookout for distinctive ways to tackle ethnic stereotyping, so it makes sense that he'd leaven his film directing debut with more than just a dash of social satire.

Get Out, billed in its opening credits as "from the mind of Jordan Peele," is a horror-flick with a decidedly Peelean take on genre and on race — one that subverts familiar horror tropes while encouraging audiences to simultaneously react to them, and step back to look at them more closely.

The Associated Press is reporting that Beyoncé will not make it to Indio, California in April for her planned headlining performance at Coachella, one of the world's most successful and highest-grossing music festivals.

After working mostly as a behind-the-scenes guy on Chappelle's Show and Inside Amy Schumer, Neal Brennan is now stepping out as a performer.

When winter freezes Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota, the landscape becomes dotted with sturdy wooden or metal shacks and canvas shelters. Inside them, people are ice fishing.

The sport attracts people to the frigid winter lakes in Canada and the northern United States. Some take it seriously enough to partake in official competitions. But for most people, it is a way to enjoy time with family, friends and perhaps a bottle of schnapps, and ultimately a delicious fish dinner from the day's efforts.

When STRFKR's Josh Hodges and Keil Corcoran wrote the synth-pop romper "In The End," they say they imagined it as "a cross-dresser, alien-abduction-type thing." Their new video for the cut came close — it's a drag queen heist film.

Gabriel Garzón-Montano is one of the most promising new artists of 2017. His full-length debut on Los Angeles label Stones Throw, Jardín, is a solid listen from front to back, and his sexy, soulful songs have been a favorite on KCRW's airwaves. He and his drummer performed our current favorite, "Crawl," live in our studio.

SET LIST

  • "Crawl"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

It may be easy, as you focus in on the sharp synths, rolling bass and snapping drums (one can hardly be blamed) driving "Meticulous Bird" to miss the remarkable message being sung by Thao Nguyen, leader of Thao And The Get Down Stay Down.

Whatever else you might say about the themes of La La Land — that it's a film about the ins and outs of young romance, or the pros and cons of creative ambition, or the movie musical as a renewable art form, or the culture of Hollywood, or the state of jazz (more on that in a sec) — you'd have to acknowledge the line it draws between illusion and disillusion.

On Wednesday, as protesters near the Dakota Access Pipeline began to break down their shelters and leave the area, Brooklyn singer Holly Miranda released a song, a cover of an obscure late-'70s science-fictional folk song, that she'd been working on for two months in support of those leaving.

Bad stand-up comedy is, for everyone involved, a special kind of hell. There's really nothing worse than the awkwardness that ensues when a comic bombs in front of a restive audience at an open-mic night, half of whom have been dragged there against their will in the first place. Great comedians have made enduring art and even changed society; all bad comedians have ever done is made people hurry out of a bar with their gin-and-tonics half finished.

From its very beginnings, country music has scarcely lacked for songs about Jesus — you could fill several box sets with them and barely scratch the surface. But thanks to rising Texan alt-country songsmith Jason Eady's "Barabbas," the shadowy figure whose presence is crucial to Christ's tale is getting a rare shot at the spotlight.

Buried somewhere in the fathoms of YouTube is a recent clip of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, apparently filmed with a smartphone in Santiago de Cuba. The band, synonymous with the ebullient spirit of New Orleans, is playing a staple of its book, Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras." What's notable about this version of the song, from December of 2015, is the punchy assist provided by some Cuban percussionists, who fall right into step with its second-line groove.

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