This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today's guest is actor Andre Holland, who has starred in very different roles in very different media. On film, he played the adult Kevin in the movie "Moonlight." On TV, he starred as the owner of a jazz club in Paris in the Netflix miniseries "The Eddy." And next week, on New York Public Radio, he stars in a new radio play adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Richard II." Here he is in the title role in a scene with Miriam Hyman.
Gothic horror tales — from the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe to Jordan Peele's 2017 film Get Out — are almost always about escape. Run away! Run away from demons and haunted houses; from graveyards and ghouls; from racism and sexism.
Welcome to Chechnya is a grimly ironic title for a documentary that plays like a chilling undercover thriller. The camerawork is rough and ragged; the sense of menace is palpable.
The movie opens on a dark street in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, where a man smokes a cigarette and arranges secret meetings and transports by phone. This is David Isteev, a crisis intervention coordinator for the Russian LGBT Network, and he spends his days helping gay and transgender Chechens flee a place where they are no longer safe.
I always remember how a beloved college professor of mine responded when I told him the news that I'd gotten a fellowship to a Ph.D. program in English. "Well," he said, "at least you'll be able to read Finnegans Wake in the unemployment line."
At the time, I laughed along. I, too, believed literature would be enough of a consolation were I ever to find myself jobless and broke. But no more. The passing years and the present economic crisis make Finnegans Wake seem like cold comfort.
On Feb. 9, 1950, Joseph McCarthy, a junior senator from Wisconsin, stunned the nation — and stoked the paranoia of the Cold War — when he alleged that there were 205 spies working within the U.S. State Department. It was the beginning of a four-year anti-communist, anti-gay crusade in which McCarthy would charge military leaders, diplomats, teachers and professors with being traitors.
Growing up in Queens in the 1970s, Padma Lakshmi remembers eating a spaghetti dish her mother made with upma, an Indian porridge. The Top Chef host and executive producer, who came to the U.S. from India at age 4, says such culinary mash-ups are common in immigrant kitchens.
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: