Chattering Class


mifune

Looking Back at Toshiro Mifune’s Legendary Career

From the 1940s and into the ‘80s, Toshiro Mifune was known world around as Japan's answer to John Wayne. He starred in almost 200 movies, including a slew of classics directed by the great Akira Kurosawa. His life is now the subject of a new film called, "Mifune: The Last Samurai." Oscar-winning documentarian Steven Okazaki explores the actor’s origins and looks at how Mifune left his mark on cinema, despite being thousands of miles away from Hollywood.


Photo Credit: Noah Kalina

Emily Witt Takes a Closer (and Personal) Look at Dating in the Modern World

When the investigative journalist was 30, she found herself single and questioning whether she'd soon find love. So she decided to explore the modern state of sexual relationships in her latest book, “Future Sex.” It details her experiences dating online, on the set of a porn shoot, embedded with a polyamorous couple, and beyond.


Yamamoto Toji and Chi-chan tending to cooked saké rice in "The Birth of Saké." (Photo Credit: Yoshida Yasuyuki)

The Myths and Miseries of Saké-Making

This week on Chattering Class, we're learning about saké. And our expert is Erik Shirai. His debut film is a gorgeously shot, quietly meditative documentary called, "The Birth of Saké." It debuts this Monday, Sept. 5 on PBS. And it details the painstaking, traditional method of saké making at a single Japanese brewery.


(Photo by AFP/Getty Images

How Bruce Lee’s Legacy Lives on After His Death

Each week on Chattering Class, we're schooled by an expert in some party-worthy topic. This week, the topic is the most famous martial arts fighter of all time, Bruce Lee. And our teacher is Charles Russo. His new book is called "Striking Distance: Bruce Lee and the dawn of Martial Arts in America." He examines how Lee’s passion for martial arts came to be and his life before movies made him a legendary fighting figure.


By Bain News Service, publisher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Florence Foster Jenkins: One of the Best Worst Singers Ever

Each week in chattering class we're schooled by an expert in some party-worthy topic. This week our topic is "the worst opera singer ever." And our expert is a purveyor of fine, bad music author Darryl W. Bullock. He wrote "The World's Worst Records, Volume One and Two." And his new book's a biography called "Florence! Foster!! Jenkins!!!" Florence was an eccentric and beloved New York socialite who, in the 1900s, insisted on singing opera classics... stupendously badly. She became a local celebrity, and eventually, an international phenomenon.


Courtesy of Participant Media. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Yo-Yo Ma Gets Existential About ‘The Music of Strangers’

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the best-known classical musicians in the world. He's produced 90 albums and received 18 Grammy awards. In his new documentary, he gives us a closer look at his world/classical music super group, the Silk Road Ensemble, and tells us why music is a lot like a Martini.


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The Re-Emergence of Hailu Mergia

Hailu Mergia drives a cab in Washington, D.C. He's also responsible for one of the most popular songs in Ethiopian history.


(Photo courtesy of Film Movement)

‘Hockney’ Paints a Portrait of the Artist As a Grown Man

Each week on Chattering Class, we're schooled by an expert in some party-worthy topic. Today's subject: David Hockney -- one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. And our teacher is Randall Wright. He has directed a new eponymous documentary about the artist. In it, he explores the life of the man behind those iconic paintings of swimming pools and the good life of Los Angeles. The film is made up of interviews with Hockney himself, images from his career, and footage from Hockney's never-before-seen home movies.


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Duncan Sheik Blends Synths, Satire in ‘American Psycho’

Duncan Sheik has been penning pop music since the '90s, when his tune "Barely Breathing" was a top 20 hit. But these days he may be best known as a Broadway composer, and his latest stage project may also be his most unlikely: He's written the music and lyrics for a musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' satirical horror novel, "American Psycho." He tells Rico why there's a little Patrick Bateman in all of us.