Back in the early '80s, four lanky Brits calling themselves Depeche Mode, armed only with primitive synthesizers, started churning out pop hits. Nearly 40 years later they've sold over 100 million albums and are one of the most popular live acts on Earth. This weekend they'll become the first band ever to play four consecutive sold-out shows at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Rico spoke to Mode's main songwriter, Martin Gore, and his fellow founding member, Andy Fletcher, about their synth beginnings, their shift to more political music, and the worst night of their musical lives.
Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton started out as rock video auteurs, co-directing classic clips like Extreme's "More Than Words." They leapt to the big screen with "Little Miss Sunshine" -- which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Their new film is "Battle Of The Sexes." A dramedy about the real-life, 1973 tennis match between women's champion and feminist Billie Jean King, played by Emma Stone and the chauvinist former men's champion Bobby Riggs, played by Steve Carrell. The two talk to Rico about why they created a more nuanced portrayal of Riggs… what was really going on beneath those 1970s costumes.
In 1992, Yance's Ford's brother William was killed. Then, 10 years ago, Yance started making a documentary about the murder and why a grand jury decided the case would never go to trial. That film, titled "Strong Island," is more of a personal movie than a piece of journalism. Yance explains why he features his hands prominently while showing the personal items on screen, how talking about the film gave him a sense of relief, and more.
"Rat Film" takes Baltimore's longstanding rat control problem as a metaphor for other social ills, from institutional racism to economic inequality. It's an impressionistic, vaguely creepy mix of cinema verite and art film -- and it's earned its creator, Theo Anthony, comparisons to filmmakers like Werner Herzog. Hear Rico talk with Theo about how he got interested in rats, what he learned about what people's relationship to rats can reveal about themselves, and more.
Teju Cole is a true polymath. His novel, 'Open City,' won the PEN/Hemingway award. And he writes about photography in a column for The New York Times Magazine, which makes sense since he also exhibits his own photography around the world. His new book, 'Blind Spot,' combines all these pursuits into one publication. talks with Brendan about what he learned about himself in the process.
ESPN recently launched a sports podcast called "30 for 30," based on their celebrated documentary series of the same name. Each episode is dedicated to a different sports story. Brendan sat down with editor Jody Avirgan and producer Rose Eveleth to talk about an upcoming episode featuring an unassuming woman who took sweet revenge on casinos by utilizing the decorative patterns on the back of cards to her advantage.
The Hague's Gemeentemuseum has the world's largest collection of paintings by modernist master Piet Mondrian — and this month, for the first time ever, they put them all on display. Listen as Rico visits the museum and gets schooled on the life and work of the surprisingly hard-partying artist.
Archaeologist and diplomat T. E. Lawrence's involvement in the Middle East during World War I was legendary, but another person of equal influence has kind of been forgotten in the history books (and on-screen). Her name was Gertrude Bell, and the directors behind a new documentary called "Letters From Baghdad" explain why she is the most important explorer you've never heard of.
Anne Lamott's spunky, soul-bearing non-fiction has made her a best-selling author many times over. Her books sometimes investigate spiritual themes and sometimes they're about very human triumphs and tribulations, like overcoming alcoholism or raising a son as a single mother. In her new book, she celebrates a virtue that seems to be in short supply these days: mercy.
Our topic for Chattering Class this week: Psychology's infamous Rorschach test. And our teacher is author Damion Searls. His new book, "The Inkblots," is all about Hermann Rorschach, an artistically-inclined Swiss psychiatrist who in the 1910s learned he could diagnose patients just by asking them to describe what they saw in abstract blots on paper. He talks with Rico about Hermann's history and what made the Rorschach's blots so effective and unique.