Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Mario Ritter. This week we play music by blues great Koko Taylor, who died last week at the age of eighty.
But first, we take a look at cars that walk and talk ... visit a land down under where dinosaurs roam ... watch a madman seize a subway train... and fear for the family of a very frightening little girl. Welcome to summer in American movie theaters!
Summertime is big business in the movie theaters. And so far this summer, Hollywood is doing well, even in a recession. Last week, we talked about the movie "Star Trek." It is still the top moneymaker so far this season. As of last weekend, the movie had earned more than three hundred thirty-four million dollars in ticket sales.
But there are still lots more movies to come. Movie lovers have adventure, comedy, animated and horror films to look forward to this summer.
Opening today is a remake of an exciting movie from the nineteen seventies about a hijacking of a New York City underground train. It stars John Travolta as the leader of the hijackers and Denzel Washington as the transportation employee who negotiates with him.
"Now you tell me. What is the going rate for a New York City hostage today? What do you think, a million a piece is too high?"
"Maybe I'm not the guy you should be talking to. I'm a civil service employee."
"What time do you got on your watch?"
"In fifty-nine minutes I'm gonna' start killing passengers."
"You don't want innocent people dying, do you?"
"You tell me."
"The Taking of Pelham 123" was based on a book by John Godey. The latest version is getting mixed reviews. One movie critic noted that the earlier film was darkly funny to the very end. She writes that she misses that humor in the most recent version.
Later this month, older children are expected to flood the theaters for "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." It opens June twenty-fourth. Shia LeBoeuf again plays Sam Witwicky in this second "Transformers" film. Like the toys, Transformers are robots that can change into vehicles such as cars and earth-moving equipment. Some Transformers are good, like the autobot Optimus Prime. Some are bad, like the decepticon Megatron. The two sides battle to control Earth. Sam, his friends and the United States Army are caught in the middle.
"Most babies are accidents. Not me. I was engineered. Born to save my sister's life."
Family drama is another subject of movies this summer. "My Sister's Keeper" stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric as parents of a little girl who has cancer. Her only hope is a baby sister who was genetically engineered to help save the older girl's life. Abigail Breslin plays Anna, the younger sister. She experiences years of operations to treat her sister's cancer. Anna decides to take legal action against her parents so she can start making medical decisions herself. Alec Baldwin plays her lawyer.
"My sister has been in renal failure for months now."
"You're supposed to give her a kidney?"
"I want to sue my parents for the rights to my own body."
"Would you repeat that please?"
Jody Picoult wrote the book, "My Sister's Keeper." She says the movie ends differently from the novel. But she says book fans will like the film version, too.
Now, Bob Doughty tells us about some other movies opening this summer.
"Nobody move a muscle ..."
July may be hot but another cool hit may be coming with the movieThis is the third in the "Ice Age" animated series. Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Dennis Leary return as the voices of the three main animal characters. Manny is a wooly mammoth, Sid is a ground sloth and Diego is a smilodon or saber-toothed cat.
Manny and his love, Ellie, voiced by Queen Latifah, are waiting for their first baby mammoth to arrive. And if that is not exciting enough, the friends discover an underground land of dinosaurs.
For children and adults, another Harry Potter movie opens later in July. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will be shown in normal theaters as well as on the huge screens of IMAX theaters. The young wizard is in his sixth year at Hogwarts School. He and Professor Dumbledore must visit the past because of the dangers now facing them and the world.
"What you are looking at are memories. In this case, pertaining to one individual. This is perhaps the most important memory I've collected. I'd like you to see it."
For fans of horror movies, "Orphan" opens July twenty-fourth. After the loss of a baby, a husband and wife adopt an older child. The parents are played by Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga. They already have a little boy and girl when they bring home Esther, played by Isabelle Fuhrman. Her behavior seems only a little strange at first. Then it becomes dark, dangerous and decidedly evil.
"My name is Dr. Varava. I'm calling from the Sarn Institute."
"I don't understand. How can they have no record of her being there."
"There has to be some explanation."
"The orphanage has never heard of her."
"I don't think Mommy likes me very much."
Two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep can be seen in August playing the famous cook and cookbook writer Julia Child. The movie "Julie and Julia" also stars Amy Adams as Julie. She is a young woman struggling in her career until she gets an idea. She decides to make every recipe in Child's best known cookbook in one year and write her own book about the experience. The movie is based on Julie Powell's book, although Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay.
"I'm Julia Child. Bon appetit.
"Before she changed the world, Julia Child was just an American living in France ..."
"Shouldn't I find something to do?"
"What is it that you really like to do?"
"And we are so good at it."
"I am good at it!"
"Look at you! Now, how good you are!"
"Growing in front of you!"
And, finally, movie director Quentin Tarantino has a new film to be released in August. "Inglorious Basterds" stars Brad Pitt and Eli Roth. They play Jewish American soldiers during World War Two. Their military operation is to seek and kill Nazi Germans. The especially vicious nature of the killings is supposed to spread fear among the Nazis. The special soldiers are called the Basterds.
Today we celebrate the life and music of famous blues singer Koko Taylor. The award winning singer died last week. She was eighty years old. Shirley Griffith has more.
That was Koko Taylor with her nineteen sixty-three song "Honky Tonk." It was her first official recording. Koko Taylor was born Cora Walton in nineteen twenty-eight. Her love for chocolate earned her the name Koko. Years later her love for the blues would earn her the title "Queen of the Blues." Koko Taylor began singing gospel and blues music as a child in Memphis, Tennessee.
In the early nineteen fifties she moved to Chicago, Illinois. Soon she began singing with some of the city's top blues musicians. They included Muddy Waters, Junior Wells and Little Walter. She quickly gained widespread recognition. In nineteen sixty-five she released "Wang Dang Doodle."
"Wang Dang Doodle" was a huge success. It sold more than one million copies and reached the top five on the music charts. Over the years Koko Taylor won many awards. They included two Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Heritage Fellowship Award. In the weeks before her death she won her twenty-ninth Blues Music Award, the most for any artist ever. We leave you with Koko Taylor's "I'm A Woman."
I'm Mario Ritter. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by June Simms and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer. Please join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.