Near the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a big black monolith appears in an African desert, leaving a group of prehistoric ape-men standing there baffled. And that was pretty much the reaction that greeted the film itself when it premiered 50 years ago this week.
Critic at large John Powers remembers TV mogul Aaron Spelling, who died last week at age 83. Spelling created such TV classics as Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Charlie's Angels, Dynasty and Melrose Place.
It's been more than 30 years since the rugged film star's death, yet he still looms large in the national psyche. Critic John Powers was surprised to find that the indomitable American fighting man was actually a hard-earned act of self-invention.
David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King, was recently published. But to truly enjoy his work, says critic John Powers, you must read his earlier pieces, which were filled with "a staggering eye for detail" from "a mind that was never predictable."
Fresh Air's critic-at-large John Powers was raised to dislike Elizabeth Taylor. But he soon fell for her charms. He remembers the legendary actress who was a siren on-screen -- and a committed supporter of HIV/AIDS research.