Popular Birthday Months, Best Movies Of 2018, Government Shutdown Enters Fifth Day

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If it seems like you’re sending more birthday cards during a few months of the year, there might be something to that. We talk with an environmental health science expert about seasonal birth rates and why changing climates might affect that. We also talk about the best films of the year and we take a look at the ongoing government shutdown.

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  • Film Critic Shares 4 Picks For 2018's Best Movies

    The year 2018 may well be when Hollywood movie studios started listening to audiences and opening the door to include more diverse casts in mainstream films.

    Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther” became the top-grossing superhero film of all time in North America and “Crazy Rich Asians” became the first mainstream movie in the United States in decades to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast.

    And yet, movie critic Reggie Ponder, known as “Reggie the Reel Critic,” said that while there were a number of great, diverse films made this year, there’s still a ways to go.

    “I wouldn’t get too excited,” he said. “I would just say that the trend seems to say that this could bode well, but there’s a lot of work left to do.”

    From a Latino perspective, for example, the year was still “woefully inept,” Ponder said. And while the number of women behind the camera is seeing something of an upwards trend, it’s not moving fast enough.

    Financially, making more diverse movies makes sense, he said.

    “What it says for Hollywood, if they pay attention, is that when you have these diverse films with diverse casts and you have a cross-section of people going to these movies, that this is a great way to appeal to different people, but also make money,” Ponder said.

    And 2018 box office numbers are up compared to 2017, which some insiders have attributed to an increase in movies released by major studios that cater to diverse audiences.

    Ponder shared four of his favorite movies of 2018:

    “Black Panther”

    Set in the fictional African nation Wakanda, the heir to the kingdom must step up to protect it after a powerful enemy re-emerges.

    The social impact of Marvel’s superhero flick can’t be understated, Ponder said.

    “(Director Ryan) Coogler was able to take a popular film, but also make it have a … social relevance that was absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

    “It raised the level of superhero films in a way that they made these expectations that they … can’t just make these movies ‘bang bang,’ ‘fight fight,’ shoot ’em up kind of films,” Ponder said.

    “Mary Poppins Returns”

    “If you like ‘Mary Poppins,’ you’re gonna love “Mary Poppins Returns,”” he said. “The cast is fantastic, the music is poignant … there’s a message in everything.”

    Years after Mary Poppins first visits the Banks children, she returns to help an adult Michael (with three children of his own) who is about to lose his home — and remind him and his children to believe in themselves and the magic in life.

    “The Favourite”

    A British historical comedy-drama, “The Favourite” is set amongst royalty in early 18th century in England as the frail Queen Anne allows her close friend Lady Sarah to govern the country until a younger rival, Abigail, starts to rise in her ranks.

    “It’s entertaining to watch these two women and their conniving ways in which to get the affections and the influence of the queen,” he said.

    “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

    A computer-animated superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Miles Morales, the Brooklyn teen soon realizes he isn’t the only one who can transform into Spider-Man when he meets Peter Parker and must use his new skills to take on the evil Kingpin threatening his home.

    “It takes it to a whole different realm … the animation is fantastic, you get that Spidey humor that you’re looking for,” Ponder said. “It gives you a different movie and excites you again about superheroes, but it says, ‘Hey this is a different type of fare for you.’”

  • Government Shutdown Enters Fifth Day

    The government shutdown has entered its fifth day and some 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed as a result. At issue is a political fight over funding a border wall in Congress that the President promised as part of his campaign. We speak with Christine Emba of the Washington Post about the shutdown and its potential political–and human ramifications.

  • One Reason You Might Be Sending More Birthday Wishes In The Summer

    If many of your friends and family have birthdays during the summertime, it could be because animals of all kinds have reproductive seasons that are influenced by daylight and temperature. We learn more about this from an environmental health science professor.

  • The Best Movies Of 2018

    2018 might be remembered as the year that big Hollywood movie studios started to listen to audiences, and finally open the door to featuring more non-white casts in mainstream films.

    We talk to a film critic about the year in movies, and take listener’s calls on their favorites from the past year.

Episode Credits

  • Derrell Connor Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • Brad Kolberg Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Reggie Ponder Guest
  • Christine Emba Guest
  • Micaela Martinez Guest

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