April 28, 2015 12:21 UTC

American Mosaic

Now Showing: a Few Frightening Films for Halloween

Detail from the official movie poster for
Detail from the official movie poster for "Monsters"

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MARIO RITTER: Welcome to American Mosaic in VOA Special English.

(MUSIC)

I’m Mario Ritter. This week on our program, we take a look at some scary movies, just in time for Halloween...

We also answer a question about the Kennedy Center, in Washington...

And we have music by singer, songwriter and producer Bruno Mars.

(MUSIC)

Scary Movies

MARIO RITTER: October thirty-first is Halloween. The holiday comes from an ancient Celtic tradition of celebrating the change from autumn to winter. The Celts believed the spirits of the dead mixed with the living on that day. They would put out sacrifices of food and light fires to keep the spirits from doing any harm to the living.

Now, adults give candy or other treats to children dressed as witches, ghosts and other creatures to keep them from playing tricks. Many adults celebrate the holiday in other ways. Some go to Halloween parties. Others like to watch a scary movie to get in the spirit. Hollywood releases several to choose from every October. Katherine Cole tells about a few in theaters now.

KATHERINE COLE: The movie “Let Me In” is an American version of a Swedish vampire movie called “Let the Right One In.” Owen is a lonely twelve-year-old boy who is mistreated by a big, mean boy at school. Owen’s mother is an alcoholic. He finds friendship with Abby, a vampire girl his age. Well, sort of his age.

(MOVIE SOUND: “Let Me In”)

OWEN: “Are you a vampire?”

ABBY: “I need blood…to live.”

OWEN: “But, how old are you, really?”

ABBY: “Twelve, but…I’ve been twelve for a very long time.”

The movie also explores the dark side of human nature.

(MOVIE SOUND: “Monsters”)

SAMANTHA: “Do you feel safe staying here?”

GUIDE: “Si, in the high grounds, you know you’re safe. In the rivers you’re not safe. If you don’t bother them, they don’t bother you. When the American planes come, the creatures, very mad, you know, crazy, crazy animals. They very, very dangerous.”

KATHERINE COLE: That is from the science fiction horror movie “Monsters.” It is the first feature film for director Gareth Edwards.

“Monsters” tells the story of Andrew, a photojournalist, and his employer’s grown daughter, Samantha. It is the future and part of the world has been taken over by huge, alien monsters. Andrew and Samantha are trying to get back to safety in the United States but they have to travel through the so-called infected area in Mexico.

Along with vampires and monsters, Halloween moviegoers can see a ghost movie. “Paranormal Activity 2” was released a week ago. The first “Paranormal Activity” movie was a huge success when it came out last year. It was the story of a young couple who were haunted by a terrifying presence in their home. They capture the experience on video.

“Paranormal Activity 2” follows the same idea. However, this time a family is terrorized. And, the baby and dog in the house seem to sense the presence more fully than everyone else. Here is a little of the action.

(TRAILER: “Paranormal Activity 2”)

Kennedy Center

MARIO RITTER: Our listener question this week comes from China. Chun-Quan Meng wants to know more about the Kennedy Center in Washington.

The Kennedy Center presents music, dance, plays and other performances. The full name is the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The idea began with legislation signed by President Dwight Eisenhower in nineteen fifty-eight to create a National Cultural Center.

The Kennedy Center on the Potomac River in Washington
The Kennedy Center on the Potomac River in Washington

The building opened in nineteen seventy-one as a memorial to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president. He and his wife, Jacqueline, strongly supported the arts.

Architect Edward Durrell Stone designed a simple white building that overlooks the Potomac River.

The Kennedy Center has several performing areas. The Concert Hall is the largest. The National Symphony Orchestra performs there. So do popular entertainers.

The Washington Opera, ballets and musical comedies are performed in the Opera House. Plays and some opera and dance productions take place in the Eisenhower Theater. Smaller theaters in the Kennedy Center present music groups and plays. The Family Theater presents performances for young people.Each year more than four hundred performances are offered free of charge by local, national and international artists.

Over the years, some of the world's top artists have performed at the Kennedy Center. Many special events also take place there. These have included a month-long celebration of the traditional and modern arts of China. They have also included an exploration of the culture of twenty-two Arab nations.

The Kennedy Center also serves as an educational headquarters. It supports and teaches people about the performing arts in America. It creates programs for teachers and students of all ages. It supports competitions and training programs for students. And it pays young performing artists to create new works.

The Kennedy Center also has traveling productions attended by millions of people each year.

The fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s inauguration will be January twentieth, two thousand eleven. The Kennedy Center will honor the former president with a special concert and three weeks of performances and events.

President Kennedy once said: "I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."

Bruno Mars

(MUSIC: “Lazy Man”)

MARIO RITTER: Bruno Mars is a singer, songwriter and producer who has been performing since he was a small child. The twenty-five-year-old has performed with his family, with hip-hop stars and on his own. His new album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” has become a huge success. One critic described Bruno Mars’s album as having ten near-perfect pop songs. Shirley Griffith has more.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Bruno Mars was born Peter Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents, both musicians, are of Puerto Rican and Filipino ancestry. He began singing in his family’s band when he was only a few years old.

Bruno Mars performing in August in Universal City, California
Bruno Mars performing in August in Universal City, California

Bruno grew up listening to his father’s collection of nineteen fifties music. He says these songs had subjects that were easy to understand. He was also influenced by the rhythm and blues and hip-hop music he listened to on the radio. Both musical styles can be heard in Bruno Mars’s own songs. Here is hip-hop artist B.o.B’s popular song “Nothin’ on You.” Bruno Mars sings the song and helped write it.

(MUSIC)

Bruno Mars moved to Los Angeles, California after high school to follow his dream of making music. He and two friends created a songwriting and production group called the Smeezingtons that has been very successful. He says working as a team helped him develop as an artist and led the way to making his own record. Here is “Count on Me” from his first full album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans.”

(MUSIC)

Bruno Mars says he writes music that he strongly believes in and that comes from inside him. We leave you with his hit song “Just the Way You Are.”

(MUSIC)

MARIO RITTER: Our program was written by Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

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