Prescription painkillers are among the most widely used drugs in America. In the decade since New York Times reporter Barry Meier began investigating their use and abuse, he says he has seen the number of people dying from overdoses quadruple — an increase Meier calls "staggering."
"The current statistic is that about 16,000 people a year die of overdoses involving prescription narcotics. ... It's a huge problem. The number of people dying from these drugs is second only to the number of people that die in car accidents," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
French film Blue Is the Warmest Colour, winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of a teenager named Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) who falls in love with a blue-haired art student named Emma (Lea Seydoux).
Credit John Powers
John Powers, a Fresh Air critic at large, writes about film and television for Vogue and Vogue Daily.
Credit Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images
Actors Garrett Hedlund (from left), Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, directors Joel and Ethan Coen, Oscar Isaac and T-Bone Burnett attend the Inside Llewyn Davis press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19.
"It was the film of the festival," critic John Powers tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about Blue Is the Warmest Color, this year's Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival. When Powers says "film of the festival" he means "it was the film that people loved the most, some hated the most, and everyone talked about the most."
For 20 years, Stephen King has had an image stuck in his head: It's a boy in a wheelchair flying a kite on a beach. "It wanted to be a story, but it wasn't a story," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. But little by little, the story took shape around the image — and focused on an amusement park called "Joyland" located just a little farther down the beach.
The New York City band Vampire Weekend has carved out a sense of immaculate melancholy for our era as surely as Steely Dan once did for Upstate New York in the '70s. Characterized most immediately by the earnest, concise, sometimes surprisingly expansive vocals of Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend makes atmospheric music.
Soldier Brian Turner is no silent witness to war. Instead, he used verse to chronicle his time in the U.S. Army, publishing a book of collected poems titled Here, Bullet. (Originally broadcast on July 22, 2008.)