Arts & Culture

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There aren't a lot of people who have dined on meat from the Pleistocene, prehistoric humans notwithstanding. That's why accounts of the 1951 Annual Dinner of the Explorers Club, a society of scientific adventurers, all agree that the organizer of the night, Wendell Phillips Dodge, threw the dinner party of the century. Legend has it that Dodge served the meat of a woolly mammoth.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

New editions of textbooks in France will look a little different.

References to onions? You'll see the word ognon rather than oignon.

A tale about a centipede? The many-legged insect will be known as a millepattes, no longer a mille-pattes.

And most controversially, France is removing the hat-shaped accent known as a circumflex in some cases. For example: the word for "to train" will be spelled s'entraine, and not the circumflexed s'entraîner.

At the beginning of The Club, four men and a woman are living quietly in a small Chilean seaside town. Their days are filled with prayer and religious songs, but also wine and greyhound racing.

This week's show had our toes tapping, you can believe that.

The pope and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church will meet next week in Cuba for a two-hour session that the Vatican and the Moscow Patriarchate say would be "the first in history" — the churches split in the Great Schism of 1054.

The historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill is set for Feb. 12. It's the result of an "intersection of the itineraries" as both leaders will be visiting Latin America next week, the Russian Orthodox Church says.

When Yann Martel gave us the international sensation Life of Pi in 2001, readers discovered a novelist-alchemist, capable of spinning gold out of improbable characters and anomalous scenarios. A tiger and a teenager awash together on the deep blue sea for 227 days? Only Martel could charm us into that suspension of disbelief, making the unlikely tale into fable rather than fluff.

Hail, Caesar!, the 17th feature from indefatigable screenwriting, directing and (pseudo-nonamously) editing brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, is rated PG-13 for "suggestive content and smoking." But save for one word — sodomy — and a few less clinical terms that have long been allowed on network TV, this genial farce set in 1950s Hollywood could've almost passed muster under the Hays Code. It follows a frantic couple of days in the life of Eddie Mannix, head of Physical Production for Capitol Pictures.

The pleasant enough romantic drama Tumbledown follows two writers in Maine, a setting that here might as well be the Great American Dream for creative introverts. There's a wood-paneled cabin, lush wilderness, dogs at the beckon, and a bookstore whose owner is also the local newspaper publisher. On paper (ha), the sparks fly between the leads; in practice, the love affair is really with the idea of writing, singing, and capital-L living in such an idyllic Northeastern small town.

The Icelandic film Rams is about two grizzled farmers who enjoy unusually warm relationships with their sheep. Expect no nudges or winks: Though it's amply salted with dry wit, the movie is a heartfelt inquiry into why two brothers who live side by side have not spoken in 40 years.

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