Monday, September 16

Reels, Notes & Takes: Week 4


(Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

(Courtesy of Universal Pictures)


There’s no better place to keep a finger on the pulse of arts and entertainment happenings than Los Angeles. The A&E world is alive – it’s always buzzing, sometimes ready to implode with a hint of a surprise album or a celebrity’s controversial statement. Each week, the Daily Bruin A&E editors will discuss their views on recent topics and trends in pop culture.

A white night at the Oscars

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a slate of 20 Academy Award acting nominations dominated by white actors. Again.

The ethnicity-based pattern of Academy Awards nominations, a carbon copy of last year’s, is becoming a stuck, scratchy record prompting the annoyance of audiences. The hubbub surrounding this year’s nominations, like Will Smith and other personalities of color boycotting the show and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trending worldwide, prompted social media and audience heat. Yet, the singularly ignorant narrative of Charlotte Rampling, a white Best Actress nominee, stood out in her argument that the protests stemmed from anti-white racism.

How can Rampling dare to believe the backlash was fostered by racism against white people? In fact, the protests called for increased diversity in the voting board of the academy, which makes representation more fair, not more racist against white people.

The academy is taking the right step by increasing the number of seats allotted for women and members of minority communities. I’m glad it is ignoring people like Rampling in the process of making its voting board’s ethnic representation more proportional to the films’ audiences and casts.

– Shreya Aiyar

Ice Cube cools Oscars storm

The #OscarsSoWhite storm, which has been steadily growing after years of blatantly whitewashed Oscar nominees, reached full force last week.

Among those who voiced their opinion was British actress Charlotte Rampling. Rampling claimed her comment which described calling for more African-American nominees as “anti-white racism,” was misinterpreted.

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(Courtesy of Rich Fury)

I must admit I find it hard to see how the term “anti-white racism” can be interpreted any other way than as being staggeringly naive and insensitive, but fortunately Rampling was not the only one to publically have their say.

In an appearance on “The Graham Norton Show” on Friday, legendary rapper and filmmaker Ice Cube described boycotting the Oscars is like “crying about not having enough icing on your cake.”

In Cube’s view, whether or not the academy (or any other guild or association for that matter) gives you a pat on the back, isn’t the point of making a movie. For him what matters is pleasing the fans and educating them in the movie’s subject matter. Taking home a trophy for a movie is “not something that you should dwell on.”

Even though I agree with Cube for the most part, I still believe a deep-rooted change is needed in Hollywood to give female and minority artists the same chance that white male actors get.

Whether or not the changes announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs on Friday will be the first step towards these changes remains to be seen.

– William Thorne

“Making a Murderer” and a mystery fanatic

I sometimes permit myself to watch “Dateline” and “20/20,” clinging to bits of delicious evidence, all to see justice prevail.

So after Netflix released “Making a Murderer” on Dec. 18, I was immediately hooked. The documentary series follows the story of Steven Avery who, in the 1980s, was convicted of rape. DNA forensics, however, cleared him after he spent 18 years wrongfully in jail.

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(Courtesy of Netflix)

The next nine of the 10 episodes depict the police proceeding to accuse Avery of a new crime – murder – in a scandalous plot that involves blood tubes, hidden cars, sexual assault, fire pits, bullets and the potentially coerced confession of Avery’s 16-year-old nephew. Don’t worry: I won’t spoil whether or not Avery is innocent or guilty, convicted or freed.

After finishing every suspenseful and emotional episode, I was captivated by “Making a Murderer” because the filmmakers insert their belief that Avery is innocent by only interviewing his supporters, the good guys, like Avery’s family and lawyers. It’s unlike other nonfiction crime dramas, which give multiple sides to the story and purposefully confuse viewers about whether the defendant is guilty, putting cliffhangers before commercial breaks.

“Making a Murderer” kept my mouth gaping with shocking twists that had me gasping in disbelief, tearing up and raging about the American justice system. At the beginning, Avery is not presumed innocent and no one seeks an alternative suspect – trials only seem to decide whether there is enough evidence to convict Avery or not.

The multiple hours dedicated to trial coverage can be tedious, so the show might not be for everyone; however, fellow mystery-lovers will delight in this documentary 10 years in the making.

– Lindsay Weinberg

Immersed in “Making a Murderer”

I scrolled through the Netflix catalogue instead of drafting the papers due week four on Friday night.

The documentary “Making a Murderer” was at the top of the screen. As a lover of mysteries, I clicked the poster and started on the twisting journey to Steven Avery’s fate.

After two episodes, I was hooked.

Each hour-long episode immerses its audience with its rich interview footages and phone call clips from behind the cell. I found myself simultaneously rooting for the man that was once wrongly convicted for one second, and despising him and back.

I still have questions I want answers to, like why was Sandra Morris so hateful toward her family? Who convinced Avery’s nephew to wrongfully admit to helping his uncle commit the crime? The main prediction I have is Avery will maintain his innocence. I cannot wait see what happens next.

It’s now Tuesday, however, and those two papers are due soon. Unfortunately, I had to stop watching after a mere two episodes. It’s taking a lot out of me to keep from clicking that play button.

– Gail Acosta

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prime content editor

Weinberg is the prime content editor. She was previously the A&E editor and the assistant A&E editor for the lifestyle beat.

Thorne is the prime director. He was previously the assistant A&E editor for the Theater | Film | Television beat.


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