$A - The Michigan Daily -- Monday, March 16, 1998
Minori actors aren't Oscar's priority
nedst be siene
By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
On the eve of the Academy Awards ceremony cele-
biating the best films and performances of 1995, Rev.
Jesse Jackson published an essay on the lack of nomi-
nations received by people of color. His protest of the
Oscars and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and
Sciences received widespread publicity and brought to
light a major problem within the movie industry.
will be free of color aside from Spike Lee, whose doc-
umentary "Four Little Girls" was nominated. Among
those deemed unworthy of recognition: Victor Nunez of
"Ulee's Gold," whose direction propelled Peter Fonda to
a Best Actor nomination; Pam Grier and Samuel L.
Jackson for "Jackie Brown;" the cast and crew of the
wonderful "Eve's Bayou;" and Lee, director of critical
favorite, "The Ice Storm."
But perhaps the snub that best represents the
At the time of Jackson's article, only nine of the state of affair
nominees in the major categories in the '90s had industry was
been minorities. In the year Jackson protested, Hounsou f
Ang Lee, the director of "Sense and formance
Sensibility," was the lone non-white romi- not have b
riee. Hopkins b
Much to.the chagrin of Jackson and many 'Amistad.
others, talented performers such as Don about a slav
Cheadle (who won the National Society of Film 1 be a couple
Critics' Best Supporting Actor Award for his work Hopkins is
in "Devil in a Blue Dress") were ignored entirely Hounsou is
Although the Academy's history of overlooking Moreover, th
minority actors, directors and writers was long, as evidenced
many felt Jackson's criticism would help improve " Damon and B
matters by addressing the issue and bringing neg- bloods who h
ative publicity to the largely white organization script for "Goo
The next year, the Academy nominated two peo- story is rem
ple of color for awards. ficulti
The chosen pair were Cuba Gooding Jr. with
for "Jerry Maguire" and Marianne Jean- Bi
Baptiste for "Secrets and Lies" While out a
Gooding's eventual victory was refresh- the
ing, it is important to note that the two b
performers were in supporting sate-
gories, while many stirring perfor-
mances in lead roles, like Denzel
Washington's exceptional work in
"Courage Under Fire" or Eddie
Murphy's hilarious turn as "The Wc '98
Nutty Professor" (which won him
the National Society of Film Critics An analysis of the pride
Best Actor Award), were not hon- and rejudie of the
ored. 70th Annual
This year, the Oscar ceremony Academy Awards
s in the Academy and the movie
the failure to nominate Djimon
or "Amistad." While Hounsou's per-
was excellent, his omission would
een as noteworthy had Sir Anthony
been overlooked for his acting in
" It is insulting enough that in a story
ve-ship revolt the heroes turn out to
of white lawyers. But to top it off,
nearly laughable in the film, while
the heart and soul of the narrative.
e Academy seems to love underdogs,
by all the attention given to Matt
Ben Affleck, the well educated blue-
ad a bit of a hard time selling their
od Will Hunting."Yet, Hounsou's life
arkably compellirng and features dif-
es far greater than having problems
3ut the Academy should not be singled
as the source of the problem. Granted,
organization is fairly conservative,
but in recent years it has opened its
heart to more creative, innovative
works, such as "Pulp Fiction" and
"Fargo,' perhaps opening the doors
for minority filmmakers who tend
to have less conventional artistic
Still, the failure to win awards is
insignificant in comparison to the
failure to gain ground in the film
industry. When so few of the peo-
ple producing, directing or starring
Courtesy of Trimark
This year, Oscar neglected Kasi Lemmons' evocative
"Eve's Bayou," starring Lynn Whitfield.
in movies are minorities, can the Academy really be
expected to honor more than one or two people of color
Thus, the only way more non-white individuals will
be nominated each year is if minorities somehow
infiltrate the system and increase their prevalence
within the industry. Obviously, this is easier said than
done, and does not necessarily guarantee more recog-
After all, the Academy is the organization that in the
past did not nominate films such as "Do the Right
Thing," "Boyz N the Hood" and "Hoop Dreams,"
which are considered by most to be three of the most
important movies of the past 10 years. The fact that
recent works such as these were not recognized by the
most prominent and pervasive group in the movie world
suggests an enormous problem that is nowhere near
By Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
If horror movies are supposed to
be a representation of clever plot
twists and unpredictabilities, then
surely the writer/director Johnathon
Darby's latest thriller, "Hush,"
intended to be some sort of ironic
Not only is the audience led
through a series of suspense
sequences that were ridiculously
obvious but it is also hit hard with
the blatant lack of any acting talent
from the characters.
Pathetic thrillers such as these
really place a bad mark on the
movie industry. Granted, the chal-
lenge in synthesizing the numerous
loose-ended pieces of the suspense
puzzle in such films is no easy task.
The viewer must be thoroughly
engaged in the action and all the
confusions need to be concretely
yet creatively wrapped up in the
end. In "Hush," one gets a sense
that the director decided to mini-
mize the number of twists and com-
plications to simplify the plot and
present a neat, yet barren, package
at the conclusion.
Reminiscent of the reclusive and
maniacal themes from "Misery,"
"Hush" begins with a blissful
young pair in love, Helen
(Gwyneth Paltrow) and Jackson
Baring (Johnathon Schaech), inno-
cently traveling to see Jackson's
mother, who lives in the country on
a horse farm. Not even two minutes
of the movie pass before one has a
crystal clear image of the formula-
ic droll to follow. After viewing the
ominous mansion-like home and
the first camera shot of Jessica
Lange's over-exaggerated nervous
smile and piercing eyes, the rest is
Jackson and Helen are, at first,
secure under the seemingly compas-
sionate love of their mother and
soon-to-be mother-in-law, respec-
tively. Complications soon arise,
which not only create tensions
between them and Martha (Lange)
but also cause problems between the
lovers. Martha, the stereotypical
smoking, drinking antagonist, will
go to great lengths to keep Jackson
close to home, far away from his
NYC apartment. She loathes Helen
for snatching her favorite son. But
nothing can break the couple apart;
their undying love is stronger than
any old hag.
Of course hints need to be
dropped along the way as to how
Martha will go about her demonic
pillages. Yet these clues are overly
obvious. How many camera shots
does it take before the general
movie-going audience understands
the scheme? Director Darby needs
to give the audience some credit.
No credit, however, should be
given to the actors and actresses.
Lange is melodramatic, Johnathon
Schaech is dry and dull, and Pal trow
just plain stinks.
were, in sum-
ic. We have
for any of
umph and the
neither side shows any worthy
character traits to back up their
Another troubling aspect of
"Hush" is that the film suggests
incest through a series of intimate
scenes between Jackson and Martha
but the suggestion is never devel-
These issues alone do not add up
to the completely ludicrous ending
to "Hush." Any speck of praisewor-
thy acting left by the trio disappears
completely during the last half an
hour of the movie. Still, one suppos-
es that filmmakers must have some
degree of talent to actually be able
to create such utterly bland and bor-
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Jessica Lange off guard.
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