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March 20, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-03-20

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 5A

Ken Burns brings
documentary to 'U'

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mous filmmaker history, you touch a question of
talks race, Burns's films, dealing largely
hsoy with historical subject matter, tend
merican history to look backward rather than for-
ward. But in looking backward, one
By MAX RADWIN can more clearly see the issues at
Daily Fine Arts Editor hand in the present day.
"A hugely important under-
e Penny W. Stamps Speaker standing that I arrived at fairly
welcomes documentary early in my professional life is
aker Ken Burnsto the Mich- that human nature remains the
Theater same," Burns said. "In times when
Thursday. Penny W. we've lost the ability to have a civil
and Dan- discourse ... the value of history
krent (a Stamps increases because history is still a
r editor Lecture table around which we can agree
he Michi- to cohere."
Daily) will Series: Ken Burns's most recent film, "The
a series of Burns Central Park Five," which screens
lips while on Saturday during the 51st Ann
sing race Thursday Arbor Film Festival, became a
e United at 5 p.m. strange joining of historical and
a topic Atithe Michigan current events in a different way.
remains New York City subpoenaed Burns
cant to Free as well as co-directors Sarah
niversity's Burns and David McMahon for the
nt body, to Americans every- project's unused footage, thinking
and, especially after recent that it would help defend against
battles with the city of New the still-ongoing, $250-million
egardingthe 2012 documen- civil rights lawsuit that the five
The Central Park Five," to men filed after being exonerated
and Florentine Films. from the 1989 rape of Trisha Meili.
ns will use clips from films In addition to chroniclingthose
hing across almost the entire- 1989 events, the film attempts to
lis career. Some of them deal uncover the identities of the five
ace head-on like "The Civil men involved (four of whom were
and "Unforgivable Blackness: black, the other Hispanic and
ise and Fall ofJack Johnson," all under 17 years of age) whose
the other two films - "The humanity was seemingly taken
of Liberty" and "Jazz" - from them at the time.
ice as a lens through which "The language of a liberal pro-
w, and better understand, a gressive city at the end of the 20th
American phenomenon. For century was the language of Jim
the subject is an integral Crow's southern newspapers of
f the American identity and is the late 19th century," Burns said.
t unavoidably relevant in any "That's what's chilling - is that
bout its history. these same racial tropes, these
ore often than not, it's eas- same racial stereotypes, these
count the films that don't same racial codes and phrases can
any relationship to race," be used a century later in what
said. "(Race is) only includ- would seemingly be a place of for-
cause it's there. When you giveness."
h the surface of American The city of New York justified

its subpoena on the grounds that
the film was a one-sided advocacy
piece. Burns and his co-directors
disagreed - as did a federal judge,
who blocked the city's subpoena
on Feb. 19.
"It's a victory for journalists and
filmmakers everywhere," Burns
said, "because it does add an extra
layer of protection in an area where
the courts have been more often
disposed to prying into journalists'
While the court's decision is a
victory for documentarians every-
where, Burns recognizes the more
pressingmatters athand.
"It's sort of heroic that filmmak-
ers are subpoenaed and I suppose
even more heroic that they have
at least temporarily prevailed,"
he said. "But the most important
story is that we are approaching
the 10-year mark on the civil suit
for five young men ... and still, there
is this gigantic, gaping hole in their
childhood that hasn't, in some
ways, been resolved."
Even though their own minor
trials have come to a close, Burns
and Florentine Films are as busy as
ever, working on a 14-hour, seven-
part history of the Roosevelt fam-
ily to be released in 2014, a one-off
story about Jackie Robinson for
their "Baseball" series in 2015 and
a documentary about the Viet-
nam War set for 2016. As for how
Florentine Films will approach
documentingthesethree historical
events, Burns said, "You can believe
that race is an integral part."
Burns has also been in dis-
cussion with HBO through Tom
Hanks's company Playtone to
produce a dramatic series about
the life of the boxer Jack Johnson,
which, after the success of the 2005
documentary, Burns sees as "ripe
for dramatic treatment."
Concerninghis role inthe actual
filming of the series, Burns only
said laughingly, "I'm keeping my
day job."

So' do you want to go see 'Spring Breakers' with me?"
Mila Kunis capitalizes
on her charisma

Bringing TV back to life
with fan-funded projects

DailyArts Writer
TV fandom has hit an all-time
high. Eloquently exemplified by
the superfan who pledged $10,000
to the we're-pretty-sure-it's-real-
ly-happening "Veronica Mars"
movie, series cancellation isn't a
death sentence anymore: It's an
Far from the days of sending
angry, passionate letters (or bot-
tles of Tabasco sauce) in an effort
to reinvigorate weary produc-
ers of cult-status series, the new
reality might only require dip-
ping into your wallet. It certainly
worked for Rob Thomas, creator
of "Veronica Mars," who launched
a Kickstarter campaign to (partly)
fund a six-years-in-the-making
Twelve hours later, the proj-
ect reached its goal of $2 million.
With 24 days left, over $3 million
has been pledged, from as little as
a dollar to the whopping $10,000
someone pledged for a speaking
role in the film. What seemed like
a crazy pipe dream destined to
die on thousands of Internet mes-
sage boards is now within reach.
Which begs the question: How far
can we take this?
With the possibility open, will
other gone-too-soon series clamor
for their own kickstarted dreams?
Some have already succeeded
without asking fans to shell out
half the proceeds - series like
"Community," "Arrested Develop-
ment" and "Family Guy" have all
managed to drag themselves out of
the coffin and back into the spot-
light. It's a different story when
attempting to make the leap to the
silver screen, but "Veronica Mars"
fans seem to have no problem pay-
ing for the we-hope-we-can-keep-
it promise
of a nostal- First seen on
gia-filled - the filter

Daily Arts Writer
Earlier this month, Mila Kunis
appeared on BBC Radio l's "The
Scott Mills Show" to promote her
new movie, "Oz the Great and
Powerful." Though Kunis has
been on a press junket for the past
few weeks, I think she'll remem-
ber this interview in particular
- after all, it has amassed closetos
11-million views injusttwo weeks.
Chris Stark, the first-time
interviewer, was vocal about his
extreme anxiety from the begin-
ning. After one question about
the film, he digressed, detail-
ing his and his buddies' favorite
drinks and nighttime hangouts.
Though his bosses were clearly
not impressed, Kunis was having
what she called the best inter-
view she'd had all day.
The interview, which might
be a bump in the road for Stark's
early career, has done wonders
for Kunis, who came off as incred-
ibly funny and down to earth. At
one point, the top comment for
the video on YouTube is "such
an awesome chick." Other com-
ments range from "Mila Kunis is
the best" to "bestninterview ever!"
When celebrities embark on
weeks-long promotional tours,
what's most important is that
they come off as likeable and
human - so that we can watch
them and say, "Hey! You're just
like the rest of us!" And what's
more "regular" than Kunis enjoy-
ing a cold Blue Moon, fried chick-
en, soccer and a few Jgerbombs
every now and then?
Kunis's "Oz" interview hasB
propelled her to the top tier
of celebrity interviewees. By
avoiding the same wrought and
boring questions, these actors
are able to connect much bet-
ter with audiences and emit a
down-to-earth energy that's
necessary to sell yourself and
your film.
Nobody has done this bet-
ter than Jennifer Lawrence,
the ultra-likeable "Silver Lin-
ings Playbook" Oscar winner.
Lawrence succeeds because she
never takes herself too serious-
ly. She's able to laugh at herself,
even after tripping on her walk
up to accept the award for Best
Mila Kunis's "Oz" interview
is essentially Lawrence's post-
Oscars press video, which is
currently at over five million
views. Much like Kunis, Law-
rence laughs off the boring,
seemingly necessary questions.
"What was your process this
morning?" asks one reporter, to
which Lawrence replies, "What
was my process? I don't know, I
just woke up ... I took a shower
I got my hair and makeup
done, and then (with a mocking
tone) I came to the Oscars." She
then apologizes and blames her
behavior on the shot she took
before coming out.
This is precisely how fellow
Oscar winner Anne Hathaway
has failed. Whereas Lawrence
isn't concerned at all about
being politically correct or if
people will like her, Hathaway
is too conscious of how people

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e her. Her inability to at knocking celebrities down a
it herself, coupled with few pegs and humanizing them.
azing skill of relating any His movie parody, "Movie: The
n to the "misfortunes of Movie," pokes fun at the repeti-
her "Les Mis" charac- tive and commercialized nature
made her the anti-J-Law of the film business, all the while
out the awards season. starring the actors who make up
ence, Kunis & Co. owe the industry. Similarly, "Celeb-
debt to the new legion of rities Read Mean Tweets," in
talk show hosts, whose which stars read insulting tweets
as have facilitated these about themselves, accomplishes
mages. Most significantly, the same goal. By acknowledging
Fallon and Jimmy Kim- us regular people and our criti-
e taken talk shows to the cisms, celebrities gain an instant
vel, and they've brought likeability.
lebrity guests with them. When Kunis finally gives in to
the producers of "The Scott Mills
Show," she offers to quickly run
te M oon and through the answers to the ques-
tions she "already knows (Stark)
Led chicken is gonna ask." She details her
character's evolution throughout
all you need. the film and how she approached
her character and her relation-
ship with the other actors on set
before getting back to the good
Late Night with Jimmy stuff: Will she or won't she be
actors and singers are Stark's date at his friend's wed-
iged to join Fallon in ding?
:gments, clips and games Kunis's attitude toward the
tout the episode. They questions about her movie was
confined to the typical one of boredom, and it was also
air setup or the usual the most boring minute of the
ns. Consequently, they're interview. Audiences don't really
showcase their actual care if Mila Kunis rooted her
lities. Watching Tina Fey character in honesty; her pres-
ience members in a game ence is promotion enough for the
onary, or Justin Bieber film. When I'm most engaged is
Ilon play basketball is not when I feel like Kunis (or Law-
ore fun to watch, but it rence, or any other actor) could be
s audiences that celebri- one of my best friends - and for
people, too. a lot of people, that's going to be
ny Kimmel has also reason enough to go see "Oz the
somewhat of a master Great and Powerful."

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a Mars the Vampire Slayer."
tuch as I'd love (and prob- Where was Deputy Leo?"
y) for my own cancelled We can't ever return to that
("Pushing Daises," I'm perfect time in our lives that
at you) to resurface - all made our favorite series so earth-
iny and exactly as I imag- shatteringly important. My
f course - I'm not so sure eighth-grade self is screaming for
a trend worth buying into. a "Gilmore Girls" movie, but is
y. nostalgia really a reason to drop
$100 on the hopes that everything
will turn out exactly like you
ry and Jess thought you wanted (I don't care
what you think, Rory and Jess
forever, end up together) however many
years ago?
Despite the promise of the
same cast, the same producer,
been burned in the past, the same everything, it can't be
g hopes on movie sequels helped. There are no guarantees.
hose damn prequels) to And you can bet that your Kick-
late a beloved franchise or starter campaign for "Veronica
provide a satisfying end- Mars II" isn't going to cut it. Are
e all wish Harrison Ford we prepared to unleash all our
. had left "Indiana Jones" carefully preserved expectations
as the fourth installment without the set-in-stone assur-
t piteous, and I can't even ance that ruination isn't right
out the recent "Die Hard" around the corner? Is what we
wn. TV series have to work want really what we want?
uch harder to transform Either way, I'm hauling ass
eir movie counterparts - to the theater when (or if?) the
tly an hour and a half, can "Veronica Mars" movie final-
beloved series here) really ly hits the big screen. Fingers
o a satisfying conclusion? crossed.
will always be at least - The original version of this
rson (probably me) in the article waspublished on TheFilter,
ce going, "What the hell? the Daily Arts blog, on March 17.

Wjf vorBES




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