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September 04, 2019 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Wednesday, September 4, 2019 — 5A

In the spirit of Welcome Week,
Festifall and all things post-Labor-
Day, The Michigan Daily Film section
has written a collection of blurbs
celebrating our favorite “Openings”
to movies. Here’s to another year of
learning, changing, trying, failing,

“The Sound of Music”
“The Sound of Music” might be
my favorite musical of all time. The
film, released in 1965, was wildly
successful, claiming the title of the
world’s highest-grossing film for half
a decade, and it’s not hard to see why.
There’s just something about it —
the music, the characters, or maybe
even the story itself — that feels
timeless and completely irresistible,
and I think whatever magic it was
that made “The Sound of Music” so
popular is encapsulated in its very

first minutes.
The opening scene of the movie
is rather simple, capturing Julie
Andrews (“Mary Poppins”) as Maria
roaming the fields of Austria in song.
It’s all we as viewers need to want
to attach ourselves to the character
for as long as we possibly can. In
just these few moments, we discover
that it’s impossible not to love her.
She’s charming, fun, determined
and completely true to herself —
everything one could possibly ask for
in a heroine. The song she sings, sweet
yet sentimental, is elevated to a thing
of brilliance thanks to Andrews’s
voice. It’s hard to imagine that anyone
else on Earth could make a line as
trite as “my heart wants to sing every
song it hears” sound as powerful and
earnest as Julie Andrews does.
— so beautiful it’s almost hard to
believe it’s a real place — it’s rendered
trivial with Andrews’s presence. Her
command of the camera is as natural,
as obvious as our need to breathe.
The scene, carried by one of cinema’s
all-time greatest actresses, truly is a
thing to behold.
— Elise Godfryd, Daily Arts Writer

“Back to the Future”
As a whole, I’ve long believed “Back
to the Future” to be one of the most
well written films of all time. Every

line of dialogue sets up another, every
off-handed joke becomes a central
piece of the plot. The first scene of
the film is among one of its finest in
this regard. The first shot, a slow
pan across a series of synchronized
clocks instantly reels the audience
question of why all of these clocks
are synchronized while also clearly
showing that time is what the movie is
going to be about. A television brings
us up to speed on stolen plutonium
that we see in the laboratory moments
after. By the time Marty McFly blows
out the gigantic amplifiers a minute
or two later and realizes he’s late
for school, we already know exactly
who this too-cool-for-school slacker
is. The most ingenious part of this
opening is when Doc calls Marty on
the phone. In only about four lines of
dialogue, we inherently understand
the friendship between Doc and
Marty, a friendship that eventually
becomes the central and emotional
core of the entire trilogy.
We never ask how a teenaged
wannabe rock star became friends
with a crazy inventor. It doesn’t
matter. In less than four minutes,
audience has accepted a seemingly
preposterous premise, “The Power
of Love” begins to play and a perfect
opening sequence is complete.
— Ian Harris, Daily Arts Writer

To begin: Openings, part two

This piece is part of a September series
about coming back to Ann Arbor for the
fall. Writers share their experiences
with culture over the summer, what they
missed about Ann Arbor and what has
changed in the city upon their return.
Each year I expect everything to have
changed completely when I return to
Ann Arbor for the fall. Yet each year,
as I merge off of highway I-94 with
suitcases and school supplies in tow, my
expectations are never met. The city has
the same street signs, flashing red lights
and corner stores as it did in months
prior. Every fall I return to things just
as I left them.
My house is the same as it was when I
left. I come home to a porch full of people
talking with one another, laughing at
a joke I’ve been absent for during my
summer travels. I feel a bit distant from
the closeness of the housemates who
have stayed together during the warmer
days of the year. Yet, they still greet me
with their familiar smiles. Soon enough,
it feels as though I’ve never left.
When I walk into work to pick up this
week’s schedule, my manager shakes my
hand hello just as she shook it goodbye
in May. We’re still serving the same
special drinks. Even the moody old
woman who always files complaints is
there asking for a refund on what she
ordered. Perhaps the only thing that’s
different is the new coat of paint on the
walls. But even that is pretty much the
same shade of red, just a bit darker.
My friends are also the same as they
were before. We laugh at the same inside
jokes that we always have. We still like
to hang out at the same spots and eat in
the same restaurants as we usually do.
My friends look just as they did when
we left school, only maybe a bit more
tan. When I greet them they are alive
with stories about the past four months,
eagerly waiting to tell me everything

I’ve missed while we’ve been apart. I
want to tell them every single detail of

my summer, too. When I try to relay my
stories to them, I find myself growing
frustrated. My words don’t seem to
do my experiences justice. So much
happened over the short period of time
that we’ve been apart. The summer feels
like a wonderful blur that’s left me a
different person than I was before.
As Welcome Week wears on, I can
sense my mind drifting away from the
dreamy allure of May, June, July and
August. Soon enough, it’s caught in the
swing of university life. I feel myself
shifting to the person I was before I left
for the summer. I begin to doubt that
I’ve even changed at all. To my friends,
I worry, I probably seem exactly the
I want to feel comforted by the
routine familiarity of my surroundings
upon returning to school. Yet, my
stomach is unsettled. Perhaps it’s
because I somehow expected Ann
Arbor to have changed just as much as
I did over the past four months. Maybe
these feelings are simply a result of the
natural progression of getting older. I’m
an upperclassman now. This is what it
feels like to be confident in the city I’ve
lived in for the past two years. This is
how it feels to no longer want to impress
those older and with more college
experience than me. I should be happy
with how smooth everything is going.
Yet, what should feel comfortable just
feels downright unsettling.
When I was a freshman, I had wanted
so badly to feel comfortable in Ann
Arbor. But now, I can’t help but strive
for some sort of obstacle to overcome. I
turn off my cell phone and walk a route
I never have before just to see if I can
get lost. I know the campus like the
back of my hand, though, and I get to
my destination in no time at all. Maybe
I should be grateful for the confidence
that comes with familiarity. But it is
only human nature to desire what we
can’t have. And right now, all I want is
to be uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable starts


Daily Arts Writer


Daily Arts Writer

Take any page from Oyinkan
Braithwaite’s novel “My Sister,
the Serial Killer,” and it’s clear
that Korede, Braithwaite’s main
character, has troubles with men.
Her difficulties bleed through all
two-hundred pages of the debut,
in flashback and in her present
storytelling. But thanks to — you
guessed it — her serial killer of a
sister, these men are
frequently long-dead
by the time Korede
deals with them. And
that’s only the start of
her problems.
mystery made it onto
bending novel such
as Braithwaite’s has
made it onto 2019’s
literary list. The story
opens unabashedly as
a thriller with Korede
scrubbing blood from
the caulking of a bathroom floor.
The chapter is called “bleach.”
It’s the third time that her sister,
Ayoola, has murdered a man, and
it’s the third time Korede’s helped
her discard the body. Clinging
to sibling loyalty, from the get-
go Korede appears unwilling to
intervene in this pattern of crime.
It’s intriguing, and it’s believable.
The two continue forward — the
Lagos police never terribly far

dating Tade, the embarrassingly
oblivious doctor from Korede’s
workplace whom she is also in
love with. Quickly, “My Sister”
evolves into a drama of sibling

and self-sacrifice with a seasoning
of murder.

disappointing — in “My Sister”
never manages to escape a brisk,
cataloguing thriller style. And the
story unravels, passages are slowly
reduced in length until readers
are left with half-page chapters
that serve as flashbacks — a page-
turner tactic that, perhaps lazily,
functions to give half-glances into
truth that keeps you reading. These
blips, often ending in almost-

push “My Sister” back into line
with other thriller-esque novels.
There’s nothing literarily fantastic
about this type of prose. A pattern
practically moves the pages for
readers, and makes obvious that
Braithwaite knows her characters
and story. But it also makes “My
Sister” an odd, too-comfortable
choice for a Booker longlist.
What the debut does prove,
will not be limited in her future
storytelling. Kicking out calculated
character tactics the genre often
beckons, the space is filled with

well-developed relationships and
intricate questions that Braithwaite
leaves often unanswered. Korede
and Ayoola’s bond is the most
believable, with the two character’s
motives particularly complex as
Ayoola’s habits threaten to force
the two into becoming opponents.
Korede’s reliability becomes weaker
through the novel, making the
relationship but more convincing as
this disconnect from reality chips
away at the sisters’s bond.
attracted literature fanatics to the
“My Sister, the Serial
and mature themes
slowly rises to the
surface of the debut.
Braithwaite holds her
cards carefully here,
into a higher literary
caliber. Rather, such themes exist
peacefully alongside the serial-
killing fireworks of the novel.
Korede’s situation becomes less
about the thrill of the kill and more
about the morality of each of the
characters in their day-to-day lives.
By the climax of the novel, readers
are invested in much more than just
the desire to know who Ayoola will
kill next.
Do great novels have to be
groundbreaking? Probably not. “My
Sister” can be a sufficient piece of
fiction without offering anything
revolutionary. Still, with a stack
of potential literary prizes, the
debut feels like it has only brushed
against its potential.

‘My Sister’ debuts with grace


Daily Book Review Editor

My summer started with tragedy.
It was May 12 to be exact, mere days
after the flurry of finals and packing
and goodbyes came to an end. I had one
more goodbye to give, one I had been
dreading for years yet simultaneously
counting down the days to. May 12 —
the day that “Veep” ended.
Since 2012, I have been enamored
with “Veep.” It was a show I started
watching with my mother — before I
realized it might be too raunchy for
a tween — and one that I caught up
with in my freshman year of college.
It might just be one of the greatest
shows of all time. In all of its humor,
its topics and its beautifully developed
and truly awful characters, “Veep”
is the near-perfect TV show. I could
fill pages with what the best quips
are, the best missed jokes or most
underappreciated character, but there
is one aspect of the show that solidifies
its title as best comedy, that carries
the weight of “Veep” on their skirt
suit-clad back. I mean, of course, the
venomous Selina Meyer — commonly
known as Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Summer 2019 was the summer of
JLD. Following the conclusion of
“Veep,” I went anywhere to get my
fix. I watched and read all interviews
or profiles of Louis-Dreyfus and the
“Veep” cast, the best being an in-depth
look at the shooting of the finale
episode by Jen Chaney at Vulture.
When I couldn’t find more interviews,
I watched Louis-Dreyfus accept her
many, well-deserved awards. In one
speech, she brings up Tony Hale,
who played Selina Meyer’s obsessive
right-hand man Gary on “Veep.” Hale
and Dreyfus say in character as she
accepts the award, Hale whispering in
her ear the people to thank much like
Gary whispered in Selina Meyer’s ear
the names and facts of ambassadors
she was forced to meet with.
Even with these interviews and
speeches, without “Veep” I had nothing
to I looked forward to watching. There
was a brief, glorious detour to Phoebe
Waller-Bridge’s incredible “Fleabag,”
but after those two magnificent six-
episode seasons, I was back in my
“Veep” gloom. And so, I did what any
other desperate, lost person would do:
I rewatched “Seinfeld.”
It’s a standard line to say that
women can’t be funny. It’s pretty

much the central conflict of Amazon’s
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Women can
be pretty, helpful, maybe even smart
if you don’t listen too closely. But one
thing they can never be? Funny. Julia
Louis-Dreyfus has been shattering
this sexist misconception since 1989,
when she was cast in “Seinfeld”
because NBC executives demanded
that Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David
add a woman to the central cast.
Thank you, NBC executives, for being
just a smidge more progressive than
Seinfeld and David, because this
contractual condition introduced the
world to Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine
Benes, and she’s been unstoppable
ever since.
“Seinfeld” was always a constant in
my life — it’s my dad’s favorite show
and the syndicated program I would
watch every day when I was home
sick from school. Some people really
hate the show. Some people really
love it. I’ve felt both ways towards the
show, but my love for Elaine Benes
is unstoppable. She’s neurotic, edgy,
troublesome and has an enviable head
of hair. Her often failed trysts with
New York City’s men are addictive
to watch unravel, and her tendency
to shove her friends as a reaction to
intense emotion is near-poetic. In
“Seinfeld,” Dreyfus was a master
of physical comedy. Her shoves and
“the Elaine dance” because so iconic
and well-known that “Broad City”
stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
composed a contemporary dance to
honor them at Dreyfus’s Mark Twain
Award ceremony.
Watching “Seinfeld” as a successor
to “Veep” leads to the realization
that Elaine Benes and Selina Meyer
aren’t really all that different. That
doesn’t mean Dreyfus lacks depth
and mobility with the characters she
plays — quite the contrary. Elaine
is an oddball New Yorker in a show
about nothing. Selina is the president
of the United States in a show about
everything. But through Dreyfus the
two epochal characters are one —
in their stiff, awkward moments of
physical comedy, in their inability
to ever escape the incompetence
of the men around them, in their
misadventures and missteps. Elaine
and Selina aren’t just funny women,
they are women who are funny in
the exact way women shouldn’t be:
Improper, immoral, foulmouthed and

An ode to Julia Louis-
Dreyfus, just because


Senior Arts Editor

‘My Sister, the Serial

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Anchor Books

November 20, 2018

Daily Arts Writer

Braithwaite holds her cards carefully here, thankfully reluctant to
force symbolism or dramatization for the sake of moving her novel
into a higher literary caliber

Every line of dialogue sets up another, every off-handed joke
becomes a central piece of the plot

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