What to Read, Watch, and Listen to This Winter

So many artists, thinkers, and writers with Berkeley connections have come out with new work this winter. Here are a few of our favorites: 

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II

By Daniel James Brown ’74

From the Winter 2021 issue of California.

A Pandemic and a Reckoning with Race: It Was an Unprecedented Year for this Oakland High School

High school has always been hard, but its challenges are now unprecedented. Peter Nicks’s new documentary, Homeroom, which began streaming on Hulu on August 12, follows a group of Oakland students as they move through their final chapter of high school. Their academic year began in 2019 before it was, of course, interrupted by the pandemic.

Silent Star: Marshawn Lynch a No-Show in New Film About His Life

David Shields was having a good night. His new film, a biographical documentary about retired running back and former Cal phenomenon Marshawn Lynch, had just screened to a packed and enthusiastic house at The New Parkway Theater in downtown Oakland. Now he was joined at the front of the theatre for a Q&A by former UC Berkeley sociologist Harry Edwards and moderator Michael Smith, formerly of ESPN. Edwards was heaping praise on the film, entitled Lynch: A History.

Q&A: Roberta Grossman on the Untold Story of the Warsaw Ghetto

In 1940, a Polish historian named Emanuel Ringelblum and a group of 60 scholars, journalists, and local leaders, known as the Oyneg Shabes, set out to record Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis had taken over, and, unbeknownst to Ringelblum, a plan for the “Final Solution”—the systematic extermination of the Jewish people—was beginning to formulate.

Out of the Gate: Laughing Through Tears

In 1966, the same year that I finished my studies at UC Berkeley, the psychology department made a scientific breakthrough. A graduate student discovered that watching an extremely graphic film documenting the subincision rites (the ritual cutting of the undersides of the penises) of Australian aboriginal boys could raise stress levels, particularly in men.

From the Fall 2015 Questions of Race issue of California.

Coming to a Theater Near You! Again: Do We Live Vicariously Through Reboots and Sequels?

The Transporter: Refueled is coming out on Friday, and it’s the fourth reboot in the Transporter franchise (if you don’t count the television series reboot of 2012). It rehashes the same concept of a man transporting something, with a few changes—one of those being Ed Skrein taking the place of Jason Statham, the actor who created the role of Frank Martin and played him in the other three Transporter movies released between 2002 and 2008.

Bearing Witness: Filmmaker Tells Story of Diverse Nazi Victims Branded by “Triangles”

The horrors of the Holocaust have inspired countless films, but award-winning documentary filmmaker Ann Meredith thought she had something unique to offer. She wanted to tell not just the stories of the millions of Jews who were killed, but also those of the lesser-known victims of the Nazi death camps, including Gypsies, Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, gays, lesbians and transgendered people.

The resulting documentary “Triangles: Witnesses of the Holocaust” is scheduled to premiere in Los Angeles next month.

When Seeing Isn’t Believing: Our Eyes Always Play Tricks On Us—And That’s A Good Thing

There’s a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones movie, where the villain swallows a fly. It happens right after Indy catches up with a Nazi convoy transporting the Ark of the Covenant through the Egyptian desert, on its way to deliver the Ark to Hitler.

“I’m gonna blow up the Ark, Rene!” our hero shouts down from his vantage point on the cliffs.

Behind the Curtain

Berkeley psychology professor Arthur Shimamura is unabashedly obsessed with cinema, but his day job is studying the brain. So, as both cineaste and scientist, it made sense to merge his livelihood with his passion.

Shimamura has coined the term “psychocinematics” to describe the cognitive aspects of the movie-going experience. He has a blog and a new book, Psychocinematics: Exploring Cognition at the Movies (Oxford University Press, 2013). For anyone who revels in the smell of popcorn and the roar of the Dolby sound system, it’s fascinating stuff.

From the Fall 2013 Film Issue issue of California.

Watching the Watchers

Five days after East Bay native Oscar Grant was fatally shot by a police officer at the Fruitvale BART station, an incident captured on video by witnesses, Oakland-based attorney and Berkeley School of Law graduate John Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART in support of the Grant Family.

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