The Salesman: A high-brow whodunnit


The Salesman


For those of us who have sat through a high school English Literature class, the name of the latest installment of UW-Parkside’s foreign film series might ring a few bells. Perhaps, I first thought, it is a modern reimagining of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” set in Iran? Unless, I then considered, it has nothing to do with the play. However, I soon realized, that Miller’s play does feature, though its relevance to the main plot may not be immediately apparent.

Have a taste

“The Salesman”, released in 2016, follows the story of an Iranian couple, Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana’s (Taraneh Alidoosti) forced out of their apartment when the building is structurally compromised. This unexpected relocation comes at a terrible time, as both are ameture actors in a local production of “Death of a Salesman”, but luckily one of the other actors owns an apartment building and happens to have a vacancy. The apartment is spacious and clean enough, but there is one strong drawback to the space: the previous tenant had left most of her belongings and an unsavory taste in the collective mouths of her neighbors. However, not to be discouraged by stories of the previous tenant’s multitude of gentleman callers, Emad and Rana move her old belongings out and their own in. So with everything going well, it is time for fate to chuck a wrench in the whole thing–an intruder in their home.

The cultured people like it too

The Salesman has garnered acclaim from film festivals, award committees, and likely your one friend who knows way more about movies than you. In the past two years, “The Salesman” won an Oscar for best foreign film, an Asian Film Award for best screenwriter, two Cannes Film Festival Awards for best screenplay and best actor, along with various other awards. Of course, if you don’t trust the fine men and women of the Academy Awards Committee, the film received a 7.9 out of 10 on IMDB, and is certified 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. So, no matter who you ask, they are likely going to recommend you see it.

This praise is due, in no small part, to the film’s director and screenwriter, Asghar Farhadi. As is the case with many of his other films, Farhadi takes a thought provoking premise, and gives it a suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian twist. The film itself lacks the action of Hollywood blockbusters like Taken, but there is more than enough intrigue to keep audiences at the very edge of their seats.
Interested yet? Well, if you are, but missed its week-long run at Parkside, I highly suggest you look for a copy at your local library and give it a watch.

This Week in History | Valentine’s Day 1929

Al Capone Mugshot - public domain
Al Capone’s Mugshot

Rory Larson |

The Roaring Twenties—what many people conjure in their minds when they think about the twenties is an era of glamorous parties, flappers and, of course, gangsters.

Our modern image of the 1920’s gangster is somewhat idolized, when in actuality the life of a gangster was a gritty and hazardous one. Anyone could be a cop or a member of a rival gang, and your life was on the line if you could not make the distinction in time. It is on this stage that Al “Scarface” Capone rose up to be America’s famed “public enemy number one” and became the king of Chicago’s criminal underbelly.

“Public Enemy Number One”

Capone inherited the position of mob boss from his previous boss, Johnny Torrio, when he was wounded in an assassination attempt in 1924 and retired. By this time Capone was already well known to many gangsters and police men in Chicago. He had always had his eyes set on taking over all of the bootlegging, gambling and prostitution within Chicago. Capone accomplished his takeover by picking off his rivals at gunpoint. It is believed that one of these attempted hits was the St. Valentine’s Massacre.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Though it has never been proven, Capone was—and still is—believed to have put a hit out on George “Bugs” Moran, boss of the North Side Gang. This “hit” was carried out at a garage on the north side of Chicago on Feb. 14, 1929, where seven members of Moran’s gang were lured under the guise of purchasing bootlegged whiskey. Moran himself was running late and missed his own assasination by mere minutes.

All seven men that went to the garage to pick up the whiskey were lined up against the garage wall by rival gangsters dressed as police officers under the pretense that they were being arrested. They were shot while facing the wall, over 70 rounds being fired at the unsuspecting men.

When interviewed by the media after the incident Moran was quoted having said, “Only Capone kills like that.” Capone, who was currently at his residence in Florida gave his own response to Moran’s accusation—“The only man who kills like that is Bugs Moran.” Nobody was ever put on trial or charged for the massacre.

The Fall of Capone

Al Capone wasn’t brought down for another two years. What was the final nail in the coffin you might ask? Tax evasion. In 1931 Capone was charged with 22 counts of tax evasion and served 11 years between Atlanta and Alcatraz Penitentiary. In 1939 he was released and retired to his Florida residence, dying eight years later in 1947.

To this day Capone has never been definitively proven to have caused the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and there are others who have taken credit for the crime. Unfortunately, as with most cold cases, we may never have the answers to what really happened in that garage on the north side of Chicago.

OMSA screens “More Than a Word”


Maikou Lor pic.jpg
Maikou Lor

“More Than a Word” is a modern documentary by Kevin Bruyneel, and it brings to light current issues in the Native American community. A large portion of the documentary focuses on the legal battle surrounding the name Redskins American football team. The movie also looked at historical Native American struggles and current issues.

Native Americans have long been depicted as mascots for many different sports teams. The documentary talks about how sociological research has found that this has a negative effect on Native American youth.

I found the documentary to be very interesting, and there were refreshments and snacks provided.  I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the student organizers of the event, Maikou Lor.

“We decided to choose a to have a movie as an event is because it would be a different way to present information about Native American culture,” stated Lor. Having a movie night creates a social event that is fun and educational. Exposure to these issues can help facilitate dialogue.

Significance of the movie

Lor said, “Being a new film, it was a great opportunity to be able to showcase this film to the university and help bring awareness to the current issues that Native Americans have. It creates a connection to people who are unaware of the issue that this is current, happening now. “ This movie not only addressed the current problems, but it also shows the work of the Native American people.

Lor found the movie to be interesting because it shows why people support or do not support the name change. Lor stated, “Though I personally agree with the filmmakers that it should be changed due to what the name means and the history behind it.”

This was a well put together event. The documentary showed current issues in the Native American community. I think everyone could learn something from this documentary.


“Aquarius”: fortune favors the feisty


On the seventeenth of May, Aquarius was shown at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The film, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and starring Sonia Braga, was released at the height of a political crisis revolving around the impeachment of Brazil’s 36th president, Dilma Rousseff. The cast and crew of Aquarius were more than vocal about their opinions on the impeachment between the film festival and its official release in September of the same year, garnering the film much attention. Because of the vocal nature of the crew, it was seen as a retaliation by the Brazilian government when film was not selected as the country’s entry to the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Government disapproval

Despite the government’s supposed disapproval of the film, Aquarius went on to be nominated for several awards, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film and the César Award for Best Foreign Film, among many others. Aquarius then went on to win ten out of its nineteen nominations, including three awards for best film, and four for best a actress. The film also earned a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.6 out of 10 on IMDb.

Why all the fuss?

Aquarius centers around a 65-year-old retired movie critic, though the first scene of the movie takes place roughly 30 years before the rest of the film. We are introduced to a young Clara, smiling and dancing as she recovers from a nasty bout of breast cancer. Within the first ten minutes, we are accosted by the first unnecessary shot of two adults engaged in what should be a private moment. Indeed, it is not a mortal sin to show nudity on a screen (the film is unrated for a reason) and it does set the tone for what the audience can expect over the next two hours, but surely there are better times (Better times such half way through the film when, in a transitional shot, a couple is clearly seen having sex on the beach. Better times, like when Clara stumbles upon an orgy and then precedes to call male prostitute to entertain her for the evening.) Suffice it to say, that the more delicate may want to shield their eyes or wait for the next foreign film in UW-Parkside’s series.

Touching moments

I digress. Clara resides in an old apartment building called the Aquarius and lives there quite happily until a development firm begins buying up each of the apartments. They intend to tear down the Aquarius and build a new complex on the spot, but Clara has vowed to only leave her home when she is carried out in a box. What follows is the touching story of a woman living a complicated but undeniably real life.

If you have a couple hours, and missed UW-Parkside’s showing of Aquarius, it may be worth your time to seek out the film online or your local library. Happy viewing.

Westosha Central choir to visit and perform

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James Kinchen


UW- Parkside is well known for hosting spectacular performances including the Noon Concert Series and numerous plays and musicals. Frances Bedford Concert Hall is no stranger to being the home of these performances. The Westosha Central Combined Concert Choir and UW-Parkside’s choir will perform on Dec. 10 at 3:30 pm.

What to expect

With the holidays in full swing, one might expect to hear only Christmas songs, but this performance will have other music as well. According to James Kinchen, who is the director of choral activities, “The Westosha Central Combined Concert Choir and UW-P’s choir will perform the piece GLORIA by 18th century Italian composer, Antonio Vivaldi,” Kinchen mentioned that there will be other music on the program aside from Gloria. “There will also be separate performances by Kalyn Harewood, Kyle Lipp, Rae’Kwon Banks, Ben Briseldin, Rodnay Owens, Hannah Leclair, and Byrell Lampkins will all have solos,” said Kinchen.

Behind it all

The benefit of having high school students join college choirs is the community and campus involvement that it provides. “For starters, we are able to leverage what we are as a program, department, college, and institution and what we have to offer in a way that enriches our own students, serves the PK12 choral community, and offers a quality performance to listeners. This project allows us to recruit students and to also make yet another statement to people who don’t know so much about our campus about the quality of what we do and have to offer,” Kinchen stated.