American Crime Season III: Makes You Think

I recently came across the series American Crime (season three) on DSTV. The onscreen blurb says ‘Created by John Ridley, producer of 12 Years a Slave’. Associating the series with that film implies that American Crime will make a statement about social injustice and provide food for thought. This is indeed the case.

The message in American Crime is simple and clear. It’s about exploitation in modern-day, Western America. Those exploited include immigrants to the USA (both legal and illegal), homeless American teens and housewives. The crimes committed against these groups include cheap labour, physical and emotional abuse, entrapment and sex trafficking. Groups and individuals who try to intervene and help are social workers, specifically Terri LaCroix (Regina King), one of the housewives Barb Hanlon (Felicity Huffman), and finally the ‘justice’ system. But each of these ‘helpers’ is imbued with their own complex, real-life pressures. The series shows them trying to help and then gradually buckling under their own personal difficulties until the ‘help’ becomes tokenism. It is interesting to see that three of the story lines involve people eventually compromising morally on their interventions for the sake of their own children (or unborn children as the case may be). The final scene of the final episode highlights how the overarching problem is the failure of the justice system against all the victims.

So, yes, you don’t have to think deeply while watching American Crime. But it does make you ponder. Examine situations similar. Wonder how people have got into the situations they have. The characters in American Crime are numerous, complex and very well acted. And the situations are difficult and multi-faceted, just as they are in real life. Without moralising American Crime lays out how injustice happens and how we might all contribute in some way or other.

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter sums up a response to the television series well when he says: ‘Nobody ever turns off an American Crime episode and says, “Sure, that’s what John Ridley was talking about on the surface, but here’s what I think the episode was REALLY about…” But if Ridley has done his job, and he usually has, you turn off an American Crime episode and say, “What do I think about what just happened? How does what just happened make me feel and what can I do about it?”’








Lead up to the award ceremony: Cinema Nouveau Announces Pre-Release Screenings of Three Multi-Nominated Oscar Contenders

Each of the three pre-release titles, August: Osage County, Nebraska and Philomena, will have one screening each at 8pm on 24, 26 and 27 February respectively, at the four Cinema Nouveau theatres at Rosebank Mall in Johannesburg, Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria, Gateway in Durban and the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Bookings are now open for these three special pre-Oscar screenings.

The talented Meryl Streep, who is no stranger to the Best Actress category, is once again nominated in this category for her role in August: Osage County, which will be pre-released at the four Cinema Nouveau theatres on Monday, 24 February at 8pm. Another big Hollywood name, Julia Roberts, shares the screen with her in this film and is up for Best Supporting Actress.

On Wednesday, 26 February at 8pm, Cinema Nouveau audiences are transported to another American state with the pre-release of Nebraska. With an impressive six Oscar nominations, for Best Picture, Best Actor – Bruce Dern, Best Supporting Actress – June Squibb, Cinematography, Best Director – Alexander Payne, and Original Screenplay, this black-and-white masterpiece explores another complex family relationship.

With four Oscar nominations – Best Picture, Best Actress – Judi Dench, Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay – Philomena plays on the Cinema Nouveau circuit at 8pm on Thursday, 27 February. It releases nationally on 28 March.

When former journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what to do. All that changes when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena (Judi Dench), who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent. Martin arranges a magazine assignment about Philomena’s search for her son that eventually leads to America. Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover as much about each other as about her son’s fate, as their basic beliefs are challenged.

Cinema Nouveau audiences can watch these films and make their predictions before the winner of “Best Picture is announced during the early hours of 3 March.

The full list of nominees vying for this prestigious award are: Gravity; Captain Phillips; American Hustle; Dallas Buyers Club; Her; Nebraska; Philomena; 12 Years a Slave; and The Wolf of Wall Street.

For more information and to make a booking, visit or Call Ticketline on 082 16789.

The 2009 Academy Awards (Source: Creative Commons)

The 2009 Academy Awards (Source: Creative Commons)

The 31st Academy Awards (Source: Creative Commons)

The 31st Academy Awards (Source: Creative Commons)