Weekend Watchlist | Let’s Get Journalistic

By The Pitt News Staff

This week, our streaming recommendations are a bit self-indulgent — wade through the world of journalism.

Sharp Objects (HBO Max) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

I am starting a petition to get Amy Adams the recognition she deserves. She has been robbed of Oscars and Emmys before, but it is an actual crime that she didn’t win Best Actress in a Limited Series for “Sharp Objects.” For anyone who has already seen the series, I point you to the scene in the dressing room as evidence. For those who haven’t — oh, have I got a recommendation for you.

“Sharp Objects” is the story of Camille Preaker (Amy Adams), an alcoholic and traumatized journalist who is forced to report on a string of murders in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. It’s a quiet country town, and the murder of two young girls has caused quite a stir, particularly with Camille’s socialite mother Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson) who owns the slaughterhouse that employs half the town. This story is a character study for Camille, particularly in terms of familial relationships with her mother, deceased sister and teenage half-sister Amma played masterfully by Eliza Scanlen. The Amy Adams many of us remember — cheery-faced and wide-eyed from Disney’s “Enchanted” and the like — is nowhere to be found here. In Wind Gap not only do her childhood demons still linger in the darkness between alleyways, but new ones have risen as well. The more she uncovers the more she spirals, and the more we want to watch.

The Confession Killer (Netflix) // Heaven Infinity, Staff Writer

What would you do if you were charged for a crime you didn’t commit? You probably didn’t answer “lie and say I did it anyway.” It’s even less likely that you said “confess to over 100 other crimes that I also did not commit, creating one of the biggest hoaxes in American history.” Well, guess what? That’s exactly what Henry Lee Lucas did in the 1980s — and the police believed him! Netflix’s “The Confession Killer” tells the story of how the Texas Rangers convicted a man for hundreds of cold case crimes he never committed. Motive? Unclear. Story? Extremely entertaining. Journalists in the ‘80s covered the story of Henry Lee Lucas, simultaneously informing and confusing the nation. With the number of twists and turns in the documentary, it’s easy to see why that was. Journalists worked to piece together the facts and parse out the fiction of the Confession Killer story, giving us the information needed to create such a gripping documentary.

The Paper (Prime) // Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Walking off an elevator to a line of people trying to get your attention, the buzz of reporters and editors working together on story edits and obscure grammar questions — sounds like a newsroom at work to me, and one that student journalists at Pitt will hopefully get back once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

“The Paper” does a masterful job of showing how a daily newspaper comes together in the wee hours of the morning and the pitfalls into which those practicing the craft often fall. Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton) is a scatter-brained New York metro editor who is coping with the nerves from the imminent birth of his first child with his wife Marty (Marisa Tomei), a staff of reporters all trying to get his attention and whether or not to pack it all up and head uptown to a sedate newsroom headed by suspenders-wearing editors. The movie exquisitely captures what it sometimes takes to do the news — section editors arguing (sometimes heatedly) with the paper’s management (Glenn Close, Robert Duvall) about stories, following tips all the way to the bathrooms in a New York City Police Department precinct station house and even a call to “stop the presses” when a front-page story is found to be incorrect.

At a time when many are turning away from newspapers, “The Paper” is not a bad place to start to try and restore your faith in the news industry and all of the people working through the night (our own print deadline at The Pitt News is 1 a.m.) to get you information about your community.

1987: When the Day Comes (Prime Video) // Sarah Stager, Contributing Editor

Based on true events that occurred during the June Democratic Uprising in South Korea, “1987: When the Day Comes” recounts the story of a student activist who is killed by police officers during an interrogation. Even though the police attempt to cover up the death, aware that it would cause civil unrest, the hero of the film, Prosecutor Choi (Ha Jung-Woo) insists on performing an autopsy. The results of this autopsy leak to the reporter Yoon Sang-sam (Lee Hee-joon), who publishes the story despite threats from the police and the authoritarian government, sparking the massive protests the police so feared. From there, everything gets even more dramatic.

This film is not for the faint of heart. There are scenes of torture, and I found it legimitately difficult to watch at several points. It’s also incredibly fast-paced, relentlessly so, switching constantly between a vast and varied cast of characters. That being said, if you wish to understand the democracy movement in South Korea, and the integral part that newspapers played in spreading the truth against all odds, watch this movie. I watched it back in 2017, when it first came out, and it has stuck with me to this day.

All the President’s Men (HBO Max) // Lucas DiBlasi, Senior Staff Writer

Do you ever wonder why so many scandals suddenly get “-gate” appended to them? From Deflategate to Gamergate, the suffix is still quite common today, but its origin dates back to the Watergate scandal. “All the President’s Men” is the Oscar-nominated film depicting two journalists’ investigation into President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempts to cover up a break-in at the Watergate hotel, where the Democratic National Committee was headquartered. 

Two of the biggest Hollywood actors at the time, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, play Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two Washington Post reporters, as they begin to uncover a story that will force Nixon’s resignation. Far from being a boring story about reporters, the script is a gripping drama that depicts dogged journalists, newspaper-room mayhem, secret meetings and death threats. Spawning the phrase high school journalism teachers love to quote, “follow the money,” “All the President’s Men” is in many ways an ode to truth and journalism at its finest, as Woodward and Bernstein work tirelessly to track down sufficient evidence to hold power to account.