Murder on a Sunday morning

January 30, 2007

Murder on a Sunday Morning

This documentary tells the trial of Brenton Butler, a 15 year-old black high school student who was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2000, for the murder of a tourist white woman. There is nothing special from a technical point of view about how the story is shown, in that respect the documentary feels like a larger version of the true crime series shown on Court TV.

Other than that, this is one of those stories that one should watch and think about. During the trial we see how the police did not appear to conduct anything resembling a serious investigation; Butler was arrested two hours after the crime, was intimidated and physically threatened into signing a confession and it mattered little that his family accounted for him at the time of the murder. Lacking almost any evidence, the officers involved in the case still insist on their conclusions, unwilling to admit a mistake. The victim’s husband’s visual identification of Butler is the only evidence the police has, and the defense attorneys also shed doubts on its accuracy.

Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the director, specializes in documentaries about justice and what he calls societal taboos. Murder was awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary of 2001.

The Wikipedia page on the case has some updates.


All about Eve

January 30, 2007

All about Eve

All about Eve was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture of 1950, competing against Sunset Blvd. Both movies deal with similar topics; in both we see an ageing actress dealing with an industry that favors the young. While Sunset Blvd. deals directly with Hollywood, All about Eve sets the story within the theater industry. Anne Baxter plays Eve, a young woman who idolizes Margo Channing, the character played by Bette Davis. Marilyn Monroe has also a small role. Little by little we discover how Eve is unscrupulously setting herself as the next great actress, by lying to and manipulating Margo, her friends, and the press.

The script is excellent, the acting is spotless, and the final scene is unforgetably beautiful. The whole story is quite enjoyable. The only detail I didn’t like was how DeWitt, the theater critic, devolves in a crucial scene into a cartoon villain. Except for this, this is a subtle and carefully crafted movie, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed Sunset Blvd., it is not hard to see why Eve was favored by the Academy.


117b – Undecidability and incompleteness – Lecture 3

January 30, 2007

We concluded the proof that Matiyasevich sequences are Diophantine. This involved a delicate analysis of congruences satisfied by terms of these sequences.

It follows that exponentiation is Diophantine. Using exponentiation, we can now proceed to code finite sequences, the key idea behind both the proof of undecidability of the tenth problem and of the incompleteness theorems.