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Ampersand

Ampersand A digital magazine imagining new ways of covering the arts. And donuts. Based at USC Annenberg.

Lucia Ruan is rounding out this week's trio of critics in conversation with a bold look at Norweigan filmmaker Joachim T...
03/07/2022
The Empty Women That Men Create

Lucia Ruan is rounding out this week's trio of critics in conversation with a bold look at Norweigan filmmaker Joachim Trier's latest film, 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑, exploring how the film functions and falters in the grips of Trier's male gaze, "Trier’s depiction of a woman’s journey through life and love largely results in an end product that is visually stunning but emotionally empty."

*This piece is part of our Critics In Conversation series, where two writers offer different perspectives on the same film. Read Steven Gong’s review here, and Wesley Stenzel’s review h…

"𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑, is an excruciatingly relatable story about modern life as a young adult. Youth brings wi...
03/07/2022
“The Worst Person in the World”: An Ode to Youth, A Portrait of Modern Life

"𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑, is an excruciatingly relatable story about modern life as a young adult. Youth brings with it mobility, excitement, and the fallacy of limitless possibility." Alex Gong contemplates Norweigan filmmaker Joachim Trier's newest film in the second of three critics we're putting in conversation this week!

*This piece is part of our Critics In Conversation series, where two writers offer different perspectives on the same film. Read Lucia Ruan’s review here, and Wesley Stenzel’s review he…

03/07/2022

In the first of three offerings in this week's critics in conversation, Ampersand editor Wesley Stenzel examines Norweigan filmmaker Joachim Trier's newest film, 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑊𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑, as an exploration of the limitations of long-term love in the fractured impermanence of modern youth.

02/21/2022

The second part of our critics in conversation this week contemplates Paul Thomas Anderson's 𝘓𝘪𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘗𝘪𝘻𝘻𝘢 as a product of the Valley.

"Either because I am a mid-twenties valley gal, or because I have an insatiable (and rarely catered to), love of complicated-yet-relatable female characters, the film for me is about Kane. To see a woman in her mid-twenties be at once fierce and uncertain, imperfect and beautiful, sexy and not sexualized? Intoxicating! Don’t get me wrong, Kane wants approval and attention, but she has agency, even in her most unguarded moments."

Check out editor Eva B. Ross's review of Anderson's newest meditation on 70s LA below!

https://www.ampersandla.com/the-somewhat-official-valley-girl-review-of-licorice-pizza/

This week our critics in conversation just so happen to be our head editors, check out Ryan's review of Paul Thomas Ande...
02/21/2022
The Mid-Budget Bliss of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza

This week our critics in conversation just so happen to be our head editors, check out Ryan's review of Paul Thomas Anderson's, 𝘓𝘪𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘗𝘪𝘻𝘻𝘢 below!

"Licorice Pizza is many things: a San Fernando Valley love letter, a semi-autobiographical film for Anderson, a coming of age film, and possibly a breakout vehicle for its two debut stars: Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman."

https://www.ampersandla.com/the-mid-budget-bliss-of-paul-thomas-andersons-licorice-pizza/

*This piece is part of our Critics In Conversation series, where two writers offer different perspectives on the same film. Read Eva B. Ross’s essay here.* What happened to the great American…

There's a lot more to piñatas than meets the eye. Sofia M. Fernandez examines the craft and reveals the human cost of th...
11/18/2021
The piñata, elevated

There's a lot more to piñatas than meets the eye. Sofia M. Fernandez examines the craft and reveals the human cost of the beloved party activity. https://www.ampersandla.com/pinata-craft-america/

A kaleidoscope of butterflies, a moon rising at sea, a security camera—the piñata is this and more at Craft in America’s “Piñatas: The High Art of Celebration” exhibit in Los Angeles. The show, ope…

"Though it’s not always successful, it remains a wildly engaging piece of pop entertainment": writer Wesley Stenzel revi...
11/09/2021
Last Night in Soho: another flawed, fun genre-bender from Edgar Wright

"Though it’s not always successful, it remains a wildly engaging piece of pop entertainment": writer Wesley Stenzel reviews Last Night in Soho https://www.ampersandla.com/last-night-in-soho-another-flawed-fun-genre-bender-from-edgar-wright/

British filmmaker Edgar Wright has positioned himself as one of the 21st century’s foremost genre-mashers. Shaun of the Dead inserted zombies into a romantic comedy template, and Scott Pilgrim vs. …

"What once felt fresh about the show is now becoming stale": writer Trevor Keyfauver digs into season 3 of Sex Education
11/06/2021
Sex Education returns for a charming, but dull, season 3

"What once felt fresh about the show is now becoming stale": writer Trevor Keyfauver digs into season 3 of Sex Education

While watching Sex Education season 3, I was reminded of a relationship in high school with a person I really liked, but the spark had gone. Everything had become predictable. Nothing was fresh or …

Writer Eva B. Ross profiles photographer Jackie Castillo, whose work "documents physical spaces, sights observed from th...
11/05/2021
“Jackie Castillo: Gutting” and the art of unsilencing

Writer Eva B. Ross profiles photographer Jackie Castillo, whose work "documents physical spaces, sights observed from the sidewalk, as if through the lens of a memory" https://www.ampersandla.com/jackie-castillo-gutting-and-the-art-of-unsilencing/

Jackie Castillo and I sit cross-legged on the floor of her studio at USC’s Roski School of Art in Downtown Los Angeles. Castillo, dressed in a scale of layered grey fabrics—cotton, linen, wool—is c…

Halloween Kills "steers the franchise into the absurd terrain that the previous movie escaped," writes Wesley Stenzel
10/28/2021
‘Halloween Kills’ itself

Halloween Kills "steers the franchise into the absurd terrain that the previous movie escaped," writes Wesley Stenzel

The film settles for something miserable in the middle of the two, with too many characters, too many lofty ideas and too little thought.

Dasha Nekrasova's Jeffrey Epstein thriller The Scary of Sixty-First tells "a dark, important story about our present mom...
10/27/2021
The ‘Scary’ and the profane

Dasha Nekrasova's Jeffrey Epstein thriller The Scary of Sixty-First tells "a dark, important story about our present moment," writes Ryan Coleman

Dasha Nekrasova breaks out with ‘The Scary of Sixty-First.’

What does it mean for an artist to wrestle with her identity, stuck between two vastly different cultures? Polina Cherez...
09/26/2020
Holding On: A Memoir about Russian Soul and American Reality - Ampersand

What does it mean for an artist to wrestle with her identity, stuck between two vastly different cultures? Polina Cherezova plumbs her mind and soul to find out, and makes her memory sing in this poignant piece. http://www.ampersandla.com/holding-on-a-memoir-about-russian-soul-and-american-reality/

A Russian American pianist struggles to find her place in between two cultures. What she knows, or feels, is that art is necessary for survival.

Sophie Bress talked with DJ and producer DUCKY about happy music, recovery, and the practicality of optimism. http://www...
05/18/2020
Just Ducky - Ampersand

Sophie Bress talked with DJ and producer DUCKY about happy music, recovery, and the practicality of optimism.

http://www.ampersandla.com/just-ducky/

With pigtails tied up in oversized bows and hearts painted on her cheeks, electronic dance music DJ and producer Ducky is the picture of happy-go-lucky, innocent fun. The title of her most recent EP, Optimism, is also testament to her “look on the bright side” attitude.

Haley Bosselman speaks with Earworm and reflects on her rising artist series to see where pop music is headed.http://www...
05/16/2020
On the United State of Pop - Ampersand

Haley Bosselman speaks with Earworm and reflects on her rising artist series to see where pop music is headed.

http://www.ampersandla.com/on-the-united-state-of-pop/

As we head into a new decade, Ampersand music writer Haley Bosselman zeroes in on pop music’s rising artists.   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ A new decade felt like the chance to start over. 2020, from the viewpoint of 2019, actually seemed ripe with optimism. It was tim...

Clarissa Kerner's photographs of the site-specific opera “Sweet Land” frame the show in a new light during lockdown. htt...
05/06/2020
A Glimpse of Sweet Land - Ampersand

Clarissa Kerner's photographs of the site-specific opera “Sweet Land” frame the show in a new light during lockdown.

http://www.ampersandla.com/a-glimpse-of-sweet-land/

On my first visit to LA State Historic Park, where “Sweet Land,” the site-specific opera by the Industry took place, all of the structures were still being built. Some frames were up, but the beams were mostly bare. Yuval Sharon, the director, led us to an empty patch of grass and described the ...

Concert halls have closed across the nation but that doesn’t mean the music has to stop. Polina Cherezova speaks with mu...
05/06/2020
What Musicians Miss Most About Live Performance - Ampersand

Concert halls have closed across the nation but that doesn’t mean the music has to stop. Polina Cherezova speaks with musician Pianist Inna Faliks about the experience of performing live-stream concerts and sharing music during this difficult time.

http://www.ampersandla.com/what-musicians-miss-most-about-live-performance/

Inna Faliks knows what it means to bring music to audiences in times of difficulty.  In order to keep the performances going, the critically-acclaimed pianist started her own live-stream concert series: Corona Friday’s with Inna Faliks. Within just a few days, Faliks made the transition from the ...

Vietta has your songs for the summer. More about the USC singer-songwriter here. http://www.ampersandla.com/your-indoor-...
04/28/2020
Your indoor blues remedy: Vietta! - Ampersand

Vietta has your songs for the summer. More about the USC singer-songwriter here.

http://www.ampersandla.com/your-indoor-blues-remedy-vietta/

As we head into a new decade, Ampersand music writer Haley Bosselman zeroes in on pop music’s rising artists.   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Despite the world’s uncertainty, 20-year-old singer-songwriter Stephenie Lawrence is sure of her path as an artist.  She admit...

Although the spread of coronavirus sent dancers and choreographers indoors, they've innovated, exploring new ways to con...
04/24/2020
Dancing from Home - Ampersand

Although the spread of coronavirus sent dancers and choreographers indoors, they've innovated, exploring new ways to continue classes through live-streaming platforms. Now they are using dance and social media to provide hope, looking forward to the end of the pandemic.

http://www.ampersandla.com/dancing-from-home/

I grabbed my dining room chair, latched it under my arm, and brought it to my bedroom. Then I changed out of my lounge wear and into something I’d sport on my way to the gym.  It was almost time for class.  I balanced my phone atop my bookshelf as I sifted through Instagram to …

What does it mean to go to a museum? These days, it's squinting at photos and videos on our phones. Aino Frilander misse...
04/10/2020
One good thing about the pandemic? Museums rethink their role online - Ampersand

What does it mean to go to a museum? These days, it's squinting at photos and videos on our phones. Aino Frilander misses the real thing – and writes about the one good thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

http://www.ampersandla.com/__trashed-5/

We are still reeling, adjusting.  A few weeks into the coronavirus lockdown in California and around much of the world, people are worried about elderly friends and relatives, unemployment figures are soaring and we stare out of the windows like the women in Edward Hopper’s paintings, dying to ge...

Happy Friday! Rebecca Black has new tunes for your weekend playlist. Read more about her music and her love for pop, fro...
04/03/2020
Rebecca Black is back, and ready to be pop’s defender - Ampersand

Happy Friday! Rebecca Black has new tunes for your weekend playlist. Read more about her music and her love for pop, from Haley Bosselman.

http://www.ampersandla.com/rebecca-black-is-back-and-ready-to-be-pops-defender/

As we head into a new decade, Ampersand music writer Haley Bosselman zeroes in on pop music’s rising artists.   ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Rebecca Black, for a long time, has been equated with “Friday,” the 2011 viral video that set off a firestorm of trolls and m...

In the newest essay for her "All the Women in the World" column, Cate Young tackles the evolution of the virginal Final ...
04/03/2020
What Happened To Cinema's Virginal Final Girl? - Ampersand

In the newest essay for her "All the Women in the World" column, Cate Young tackles the evolution of the virginal Final Girl.

http://www.ampersandla.com/what-happened-to-cinemas-virginal-final-girl/

This essay was originally published at Rotten Tomatoes on March 6, 2020. The first half is excerpted here with permission. Horror movie fans will be familiar with the concept of the Final Girl. The term was originally conceived in 1992 by Carol J. Clover as a way to describe the traits of the sole...

Amidst the chaos of COVID-19, Barbara Rasin explores how the music industry is adapting.#COVID19 http://www.ampersandla....
04/02/2020
How COVID-19 Is Affecting the Music Industry - Ampersand

Amidst the chaos of COVID-19, Barbara Rasin explores how the music industry is adapting.#COVID19 http://www.ampersandla.com/how-covid-19-is-affecting-the-music-industry/?fbclid=IwAR22awEs2tuILOitP3uKgVcUUfL64sdHIhtnV-kTHNnlBJdaY4AAKjgi65w

It seems like no one can even remember a time before the novel Coronavirus dominated our everyday lives, conversations, and news feeds. In addition to exponentially mounting precautions, each day appears to bring devastating effects to new industries and groups of people. The music industry is no ex...

The Belcher family of Bob's Burgers are one of the most relatable families on TV. Sophie Bress writes about how the show...
03/28/2020
Bob's Burgers is a Fable for Modern Times - Ampersand

The Belcher family of Bob's Burgers are one of the most relatable families on TV. Sophie Bress writes about how the show uses humor to present life lessons in each episode, making it the perfect fable for modern times.

http://www.ampersandla.com/bobs-burgers-is-a-fable-for-modern-times/

Bob’s Burgers isn’t your typical raunchy adult cartoon. Yes, the show has its fair share of suggestive puns and fart jokes. But at its heart, Bob’s Burgers is a good, and mostly wholesome, family TV show. Instead of relying on gasp-inducing vulgarity, each episode presents an underlying mor...

What is family? And who are you? Ampersand continues to publish with the 2nd part of Keith Reed's story, discovering new...
03/23/2020
Filling in the Gaps - Ampersand

What is family? And who are you? Ampersand continues to publish with the 2nd part of Keith Reed's story, discovering new family members. Stories for times of crisis.

http://www.ampersandla.com/filling-in-the-gaps/

This is a continuation of the first essay titled Filling in the Gaps. It can be found here. This is my second time trying to meet Martha, my long-lost sister. We were supposed to meet the day prior but there was a miscommunication. I waited in the coffee shop for about 10 minutes and started …

Pianist-composer Conrad Tao strives for ultimate freedom onstage. Tao performed a solo recital at the LA Phil for the Po...
03/22/2020
Conrad Tao, the Free-Spirit of Classical Music - Ampersand

Pianist-composer Conrad Tao strives for ultimate freedom onstage. Tao performed a solo recital at the LA Phil for the Power to the People! festival on March 10. Read more about the rising artist’s thoughts on classical music, performance, and individuality in Polina Cherezova's recent interview.

http://www.ampersandla.com/conrad-tao-the-free-spirit-of-classical-music/

Conrad Tao, the internationally acclaimed composer-pianist, lives in an imaginative cosmos of his own, where vulnerability reigns. He is not afraid to perform barefoot. He adores the world of techno. He struggles to envision himself in the self-conscious setting of competition. And he grew up creati...

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Check out our take on virtual and livestreamed concerts in this insightful article from USC Annenberg Media 's Ampersand https://www.ampersandla.com/pandemic-concerts-are-here-to-stay/
Critically-acclaimed pianist and Professor of Piano Performance, Inna Faliks, was featured in Ampersand to discuss her recent livestream concert series that occurs every Friday. “Any music at a time like this– it’s a light,” Faliks said. “It’s something that makes one forget about being plugged into the news, about being in this constant whirlwind of panic.” The 30-minute program is livestreamed through her social channels, covering works that are old and new, her repertoire, and pairs the pieces with short poems. Faliks’s upcoming live performance is this Friday, July 17 at 9:30 a.m. on her page Pianist Inna Faliks. #ThisisUCLAMusic
“The fight for justice doesn’t end.” Pianist Conrad Tao talks art and freedom with USC student Polina Cherezova, part of our partnership with USC Thornton School of Music , USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Ampersand.
A lovely new feature in Ampersand, written by Polina Cherezova. ‘You get the sense Tao is always in a state of deep contemplation. His calm tone is genuine and sensitive, but tinted with a kindling fire. [...] Tao’s goal is to rid classical music of its default settings, urging listeners to come to concerts hungry for the unfamiliar. Music is evidence of human desire, he said, and people will always have an impulse for narrative and for finding meaning. “It’s a human pursuit,” Tao said. “I guess I have this deep faith that the need for music will never go away.”’
Taking photos and writing about your favorite dish doesn't need to stop at an Instagram post. Graduate students in the master's of specialized journalism (the arts) program, as part of a course in food writing last semester, met professional food journalists and toured our city, creating multimedia projects around urbanization, culture and health. This is a short highlight of what they did! View some of their final pieces at http://www.ampersandla.com. Los Angeles Times Ampersand
Congratulations to all of the outstanding USC Annenberg students, alumni, faculty, staff and fellows honored with Los Angeles Press Club Southern California Journalism Awards! 👏 JOVRNALISM, Ampersand and USC Annenberg Media #ascj