Monday, January 26, 2015

Movie Review: From A to B

I've got a confession to make: I was one of the rare few who did not fall head-over-heels in love with Ali F. Mostafa's debut feature City of Life. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it did feel derivative of other films such as Paul Haggis' Crash & centered around characters who, besides sharing a similar backdrop, were simply un-relatable. So with that said I approached Mostafa's sophomore feature with great trepidation, a feeling that I would soon discover to be completely ill begotten.

From A to B centers around three estranged childhood friends; Omar (
Fadi Rifaai) Ramy (Shady Alfons) & Yousif aka Jay (Fahad Al-Butairi) who travel on a road trip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut to honor the memory of their friend Hadi, who died five years prior. In a journey that would take them through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, & Syria, the three friends face a number of trials & tribulations that would not only test their friendship, but also challenge them to grow out of their comfort zones.

Unlike City of Life, From A to B presents us with well rounded, charming, & relatable characters. This, of course, wouldn't be possible without an excellent showing by our leads, with Shady Alfons being the highlight of the featured trio, though it was
Samer Al-Masry who stole the show as the leader of a Syrian Rebel group. Another area this film scores high points in is its cinematography, with frequent Mostafa collaborator Michel Dierickx utilizing their unique locations for maximum impact. Additionally, the film supported a wicked Middle East-based soundtrack that belongs in any movie fan's collection.

Any issues? Well, a few of the side characters felt underused (I'm looking at you
Wonho Chung) some of the dialogue, especially Al-Butairi's, did feel a tad forced,  & I wasn't completely sold with Fadi Rifaai. But overall, From A to B is a commendable entry in the records of Gulf Cinema & one that deserves a lot more love than it was given thus far.

The film is currently screening in cinemas across the Gulf. Check your local listings for show times, trust me on this.

For more information, click here.

Ahmed Zayani
Instagram: @ahmedzayani85

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Movie Review: Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Following last week’s Oscar nominations, ‘Birdman’ directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu was a clear standout collecting a number of nomination nods including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Curious to see what the hype is about, I went on an internet scavenger hunt to get a good copy of the film. I call it ‘research’ ahead of the award ceremony happening on 22 February.

‘Birdman’ is a stunning black comedy about a has-been actor’s (Michael Keaton) attempts to put together a Broadway play as a desperate move to revive his career and to shake off his ‘Birdman’ superhero image, which he is famously known as.

The film immediately introduces Michael Keaton’s character Riggan Thomas… levitating in his dressing room as prepares to go to rehearsals, days before the Broadway debut. You quickly notice the camera does not blink, the cut-free scenes takes you through the events that unravel leading up to the opening and you see how different characters unfold and intertwine backstage on on-stage.

It’s not your regular look at a pre-event theatre production, it involves an ‘accident’ on stage, a last-minute replacement in the form of Edward Norton, a disastrous preview and someone shooting themselves in the head. The most captivating storyline is Riggan’s dialogue with his ‘Birdman’ voice in his head that is dead-pan similar to Keaton’s Batman voice.

All the characters pulled their weight in the movie, and you instantly gravitate to each one but the credit goes to Michael Keaton. He seamlessly switches from his disturb character to being wildly funny and back. His Best Actor Golden Globes award makes sense in this challenging role.    

Disturbing at some parts and darkly funny with great comic references, ‘Birdman’ is a unique take on the narcissistic world of actors and actresses and playfully mocks their insecurities to feel relevant. ‘Birdman’ will surely soar through the award season. 

For more info and the trailer, click her.

Karen Nicolet

Instagram: @clumsychic

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Movie Review: Imitation Game

Back again with an Oscar nominee and this time it’s so so GOOOD!!! I was at the edge of my seat! It is for sure one of the Best movies I watched in a while! Ah! So good!! I keep telling people to go watch it. The story on itself is very interesting and put that with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley and you’ll get one hell of a movie!

So, to get you hooked, is the story of Alan Turing (Benedict) a super smart mathematicians who was recruited secretly by the British army with other mathematicians to decrypt the most sophisticated encryption German machine, enigma, which change its setting everyday at 12am. So basically, it’s a race against time!  

The movie is so smart and very hooking! You keep hoping they will solve the codes and you wonder how they will do it! It’s like a supper smart puzzle and you’re waiting for all the right pieces to be found! And the best thing, it’s really is a true story! It was very thrilling and they played with the plot very well! The center of the story was World War II, but flashes here and there show us more about Turing life. The other thing that made it more of a drama thriller rather than just a drama, was the scenes with the actual war happening. The movie showed us more than just the office those guys and lady (Keira) worked in.

With the plot, I was very much enjoying the smart script! Ah, I love me a good script! Smart, sharp and really represent the tone of the movie! And Benedict was amazing with his lines! I mean give the man an Oscar already! He, for me, is one of the most brilliant actors we have right now. He completely immerses himself into the character. Keira was pretty awesome too. I’m not a huge fan of most of her movies, but when she participates in something like this, she truly shines!

The movie was brilliant from all aspects! The cast was great, the scenes sequences made sense, the colors theme was so pretty and the cloths really caught my eyes! Even though they're simple, but it all fit in one picture! It all just pulled me from my seat and threw me right in the middle of the story. You know I cried a little bit too!

It’s good for those who want to watch a well-constructed movie and those who just want to go watch something fun and exciting! Go watch it! And you won’t regret it!

For more info and the trailer, please click here.

Till another one!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: The Room

Since it first premiered in the summer of 2003, Tommy Wiseau’s debut feature “The Room” has been lambasted by critics worldwide, with it being labeled the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” On the one hand, how could one argue against such a valid opinion? On the other, I have to wonder, “why am I so enthralled by a film that fails on every possible level?”

The narrative, if you can call it that, centers firmly on the life of Johnny, played haphazardly by one Tommy Wiseau who also serves as the film's writer, producer, & director. Johnny leads a seemingly happy life until his whole world starts unraveling when his future wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle) begins having an affair with his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). While the basic plot seems harmless, Wiseau's script pushes things to intelligible levels; subplots are introduced & abandoned almost instantaneously, character's motivations & personifications change in a bipolar manner, and certain scenes come across as pointless & forced, serving as a source of amusement to Wiseau & Wiseau alone.

In terms of acting, most of the actors did what they can with the given material they had to work with. However, it is Tommy Wiseau's portrayal of Johnny that shines as the highlight of The Room (for better or worse) It was obvious that Wiseau was inspired by James Dean, so much so that he borrowed/ripped off Dean's famed "you're tearing me apart" scene from Rebel Without a Cause. But while James Dean was a charisma magnet, Tommy Wiseau was something else all together. Not once during the film's 99 minute run time did Wiseau display a shred of conviction. On the contrary, even the simplest of lines proved to be a challenge for our misguided protagonist, with his range of emotions shifting from befuddled to arguably sociopathic. It truly is a performance to behold.

With all that in mind, why do I still gravitate to The Room like a moth to a flame? The simple answer is that for all its faults, this movie has more heart then a good chunk of recent releases. To me, The Room is more then a muddled mess in celluloid form, it is the story of one man who, despite his infinite shortcomings & lack of any noticeable talents, rose against the odds & created a cult classic that, ten years later, is still celebrated in theaters across the World. In making one of the worst films of all time, Tommy Wiseau unknowingly created a comedy-of-errors that is genuinely one of the most entertaining cinematic experiences I've had the good fortune of taking in. This is definitely a movie best experienced amongst a group so do yourselves a favor & round up a few of your friends, amass a mini stockpile of assorted junk food, & prepare to find out why such a bad movie has become a transcending cultural phenomenon.

For more information, click here

Ahmed Zayani
Instagram: @ahmedzayani85

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Movie Review: Boyhood

It’s the Awards Season, which means pretty red carpet dresses and filmmakers accepting trophies and saying the speeches they practice all their lives. For that, I wanted to review an Oscar Nominee, and this one actually won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture.

Boyhood, directed and written by Richard Linklater, follows the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family since he was 5 years old till he graduated from Highschool. The movie if you believe it was filmed through 12 years with the same cast, so we literary saw Mason and his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) grow old in the almost three hours movie.

When I heard about this movie, the first thing I imagined was, different cinematography and different definition because cameras and editing techniques have evolved in the last 12 years, but the movie kept it consistent. You won’t feel the difference at all. I mean it makes sense for them to think of that. 

The movie is long, but it’s so sweet and you can’t help but get attached to the characters and you want them to be happy and go to school and clap when they graduate. It really is a journey and it feels special to see them grow up and how the setting and cloths were true to the year they were in that specific time. I mean it was as real as it gets. I really enjoyed that.

Also I enjoyed watching how the characters developed through the years, because they won’t be the same, and to see what contributed to each new development. It was a good plot build up and again, still consistent. The cast was pretty good too and I’m happy they all stayed with the project or else it’d be a complete fail. You’d expect the grown ups (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) to be good and continue with their character, but I was happy to see that even Ellar kept it straight with his character Mason and you believe it’s the same boy from the beginning till the end. Good casting choice!

The movie had already won 3 Golden Globes and it’s on its way to the Oscars and after watching it, I can say it’s a good chill movie, where you live someone else’s life for a while as you relax on your couch. It’s one of these movies that are casual and quite, yet something special about them that makes you watch till the end.

For more information and to catch the trailer, click here.

Till again!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Movie Review: Sleepless in Seattle

I was in the mood for something romantic to start 2015 reviews and this is another movie in my DVD pile and it’s just so perfect! I’m crying right now as I write this!! Ah, how amazing those romantic movies from the 90s! The time of Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock! Ah, such pure magical emotions and this movie is just timeless! So romantic!! I’m still crying!!

The story of widowed Sam (Tom Hanks) and his son Jonah (Ross Malinger), who called a radio show one day to say that his dad, Sam is sad and need a new wife. On the other side, Annie (Meg Ryan), who just got engaged, heard the show and from that moment she couldn’t take her mind off Sam, or as the show called him, Sleepless in Seattle. And one thing led to the next!

I’m sighing all over! We need this kind of movies back! Like seriously, stop making those stupid over sex oriented romantic comedies! People may argue that this movie is cheezy, but even though it had the most unexpected story, it is heavy with true feelings. The struggle of a family after the death of the mother is heart breaking and how they stick together in order to pick up the pieces. These things happen and they are as real as me, whose fingers are writing this review.

Death is such a hard subject and getting over it is hard, because the people you love didn’t leave you out of choice, but they were taken away from you and no matter how much you miss them, you can’t pick up the phone or even stalk them on social media and you try your best to keep the memories alive in your heart, because that is the only thing left. The only thing that makes their previous existence real. Ok, I’m crying again.

Let’s talk about movie stuff now, the soundtrack is just the cutest and the plot is so sweet, funny and such a tearjerker. This is a movie with a beautiful soul! The movie when cheezy movies weren’t that cheezy. Meg Ryan is so amazing in her acting. I love the way she moves hehehe it shows what her character feels like. Tom Hanks, ah, I never thought he was that attractive and cute until this movie! The kid is so cute, and I loved how the movie portrayed his relationship with his Dad. You can’t, but love them. You can’t, but hope that one day you will meet your own Sleepless in Seattle.

I loved every minute of this movie. I miss this! How pure and magical love can be and no matter how many people these days tell us this love doesn’t exist or it’s all a Hollywood lie, I’ve seen proof in real life that love is real and if you were lucky enough you will have a taste of it.

It’s exactly what I needed to watch today! For more info, please click here.

Till again! Oh and Happy New Year ^-^