‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ rocks box offices, if not critics

Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek stars as the charismatic Freddie Mercury. (Getty Images / AFP)
Updated 05 November 2018
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‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ rocks box offices, if not critics

  • Bohemian Rhapsody logged one of the best openings ever for a music biopic
  • Vox.com dismissed it ‘a crashingly dull movie about ... one of the least drab humans who ever lived’

LOS ANGELES: Proving again that audiences matter more than critics, Fox’s Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” rocked North American box offices this weekend with a solid $50 million take, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.
The film’s unexpectedly strong launch put it well ahead of Disney’s new “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” at $20 million, and “Paramount’s “Nobody’s Fool,” with $14 million in estimated ticket sales for the three-day weekend.
“Rhapsody,” with Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek starring as the charismatic Mercury, thus logged one of the best openings ever for a music biopic.
The movie has received decidedly mixed reviews, however. Vox.com dismissed it “a crashingly dull movie about ... one of the least drab humans who ever lived,” while the Washington Post called it a “bad movie that works, even when it shouldn’t.” But Malek, a Primetime Emmy winner for his role in TV’s “Mr. Robot,” has won mostly high praise.
While Fox essentially paid the $50 million production cost of “Rhapsody” with the film’s opening-weekend take, Disney was not faring as well with “Nutcracker,” which cost $125 million to make. The studio hopes the classic Christmas tale will hold on through the holidays, Variety said.
But like “Rhapsody,” the Keira Knightley film got some less-than-glowing reviews. “Tchaikovsky,” said Rolling Stone, “is rolling in his grave.”
Nor did “Nobody’s Fool,” Tyler Perry’s first R-rated comedy, do much better on the critic’s couch, with HollywoodReporter.com deploring its “clumsy, misshapen script.” It stars the popular Tiffany Haddish as a newly paroled woman who tries to help her sister get revenge on a man who deceived her.
In fourth place, Warner Bros’ “A Star Is Born” earned a solid $11.1 million in its fifth week out. Bradley Cooper, in his directorial debut, plays a hard-drinking musician who has a star-crossed love affair with a talented young singer (Lady Gaga).
Not far behind in fifth was Universal’s “Halloween,” at $11 million. The low-budget horror film has Laurie Strode (played again by Jamie Lee Curtis) in a final confrontation with a masked homicidal maniac decades after she survived his first killing spree.
Rounding out the weekend’s top 10 were:
“Venom” ($7.9 million)
“Smallfoot” ($3.8 million)
“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” ($3.7 million)
“Hunter Killer” ($3.5 million)
“The Hate U Give” ($3.4 million)


Creative group in the UAE gives female artists a chance to tell their story

Jana Ghalayini’s work at Art Dubai invited visitors to draw on their responses.
Updated 25 May 2019
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Creative group in the UAE gives female artists a chance to tell their story

  • Female-led art collective wants society to rethink the way women of color are perceived
  • Banat Collective publishes artworks in print and online and hosts events to encourage debate

DUBAI: Sara bin Safwan founded the Banat Collective in 2016 to connect with other like-minded people, championing
their art through the group’s website, banatcollective.com.
The group aims to help society to rethink the way women of color are perceived by showcasing contemporary art, poetry and other writings. The collective publishes artistic works in print and online and hosts events aimed at spreading awareness and encouraging debate.
“A lot of the artists are young and emerging and never had the chance to be either exhibited or publicized, so we interview them to offer a critical, insightful look at their work,” said Safwan, 25.


Now an assistant curator at Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Safwan graduated from London’s world-famous Central Saint Martins college in 2015 with a degree in culture, criticism and curation.
It was while studying in Britain that she developed a keen interest in post-colonial theory; the Banat Collective focuses on themes relating to both womanhood and intersectionality, which is an analytic framework to identify how interlocking systems of power impact those most marginalized in society.
“The mission is not only to connect artists but open up discussions about Arab womanhood in the region, because there’s not necessarily any other place to do so. We do that through art, poetry and other writings,” Safwan said.
“I use the word ‘womanhood’ to make it a more accessible term because if I use ‘feminism,’ it’s a very politically charged word that has almost been tainted by Western ideologies. And those Western ideologies don’t necessarily fit within our context as Middle Easterners.”
“In the Middle of it All” is the collective’s debut publication. Released in 2018, the book is a 31-artist collaboration of visual art, writing and poetry. Our book is a means to help us stand out — it’s thoughtfully curated and tackles a specific issue, which is ‘coming of age’,” she says.
“It’s a notion that’s taboo in the Arab world and either unheard of or misunderstood. It was a chance for female artists to tell their own story.
“Throughout the book, we go through many topics such as puberty, identity, sexual harassment and abuse, sisterhood, motherhood, beauty standards and all these other societal expectations.”
The collective held its first exhibition as part of March’s Art Dubai fair, showcasing a short film, “Ivory Stitches & Saviors” by member Sarah Alagroobi, which she describes as an “unflinching glimpse into identity, colonialism and whitewashing.”
Says Safwan: “It’s a tribute to all women of color who have been marginalized and, all too often, erased.”
Another work by Palestinian-Canadian artist Jana Ghalayini is comprised of a 26-meter-long piece of chiffon on which visitors can draw with chalk pastels in response to questions posed by the artist including “How does your environment affect your identity?”
Safwan adds: “The themes we explored were vulnerability and community — it was a way to introduce ourselves in person because previously we only had an online presence.”
Born and raised in the UAE to Honduran and Emirati parents, Safwan is now working with Alagroobi and Ghalayini to brainstorm ideas for future projects that include a podcast series on the notion of shame. The collective is self-funded and run by volunteers.
“I hope there will be more opportunities to showcase our work and collaborate with others. This year, we will be publishing more content,” Safwan said.

This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of The Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.