THE ROUNDUP : This month’s regional pop-culture highlights

Narcy ft. Mashrou Leila. (Image Supplied)
Updated 27 October 2018

THE ROUNDUP : This month’s regional pop-culture highlights

DUBAI: Read on for a list of pop-culture highlights you can't afford to miss. 
“Time”
Narcy ft. Mashrou’ Leila
Two of the biggest name’s from the region’s alternative music scene join forces on this powerful track taken from Iraqi-Canadian rapper Narcy’s upcoming album “Spacetime.” Instrumentation and an Arabic-language chorus from Lebanese indie heroes Mashrou’ Leila and Narcy’s customary quickfire English-language rap make for an intriguing and engaging mix, and the track gets space-y weird toward the end with a heavily Autotuned Narcy vocal.

“Dead Pets, Old Griefs”
Interbellum
The second album from the Lebanese indie outfit led by singer-songwriter Charlie Rayne (or Karl Matar as he’s known when working as Interbellum). While the band’s 2016 debut “Now Try Coughing” had the exhilarating feel of a record knocked off in a couple of hours in someone’s garage, “Dead Pets, Old Griefs” has a (slightly) more polished sound, but is still heavy with distortion and dissonance. And Rayne’s melodic skills and knack for a stop-you-in-your-tracks lyric shine through once again.

“Lonely At Night”
Noush Like Sploosh
The Dubai-based multidisciplinary artist has an ambitious plan for her debut album, “Whimcycle.” She will release a video for each of its 10 songs. “Lonely At Night” is the second in the series. The beautifully drawn stop-motion animation is the perfect accompaniment for the dark drama of Noush’s song about working yourself to the bone to avoid facing up to anxiety and depression.

 


‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.

“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 

The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!