Women troop out of ‘The Kitchen’ to maul the mafia

‘The Kitchen’ is a mafia film set in 1970s New York. (Supplied)
Updated 26 August 2019

Women troop out of ‘The Kitchen’ to maul the mafia

CHENNAI: Andrea Berloff’s latest adventure, “The Kitchen,” begins … well, in the kitchen, but soon takes to the streets of 1978 New York. Set when female empowerment was not widely championed, this is a tale of the patriarchal Irish mob. Yet, even with that historical background, the theme, and the portrayal of the characters and the era, comes across as dated.

There is enough plot to whet the interest, but the script and dialogue, too, is a let down. An abused wife finds love outside of her marriage and, in one scene, egged on by her lover, begins slicing up a corpse apropos of nothing. This scene, along with several others, borders on the hysterical, if not downright implausible.

The woman in question is Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss). When her gangster husband and two other men working for the Italian mafia are jailed after they are caught during a liquor-store hold-up, Claire joins two other mob wives – Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) and Ruby O'Carroll (Tiffany Haddish) — in an effort to survive. Let down by their husbands’ bosses, the women arm themselves with guns and turn to their very own gangsterism.

Their neighborhood trembles, and the mafia is uncertain about how to deal with the trio, especially their Jekyll and Hyde personalities. Kathy is a loving mum of two adorable kids used to living by her husband’s rulebook. Ruby, meanwhile, is treated like an outsider by her husband’s family.

The women’s acting is admirable in parts, but when the men get out of jail, their power peaks, then wanes, and so, frankly, does the writing. The male cast members are essentially non-performers, bordering on props, and the character development, such as it is, remains unconvincing. The wives may get a raw deal in this gory tale — but not as raw a deal as the audience.  

‘Arabs Are Not Funny’ comedy show just the opposite

Taking the stage at London’s lavish Royal Albert Hall were mixed Arab-Western comedians. (Supplied)
Updated 22 February 2020

‘Arabs Are Not Funny’ comedy show just the opposite

LONDON: Don’t let the name fool you, Friday night’s “Arabs Are Not Funny” comedy show was filled with nothing but quick-witted, snarky and overly-relatable quips. 

Taking the stage at London’s lavish Royal Albert Hall were mixed Arab-Western comedians Wary Nichen, Leila Ladhari, Mamoun Elagab and Esther Manito, with Iraqi-Scottish Sezar Alkassab hosting. 

The sold-out show started off with the host forcing the zaghrouta (a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound of joy) out of the audience, after encouraging them to “laugh at our culture and enjoy yourself.”

Sudanese-Irishman Elagab, who was recently nominated for BBC New Comedian of the Year, kicked off the night with a comedic look back at his upbringing in the UK, dealing with extremists in class, and the struggle of explaining stand-up comedy to his Sudanese uncle.

The sold-out show started off with the host forcing the zaghrouta. (Supplied)

Lebanese-Brit Manito humored the audience with stories of the struggle of taking her British husband to Beirut to meet her relatives, raising two children as an Arab mom, and having her Lebanese father living with her family yelling and cursing at the TV and on the phone. 

Tunisian-Swiss-Austrian Ladhari joked about her boyfriend’s father trying to bond with her by trying to sympathize with Daesh and letting her know that he “too doesn’t like eating pork.”

The highlight of the night was Algerian-Frenchman Nichen, who spoke of his job as a fulltime immigrant and the racism he endures in daily life in Paris. 

The show was organized by Arts Canteen, an organization that curates and produces events, exhibitions and festivals that support emerging, mid-career and established artists from the Arab world and surrounding regions, bringing their work to new audiences in the UK and beyond.