Saudi film fans have last laugh as ‘Joker’ premieres in Jeddah

Saudi fans of the comic-book villain buzzed with excitement as they gathered for Tuesday night’s screening of director Todd Phillips’ new film at Vox Cinemas in the Red Sea Mall. (Photo courtesy: Vox cinemas KSA)
Updated 06 October 2019

Saudi film fans have last laugh as ‘Joker’ premieres in Jeddah

  • Saudi fans of the comic-book villain buzzed with excitement as they gathered for Tuesday night’s screening of director Todd Phillips’ new film
  • Moviegoers young and old flocked to see the gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, the mysterious Joker, a man disregarded by society

JEDDAH: With a black carpet rolled out for guests, Gotham City came to Jeddah for the highly anticipated movie premiere of “Joker.”
Saudi fans of the comic-book villain buzzed with excitement as they gathered for Tuesday night’s screening of director Todd Phillips’ new film at Vox Cinemas in the Red Sea Mall.
Moviegoers young and old flocked to see the gritty character study of Arthur Fleck, the mysterious Joker, a man disregarded by society.
Forever alone in a crowd, failed comedian Fleck (played by Joaquin Phoenix) seeks connection as he walks the streets of Gotham City. He wears two masks, the one he paints for his day job as a clown, and the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel like he is part of the world around him.
Isolated, bullied and dismissed by society, Fleck begins a slow descent into madness as he transforms into the criminal mastermind known as the Joker, Batman’s arch enemy.
“Joker,” co-produced by Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger, stars other big-name actors alongside Phoenix including Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy.
As fans in Jeddah waited for the movie to start, they got into the spirit of the occasion by taking selfies wearing Joker T-shirts, with one film buff sporting a handmade Joker mask.
They also took it in turns to imitate the infamous Joker’s laugh, and some members of the audience continued to laugh along with him during the movie itself.
The film began by taking viewers to a makeup room where Fleck is seen stretching his mouth with his fingers in a forced smile.
“No one is born evil, just like Arthur Fleck. This movie shows how significant everyone’s stories are in making them who they are. It’s a must watch,” said Fadi Shahid.
Eerie and dark, despite the abundance of so-called jokes, the story and cinematography were depicted as sad, unpredictable and very disturbing, according to one Jeddah cinema enthusiast, Rsha Khan.
“I didn’t expect to like the movie, as my friends and I see Heath Ledger as the one and only Joker, but Phoenix’s acting and portrayal of the character was amazing.”
The story connected the audience to the Joker, developing a love-hate relationship with sides of his character not seen in previous movies.
Despite strong reviews from fans, including raves for Phoenix, the film has been met with skepticism in some quarters. However, the Saudi audience gasped, laughed and applauded as Phoenix blew new life into Batman’s rival.
Khan added: “I would love to watch this Joker against Batman; I feel like that is definitely something I want to see.” 
The film had viewers on the edge of their seats throughout its two-hour duration and Samia Sheikh said: “It was such a bold and dark movie; still it was beautiful. I really liked that they showed the Joker’s real feelings behind his terrifying personality, which was sad to watch. The whole movie was an emotional roller coaster.”
She also praised Phoenix for his performance in the role of Fleck and said she would recommend the movie to anyone.


Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

'Plates numbers Sharjah to Abu Dhabi' by Ebtisam Abdulaziz. (Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2019

Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

  • Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition
  • The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018

DUBAI: Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition — organized by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development — on Nov. 21.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist.

“Unfortunately, when I finished high school, I couldn’t get the chance to study art since there were no art colleges in the UAE. I decided to get a degree in mathematics because it is an interesting subject to me, as I believe art and maths are connected with each other,” the artist, whose work was exhibited as part of the UAE Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, said.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist. Supplied

In 1999, she kicked off a career in the arts and hasn’t looked back since. The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper, all of which explore “human nature, culture, religion… and the workings of the human brain,” according to the artist.

“There is a connection between art and maths,” she added, explaining the link between her two passions. “I merged the two parts of my brain to get ideas and (build on this) mixture between art and maths.”

 The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018 and Abdulaziz is particularly excited about her new piece.

The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper. Supplied

“My piece for Al-Burda is a dream come true. I had this idea of making a huge installation work that involves maths, geometry and Islamic patterns. The idea… started from just a sketch… to a big acrylic painting on canvas and now it has become a 3-D work.”

The optical illusion-style work is almost trippy to look at due to its accordion-style surface and multitude of bright, block-printed colors and that boldness is also visible in her advice to budding Emirati artists.

“My advice to them is to go for it, think big, go crazy with your art. It is who you are, it is your way to express yourself,” she said.