Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. (Supplied)
Updated 14 November 2019

Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

CHENNAI: Movies on World War II have delighted cinema audiences for years. Nobody can forget the daring Allied escape in the 1965 “Von Ryan’s Express” with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard driving a train through Nazi-occupied territory.

There were others in that decade and earlier such as David Lean’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” about British prisoners of war building a railway in malaria-infested Burma (now Myanmar). These were great classics, but recent efforts have not been as memorable.




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Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. Despite audiences still being thirsty for WWII sagas and a star-studded cast (Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas), the film is unmoving, mainly because of the shallow characters. If the dialogues are stiff, the dramatic potential – including the relationship among the men – appears to have been left midway.

The film begins with Japan’s December 1941 air attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, which dragged America into the conflict, and the flick follows America’s revenge mission culminating in the June 1942 Battle of Midway.




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For the US, it was a victory against all odds giving them control of the Pacific’s Midway atoll. It was also a major triumph of human spirit, but the film does not quite capture it.

Most of the exploits relate to real-life fighter pilot Dick Best (Skrein), whose devil-may-care attitude earns him the title “cowboy.” His wife Ann (Moore), the only female character, urges him on but seems a washed-out figure. However, there is plenty of action in the air with dog fights, bombings and pilots ejecting from burning planes high above the ground.




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For fans of singer Jonas, his small but significant part may appeal. He is sailor Bruno Gaido whose spontaneous and heroic action during a Japanese raid earns him promotion.

“Midway” plays at three levels, including one about Japanese military officers, and was shot in Hawaii and Montreal with a lot of computer graphics thrown in. The camera work (Robby Baumgartner) is impressive, but somewhere the soul is missing, and the characters fail to come across as real people.

Despite this, the film opened atop the North American box office last weekend with a reported $17.5 million in ticket sales.


Art Dubai 2020: Why the Mideast’s leading art fair is turning to Africa 

An example of work by Kenyan artist Longinos Nagila, whose art will be at Art Dubai 2020. (Supplied) 
Updated 12 December 2019

Art Dubai 2020: Why the Mideast’s leading art fair is turning to Africa 

  • The artworks feature a selection of 55 galleries that aim to further the fair’s focus on expanding conversations beyond traditional art production centers
  • The 2020 edition will include 21 first-time exhibitors from Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam

DUBAI: Art Dubai returns for its 14th edition in from March 25-28, 2020, with a fair that continues to build off Dubai’s pivotal location between South Asia, East Africa, and the Gulf, bringing together global perspectives from geographies often overlooked in the realm of international contemporary art. Next year’s edition presents 90 galleries from 38 countries, including 21 first-time exhibitors from Nigeria, Sudan and Vietnam.

Artist Hamra Abbas will present her work at the gallery. (Supplied) 

Artworks will be displayed across four gallery sections, including Art Dubai Contemporary, featuring a selection of 55 galleries that aim to further the fair’s focus on expanding conversations beyond traditional art production centers; Residents, curated by Johannesburg-based Kabelo Malatsie, which will focus on the African continent; Art Dubai Modern, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath presenting solo presentations by modern masters from the MENASA region; and Bawwaba, which means “gateway” in Arabic and is curated by Mumbai-based curator Nancy Adajania and showcases solo presentations by artists from, based in, and or focused on projects about the Middle East, Africa, Central, South and Southeast Asia and Latin America.

All eyes are on contemporary art from Africa and Art Dubai’s new focus for its Residents section, which showcases solo presentations from invited galleries whose artists have partaken in a UAE-based art residency, further affirms this statement. “The curatorial intervention in this year’s Residents will be looking at geometry and pattern,” Malatsie told Arab News. “Our perception of the world follows a logic that is learnt through various institutional and societal norms. The curatorial intervention will use institutional and individual norms to make biases and learnt perceptions visible to those coming to the exhibition.”

Grosvenor Gallery will be at Art Dubai. (Supplied)

This year, Residents will feature presentations of African Masters positioned alongside emerging artists from across the continent, including Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa and Sudan. The section will include London and Addis Ababa-based Addis Fine Art, exhibiting the work of Ethiopian artist Daniela Yohannes, Circle Art Gallery from Nairobi featuring the work of Kenyan artist Longinos Nagila, Accra-based Gallery 1957 presenting the work of Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah and SMAC with branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Stellenbosch, featuring the work of Wallen Mapondera from Zimbabwe amongst others.

“There is a natural progression in representation of art from the African continent at Art Dubai,” said Pablo del Val, the fair’s artistic director, to Arab News. “There are cultural and aesthetic connections that reflect in local social sensibilities and ideas and a significant community of African collectors based in Dubai. These relationships ensure that the art is contextualized, making it more powerful than if art from Africa were treated as an exception.”