‘Housefull 4’: Bollywood’s Akshay Kumar sinks in a senseless, sexist farce

‘Housefull 4’: Bollywood’s Akshay Kumar sinks in a senseless, sexist farce
The film stars Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar (center). (Supplied)
Updated 16 November 2019

‘Housefull 4’: Bollywood’s Akshay Kumar sinks in a senseless, sexist farce

‘Housefull 4’: Bollywood’s Akshay Kumar sinks in a senseless, sexist farce

CHENNAI: Movie franchises often run out of steam and “Housefull 4,” directed by Farhad Samji and produced by Fox Star Studios, is yet another senseless 145 minutes of bizarre theatrics with over-performing, over-dressed men and women. Not just that, the film goes back to the once beaten-to-death subject in Indian cinema — reincarnation. Imagine a love story, or several love stories, having taken place in the north Indian kingdom of Sitamgarh in the 15th century and all of them ending in one unimaginable tragedy orchestrated by a revenge-seeking rogue. 

“Housefull 4” begins in present-day London. Harry (Akshay Kumar), Roy (Riteish Deshmukh) and Max (Bobby Deol) are getting ready to marry the daughters of a rich businessman. The boys are not in love with the girls, but the dowries they bring in the story that was written by Sajid Nadiadwala and Sara Bodinar. Harry, who has the same dream (or nightmare) every night soon realizes that the woman he is pretending to be in love with, Neha (Kriti Kharbanda), was meant to be his sister-in-law in the life he had centuries ago. The other two men also reincarnated are Roy (Rietesh Deshmukh) and Max (Bobby Deol) and their partners are played by Pooja (Pooja Hegde ) and Kriti (Kriti Sanon). The women look like identical triplets and I do not blame the reincarnated men who seem to have got thoroughly confused.

“Housefull 4” is silly to the core, with bird droppings on Harry (“call it luck,” someone quips) and other juvenile, slapstick jokes. But what is terribly worrisome is the sexist humor. The least that the writers could have done was to clean the script of such tastelessness. To top it all off, the extravagant sets influenced by the likes of “Game of Thrones” (with poor CGI) and the flamboyant costumes pull this Akshay Kumar-starrer into Arthur Conan Doyles’ Grimpen Mire of the famed Baskerville drama. But the point here is, why did Kumar, who has shown his acting caliber in recent times, choose to get into such a mindless venture? It beats me.


Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Gate’s series of Eid celebrations brought community together

On the first day of Eid, ‘Party Buses’ were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to children. (SPA)
On the first day of Eid, ‘Party Buses’ were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to children. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Gate’s series of Eid celebrations brought community together

On the first day of Eid, ‘Party Buses’ were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to children. (SPA)
  • Throughout the week, the DGDA launched an exciting interactive QR activation in five of Diriyah’s parks

RIYADH: To celebrate Eid, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) launched a series of initiatives to distribute gifts and run events for the enjoyment of the entire community.
Earlier in July, a cattle market was established in front of the Diriyah butcher shop to ease access to livestock for the sacrificial feast; wool was collected from the livestock in collaboration with Diriyah municipality, to be recycled.
On the first day of Eid, the DGDA distributed 1,500 first aid kits after Eid prayers to the community, anticipating that some may not have access appropriate medical supplies.
Eid prayers were held in the following six mosques in Diriyah: Imam Mohammad Bin Saud, Modi Al-Othman, Ibrahim bin Sulaiman, Abdulmohsen Al-Suailim, Munirah Al-Nasser, and Al-Khaliah, and following the prayers the DGDA distributed a boxes of chocolates to attendees in celebration.
On the first day of Eid, “Party Buses” were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to passersby to celebrate the joyous occasion. Chocolates were also delivered to houses across the area.

HIGHLIGHT

The Diriyah Gate Development Authority distributed 1,500 first aid kits after Eid prayers to the community, anticipating that some may not have access appropriate medical supplies.

Throughout the week, the DGDA launched an exciting interactive QR activation in five of Diriyah’s parks. Users could scan the code to download special content including information on the history of Eid in the Kingdom and in Diriyah specifically.
“At this time for reflection and starting afresh, we wanted to celebrate with the local Diriyah community by ensuring this Eid was one to remember,” said Ahlam Althunayan, director of community engagement at the DGDA.
“Eid is a momentous and joyous occasion shared with family and friends, and I’m delighted to see the success of these wonderful activations during the week of Eid.
“DGDA always looks to support and engage the local community; there’s no better time to bring people together than during this celebratory week.”


REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor

REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor
“Gunpowder Milkshake” was directed by Navot Papushado. Supplied
Updated 23 July 2021

REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor

REVIEW: ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ — Navot Papushado’s thriller is all froth, no flavor
  • What could have been a celebration of female empowerment delivers condescension and confusion

AMSTERDAM: “Gunpowder Milkshake” director Navot Papushado is clearly a fan of the “John Wick” movies, in which Keanu Reeves stars as a stoic, multi-talented assassin facing off against hordes of other assassins in a series of staggeringly executed, stylishly shot fights, set in a world with its own hierarchy and rules, and a few neutral zones where violence is prohibited. And why not? The three “John Wick” movies are great.

In “Gunpowder Milkshake,” Karen Gillan stars as a stoic, multi-talented assassin facing off against hordes of other assassins in a series of stylishly shot fights, set in a world with its own hierarchy and rules, and a few neutral zones where violence is prohibited. Sadly, that’s where the similarities end.

The film stars Karen Gillan, Lena Headey and Angela Bassett. Supplied

Unlike the “John Wick” movies, the fight scenes in “Gunpowder Milkshake” are not staggeringly executed. They are clunky affairs that feel overstaged — like an amateur-dramatics group’s interpretation of a Hollywood fight scene. And Gillan, so popular as Nebula in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” is disappointingly uncharismatic as this movie’s heroine.

She plays Sam, the daughter of legendary hitwoman Scarlet (Lena Headey) who was forced to forsake Sam 15 years ago to go on the run, having killed someone who was ‘off-limits.’ In the present day, Sam is herself a stellar contract killer working for The Firm — the shadowy cabal for whom Scarlet was a regular Employee of the Month.

The movie is supposed to be a fun 90 minutes or so of great action sequences. Supplied

When a contract goes wrong and Sam kills the son of the boss of another criminal enterprise, The Firm decides it can no longer protect her. So she must also go on the run, accompanied by a young girl whose father she has just shot and who has no other relatives to look after her.

Pursued by a plethora of angry men (none of them a three-dimensional character or a worthwhile opponent), Sam and the young girl, and Scarlet (who turns up when Sam needs her most), and three female “librarians” (actually arms dealers for assassins) must fight for their lives. Women vs. men, see? But the women are the better fighters, yeah? It’s so transparent that it’s kind of insulting.

The movie is supposed to be a fun 90 minutes or so of great action sequences. Certainly, the lack of effort apparent in the dialogue and character building backs that up. And that’s fine. But when those sequences are not particularly thrilling (at no point is there any suggestion that the women are in danger of losing), what’s left?

 


‘Naomi Osaka’: Docu-series smash reveals a star wondering if she is shining brightly enough

‘Naomi Osaka’: Docu-series smash reveals a star wondering if she is shining brightly enough
The docu-series is now streaming on Netflix. Getty Images
Updated 20 July 2021

‘Naomi Osaka’: Docu-series smash reveals a star wondering if she is shining brightly enough

‘Naomi Osaka’: Docu-series smash reveals a star wondering if she is shining brightly enough

CHENNAI: Garrett Bradley’s latest Netflix outing, the docu-series “Naomi Osaka,” follows the award-winning US director’s Oscar nomination for another documentary, “Time,” earlier this year.

Osaka, born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, is a professional tennis player who, at just 23, is the first Asian to hold the top singles ranking, and also the reigning US Open and Australian Open champion. She became the first woman to win consecutive Grand Slam singles events since Serena Williams in 2015. 

However, this three-part docu-series shows that Osaka’s path has not been all roses. Shy to the point of sometimes appearing aloof, she once revealed that she has been battling depression since her first major tournament in the US in 2018. 

This three-part docu-series shows that Osaka’s path has not been all roses. Supplied

The segments titled “Rise,” “Champion Mentality” and “New Blueprint” focus on Osaka’s recent difficulties.

In May, she withdrew from the French Open after officials fined her $15,000 for failing to attend a post-match press conference. She had said before the game that she would not do so because of mental health problems, adding that reporters’ harsh questions after a loss felt like “kicking a person while they are down.”

In June, she also skipped Wimbledon to spend time with family and friends. 

Osaka rarely talks about her boyfriend, Cordae, a two-time Grammy-nominated rapper. He once told an interviewer: “We were dating for almost a year before people knew about us. We don’t really post intimate moments because I feel as though they’re sacred. Once you let outside influences in, it becomes less sacred.”

Despite a doting boyfriend and supportive family, Osaka has said that the thought of who she is off the court distresses her.

“For so long I’ve tied winning to my worth as a person. What am I if I’m not a good tennis player?” The death of her friend and mentor Kobe Bryant pushed her deeper into self-questioning. 

Now, as she prepares to play at the Tokyo Olympics, Osaka is the subject of an intimate portrait by Bradley that reveals the star’s human side.

Often, the sound of the ball being hit and Osaka’s graceful, dance-like movements are a treat to watch, even for those who may not be big fans of the game. She is the queen of the court, but singles tennis can be lonely and, for someone as sensitive as Osaka, often challenging.

Bradley’s docu-series is highly artistic and benefits from a magical score by Devonté Hynes and Theodosia Roussos. 


LeBron James, Don Cheadle talk hit film ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

The film stars basketball player LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself. (AFP)
The film stars basketball player LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself. (AFP)
Updated 19 July 2021

LeBron James, Don Cheadle talk hit film ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

The film stars basketball player LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself. (AFP)

LOS ANGELES: “Space Jam,” the 1996 live-action/animated sports comedy, was adapted from a line of Nike commercials starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Now the 2021 version, “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” is being panned by critics as a two-hour commercial for Warner Bros, in some ways bringing the first film’s legacy full circle. 

Yet despite the negative critical reception, the comedy is proving financially successful. In its $32 million opening weekend, “A New Legacy” ousted “Black Widow” from the No.1 box office spot on only in its second weekend in cinemas, marking the studio’s biggest opening during the pandemic era.

Performances by live-action stars LeBron James and Don Cheadle have been hailed by critics. James slots into the 1996 Michael Jordan role, playing a character loosely based on himself who is roped into a fantastical game of basketball alongside the Looney Toons.

“When I think back to watching ‘Space Jam’ and having a love for Bugs Bunny and the Looney Toons, and you add on Michael Jordan, one of my inspirations growing up, I felt like it was a match made in heaven,” James said.

“He could have a long career in this,” said Cheadle of his co-star. “Just seeing how he took to all this was amazing. He’s acting. I mean he’s really tapping into his emotions. He’s bringing everything to the role.”

Cheadle is the film’s protagonist Al-G Rhythm, an artificial intelligence that controls the properties at a fictionalized version of Warner Bros. The events of the film are kicked when James declines an in-universe movie deal from Al-G and Warner executives to be digitally added to various WB film properties. James and his son Dom are then lured and kidnapped into the digital world by Al-G, who challenges James to a game of basketball.

“He’s just trying to challenge who he thinks is the greatest human being out there, and if he takes him down, how could they not adore him?” Cheadle said.

From there, James sets out to put together a team to beat Al-G, by reuniting the Looney Toons.

The Toons — played by veteran voice talent such as Jeff Bergman and Eric Bauza as well as Zendaya joining the voice cast as Lola Bunny — appear in 2D animation and 3D CGI forms. In both cases, they are integrated expertly with the live-action scenes and actors.

“Coming out of 10 years of another universe that was incredibly technical as well with green screen, motion capture and all of that, I wasn’t unfamiliar with it,” said Cheadle.

“It was very interesting playing to entities that weren’t there and trying to stay mindful of what their personalities are. Ultimately, I think in situations like this you understand that you’re putting yourself into the hands of the special effects and post-production teams.”

It is a feast for the eyes when James and Bugs journey across Al-G’s “Seververse” into scenes from “The Matrix” and “Harry Potter,” and in picking out all the cameos that show up for the showdown basketball game.

But this where the critics’ main issue rears its head. It is hard to view these parts of the movie as anything other than a showcase of all the films and TV shows available on HBO Max.

Warner has pulled this same move multiple times, including in “The LEGO Movie.” It fit thematically in that instance, where the central message of the film was an anarchic celebration of creativity and the ability to mash up existing stories. There, the inclusion of recognizable properties was integral to the theme.

“A New Legacy,” on the other hand, is — as James puts it — about “understanding that even though you as a parent feel like you always have the right answer, sometimes you need to just listen before you miss out on the gifts that you children may have.”

The focus on recognizable properties seems integral mainly to Warners’ marketing department.

At least the actors were able to find some fulfilment in the film. Lebron was joined by fellow NBA and WNBA stars Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike, and Damian Lillard, who voiced rival basketball team the Goon Squad.

“It’s an honor for me to be a part of the ‘Space Jam’ world,” James said.

Time and nostalgia could turn “A New Legacy into a cult classic, just like the original “Space Jam.” For now, though, the movie is being regarded as a shallow cash-grab.


Model Halima Aden lauds streaming launch of refugee film ‘I Am You’

Model Halima Aden executive produced the film ‘I Am You.’ (File/ Getty Images)
Model Halima Aden executive produced the film ‘I Am You.’ (File/ Getty Images)
Updated 19 July 2021

Model Halima Aden lauds streaming launch of refugee film ‘I Am You’

Model Halima Aden executive produced the film ‘I Am You.’ (File/ Getty Images)

DUBAI: US-Somali model Halima Aden is celebrating the launch of refugee film “I Am You” on streaming platforms, and took to social media this week to promote the movie that she executive produced.

The film, directed by Sonia Nassery Cole, is based on a true story of three refugees who embark on a perilous journey to safety. It began streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ in select locations earlier this month.

“So excited to introduce the film I executive produced!” Aden wrote in a post on Instagram.

“It’s a life filled with hardship, struggles and uncertainty. ‘I Am You’ is a film that takes you through the life of three refugees that leave everything behind and try to make their way to safety while encountering obstacles that shape their character and destiny. Talk about a film that causes you to appreciate your life no matter where you are at the moment,” she added.

The film was first released on the festival circuit in 2019 and nabbed a number of awards, including Best Feature Film, Best Actress and Best Cinematography at the Florence Film Awards, Best Cinematography at the European Cinematography Awards and Best Feature Film at the UK Film Review Festival.

Aden, who was partly raised in a Kenyan refugee camp before her family migrated to the US, previously spoke to CBS News about why the film hit home for her.

“I was born and raised in Kakuma ... all I knew was life in the camp, and it was a very protected childhood,” she said. “So, I got to learn a lot through Sonia and through watching the film because the journey that the main characters have to take is a dangerous one and it’s just so heartbreaking, and it really provokes empathy for what they had to go through just to survive.”

For her part, the director took to Instagram this week with a heartfelt post dedicated to her home country of Afghanistan.

“My dearest friends, my heart is breaking and bleeding for my beautiful Afghanistan and what is happening to the innocent Afghans that are being slaughtered by the Taliban… My film, which will give you a window (into) what is happening in Afghanistan today, is on Amazon, Apple TV+ and iTunes now.”