Magnificent movies : The best of 2020

Magnificent movies : The best of 2020
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Updated 05 January 2021

Magnificent movies : The best of 2020

Magnificent movies : The best of 2020
  • William Mullally runs down the best films of 2020, from a brilliant Lebanese debut to another Pixar classic

You Will Die at 20

“You Will Die at 20” is a prison film — a prison entirely of the mind. In it, a boy named Muzamil lives his entire life shackled to the idea that on the day he turns 20 years old, he will immediately drop dead, cursed by a premonition foretold when he was only an infant. He lives in a small village in Central Sudan, and his every action is controlled by those that think they know better how he should live. Muzamil thinks he’s helpless, that nothing can ever change. The frustration, and, ultimately, the cathartic joy, is in watching him slowly realize how wrong he is.

It’s been more than a year and a half since Sudan itself set a new course, and the country is still alight with hope and possibility for what lies ahead. “You Will Die at 20” acts as both an accidental allegory for that event, as well as a product of it, signaling the bright artistic future the country will surely craft with the help of brilliant directors such as Amjad Abu Alala, the UAE-born Sudanese filmmaker behind the film.

The Nest

“The Nest” is about consequences, and how long one can avoid them before everything comes crashing down. It follows Rory O’Hara (Jude Law), an Englishman who tells his American wife Allison (Carrie Coon) that his old boss has begged him to move back to London to take a job. She soon finds out he’s been lying — not just about that, but nearly everything in their lives. Rory is obsessed with projecting success, taking advantage of every person who will believe in him until there’s no one left to lie to.

Even with the amount of complexity that Law imbues into the character, what truly makes the film shine is Coon. She, too, is on a nightmare journey of self-discovery, separating herself from the toxic man to whom she has dedicated herself and pushing beyond the boundaries set by her life with him; she, too, is dealing with the horrors that both his actions and her own have brought to their family. There’s hope here, too, full of love and forgiveness that is not bereft of accountability.    

Soul

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) believes he was put on earth to be a successful jazz pianist. Just as it seems he’s finally achieving his goal, however, matters are complicated slightly by the fact that he dies. Not ready to let go, Joe’s soul escapes the afterlife and finds its way into “The Great Before,” a place where souls are prepared for the lives ahead of them. One of the unborn souls, 22 (Tina Fey), has been there for thousands of years, never seeing a point in living at all. At first, it seems that Joe’s passion will inspire her to choose life. Through their journey, it turns out he has a lot to learn as well.

“Soul” is a film that’s searching for answers. It would still be a good film if it accepted the easy ones that it initially lays out. Instead, it’s a great film because it refuses to stop there, diving deeper and deeper as the story progresses into the biggest questions about who we are, why we are the way we are, and what makes life worth living. It will make you question yourself, too, questions that will linger long after the credits roll.

“Soul” is now in cinemas across the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

 

1982

There are some moments in our lives that burn deep into our memory, preserving exactly where we were just as everything was about to change forever. “1982” is the story of one such moment — the day that war broke out in southern Lebanon. It’s the debut feature of Lebanese filmmaker Oualid Mouaness, and it explores the ripple effects of catastrophe rather than the catastrophe itself. A group of schoolchildren near Beirut navigate friendship and young love only to have it all upended when bombs begin to drop in the distance. They don’t know it yet, but they will never return to the lives they had been leading. Mouaness, who was forced to leave Lebanon himself as a child because of the war that started on that day, revisits one of the worst times of his life to give us an intimate snapshot of the trauma he endured, imbuing it with both dread and beauty.

The Climb

Great comedy is often born more from character than concept. “The Climb” gives us two great characters — life-long best friends Kyle and Mike, played by real-life best friends Kyle Marvin and Michael Angelo Covino. One day, the pair are out on a bike ride before Kyle’s wedding, and Mike makes a confession — he’s in love with his best friend’s fiancée. Things fall apart from there. The film is broken into seven chapters, charting the twists and turns their lives take as they work their way back towards friendship. As frustrating as they both can be, and as absurd as their actions get, well-judged pathos grounds the film in humanity, making the laughs come easier. Keep an eye on both of them, they’re the best new comedic voices we’ve heard in years.

200 Meters

It’s well past time that Ali Suliman was recognized as one of the best actors of his generation, and one of the best Arab actors in history. Over the past two decades, he has turned in brilliant performance after brilliant performance, playing a wide variety of characters, embodying totally different tones and spirits and carrying off each with flair and heart. His latest, from Jordanian filmmaker Ameen Nayfeh, may not be as radical a departure as 2015’s “Zinzana,” in which he played a manic and psychopathic prison guard, but it may be the best overall showcase of his pure skill, and his ability to carry a film on his back.

In “200 Meters,” Suliman plays a father trapped on the other side of a border fence from his wife and children, unable to get to his sick son in the hospital. From start to finish, Suliman is electrifying, bringing you into his character’s struggle and never letting you go.

Host

 

Most films that came out this year assert their relevance to the post-COVID world entirely by coincidence. “Host” is one of the few that can claim to be a direct product of it. Filmed entirely during lockdowns in the UK, “Host” is a horror film set within a Zoom call between a group of friends, who have gathered online to conduct a socially-distanced séance with a psychic medium. While its timely gimmick is its most immediate selling point, “Host” transcends its limitations, delivering focused storytelling, strong performances and genuine suspense, making it a standout in what was surprisingly a banner year for the genre. More than any other, this will be the film that represents 2020 in the history books — a well-deserved, if perhaps unwanted, honor.

 

Richard Jewell

Clint Eastwood is one of the screen’s great icons, having directed 42 films over five decades, winning five Oscars. What a wonderful surprise it is, then, that aged 89 he directed what is perhaps the best film of his career. Telling the true story of the security guard at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics who discovered a bomb and saved the lives of dozens, only to find himself the chief suspect in the investigation into that same bombing, “Richard Jewell” succeeds on multiple levels — it’s a touching character drama, an engrossing suspense thriller, and a vicious and uproarious satire of American culture. Eastwood has been interrogating the concept of the American hero for his entire career, often failing to scratch the surface. With “Richard Jewell,” he finally cut deep, making his most profound and lasting statement.


Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes
Updated 28 February 2021

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes
  • The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years
  • Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions

DUBAI: A haven for humans craving furry feline company, a cat cafe in Dubai also doubles as an adoption center for some of the United Arab Emirates’ many strays.
The Ailuromania Cat Cafe, which was the Middle East’s first cat cafe when it opened in 2015, hopes the relaxing properties of its 25 rescue and shelter cats will help find them their forever homes.
“Anyone who is stressed just has to find a cat. All your stress will go away,” said Omnia Fareed, whose two cat-loving sisters Allaa and Iman started the cafe after university, taking inspiration from similar establishments in Korea and London.
The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years. Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions.
The cafe’s name Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word for a lover of cats: ailurophile.
The cafe has regular customers who come seeking relaxation from the stresses of life, or because they cannot keep a cat at home.
“They are so cute, they love playing,” said visitor Shaasthra. She said she appreciates how the cafe looks after the cats’ welfare by advising people not to hold them or wake them up.
Another regular visitor, a street cat who would stare in through the window, was also invited and eventually adopted.
Since Dubai began lifting coronavirus lockdown measures last summer, the cafe re-opened with capacity and sanitization restrictions.
Dubai has a large number of stray cats, with many abandoned on the streets by their owners. In 2018 UAE authorities made it illegal to abandon animals, but animal welfare activists in Dubai have for years called for a large-scale trap-neuter-release scheme and feeding programs to bring numbers down humanely.
In August, Dubai municipality issued a circular restating a policy of fining anyone caught feeding strays, saying it increases the spread of diseases.


Sneaker giant New Balance releases latest line with French-Moroccan label

New Balance x Casablanca Drop III. Supplied
New Balance x Casablanca Drop III. Supplied
Updated 28 February 2021

Sneaker giant New Balance releases latest line with French-Moroccan label

New Balance x Casablanca Drop III. Supplied

DUBAI: The latest collaboration between Casablanca x New Balance dropped yesterday on casablancaparis.com and, naturally, it sold-out within minutes – Footwear designer Amina Muaddi took to Instagram to show off her pair – But, if you didn’t manage to click “add to cart,” then we have some good news for you: You can still get your hands on a pair of the highly covetable footwear when they drop in the region next week.

Drop III comes in two silhouettes. The 327 boasts an octopus-like outsole that extends up the shoe and an interlocking Moroccan tile print that stays true to the French-Moroccan designer Charaf Tajer’s North African roots.

New Balance x Casablanca 327 silhouette. Supplied

Meanwhile, featuring a wedge heel, suede, mesh and nylon upper, as well as Casablanca’s signature monogram design, the 237 is an entirely new silhouette. Unlike the 327 style, the lugs on the outsole are less bold and don’t extend up the back of the shoe. 

Both trainers feature a clean white, pink and green colorway and an oversized “N” logo on the upper.

It’s not the first time the Paris-based apres-sports fashion house and the footwear company have joined forces. In fact, this recent drop marks their third footwear collaboration together.

New Balance x Casablanca 237 silhouette. Supplied

Casablanca’s first collaboration with New Balance debuted last year, when the 327 dropped in zesty orange and green colorways, inspired by Moroccan sweet oranges and tennis uniforms, respectively. 

The Casablanca x New Balance 327 and 273 sneakers will be available to purchase on March 5 at 9am (KSA time) on newbalance.co.ae and will be retailing for $163 for the 327 and $150 for the 237. Given how quickly the shoes sold out online on Feb. 27, we suggest setting an alarm.


Oscar-nominated ‘White Eye’ asks the hard questions

“White Eye” has made it to the 10-movie shortlist for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. Supplied
“White Eye” has made it to the 10-movie shortlist for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. Supplied
Updated 28 February 2021

Oscar-nominated ‘White Eye’ asks the hard questions

“White Eye” has made it to the 10-movie shortlist for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. Supplied

LONDON: “White Eye” — a short film from writer-director Tomer Shushan — serves as a masterclass in concise storytelling. After all, the pivotal moment at the heart of Shushan’s semi-autobiographical (and recently Oscar-nominated) short involves little more than a dispute over a stolen bicycle, with no lavish set pieces or special effects required to create an enthralling atmosphere. Furthermore, “White Eye” is shot in a single, continuous take that follows Omer (Daniel Gad) as he tries to retrieve his stolen bike.

The short film from writer-director Tomer Shushan serves as a masterclass in concise storytelling. Supplied

The camera buzzes around Omer, sometimes looking over his shoulder, then backing up to show events unfolding in front of him, or circling to show the audience what he can’t see. It makes for an intense 20 minutes of cinema, and it’s no surprise that “White Eye” has made it to the 10-movie shortlist for the Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards.

“White Eye” is shot in a single, continuous take that follows Omer (Daniel Gad) as he tries to retrieve his stolen bike. Supplied

Shushan keeps the scale of the film small. “White Eye” takes place in a single building and on the street outside. As Omer’s attempts to get his bike back escalate into a far more high-stakes situation, there’s a palpable sense of rising tension and, without giving away too much of the story (which would undo the strength of the narrative), Shushan begins to ask a number of uncomfortable questions — about assumption, about prejudice, about empathy and retribution.

“White Eye” takes place in a single building and on the street outside. Supplied

The 20-minute runtime flashes past in a heartbeat as the tiny world the film inhabits becomes both more familiar through repetition, and more uncomfortable as the severity of the situation dawns on Omer — and, by extension, the audience. Thanks to an understated performance from Gad, we see Omer begin to ask himself the hard questions about the strength of his own character. And by that point, we’re so taken in by Shushan’s carefully crafted microcosm that we can’t help but ask ourselves the same of our own humanity.


Bella Hadid shares insight on her autoimmune disorders

Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. Instagram
Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. Instagram
Updated 28 February 2021

Bella Hadid shares insight on her autoimmune disorders

Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012. Instagram

DUBAI: US-Palestinian-Dutch model Bella Hadid offered fans a glimpse into how she treats her autoimmune disorders in an Instagram post this weekend.

On Friday, the 24-year-old posted a series of photos showing her hooked up to an intravenous drip. “Living with a few chronic autoimmune disease = always finding time for my IVs,” she captioned the post.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

Hadid was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 alongside with younger brother Anwar, 21, and their mother, Yolanda, 57.

In 2016, Bella opened up to People magazine about dealing with Lyme disease while being in the spotlight.

“Life isn’t always what it looks like on the outside, and the hardest part of this journey is to be judged by the way you look instead of the way you feel,” she said at the time.


Part-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi is the star of the Dundas Fall 2021 collection

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied
The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied
Updated 28 February 2021

Part-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi is the star of the Dundas Fall 2021 collection

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied

DUBAI: Norwegian designer Peter Dundas presented the Dundas Fall 2021 collection this week with a little help from Malika El-Maslouhi. The fashion heavyweight tapped the Moroccan-Italian rising model to showcase the glamorous new offering, which was digitally presented in a look book format.

The 22-year-old, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father, features in the look book, shot by fashion photographer Charlotte Wales in London, wearing 31 looks that range from draped minidresses and velvet pantsuits to slender duster coats and the brand’s newest category — hosiery.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MALIKA (@malika.elmaslouhi)

“If we’re ever allowed to go out at night again, I promise I’m stepping out in @dundasworld,” wrote El-Maslouhi on Instagram alongside a carousel of videos and photos that included backstage clips from the shoot. “What a fun day it was and loved to rock these looks. Thank you for having me,” she added.

Indeed, the collection is perfect for post-lockdown revelry.

Inspired by the glamour of the 1930s and the 1970s, the collection was punctuated with flowy wide-leg trousers, tailored jackets worn over lavish dresses, fringed tops and skirts, feathered cardigan dresses and lots of animal print.

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied

The London-based designer chose rich and luxurious fabrics such as velvet and charmeuse and details like ostrich fur and sequins to dream up the latest offering.

El-Maslouhi, who is signed to VIVA Model Management, made her modelling debut when she was 18 years old at the Alberta Ferretti Fall 2019 show and went on to walk for the Dior Cruise 2020 show held in Marrakech a month later.

She would go on to quit her university studies to pursue modeling full-time, and completely captivate the fashion industry in the process.

The model posed for Norwegian designer Peter Dundas’s latest collection. Supplied

In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses such as Hermes and Chanel, the rising fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Jacquemus and Zadig & Voltaire, and was selected as the face of Calvin Klein swimwear.

Meanwhile, the model, who splits her time between Italy, France and the Netherlands, was also recently selected as the cover star of the latest edition of Elle France.