The return of Rami Malek: Oscar winner discusses new movie, ‘The Little Things’

The return of Rami Malek: Oscar winner discusses new movie, ‘The Little Things’
‘The Little Things’ marks Rami Malek’s return to the big screen. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 January 2021

The return of Rami Malek: Oscar winner discusses new movie, ‘The Little Things’

The return of Rami Malek: Oscar winner discusses new movie, ‘The Little Things’

DUBAI: It’s been nearly two years since Rami Malek stood on stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles to accept the Academy Award for Best Actor for his commanding performance as the late pop star and frontman of Queen, Freddie Mercury, in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a film that grossed over $900 million worldwide. Nothing of the moment was lost on him as he looked across the crowd. 

“Part of my story is being written right now,” Malek, the now-39-year-old son of Egyptian immigrants, said during his acceptance speech, which marked the first time a person of Arab heritage had won the award. 

Malek, and everyone in the room, knew what had gotten him to that point in his story. The commitment to his craft was clear in every frame of the film, as he didn’t just embody the legendary singer, but brought new insights into his character. The question that remained, even for Malek himself, is where that talent and dedication would take his story next. 

The answer is “The Little Things,” written and directed by John Lee Hancock, which opens in the UAE and Saudi Arabia on Jan.28. It is Malek’s first big-screen appearance since “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He plays a detective named Jim Baxter, chasing a serial killer with the same singular focus that has made Malek himself so successful.




Malek plays a detective named Jim Baxter who is chasing a serial killer.  (Supplied)

  

Unlike Malek’s tale, however, Baxter’s is a cautionary one, as his non-stop pursuit nearly ruins him. That, in fact, is what drew Malek to the role. 

“It was the whole idea of when obsession starts to overtake so many other aspects of your life. I think it's a good thing to be reminded of,” Malek tells Arab News. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down production across Hollywood only months after “The Little Things” finished filming at the end of 2019, Malek, like all of us, has had a lot of time to reflect. Through these long months, Malek has continued to think back on the last character he played, aware that a singular focus on his own career could lead him away from what matters most.

“This year probably has taught us a lot about that as well. We get so focused on certain things, get so narrow-minded and have a certain tunnel vision about what has to be achieved in life and what we have to do, that we start to neglect the most important things and perhaps Jim gave me a little bit of that,” says Malek.

Beyond that, a year in social distance has given Malek a renewed sense of his own humanity, and the responsibility that comes with that. 

“[Our art] is extremely important; this thing that we get involved in — our heart and our work — and that, of course, means a lot. But loving your fellow man, the relationship you have with your friends and family, how interconnected we all are, and the sense of equality all over the world is something I think we're all probably thinking about now in a very strong, focused way,” Malek continues. 

Flanking Malek in “The Little Things” are two fellow Oscar winners — Denzel Washington and Jared Leto. Leto was offered a part after Washington and Malek had signed on, and the chance to work with Malek was something that the acclaimed actor and lead singer of the band 30 Seconds To Mars couldn’t pass up. 

“If you look at Rami and what he did in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ it's (awe-inspiring),” says Leto, who plays Albert Sparma, whom the police suspect may be a serial killer. “I remember when I saw him for the first time after that, the first thing I said to him was, ‘Forget the acting, what you did on the stage deserves the awards in and of itself.’ And, as a guy who has stood on thousands of stages around the world, that isn’t easy. They almost should have cast a musician and taught them how to act, because that's a really a hard thing to do. For me, being a physical actor is really (what I’m interested in).” 

In the film, Malek’s character Baxter latches on to the older, wiser Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon, played by Washington. That relationship mirrored their real-life interactions, as Malek basked in the chance to learn from his accomplished co-star. 

“Personally, if I see wisdom and great instincts and experience in front of me, I lean on that. I think that was also inherent in the script. For someone who is struggling in a case, with so much building up, so much responsibility, to have the ability to lean on someone who had clearly been there before and seen something quite dark — there was almost a need to bring that person into your life and seek counsel from them,” Malek says. “I think Baxter knew, in a sense, it could get him down a harmful road. But there was something advantageous to working with this man that could help him solve this very difficult puzzle.” 

While Washington’s presence gave Malek the opportunity to learn from one of the most acclaimed actors in film history on set, Malek also sought out meetings with actual detectives to gain a better insight into the way they operate. It was, in fact, the way that one detective cancelled on him that gave him his way into their mentality.

“(He) told me he couldn’t make it to an appointment we had set to do some research and talk about my character because he’d just come across ‘a fresh one.’ Those words stuck with me and haunted me. At some point it becomes commonplace for them that this is the job. There must be some type of numbing effect that happens for them, because I can’t imagine ever getting used to seeing what they see on a daily basis,” says Malek. 




The script, written by Hancock in 1993 and originally intended for Steven Spielberg, was meant to be both an ode to the detective film and a rebuke of the genre. (Supplied)

Ultimately, it is how the film resolves that makes it linger. The script, written by Hancock in 1993 and originally intended for Steven Spielberg, was meant to be both an ode to the detective film and a rebuke of the genre. According to Hancock, usually it is the resolution, where the good guys capture the evil doer, that is the least interesting aspect of the film.

“The Little Things” has no heroes, nor does it clearly have villains. Its ending has no satisfying answers, other than laying out a clear pathway to how men end up compromised and broken. 

“One of the reasons I gravitated to this story is because it doesn’t have your usual Hollywood ending. It leaves you questioning your idea of how we look at people — criminals, even ourselves,” says Malek.

As Malek himself continues to reflect, he is entering the next chapter of his story with a renewed sense of what he is building towards. 


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.