‘Penguin Bloom’ sees Naomi Watts in a poignant comeback

‘Penguin Bloom’ sees Naomi Watts in a poignant comeback
The film is helmed by Glendyn Ivin. (YouTube)
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Updated 18 February 2021

‘Penguin Bloom’ sees Naomi Watts in a poignant comeback

‘Penguin Bloom’ sees Naomi Watts in a poignant comeback

CHENNAI: Tragic stories on screen have been dime a dozen, but I have never seen one in which a tiny magpie plays a soother and soulmate to a physically challenged woman with three young sons.

Helmed by Glendyn Ivin, who first grabbed our attention with his short film “Cracker Bag,” which clinched the Palm d’Or at Cannes in 2003, “Penguin Bloom” sees the director tell a true story with his own artistic take. 

At first it may seem distressingly unhappy, but the film picks up and finds its wings, so to say, as the 94-minute plot progresses. A combination of hauntingly happy music by Marcelo Zarvos and some breathtakingly scenic shots allow the piece to alternate between the tragically sorrowful and hopefully happy — it all works wonderfully despite a few minor flaws.




The film stars Naomi Watts. (YouTube)

A family on a vacation in Thailand is stunned when Sammy Bloom (Naomi Watts) suffers a terrible fall that leaves her paralyzed below her waist. For a woman who loved the sea and surfing, nothing could have been more physically and mentally anguishing.

With three young boys to take care of, she finds she has to depend on her husband Cam (Andrew Lincoln) for the smallest of chores. But he is caring and helpful, raising her spirits and also keeping the boys cheerful.




With three young boys to take care of, Bloom finds she has to depend on her husband Cam (Andrew Lincoln) for the smallest of chores. (YouTube)

When one of them, Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnston in a sensitive screen debut), brings home an injured magpie and names it Penguin, because its colors are black and white, Sammy is not pleased. But she lets the bird stay, telling her family that it will fly away as soon as it gets better.

In several remarkable scenes, Ivin uses little ploys to get Penguin to endear itself so that the wheelchair-bound Sammy begins to grow fond of the bird. 

Imaginatively shot with a touch of novelty, the film thinks up tricks that the little feathered fellow indulges in. Penguin begins to suddenly sing, much to the amazement of Sammy and her family.

As the bird gets physically stronger and more energetic, it scampers around mischievously like a child, playing with just about everything it can lay its beak on (breaking a bottle of honey or pecking at a doll), making Sammy realize she may have far more in common with the endearing little animal than she once thought.

Watts needed this film to stop her career from drifting any further. A marvelous actress, with an electrifying screen presence, who dazzled in works like “Mulholland Drive” and “King Kong,” she faltered in “The Book of Henry” and Gus Van Sant’s “The Sea of Trees” (which was greeted with boos at Cannes in 2015).

“Penguin Bloom” shows us that Watts still has the magical ability to rise above the noise and carry a film on her shoulders.


Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models

Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models
Updated 58 min 38 sec ago

Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models

Middle East personalities could be next Madame Tussauds Dubai wax models
  • The museum opened its 25th branch in Dubai last week

DUBAI: Additional Middle East personalities could join the list of famous Arab figures on display at Madame Tussauds Dubai.

“We listen to our customers; we listen to their feedback. So, we will always be updating the figures and enhancing the products,” Sanaz Kollsrud, general manager of Madame Tussauds Dubai, told Arab News.

The museum opened its 25th wax attraction in the city on Oct.14, making it the brand’s first branch in the Middle East. 

Maya Diab at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

The famous attraction has a total of 16 figures from the Middle East region. These include talents from the music industry — such as Lebanese singers Nancy Ajram and Maya Diab — and athletes that were made exclusively for the branch in Dubai.

“At the moment, Madame Tussauds has 25 wax attractions around the world, including the US, Europe, and Asia. I’m sure that the brand will look at opportunities to expand at a later stage,” Kollsrud said.

Dubai has been a perfect choice for the Middle East branch, as it is a global tourist destination. The general manager said the museum is also located near a major attraction in the city, Ain Dubai, and is surrounded by a variety of retail and dining options.

Donald and Melania Trump at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

When asked how the museum chooses the figures it wants to display, Kollsrud said there is a lot of research behind figure selection, including customer research.

“It took about 18 months to put together a figure list, during which we looked at the popularity of the celebrities regionally and globally, especially within the UAE,” she said.

To keep the figures clean and protected, a team of artists works daily to make sure the statues are in perfect shape, the general manager said.

Lewis Hamilton at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

She added that a team of 20 artists completes one wax figure within four to seven months. 

They even insert real hair strands, which can cost $190,605.

"There is a sitting involved with the talent, where they come and we do around 500 measurements, including head to toe," Kollsrud said.

The tourist destination consists of seven themed rooms and includes over 60 lifelike wax figures.

Chinese President Xi Jinping at Madame Tussauds Dubai. (AN_Photo)

 


Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser

Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser
Nassar proposed to Gates last January. Instagram
Updated 18 October 2021

Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser

Bill Gates’ daughter Jennifer weds Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser

DUBAI: Jennifer Gates, the daughter of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has married Egyptian equestrian Nayel Nasser, it has been reported.

The two tied the knot at her farm in North Salem, New York.

The 25-year-old wore a custom Vera Wang gown, as per reports. Media outlets also reported that the newlyweds held a private Muslim ceremony the night before Saturday’s 300-guest celebration.

Nassar, 29, proposed to Gates, who has a degree in human biology, in January during a ski trip.

In September, Gates posted a picture on her Instagram of the two in a sweet embrace.

Nayel commented on the post, “Can't wait for forever with you.”

She also shared another photo in May from what appears to be their engagement photo shoot, writing, “I can hardly wait to marry you!”

The two have been together since January 2017, bonding over their passion for equestrian sports, with Gates also being an equestrian athlete who competes frequently, but not on a professional level like Nassar. Both belong to the Paris Panthers, a riding club which competes in different forms of equestrian sporting events.

In an interview with equestrian-focused publication Sidelines Magazine, the 23-year-old Stanford graduate said: “Nayel always reminds me to believe in myself, which is so important. I’m so lucky to have him as a partner.”

He’s incredibly supportive, humble and loyal, and someone that I look forward to building a life with.”

Nassar was born to millionaire parents in Chicago in the US, but was raised in Kuwait.

His parents run an architecture and design firm which relocated to the US in 2009.

Nassar, who graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics, began riding when he was five, and was jumping by the age of 10. He first qualified in 2013 for the FEI World Cup Finals, an annual international competition which includes the most skilled and talented show jumping horses and riders.


Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 
Updated 18 October 2021

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

Mideast films win big at BFI London Film Festival 

DUBAI: The BFI London Film Festival unveiled its winners for the 2021 edition on Sunday, and two regional films made the cut —“Hit the Road” and “Costa Brava, Lebanon.”

“Hit the Road” won the Best Film award. 

Iranian director Panah Panahi’s drama, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival, is all about the journey. It follows a chaotic family-of-four that goes on a road trip in a borrowed car.

“Costa Brava, Lebanon” stars Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki. (Supplied)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” which stars Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri and Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki, won the Audience Award.  

Lebanese director Mounia Akl’s impassioned feature film debut is an eerie family drama set amid a raging climate crisis in near-future Lebanon.

Read on for the full list of awards:

“Hit the Road,” Panah Panahi, Official Competition (Best Film Award)

“Playground,” Laura Wandel, First Feature Competition (Sutherland Award)

“Becoming Cousteau,” Liz Garbus, Documentary Competition (Grierson Award)

“Only Expansion,” Duncan Speakman, Immersive Art and XR Competition

“Love, Dad,” Diana Cam Van Nguyen, Short Film Competition (Short Film Award)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon,” Mounia Akl, Audience Award


Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror
Updated 18 October 2021

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis talks ‘Halloween Kills’ and the franchise’s legacy of horror

LOS ANGELES: Iconic horror villain Michael Myers has returned once again in “Halloween Kills,” but this time the town of Haddonfield is fighting back, led by the protagonist of the original Halloween film played by actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

“It’s a much more brutal telling but it feels like it’s also synonymous with the times,” said Jamie Lee Curtis, returning once again as protagonist Laurie Strode. “The times are really violent right now and it’s just sort of a mirror image of what’s going on around the world.”

Curtis made her film debut in 1978’s “Halloween” when she was only 19 and was surprised to be cast as the shy, bookish main character. “I was perfect for the cheerleader and perfect for the smart alec because that’s who I’ve been my whole life. So, it really gave me an opportunity to be an actor,” shared Curtis.

But as she’s continued in her life and career, Curtis has found more in common with her star making character.

“She is a mother and a grandmother and David Gordon Green wrote a family into the 2018 movie,” Curtis said. “I am a devoted mother, not a grandmother yet but I am a devoted mother and so I do feel like giving Laurie a family was crucial.”

The “Halloween” franchise has gone in a lot of directions over the years, but the modern films are focusing on legacy, with Laure’s daughter Karen stepping up to deal with the threat of Michael Myers even as the town turns into an angry mob.

The film is directed by David Gordon Green. (YouTube)

“Being a voice of reason in that hospital where everyone is losing their mind and it’s frustrating. I think she is playing catch-up really quickly,” said Judy Greer, making her second appearance as Karen Strode, after the 2018 film.

“But she’s also become the warrior. The roles have been replaced,” Curtis added. “Karen and Allyson are the warriors now. Laurie is the one being taken care of.”


Streetwear label Les Benjamins looks to the road ahead of Dubai store opening

Streetwear label Les Benjamins looks to the road ahead of Dubai store opening
Les Benjamins Fall 2022. Supplied
Updated 18 October 2021

Streetwear label Les Benjamins looks to the road ahead of Dubai store opening

Streetwear label Les Benjamins looks to the road ahead of Dubai store opening

DUBAI: Cars and clothes have a long, intertwined history. While it may seem like the two are radically different, fashion has a longstanding relationship with the automotive industry, with designers continuously looking to the road when creating their collections and runway looks.

Coco Chanel’s 1926 Little Black Dress was inspired by Henry Ford’s Model T; in the 1970s, car customizer Kenny “Von Dutch” Howard helped spawn the trucker hat trend; Thierry Mugler presented a Cadillac-inspired corset in the 1980s, and more recently, Demna Gvasalia turned floor mats and side mirrors into skirts and clutches for Balenciaga’s Fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection. 

Thierry Mugler Fall 1992 Ready-to-Wear. Getty Images

Also in 2017, American designer and avid car collector Ralph Lauren presented his fall offering in his Bedford Hills garage for a spectacle inspired by luxury sports cars. For the same season this year, Casablanca designer Charaf Tajer took inspiration from Formula One for his collection, aptly titled “Grand Prix.”

Then there are the countless car collaborations: Hermes’s Bugatti Chiron, Gucci’s monogram Fiat 500, and a Lamborghini Murcielago customized by Versace. Just last week, Mercedes-Benz tapped multi-hyphenate Virgil Abloh to redesign the Mercedes Maybach.

Les Benjamins Fall 2022. Supplied

Now, the latest label to seek inspiration from the automobile industry is Istanbul-based brand Les Benjamins, helmed by German-born Bunyamin Aydin alongside his Saudi wife Lamia, who is responsible for the womenswear portion of the streetwear brand’s collections.

Titled “Forgotten Pacenotes,” the label’s new offering for fall 2021 celebrates Turkey’s rally icons of the 1970s and 1980s, such as Renç Koçibey, Serdar Bostanci and Ali Sipahi, among others.

The collection, which is split into two chapters “rally style” and “crash & repair,” is punctuated with pieces one would find on the Grand Prix or Daytona 500 stands. There are sleek, leather zip-up jackets, oil spill prints, track jackets and pants, balaclava hoods, vegan leather vests and zip-ups emblazoned with Les Benjamins patches, evoking the bright sponsor logos on heavily-modded race cars. 

Les Benjamins Fall 2022. Supplied

As for the accessories, there are racing gloves, logo-dotted dad caps and sleek handbags with magnetic clasps that open and close with the ease of a push-to-start button.

When it came to the womenswear, Lamia gave a sartorial nod to French pilot Michèle Mouton, who became the first, and only, woman to win a world rally championship event in 1981.

“The heritage of racing and stories that inspired me merging with my creative vision brings together a contemporary take on rally racing,” Aydin told Arab News.

Les Benjamins Fall 2022. Supplied

The designer has always had a fascination with cars. “I love cars,” he said, adding that he’s mostly interested in the design aspect and clothing style. “I’d love to design a car one day and maybe a racing team,” he added.

The new offering is available online and will also be showcased at the upcoming Les Benjamins flagship in Dubai, which will mark the mostly genderless streetwear brand’s first store in the Gulf and wider Middle East — bar Turkey.

Les Benjamins Fall 2022. Supplied

The brand, which has found fans in Kim Kardashian West, Justin Bieber and Saweetie, already has two stores in Istanbul and over 150 stockists.

“The community we have here in Dubai has always welcomed me and Les Benjamins,” shared Aydin. “I feel at home here.”