LONDON: You may find yourself pulling off an involuntary eye roll when you hear there is going to be another “Home Alone” movie. But then you read on, and realize that it is being directed by Dan Mazer (who worked with Sacha Baron Cohen on “Ali G” and “Borat”). And then you read on a little further and you learn that it is going to star Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney and Aisling Bea. And then a little further, and you notice that it has “Saturday Night Live” and “Veep” actors in it. And you begin to hope. Could this actually be that rarest of things — a Christmas remake that’s actually worth watching?
The answer, I’m sad to say, is no. It is categorically not. The sixth installment in the “Home Alone” franchise starts out fresh, shiny and with a spring in its step. There’s a number of character twists from the 1990 original — the robbers aren’t career criminals this time, Pam and Jeff (Kemper and Delaney) are struggling to keep their family home and think that a priceless family heirloom has been stolen by local 10-year-old Max (Archie Yates). When they realize Max and his family are away for the holidays, their desperate need for cash outweighs their law-abiding caution, and they break in to retrieve it. Except that Max has been left behind, and thinks that the robbers are trying to sell him into slavery. Which is crazy — as are the other half a dozen plot loopholes you need to get over during the first 20 minutes. Max can’t call his parents because their house assistant won’t let him, YouTube is blocked so, for some unknown reason, he can’t send an email and he doesn’t want to alert a passing cop (played by original “Home Alone” actor Devin Ratray) for fear his parents will be arrested for neglect.
The cartoon-ish violence is, at least, well realized, but everything else about “Home Sweet Home Alone” — the script, the story, the acting, even the Christmas schmaltz — is just infuriatingly awful. The movie’s strapline is “No parents. No problem.” You can add “No point” to that.
LOS ANGELES: Amid the uncertainty about the future of arts and entertainment in Sudan after the military takeover, the Sudanese short film “Al-Sit” may make the short list for an Oscar this month.
Currently touring 160 international film festivals, “Al-Sit” has already won 23 awards, including three that qualify it for Oscar consideration. It has lifted both filmmaker Suzannah Mirghani and the fledgling renaissance of Sudanese cinema into the international spotlight.
The 20-minute short film was created by a crew of mostly Sudanese actors and filmmakers, during what Mirghani described as a “honeymoon period for artists” after the 2019 revolution. The film tells the story of Nafisa, played by Mihad Murtada, a 15-year-old girl being pulled between the marriage her parents have arranged for her, the plans for her life being laid out by her village matriarch grandmother — Al-Sit — and the desire to choose for herself.
“That idea has always stuck in my head. What does this girl really want in her life, and how does she deal with the situation?” Mirghani said.
The child of a Sudanese father and a Russian mother, Mirghani grew up in Sudan and watched many of her friends grapple with the same situation she would one day write about.
“Arranged marriages are very common in our part of the world, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing because the family just wants to do the best for the child. But sometimes too much love is suffocating, and the person who is supposed to be the most protected turns out to be the person with the least choice and the least voice.”
These questions stayed as a young love of movies grew into a passion for filmmaking. After studying media and communication at university, she moved to Qatar and took classes at the newly opened Doha Film Institute. She produced five short films before returning to Sudan for “Al-Sit” with partial funding provided by the institute.
“I was really pleasantly surprised about how beautifully you can make a film in Sudan even though there is no film industry,” said Mirghani, who pulled triple-duty as writer, director and producer.
Lead actor Murtada was chosen from a pool of five girls, the only five in the country who auditioned.
“We advertised the entire time. We only got five girls because it’s not really a profession that is encouraged in general,” Mirghani said. However, the first-time actor was perfect for the role.
“We got maybe over 100 young men to audition because acting, Hollywood, this is something that they aspire to and because young men in the Arab world are generally more free to choose their own path, which says a lot about the politics of this film as well.”
The role of Nafisa’s businessman husband-to-be went to Mohammed Magdi Hassan, who, like Murtada and the rest of the young cast, had no prior film experience. The older actors, such as Rabeha Mohammed Mahmoud, who plays Nafisa’s grandmother, were also new to film acting, but all had careers as theatrical performers.
“Everyone just did it,” Mirghani said, recalling how her early concerns about working with such a new team were happily proven wrong.
“We were location scouting and when my production manager heard that we needed a cotton field he said, ‘Why don’t you use my cotton field?’ It was a perfect connection.”
Filming was done primarily in the village of Aezzazh, but when it came to filming Nafisa’s family’s home, which Mirghani intended to be a traditional Sudanese home made with dried clay and mud, she was surprised to find that all of the village houses were made with bricks.
“They were fancy,” she said. “A lot of the men in the village work in the Gulf. They bring back money, and they have fancy houses in the villages.”
The shoot was saved when a crew member once again offered their family’s home as a production location.
“We had to shoot the mud house in Khartoum, in the capital,” Mighani said, smiling about the irony of the situation. “You learn a lot about yourself and your own preconceived notions.”
Mirghani is very happy that the film she and her team worked hard to produce has received such a positive reaction from audiences around the world. She’s eagerly looking forward to seeing if “Al-Sit” can represent Sudanese cinema at the 2022 Oscars.
“This is the beauty of making a film in Sudan, where you don’t have a film industry, but you have really passionate enthusiastic people,” she says. “We are now in danger again of going back to military rule and stifling creative expression, so we hope and pray for the best.
“Al-Sit” is distributed by Mad Solutions in the Arab World and will continue screening at film festivals internationally.
DUBAI: The holidays are quickly approaching, and the fashion world is preparing for a season in style as luxury brands team up with the industry’s favorite faces to showcase their latest fall 2021 collections via eye-catching campaigns.
The latest is German label Boss, which has recently unveiled its holiday campaign starring none other than Moroccan-British model Nora Attal.
The 21-year-old appears in the advertorial wearing a leopard print ensemble and clutching a black leather bag from the brand’s newest collection.
Boss also enlisted its brand ambassador, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, to star in the new holiday campaign.
The “Thor” star is seen wrapping gifts in front of a conveyor belt while posing in a black tuxedo.
The holiday advertorial celebrates the joy of togetherness and the special moments of exchanging gifts.
The collection boasts a wide range of holiday styles from sportswear essentials and pajama-style suits to tuxedos and sequin dresses. Sneakers, scarves and knit beanies are among the other items that jostle for attention in the label’s festive collection.
Attal has kept a relatively low fashion profile since walking the Chanel Cruise 2022 show in Dubai last month.
Prior to that, she walked Balmain’s Spring 2022 ready-to-wear runway at La Seine Musicale concert hall during Paris Fashion Week, which marked French fashion designer Olivier Rousteing’s 10th anniversary as creative director for the Parisian luxury maison.
US label Michael Kors also recently unveiled its Holiday 2021 campaign for Michael Michael Kors and Michael Kors Men’s, featuring part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid.
The 25-year-old stars in the advertorial, photographed by Sean Thomas at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport, alongside beauty influencer Bretman Rock, US it girl Lori Harvey and actress Tina Leung.
What We Are Reading Today: Moving Up without Losing Your Way by Jennifer M. Morton
Updated 01 December 2021
Upward mobility through higher education has been an article of faith for generations of working-class, low-income, and immigrant college students. While this path usually entails financial sacrifices and hard work, little attention has been paid to the personal compromises such students make as they enter worlds vastly different from their own.
Measuring the true cost of higher education for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, Moving Up without Losing Your Way looks at the ethical dilemmas of upward mobility—the broken ties with family and friends, and the loss of community and identity—faced by students as they strive to earn a successful place in society. Drawing upon philosophy, social science, personal stories, and interviews, Jennifer Morton reframes the college experience.
Actress Kosar Ali hits British Fashion Awards red carpet
Updated 30 November 2021
Arab News AP
DUBAI: Some of fashion’s biggest names gathered on the steps of London’s Royal Albert Hall for the 2021 British Fashion Awards in truly spectacular style.
Presented by the British Fashion Council alongside TikTok, and hosted by US actor Billy Porter, the annual awards ceremony was not short of glamor and glitz.
Among the celebrity guests in attendance was British-Somali actress Kosar Ali, who made an entrance wrapped in a floral Richard Quinn fall 2021 ready-to-wear kaftan. The Bafta-nominated teen star of “Rocks” paired the look with a matching headwrap and black gloves.
Somali boxer Ramla Ali arrived on the red carpet looking elegant in a gold gown accessorized with matching gold hoop earrings.
Also at the awards ceremony was part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik who championed Arab talent by way of a white, form-fitting sequin gown from Kuwaiti couturier Yousef Al-Jasmi.
Fashion aside, the British Fashion Council’s usually glitzy annual awards honored a host of prominent industry names in somber style following the death of Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh on Nov. 28.
The 2021 ceremony saw Kim Jones win designer of the year for Dior Men and Fendi, and Tommy Hilfiger lauded with the outstanding achievement accolade.
Meanwhile, British designer Stella McCartney and editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, were among 15 recognized as leaders of change.
But the event was overshadowed by the passing of Abloh, who died aged 41 after battling cancer for several years.
Louis Vuitton’s trailblazing head of menswear, and the first black artistic director at a major French luxury label, was also named a leader of change and eulogized throughout the evening.
A minute’s silence was observed at the beginning of the show in memory of the late founder of brand Off-White and DJ, before British actor Idris Elba recited the Maya Angelou poem, “When Great Trees Fall.”
US actress Demi Moore, Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and British rapper Kano were among the presenters.
Nominees and winners were voted for by an international panel of industry experts of more than 1,000 people, with two general awards and four special recognition awards handed out alongside the 15 leaders of change gongs.
Star-studded Indian film ‘83’ to have world premiere during Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah
Updated 29 November 2021
DUBAI: “’83,” a film directed by Indian filmmaker Kabir Khan will have its world premiere at the upcoming Red Sea International Film Festival, set to take place from Dec. 16-15 in Jeddah.
The film will close out the festival’s inaugural edition on Dec. 15 ahead of its theatrical release on the 24th.
The premiere will be attended by cast and crew, including the director and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, the captain of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, Kapil Dev, alongside Mohinder Amarnath, vice captain of the team and legendary cricketeer Kris Srikkanth.
“I’m beyond excited to unveil “’83” at the Red Sea International Film Festival, the opening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia is a fantastic opportunity for filmmakers in India and across the world,” Khan said in a statement. “To go on this journey, and to bring the story to screen with legends, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and cricket icon Kapil Dev was like winning the world cup for me.”
Starring Ranveer Singh, “83” tells the true story of Indian athlete Kapil Dev (Singh) who led the country’s cricket team to its first-ever World Cup victory in 1983 at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London against the West Indies.
According to a release, actors trained for months with the real cricketeers they were portraying in order to understand the nuances of the bat-and-ball game that originated in east England.
Edouard Waintrop, Artistic Director of the film festival said: “‘83 is such a monumental film that will capture the public imagination, in Jeddah and across the world. A true celebration of one of the greatest underdog stories in international sporting history, it continues to inspire generations of young people, and the incredible Hindi-language film is sure to do the same. We are thrilled to host the cast and crew, as well sporting icon Kapil Dev at the Red Sea International Film Festival for one of the most anticipated films of the year.”