Review: Lady Gaga’s Golden Globe nomination for ‘House of Gucci’ is well deserved

The film earned lead star Lady Gaga a Golden Globe nomination this week. (Supplied)
The film earned lead star Lady Gaga a Golden Globe nomination this week. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 December 2021

Review: Lady Gaga’s Golden Globe nomination for ‘House of Gucci’ is well deserved

The film earned lead star Lady Gaga a Golden Globe nomination this week. (Supplied)

CHENNAI: “House of Gucci,” which just earned lead star Lady Gaga a Golden Globe nomination, feels like the “Godfather” films and Lady Macbeth stirred into one. Directed by Ridley Scott, with a layered script by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna that is based on Sara Gay Forden’s 2001 book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed,” it has the allure of a high fashion thriller with a neat mix of style, substance, scheming and all that is seedy.

Despite the ear-grating attempt at an Italian accent, it is a wonderful piece of acting by Gaga, who turns from a comely maiden into a villainous schemer striving to clean up the mess made by the two Gucci brothers — Al Pacino's Aldo and Rudolfo (Jeremy Irons) — who between them have been emptying the fashion house's coffers. A commoner, Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani is a social climber and involves herself with the scion of the Gucci family, Maurizio — a tall, gawky man with oversized spectacles played by Adam Driver (another painful attempt at an Italian accent). While she exudes an element of doleful mysteriousness, he is charmingly innocent with a foolish sense of trust that Patrizia capitalizes upon as she plans his assassination. 

In many ways, “House of Gucci” has magical allure, mixing murderous machinations with catwalk creations. It is dramatic to be sure, spiced up with portrayals of a high society European family that lives off its rich legacy. The film is gaudily colorful and features a melodious jukebox of a soundtrack with Pavarotti, Tracy Chapman, Caterina Caselli and Blondie giving audiences something to tap their feet to.

It is led by able performances from a subtle but determined Al Pacino, but it must be said that Salma Hayek is wasted in her role as Tarot card reader Pina. Sadly we also learn little of the inner motivations of the cast of characters around Reggiani, they are simply bit players in her stage play spouting dramatic lines in exaggerated accents and generally being as hammy as possible.

The Gucci scandal is well known, at least to many of us, so the climax may not come as a great surprise and Ridley's effort to turn it into a fashion thriller only work to a point.

 


What We Are Playing Today: Award-winning co-op game 'It Takes Two'

What We Are Playing Today: Award-winning co-op game 'It Takes Two'
Updated 19 August 2022

What We Are Playing Today: Award-winning co-op game 'It Takes Two'

What We Are Playing Today: Award-winning co-op game 'It Takes Two'
  • The award-winning production was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in March 2021

Married life can be hard; sometimes couples must cooperate to solve their problems. They need to know when to be firm or relent, so it takes two to make the relationship work.

This is exactly the aim of the action-adventure platform “It Takes Two”, which was created by Hazelight Studios and released by Electronic arts.

The story centers on a couple Cody and May who are seemingly incompatible and plan to divorce. They break the news to their daughter Rose late in the afternoon.

Rose then goes upstairs to her room and using two handmade dolls that resemble her parents, acts out a scene where they reconcile.

Rose’s tears, however, magically transfer the souls of her parents into these two dolls, who are now trapped and desperate to return to their bodies. In order to do that, they are forced to work together. 

The production was awarded The Game Award for Game of the Year 2021. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in March 2021.

“It Takes Two” has top-notch graphics, with many details for surfaces and a rotating view. You can move the camera angles around and explore the environment.

It is a multiplayer video game and does not have a single-player option.


Filmmaker Jordan Peele talks ‘Nope,’ ahead of the sci-fi thriller’s Mideast release

Filmmaker Jordan Peele talks ‘Nope,’ ahead of the sci-fi thriller’s Mideast release
Updated 18 August 2022

Filmmaker Jordan Peele talks ‘Nope,’ ahead of the sci-fi thriller’s Mideast release

Filmmaker Jordan Peele talks ‘Nope,’ ahead of the sci-fi thriller’s Mideast release
  • ‘Get Out’ director says his toughest project to date
  • Social commentary expected with horror, comedy elements

DUBAI: Filmmaker Jordan Peele, who broke out with his directorial debut “Get Out,” is pushing his own limits with his latest film, “Nope.”

The director says his goal with the sci-fi thriller was to write a movie that was impossible to make. The stars are calling the result a spectacular, mind-bending production and connecting Peele’s talent for horror with his background in comedy.

“This was one of, if not, the greatest challenge of my life — making this film. I think what started as a movie that was all about a certain dark notion, as I was making it and writing it, I had this feeling that it also had to represent joy and had to represent Black joy,” said Peele to Arab News.

The movie follows a brother and sister (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) who, after their father’s unexplainable death, try to capture proof that a flying saucer is menacing their town.

The film has been confirmed as Peele’s most expensive production, with Forbes speculating a $40 million cost, nearly 10 times that of his debut, “Get Out.”

Kaluuya, who was the lead star of “Get Out” and plays O.J. Haywood in “Nope,” said: “It’s just bigger and he’s grown as a filmmaker, so it’s just amazing to see that.”

“He can understand what’s happening and make choices and make decisions and troubleshoot. Yeah, but there’s always this part of him that’s wide open to letting the film surprise him,” said actor Steven Yeun, who plays Ricky “Jupe" Park, in the film.

Story details are being kept secret, but audiences can expect layers of social commentary between the thrills and chills, with Peele already hinting that “Nope” explores themes of commercial exploitation and the increased visibility of people of color in Hollywood.

“Putting people of color in the leads and the subject matter not always having to do with black versus oppression. It’s just black leads, black perspective, stories and culture,” said Palmer, who stars as Emerald Haywood in “Nope.”

“I want something that’s going to give you a fun experience and an adventure. And at the end, I want you to have to talk about it,” said Peele.


Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly anticipated show

Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly anticipated show
Updated 18 August 2022

Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly anticipated show

Inside ‘House of the Dragon,’ this year’s most eagerly anticipated show
  • Can the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel emulate its extraordinary success?

DUBAI: Few television shows (or films, or any other kind of media) have had as great a cultural impact as “Game of Thrones.” Throughout its eight-year run, which began in 2011, the sprawling fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin’s books gripped audiences across the globe (for reasons both positive and negative) and its influence is still felt across television and film. Now, just over three years after its last episode aired, HBO has finally readied a follow up its most-popular series: “House of the Dragon” — a prequel set hundreds of years earlier, which premieres on OSN in the Middle East on August 22.

The world has changed, however. When “Game of Thrones” debuted, there was nothing like it. For many, the series was the first piece of fantasy that enraptured them — propulsive, riveting and uncompromising storytelling that eased viewers into the existence of ice monsters and dragons. A decade on, there has been a litany of direct imitators, none of which has come close to emulating its success. So why should this one?

Emma D'Arcy and Matt Smith in 'House of the Dragon.' (HBO)

“There have been many attempts to capture the ‘Game of Thrones’ magic,” says “House of the Dragon” co-creator and co-showrunner Ryan J Condal. “And many shows that have done only one or two seasons, and that’s it. There’s clearly a pattern of people wanting something like ‘Game of Thrones,’ but [the imitators] had to make it different. We’re lucky in the respect that we don’t have that problem. The more ‘Game of Thrones’ we are, the better.”

“House of the Dragon” should not be seen simply as a carbon copy of its predecessor, though. “Game of Thrones” had dozens of major characters, with the two major ones — Daenerys Targaryen and Aegon Targaryen (who believed himself to be Jon Snow for most of it) — not even meeting until near the end. “House of the Dragon” is far more zoomed in, centering on four characters from that same Targaryen family — a mercurial bunch with pale white hair and dragon’s blood in their veins — 200 years prior to the birth of Daenerys.

The central conceit is, however, pure “GoT.” A peacetime king — Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) — is unable to produce a male heir, leaving his hot-headed and unpredictable brother Prince Daemon as his most likely successor. Viserys, however, has other plans, thinking that perhaps his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (played by Emma D’Arcy as an adult, Milly Alcock as a teen) could become the kingdom’s first queen. Her best friend, Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke as an adult, Emily Carey as a teen), however, seems to have her eyes on the king herself.

Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent. (HBO)

“I think the thing that made it so interesting to us is the idea that you get to explore the Targaryens as a dynasty and as a family instead of basically just one person. (We) get to show you what Westeros was like when the Targaryens were at height of their power and influence, when they had 17 dragons to discourage other houses from raising a challenge to the throne. And we see a broad spectrum of different Targaryen people — princes and princesses, firstborns and second-borns — who all have their own internal life and wants and needs and identity,” says co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik.

“What you realize is: This is just like any other family,” he continues. “It’s made up of a complex range of people who will all react to things in a different way. There isn’t a Targaryen archetype. There’s nature and nurture involved — how they develop as people and how they react to different things. They’re all real, complex people with gray in their souls, and that’s why people tune in from week to week, to follow these, hopefully, deeply interesting and compelling characters.”

Leading the pack is Paddy Considine, an actor who has put in some of the finest, if under-heralded, performances in recent history, including 2003’s “In America,” 2004’s “Dead Man’s Shoes” and 2010’s “Submarine,” and is finally given the major role he’s always deserved — something that the creators of the show saw before he did.

Paddy Considine as King Viserys. (HBO)

“I was the first actor cast in it, which was a massive leap of faith on the part of Miguel and Ryan and HBO. The fact that I didn’t even have to audition was a big gamble, really. Because I’ve a cynical side, my first question was, ‘Well, who’s turned it down? Who doesn’t want to do it?’ And they said, ‘Nobody. It’s yours. We’re coming straight to you.’ And that’s a good way to get me in, because I was very flattered by that, I was really honored. Truthfully, I was,” says Considine.

Matt Smith, who has already found huge success for his runs as both the lead in BBC stalwart “Doctor Who” and Prince Philip in the first two seasons of Netflix smash “The Crown,” comes in as the show’s most recognizable star, with his trademark charisma on full display as the brash and brilliant Daemon.

“I loved his unpredictability,” Smith says. “That was one of the things that really drew me to Daemon in the first place. You never quite know where he’s going to go, even as an actor. That affords you a great deal of invention and allows you to play. It’s nice when you’re an actor and you don’t quite know where the scene’s going to take you. I really loved it. I had such a good time.”

Ryan J Condal is the co-creator and co-showrunner of “House of the Dragon.” (HBO)

Smith may have been having fun, but the shoot was grueling. It began in April 2021 and didn’t wrap until February 2022, filming across the UK, Spain and California.

“Nothing prepares you for the shooting. I walked in with my shoulders back and head high. A year later, I crawled out on my belly,” says Considine.

“Game of Thrones,” of course, was a show with massively popular female characters, an aspect that kept it relevant as the cultural paradigm shifted, with Danaerys Targaryen becoming a symbol of empowered women the world over. “House of the Dragon” takes that baton and runs with it, focusing first and foremost on its lead women characters, Princess Rhaenyra and Lady Alicent.

For the show’s female stars, getting on the same page with the showrunners over how women would be portrayed in the violent and sexist world in which it’s set was of paramount importance from day one.

Milly Alcock (left) and Emily Carey. (HBO)

“Both Olivia and I started speaking with Miguel Sapochnik really early,” says D’Arcy. “One of the questions that I came into the show with was: ‘How do you make sure you are telling a story from their point of view, when we are in a world that doesn’t afford them space?’”

The conversations went better than they expected, the two stars reveal.

“Miguel was incredibly receptive and really generous on all of that. He gave us the space to explore these characters,” Cooke says.

“Fundamentally, Miguel is really aware that he’s not a woman,” D’Arcy adds. “He was very willing to defer to us, if something came up in the text. If you have a question, you have every right to interrogate that. It’s been a collaborative process.”


Actress Jameela Jamil talks about her supervillain character at ‘She-Hulk’ premiere

Actress Jameela Jamil talks about her supervillain character at ‘She-Hulk’ premiere
Updated 17 August 2022

Actress Jameela Jamil talks about her supervillain character at ‘She-Hulk’ premiere

Actress Jameela Jamil talks about her supervillain character at ‘She-Hulk’ premiere

DUBAI: Actress Jameela Jamil — who shot to fame for her fan-favorite role as Tahani on “The Good Place” — was all smiles at the Los Angeles premiere of Marvel’s latest Disney+ entry, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” set to premiere worldwide on Aug. 18.

The British Pakistani actress took to social media to give fans front-row seats to all the action at the star-packed event. Also present were Tatiana Maslany, who plays the fourth-wall-breaking titular character who is a lawyer/superhero, and the actor who plays her onscreen cousin, Mark Ruffalo, reprising his more recent Professor Hulk iteration.

Jamil wore a custom Monique Vee low-cut dress with a high slit, paired glamorously with black Christian Louboutin pumps. The gown itself was an homage to comic books with action words like “BANG,” “ZAP” and “WAM.”

In “She-Hulk,” Jamil plays supervillain Titania, whom she has herself dubbed “the most annoying MCU character ever.”

In the trailer that was released as part of Marvel’s San Diego Comic-Con panel, Jamil’s Titania is shown bursting through a courtroom wall. Like She-Hulk, Titania possesses super strength, durability and stamina, but the character obtained her powers differently in the comics, having been exposed to alien technology.

Among the many snapshots from the premiere, Jamil posted a clip from the red carpet on her Instagram Stories, in which she gives some insight into her character. “She’s just very messy, very chaotic, very mean, very annoying, very easy for me to play. And she’s deeply insecure and just out to destroy She-Hulk’s life, out to destroy everyone’s life actually,” she said.



“And in order to make her more accessible to the modern world, [creator and writer] Jessica Gao has fully redone her storyline from the comics. And so, she’s more of a modern-day fitness influencer online and everything about her is fake…And I got to play just a funny, tongue-in-cheek caricature of an influencer, who can also just beat the (expletive) out of you,” Jamil added.

The series also marks the return of Charlie Cox (of Netflix’s “Daredevil” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home”) as Matt Murdock — better known as Daredevil — a fellow lawyer and superhero. The cast of characters also features Tim Roth as Abomination, Renée Elise Goldsberry (of “Hamilton” fame) as Mallory Book and Ginger Gonzaga (from TV series "Kidding") as Nikki Ramos.

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” premieres worldwide on Disney+ on Aug. 18.


Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai Opera

Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai Opera
Updated 17 August 2022

Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai Opera

Michael Jackson tribute show headed to Dubai Opera

DUBAI: Fans of the King of Pop, rejoice. A Michael Jackson tribute show is one of four major concerts headed to Dubai Opera in September, the venue has announced.

The month-long program includes the ballet “Romeo and Juliet, The Greatest Love Story of All Time”; the opera “La Traviata”; a performance by French-Canadian singer-songwriter Margaux Sauve; and “Michael Lives Forever, A Tribute to Michael Jackson.”

The Jackson tribute show features Rodrigo Teaser, and will be staged on Sept. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. The show includes classic hits such as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Thriller.”

Shakespeare fans can watch his tragic masterpiece come to life with “Romeo and Juliet, The Greatest Love Story of All Time,” courtesy of the State Ballet of Georgia. Performances will take place on Sept. 9 at 8 p.m., Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Verdi's “La Traviata,” which describes the ill-fated love affair between high-class courtesan Violetta and poet Alfredo Germont, will show at the Dubai Opera on Sept. 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.

“Ghostly Kisses,” a musical project by Margaux Sauve, will be staged at the venue on Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.