Looking back: The best movies we watched in 2021

Looking back: The best movies we watched in 2021
“The Power of the Dog” (Supplied)
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Updated 31 December 2021

Looking back: The best movies we watched in 2021

Looking back: The best movies we watched in 2021

DUBAI: From a period Western to a German rom-com, we run down the year’s best movies.

“The Power of the Dog”

Director: Jane Campion

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst  

Here’s a controversial opinion: All riches aside, the character of Marvel’s Doctor Strange is a waste of time for the great Benedict Cumberbatch. While “Spider-Man: No Way Home” finds a seemingly bored Cumberbatch phoning it in, his turn in “The Power of the Dog” is a performance for the ages — a rancher named Phil Burbank in 1925 Montana who is as toxic a personality as he is a magnetic one; a man who knows that emotional abuse is most effective when coupled with moments of kindness and charm. The film’s quiet unease, punctuated with other-worldly New Zealand landscapes, feels unlike any film before it, with much to chew on long after it finishes. 

“The French Dispatch”

Director: Wes Anderson

Starring: Benicio del Toro, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chamalet 

Wes Anderson has a style that is easy to imitate — ornate, pastel, symmetrical, and obvious in in its artifice — but no one else on earth could make a film with the particular brilliance of “The French Dispatch,” Anderson’s love letter to the bygone Harold Ross-edited years of The New Yorker. His anthology is packed to the brim with great actors across its three main stories, Anderson is operating at the peak of his powers, with not a frame wasted and a delirious energy that feels like snacking on a box of old-timey ‘real cane sugar’ sweets. With Anderson, ‘pretentious’ never feels like a dirty word — nor should it. 

“The Green Knight”

Director: David Lowery

Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Barry Keoghan

There have been countless films set in the world of King Arthur, but none has done more to strip away all that feels mystical and mythic about the Knights of the Round Table than David Lowery’s latest, which drags its star Dev Patel through the literal muck to bring to life a classic hero story reimagined as a search for meaning in a grimy and mundane world. Sir Gawain is a hapless oaf with no tale to be told, who sets off towards certain death so that he too may become a mythic figure like his many friends in Camelot — a goal that is less fulfilling than he initially believes.  

“Malignant”

Director: James Wan 

Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Mckenna Grace, George Young

James Wan has long shown the potential to be one of the finest filmmakers of his generation — a successor to cinema-loving auteurs of the past such as Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese — but his body of work had yet to prove it. With “Malignant,” he finally has a film that realizes his manic genius, a love letter to the VHS age of horror films with a style an energy that outdoes them all. While it may start as a seemingly predictable monster film, the longer the film goes on, the wilder it gets, but that’s when Wan is most in control. For horror fans, this was the most fun to be had at the movies this year. 

“The Lost Daughter” 

Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Starring: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Ed Harris

Put Olivia Colman in anything and she’ll shine, but give the Oscar winner a character such as Leda in “The Lost Daughter” and she’ll stir your soul. Leda is a university professor on a solo holiday to Greece for the summer, whose peaceful days by the beach are interrupted by a loud, aggressive American family, including a young mother (Dakota Johnson) in whom Leda sees herself 15 years earlier. Each of the characters, and Colman’s most of all, are horribly flawed, often cruel for no reason, selfish and stubborn, but the tremendous empathy shown to each stops the film from becoming tiresome or alienating, instead allowing you to sit with broken people and root for them to find forgiveness — for themselves and each other. 

“I’m Your Man”

Director: Mara Schrader

Starring: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller

Don’t be surprised if you see this gem of a German romance remade into an A-list rom-com in a few years’ time, but you’d be wise to skip the wait. Maren Eggert plays a woman participating in a scientific trial for a new company that makes robots designed to be the perfect partner. Simple, warm and good-hearted, the brilliance of the film is in the generous, gentle performance from English actor Dan Stevens (speaking German) as the robot who just wants to love, trying to woo a woman who has no interest in being loved. 

“The Father”

Director: Florian Zeller

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Rufus Sewell

It won two Oscars earlier this year — for its writer Florian Zeller and lead actor Anthony Hopkins — and yet “The Father” still feels underrated. It’s not the Oscar-bait family drama that it seems to be — it’s actually one of the most devastating psychological thrillers in years; a horror film in the sense that it manifests on screen something that its characters fear most — in this case, living through dementia. The film follows the perspective of Hopkins’ character so closely that the viewer becomes as confused as he as his apartment changes around him, as faces that were once familiar now look like they belong to strangers. A searing, insightful, impeccably performed masterpiece, and the best of Hopkins’ long career. 

“Mayor”

Director: David Osit

Starring: Musa Hadid 

There are many, many Palestinian stories more immediately compelling, more fraught with suffering and more full of heroism than that of Musa Hadid, the mayor of Ramallah in Palestine’s West Bank. For director David Osit, that was the point. In Hadid, Osit found a complex, likeable politician trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare, a man whose desire to alleviate the pain of the people of his city is constantly at odds with the realities of occupation. While not made by an Arab filmmaker, “Mayor” nonetheless captures the spirit of Palestine unlike any film before it, complete with a sense of humor and a pointed glare towards real change. 

“Encanto”

Directors: Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro-Smith

Starring: Stephanie Beatriz, María Celia Botero, John Leguizamo 

In Disney’s “Encanto,” a fictional town in South America is home to the magical Madrigal family, in which every member has a unique ability, except one. It’s that conceit that hooks us into this colorful, song-filled world. While Mirabel, the film’s non-magical lead character, may be our way in, it’s the whole family that makes us want to stay. As the film goes on, characters that seemed one-dimensional and pushed to the side are revealed to have rich inner struggles themselves, and as the film shows love and understanding to each of them, emotions rise to the heights of Lin Manuel Miranda’s soaring melodies. One of the best animated films in years. 


REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 26 June 2022

REVIEW: Kwai app

Photo/Supplied
  • The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money

Kwai is a new social media platform that allows users to share and edit short videos ranging from 15 seconds to five minutes in length.

Find funny short videos, add recordings and videos of your daily life, take part in daily challenges, or look for the best memes and videos.

The app will make it easier for users to raise their profile and appear on trending pages.

Kwai recently signed a deal with many Arab influencers to enhance engagement in the Middle East.

Use the app’s video editor to create your own masterpieces by utilizing your device’s camera, adding music or filters and instantly uploading your video.

The app has a live feature that allows users to engage with and converse with their followers, compete against other users and earn money.

Rules for posting videos help to protect younger viewers, while Kwai concentrates on Arab culture, creating hashtags and challenges suitable for the Arabic audience.

The app, developed by Chinese company Beijing Kuaishou Technology, has been downloaded by 300 million users worldwide.


Designer Amina Muaddi shows off streetstyle at Paris Men’s Fashion Week

The designer showed off a yellow-hued makeup look at the show. (Getty Images)
The designer showed off a yellow-hued makeup look at the show. (Getty Images)
Updated 26 June 2022

Designer Amina Muaddi shows off streetstyle at Paris Men’s Fashion Week

The designer showed off a yellow-hued makeup look at the show. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: Jordanian Romanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi was spotted at Paris Men’s Fashion Week wearing a colorful ensemble that caught the attention of streetwear photographers.

Muaddi — whose namesake label is a favorite among celebrity clientele such as the Kardashian-Jenner sisters and Rihanna, with whom she has collaborated, attended the Louis Vuitton showcase and the Loewe show, to which she wore a white V-neck crop top with multi-colored wide-legged pants complete with a bright yellow crossbody bag by the Spanish label.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMINA MUADDI (@aminamuaddi)

Loewe thrust Paris Menswear Fashion Week into a bleak and dystopian vision of the future on Saturday — turning its runway into a dead space where nature and animal life only existed to be harnessed and exploited by humankind. A sanitized white wall descended onto a bare deck as models walked by robotically, bathed in misty white light, the Associated Press reported.

Models wore plates of television screens showing deep water fish in the ocean, and plasma screen visors beamed out growing chrysanthemums. The only place that grass grew in designer Jonathan Anderson’s fashion dystopia was literally out of shoes, where green blades quivered and flapped surreally as the automatons filed by.

The British designer used the remarkable set and concept not only as a springboard for some of the most accomplished designs seen this season, but to make a thoughtful comment about ecology and humanity’s contempt for the natural world.

The organic versus the robotic was explored in Anderson’s conceptual designs that were intentionally off-kilter, according to the Associated Press. A white minimalist sweater had surplus sleeves that flapped about limply at the side of the model, on top of white sports leggings and loafers sprouting 10-centimeter clumps of grass.

Bare chests and legs exposed vulnerability, while hard, square-strap bags slung across the shoulder added a contrasting fierceness. But the piece de resistance must have been the giant mustard toggle shoes that looked like the hooves of a horse but could equally have come from the set of a “Star Wars” planetary village.

Elsewhere, Cowgirls and cowboys mingled in Moroccan French brand Casablanca’s eye-popping show that was notable for its highly unusual set. The co-ed collection was staged in front of several fenced-off horses that paid little attention to the clothes, passed waste nonchalantly and sniffed in the opposite direction.

Designer Charaf Tajer cared little for the indifferent equine reaction, sending down the runway energetic and enthusiastic looks that harked from the heartland of American rodeos and the Wild West.

 


Refugee choir performs at UK’s Glastonbury Festival

The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people. (Instagram)
The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people. (Instagram)
Updated 26 June 2022

Refugee choir performs at UK’s Glastonbury Festival

The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people. (Instagram)

DUBAI: The Citizens of the World Refugee Choir performed at the UK’s Glastonbury Festival on Sunday.

The choir, which was founded in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, is made up of 50 people.

Becky Dell, the musical director, told PA that the choir is a 50/50 split of refugees and non-refugees, and calls itself a “rainbow tribe (because) none of us look the same as each other – it’s amazing.”

She said the choir hopes to “elevate the narrative around refugees; too often the story is ‘poor refugees,’ it’s sending them far away. We wanted to show refugees in a different way. They are displaced human beings first and foremost.”

The choir opened the festival’s Avalon Stage on Sunday with a solo 40-minute set.


Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen

Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen
Updated 25 June 2022

Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen

Emirati arts patron Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo receives prestigious award from Spain’s queen

DUBAI: Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Festival, has become the first Arab to receive the Reina Sofía School of Music’s prestigious medal of honor. 

The Emirati national, who was born to a Saudi father and a Syrian mother, received the award from Queen Sofia of Spain at the school’s academic closing ceremony in Madrid. 

Alkhamis-Kanoo was awarded for supporting the development of music culture and education, as well as for her outstanding support to the school.

When receiving the award, she dedicated her accomplishments to Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak — the wife of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, founder of the UAE — whose unwavering support she said “empowers women throughout the UAE.” 

Alkhamis-Kanoo, who was born in Beirut, founded the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation in 1996 and the Abu Dhabi Festival in 2004.

She has received numerous awards, including the Abu Dhabi Award and Abu Dhabi Medal (conferred by UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), the UN-affiliated Women Together Award, the Aspen Institute Emerging Voice Award for Cultural Stewardship, and the Puccini Festival Foundation Award.

 


German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown

German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown
Updated 25 June 2022

German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown

German model Toni Garrn weds in Elie Saab gown
  • Former Victoria’s Secret model wore a custom flowy dress cut out at the waist with a lace bustier
  • She exchanged vows for the second time with British actor Alex Pettyfer

DUBAI: German model and actress Toni Garrn tied the knot this week in Greece wearing an Elie Saab gown.

The former Victoria’s Secret model exchanged vows for the second time with British actor Alex Pettyfer in an intimate wedding on Monastiri beach.

For her special day, Garrn wore a custom flowy dress by the Lebanese couturier. The gown was cut out at the waist and featured a lace bustier. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

“Yesterday felt like the most beautiful dream,” the star told her 3.6 million followers. “The beautiful natural wedding ceremony that was actually a full-on rock-climbing adventure … in the most delicate wedding dress made completely by hand.”

Garrn, whose runway debut was in 2008 for the Calvin Klein spring/summer show, shared a series of images on her Instagram of the tough trip she took to get to where her husband and the rest of her guests were standing on the cliff.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

“The chances were actually around 50 percent I (and) the dress wouldn’t make it in one piece to where Alex and everyone else was waiting. I’ll never forget this day.”

The couple previously wed in October 2020 in Hamburg, Germany in front of family and friends.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

In March 2021, Garrn revealed on Instagram that she and Pettyfer were expecting their first child together. “I’ve been keeping this secret for … pretty much 6 months exactly. FINALLY I can share my biggest news with you all,” she captioned her short pregnancy reveal video back then.

The couple welcomed their daughter Luca Malaika in July 2021.

Besides tying the knot, the couple also celebrated, over the weekend, Pettyfer’s first Father’s Day.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TONI GARRN (@tonigarrn)

The new mom walked over 60 shows for prestigious designers including Stella McCartney, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana and Michael Kors.

Her first acting role was in 2017. She played the role of South African model Reeva Steenkamp in the movie “Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer.”

She also appeared on productions like the Marvel blockbuster “Spider-Man: Far from Home” and the German drama series “You Are Wanted.”

Garrn is not the first celebrity to wed in an Elie Saab gown. South Korean actress Son Yejin, the “Games of Thrones” star Rose Leslie and actress Debby Ryan have all chosen the Beirut-born designer to make their dream dresses.