Review: Netflix’s ‘The House’ shows that home is where the art is

‘The House’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
‘The House’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 24 January 2022

Review: Netflix’s ‘The House’ shows that home is where the art is

‘The House’ is now streaming on Netflix. (Supplied)

LONDON: Netflix is going big on adult animation. Not only has the streaming giant built its own studio in Los Angeles, but it continues to partner with some of the biggest names in the business –its first animated anthology film, “The House,” sees Netflix link up with London’s Nexus Studios to tell a trio of stop-motion stories centered around the mysterious titular house.

In the first, a family makes a Faustian deal with a creepy architect — he will build them a wonderful home if they agree to leave their old house and their belongings behind. As the allure of the creepy building overwhelms the mother and father, only their eldest daughter seems suspicious, investigating the sprawling house in search of clues about their mysterious benefactor.

The second relocates the story to a more modern setting, in which a beleaguered developer (voiced by a charming Jarvis Cocker) struggles to complete the renovation of the same building. The anthropomorphized rat must land a buyer before the bank comes calling, but an interested couple could spell more trouble than the house is worth.

In the final chapter, landlord Rosa (a cat, this time) struggles to keep on top of maintenance, while her rent-shy tenants make plans to flee rising flood waters that edge ever-closer to the house’s front door.

Sure, the three stories feel a bit uneven – the first a gothic nightmare, the second a modern creep-fest, the third a dystopian surrealist study – and the thread that binds them all together, the house itself, shifts from a malevolent entity to an inanimate object and (eventually) a savior figure in a bewildering, meandering arc that is a little hard to decipher. But “The House” remains a stop-motion masterpiece. Even if the stories are unbalanced, and the tone ever shifting, this anthology is a rare, beautiful showcase of animation at its most beguiling and captivating.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Two Essays on Analytical Psychology’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Two Essays on Analytical Psychology’
Updated 27 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Two Essays on Analytical Psychology’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Two Essays on Analytical Psychology’

“Two Essays on Analytical Psychology” is a behavioral science book written in 1966 by award-winning Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.

Volume seven of “The Collected Works” of Jung, the book is considered to contain two of his most influential essays.

It comprises two chapters or essays, “The Psychology of the Unconscious,” and “The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious.

In “The Psychology of the Unconscious” Jung discusses going beyond merely addressing symptoms, drawing on his studies of the psyche through observing and analyzing the subconscious aspect of patterns and dreams.

“The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious” section of the book is divided into two subchapters in which he focuses on his Jungian methodology to actively engage with psychic and cognitive phenomena, while suggesting that “collective consciousness” is a byproduct of nature rather than nurture.

Jung is widely revered as the psychiatrist that introduced analytical psychology, and his ideas influenced a spectrum of fields of anthropology, psychology, psychiatry, and religion.

He was influenced by great minds such as those of Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, and German philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Immanuel Kant, and was a research scientist under Bleuler at the Burgholzli psychiatric hospital in Zurich.

Throughout his career and contributions, Jung received honorary doctorates from universities all around the world including Clark University in 1909, Harvard University in 1936, the University of Benares in 1937, the University of Oxford in 1938, the University of Geneva in 1945, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1955.


‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead

‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead
Updated 26 May 2022

‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead

‘Goodfellas’ actor Ray Liotta dead
  • Ray Liotta’s publicist in Los Angeles confirmed his death, saying the actor died in his sleep and that there were no suspicious circumstances
  • Liotta, whose turn as mobster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s crime masterpiece, ‘Goodfellas,’ won universal admiration, was shooting a film in the Dominican Republic when he died

LOS ANGELES: Actor Ray Liotta, who starred in Martin Scorsese’s gangster classic “Goodfellas,” has died in the Dominican Republic, the country’s cinema authority said Thursday. He was 67.
Liotta, whose blistering turn as real-life mobster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s crime masterpiece won universal admiration, was shooting a new film in the country when he died, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic’s General Direction of Cinema said.
“We understand that he was accompanied by his (fiancee) and that the (fiancee) asks that you please respect her grief,” the spokeswoman told AFP.
Liotta’s publicist in Los Angeles confirmed his death, saying the actor died in his sleep and that there were no suspicious circumstances.
He was working on a movie called “Dangerous Waters” at the time of his death.
Liotta’s breakout came in 1990 when he was cast alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in what is widely considered one of the greatest films of the 20th century.
“Goodfellas” won one Oscar, and was nominated for five others, and scenes from the movie continue to resonate as cultural touchstones more than three decades later.
A year before “Goodfellas,” Liotta had played baseball star “Shoeless Joe” Jackson in beloved sports movie “Field of Dreams,” opposite Kevin Costner.
The film was nominated for three Oscars, including best picture.
Tributes began to be paid soon after news of Liotta’s death broke, with “Goodfellas” co-star Lorraine Bracco, who played his on-screen wife, Karen, saying she was “utterly shattered to hear this terrible news.”
“I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas,” she tweeted.
“Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same... Ray Liotta.”
Despite branching out to show his breadth as an actor, Liotta had recently returned to the world of mob films, with roles in Steven Soderbergh’s “No Sudden Move” and “The Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Liotta was born in Newark, on the US East Coast, in December 1954.
Variety reported he was left at an orphanage at birth and adopted when he was six months old.
At the University of Miami he performed in musicals, and after graduating landed a role in a soap opera that would provide him with three years’ work to 1981.
His first movie came in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1986’s “Something Wild” opposite Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels that he came to wider attention.
The comedy-action-romance was screened at Cannes and scored Liotta a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor.


New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair
Updated 26 May 2022

New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

New book by leading Japanese calligrapher unveiled at Abu Dhabi Book Fair

DUBAI:  Tokyo-born Fuad Kouichi Honda is widely recognized as one of the world’s top Arabic calligraphers and he just launched his new book, “Noor Ala Noor,” during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) 2022, underway until May 29.

The book was released in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, where a collection of Honda’s work is on display.

“The Arab and Japanese culture share common values, aesthetics and artistic practices that have always acted like a bridge of cultural communication between the two civilizations,” said Dr Ali Bin Tamim, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Center, which inaugurated the book during a book launch ceremony in the UAE capital.

The book was released in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. Supplied

“Both Japanese and Arabic languages use calligraphy as a medium of artistic expression and allow calligraphers to reinvent existing styles and innovate and create new ways to personalize their creations. Their styles are based on age-old traditions developed ages ago and are passed down through the generations,” he added.

Syed Mohamad Albukhary, Director of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, said: “The Islamic Arts Museum is proud to present this bilingual publication in honour of the works of Japanese calligrapher Fuad Honda. We hope that together we are able to contribute to enhancing the vision of Arabic art and Islamic calligraphy at the international level. Honda’s works of art carry the message of Arabic calligraphy throughout the world.”

The museum is home to thousands of artifacts and archaeological manuscripts from across the Muslim world that have contributed to the development of Islamic arts, particularly the art of Arabic calligraphy and the decoration of Qurans and manuscripts.

Albukhary hopes that the book, authored and translated by Dr Heba Barakat, will help spread Honda’s calligraphy to a wide spectrum of readers and art connoisseurs.

The Japanese Muslim, who teaches at Daito Bunka University, has won numerous awards for his work, including at the International Arabic Calligraphy Competition.

It was topography that inspired Honda to try his hand at calligraphy. 

After graduating in Foreign Studies at Tokyo University, he joined a Japanese company that was working with the Saudi government to survey and make maps of the Arabian Peninsula. He traveled to the Kingdom in 1974 as a translator for the company. Several of the maps the company was using bore Arabic calligraphy and Honda says he fell in love with the art form. He started teaching himself to recreate the work he had seen.


Pop star Justin Bieber announces additional concert in Dubai

Pop star Justin Bieber announces additional concert in Dubai
Updated 26 May 2022

Pop star Justin Bieber announces additional concert in Dubai

Pop star Justin Bieber announces additional concert in Dubai

DUBAI: Due to high demand for tickets, Justin Bieber has added an extra show in the UAE as part of his Justice World Tour, it was announced on Thursday.

The Canadian pop star will perform at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena on Oct. 8 and 9, 2022. Initially, the “Yummy” hitmaker was scheduled to perform exclusively on Oct. 8.

Dubai is just one stop on his tour of more than 30 countries which will run from May 2022-March 2023.

The emirate joins a handful of other cities to get back-to-back shows, including London, Tokyo, Jakarta, Sao Paulo and Paris.

Thomas Ovesen, owner of T.O.P Entertainment and the outfit responsible for bringing the show to Dubai said: “We are thrilled that Justin has managed to find time in his jam packed tour schedule to add a second night to his Dubai stop. What we have seen in the last few days has been absolutely fantastic– the demand for this show has far exceeded any and all expectations. What excites me the most is that the appetite for live entertainment is back – and what a way to welcome it back. Do not delay in purchasing your tickets.”

Pre-sale started on Thursday and general tickets will go on sale on May 27.

The upcoming dates start this month in Mexico, with a stop in Italy before continuing on to Scandinavia for shows in August.  Next up is South America, South Africa and the Middle East in September and October.  The tour will close out the year in Asia, Australia and New Zealand before moving to the UK and Europe in early 2023. 

These new shows come on the heels of his 52-date 2022 North American tour, which kicked off in San Diego on Feb. 18.


Meet Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, Iman Vellani

Meet Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, Iman Vellani
Updated 26 May 2022

Meet Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, Iman Vellani

Meet Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, Iman Vellani
  • The young star of ‘Ms. Marvel’ reflects on her ‘surreal’ experience playing Kamala Khan in new Disney+ series

DUBAI: In 2014, a young girl named Iman Vellani was browsing the Marvel comic books at her local bookstore in Canada when she saw something she’d never seen before: A face that looked like hers. It was Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel, the first Muslim superhero in the company’s decades-long history. Little did she know, at the age of 19 in the “Ms. Marvel” Disney+ series, she would be the one to bring Kamala Khan to life.

“Playing her is the most surreal thing ever. The whole reason I got into the comics was because I saw in her a girl like me. She was a Pakistani-Muslim superhero fanatic. I was a Pakistani-Muslim superhero fanatic. It was just crazy, because I didn’t think a story like that was possible, because I never really saw it before. This comic book was holding a mirror in front of me, and I just completely fell in love with her,” Vellani said at a recent media roundtable.

Vellani herself has still to properly process what’s happened to her. After all, she was cast while still in high school as a complete unknown with zero professional credits to her name, whisked off to another country to find herself face-to-face with her hero, Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios. It’s hard to blame her for walking through the entire experience as if it’s just some wonderful dream.

Ms. Marvel is the first Muslim superhero in the company’s decades-long history. (Supplied)

“I was basically in shock for a year and a half,” she said.

Playing her favorite character, however, turned out to be more than just a chance to connect with the cinematic universe that she posted about so fervently online throughout her formative years. It also enabled her to explore her identity as a Muslim and a Pakistani herself — something that hadn’t been easy, growing up with friends who were not a part of her culture.

“Being Pakistani was a part of my life I was very dismissive about, and I felt disconnected from my culture prior to this show. I was born in Pakistan, but I moved to Canada when I was one. I didn’t have any Muslim or Pakistani friends,” Vellani said. “I felt that isolation that comes with not feeling understood. As close as I get to my school friends, they’re never really going to know my experiences and I’m never going to really know theirs.”

Playing her favorite character enabled her to explore her identity as a Muslim and a Pakistani herself. (Supplied)

On set, Vellani found herself surrounded by South Asian actors she had grown up seeing on television, and Sana Amanat, the character’s co-creator and Marvel’s Director of Content and Character Development, herself Pakistani-American, took Vellani under her wing.

“Honestly, one of the biggest things for me is just having brown friends for the first time in my life,” Vellani told Arab News after the roundtable. “I was sitting on set with my co-star Rish Shah and listening to Bollywood music; that’s something I’d never done before in my life with anyone but my parents. I’d never had the chance to socialize with people from the same background as mine, and it really made me see things in a new way.”

At the roundtable, she praised Amanat, describing her as a “big sister” on set. “I felt so far removed from the film industry and wanted to be a part of it so badly growing up,” she said. “I’m so grateful I got to work with so many women and people of color behind the camera. I couldn’t be happier that Marvel is taking steps to be more inclusive and creating space for a character like Kamala to exist. I hope that opens a lot of doors.”

Performing as Kamala Khan was a daunting task at first for Vellani. (Supplied)

Fittingly, her journey is not unlike the one Kamala Khan herself takes in the comics — a coincidence not lost on Vellani.

“I think it’s so cool that there are so many parallels between Kamala and me; that we both went on the same journey of self-discovery, learning about our family and our heritage as the show progressed. And now I could not be prouder to be Muslim, and to be Pakistani. It’s cheesy, but it’s true,” Vellani said.

Performing as Kamala Khan was a daunting task at first for Vellani, who struggled to act naturally as a character she adored so much.

Despite her lack of familiarity with being in front of a camera, Vellani did have some invaluable experience that the writers on the show lacked: Being a teenage girl in 2022. (Supplied)

“It was really difficult, because I felt like I had to put on a face: ‘I’m acting, so I have to be in character.’ And this was my first character — my first role ever,” Vellani explained.

Once again, the women at Marvel helped her through it.

“Marvel’s amazing casting director Sara Finn held my hand throughout the whole thing and said, ‘Look, we cast you. We want you. Just be yourself. You don’t have to put on a face. That’s not you. You’re already Kamala.’ That was all the reassurance I needed,” she said.

Despite her lack of familiarity with being in front of a camera, Vellani did have some invaluable experience that the writers on the show lacked: Being a teenage girl in 2022.

“Ms. Marvel” is not a show that just attempts to capture the Muslim-American experience — it’s also about being a teenager, and all the pain and shame that comes with it. (Supplied)

“The show is written by 30-year-olds and they’re writing for 16-year-old characters. That has, a lot of times in Hollywood, not been the most realistic thing,” Vellani said. “I really appreciate that the (creators) talked to us as humans. Our directors called me and said, ‘We want to hear about you. What was your high-school experience?’ In the end, they brought so many of my — and others’ — real experiences into the show. I think it shows how important it is to have those conversations.”

After all, while identity is certainly a part of “Ms. Marvel,” it is not a show that just attempts to capture the Muslim-American experience — it’s also about being a teenager, and all the pain and shame that comes with it.

“We really wanted to lean into that coming-of-age, corny vibe, because being a teenager is so embarrassing sometimes and cringy. When you’re a teen, everything is so heightened. Small inconveniences feel like the end of the world,” says Vellani. “We wanted to embrace all of that. I think our show is quite self-aware about how corny it is.”

Sana Amanat. (Supplied)

It’s been a steep learning curve for Vellani, who will become a global star almost overnight when the show comes out, and who is going directly from filming “Ms. Marvel” to the set of the upcoming movie “Marvels,” releasing in 2023, in which she will star with Brie Larson.

“I’ve really had to learn to slow down and take care of myself. This has been such an amazing and exhausting experience that if I don’t stop and look after my own needs, I won’t be able to do it,” she told Arab News.

Vellani is well aware that breaking ground as Marvel’s first Muslim superhero means she will be connected to that phrase for life. But she’s smart enough not to allow it to define her.

“It’s an honor and a privilege that Marvel trusts me to bring her to life,” she said. “But I don’t go to work every day thinking, ‘Oh, I’m the first Muslim superhero.’ I’d never get anything done that way.”