‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 
Austin Butler stars as Elvis Presley. (YouTube)
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Updated 25 June 2022

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

‘Elvis’: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic steers clear of the shadows 

CHENNAI: Baz Luhrmann’s biopic of the legendary singer “Elvis” is lukewarm at best. 

Given Elvis’s legendary status, Luhrmann’s 160-minute work disappoints, largely because he has chosen to edit the piece so as to make it seem restless — a movie without a soul with frames flashing past so fast that there is no time to sit and savor the spectacle. 

The story is mostly narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who as Elvis’s shrewd manager was as much responsible for the singer’s rise, pushing him to travel from Memphis to breathtaking heights, as for his fall. It is this strange and sometimes vicious relationship between a domineering Parker and the singer (played by Austin Butler) that the movie fails to explore — it merely skims the surface here and there and audiences are only given glimpses of how the young star was manipulated and controlled, with his dream of becoming a serious actor derailed by his manager.




The story is mostly narrated by Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who as Elvis’s shrewd manager was as much responsible for the singer’s rise. (YouTube)

We do get a glimpse of Elvis’s early life, including his struggles, the influence of black music — which is a relief given the recent realization in the press and on social media that the star was indeed influenced by the music of black artists in an atmosphere of entrenched racism — his two-year military service in Germany and marriage to Priscilla, among other events. However, the director chooses to remain on the brighter side, with the rock ‘n’ roll legend presented as dashing and debonair until the very end, although that was not the reality. 

But what audiences are really here for is the music, and on that note “Elvis” fails to deliver. Presley’s own vocals were used in the later part, and Butler sings the early hits and does offer some electrifying moments, but the soundtrack could have been far more engaging. 

A magnificent Hanks manages to evoke the Jekyll-and-Hyde persona he plays with fair degree of conviction, although he does slip up now and then. Meanwhile, an equally impressive Butler as the hip-swiveling, guitar strumming, foot tapping king is often mesmeric but it is not easy to impersonate a man whose aura is still dazzling. The writing by Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner fails to give balance to the narrative and despite some engaging performances, “Elvis” is a bit of a let down.


Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan
Updated 16 August 2022

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie speaks up for women in Afghanistan

DUBAI: Hollywood star and humanitarian Angelina Jolie this week honored women in Afghanistan, “one year after the fall of the government.”

The 47-year-old actress shared on Instagram an op-ed she wrote for TIME and said: “It cannot end here.”

In the article, the Oscar winner said: “The daughters of Afghanistan are extraordinary for their strength, resilience, and resourcefulness.”

The actress said that one year ago, Afghan women worked in all fields — being doctors, teachers, police officers and politicians.

“To my Afghan friends, I have faith in you and your resilience and your strength,” wrote Jolie. “I dream of visiting with my daughters, making friends, traveling around your beautiful country, and seeing you free to determine your own future … I know it’s possible. This does not end here.”


Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022
Updated 15 August 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022

Industry experts help shape XP Music Futures program for 2022
  • DJs, rappers, producers sign up to new advisory board
  • Innovation and diversity are key pillars of this year’s event, organizers say

RIYADH: XP Music Futures has created an advisory board of industry insiders to ensure maximum diversity and innovation when it stages its second festival in November.

Among those appointed to the so-called board of advocates and advisors are American rapper Kim Renard Nazel — better known as Arabian Prince — music producer and record label founder Saud Alturki, immersive audio specialist Marcela Rada, digital media expert Natasha Stambuli, and the regional head of A&R and marketing at Sony Music Middle East Karima Damir.

Mohammed Bajbaa, who founded Saudi clothing brand Proud Angeles and fashion consultancy Proud X, Saudi rapper Jara and DJ Space Boi, will also be on the board.

XP director Nada Alhelabi said: “83 percent of last year’s attendees loved XP because of its programming. Partnering with a diverse set of professionals means guests see representation they can identify with and relate to.

“Our trusted board of advocates and advisors serve as one way for us to stay connected to communities … and deliver another great edition of valuable cultural and music exchange, tangible progress and inspire unlimited innovation.”

With its Day and Nite program and focus on innovation through disruptive, forward-thinking methods, XP is the forerunner within the MENA region for the music and creative industries.

It will not only discover and discuss how new technology is the driver of change in the music ecosystem – exploring the fast-moving Web3, the new iteration on blockchain technology and Metaverse – but also bring technology for guests to experience in immersive installations.

Its other core pillars of talent, scene and impact will work to implement ways to flourish careers in the music industry, nurture the scene through workshops and panels, and initiate dialogue around music, mental health and well-being, and their role in creating a socially conscious industry.

“The ultimate objective of XP is to accelerate the development and transformation of the music landscape across the Middle East,” Alhelabi said. “We are grateful to be driving, crafting and optimizing wonders into our world.”

The festival runs from Nov. 28-30. Music professionals and enthusiasts can register at https://mdlbeast.com/events/xp-2022.


Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  
Updated 15 August 2022

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

Stolen Picasso painting found in Iraq  

DUBAI: Iraqi authorities announced this week that they found an original painting by the renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso in the Iraqi province of Diyala on Saturday, Iraqi News Agency reported.

The painting, said to be worth millions of dollars, was seized from a drug group after a raid late July. 

Director of the anti-narcotics media office Colonel Bilal Sobhi told the publication: “The Anti-Narcotics Directorate carried out an operation in Diyala governorate, in which a network of three defendants who were involved in the trade and transport of narcotic drugs were arrested, and a painting belonging to the international painter Picasso was seized in their possession, estimated at millions of dollars.”

“It is a major operation that is calculated for the anti-drugs General Directorate,” he added.

Details of the artwork have not been revealed yet. The Pablo Picasso Foundation, responsible for promoting and managing the artist’s work, did not issue a statement either. 


Part-Arab model Imaan Hammam stuns in Tiffany & Co. global campaign

Part-Arab model Imaan Hammam stuns in Tiffany & Co. global campaign
Updated 15 August 2022

Part-Arab model Imaan Hammam stuns in Tiffany & Co. global campaign

Part-Arab model Imaan Hammam stuns in Tiffany & Co. global campaign

DUBAI: Dutch Moroccan Egyptian model Imaan Hammam has landed herself yet another global campaign.

The catwalk star fronted the latest Tiffany & Co. promotional video for the US luxury label’s Lock collection alongside American skateboarder Tyshawn Jones.

The new releases feature yellow, white and rose gold bangles with sparkly diamonds that symbolize “togetherness and inclusivity,” according to the brand’s website.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

In the video that the Netherlands-raised Hammam shared with her 1.4 million followers, she wore a white gold bracelet that looks like a padlock, with full pave diamonds, while Jones opted for a white gold bangle.

For the shoot, Hammam kept her look to a minimum.

She wore a black form-fitting dress and her makeup was soft and featured neutral shades — not to mention her iconic signature curly hair made for the look.

The model wore diamond jewelry in the video. (Instagram)

Hammam’s repertoire is growing day by day.

Last week, the model made headlines for starring in Romanian Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi’s latest campaign, which celebrated the duo’s Arab roots.

The short clips, shared on Muaddi and Hammam’s Instagram accounts, were shot in Cairo.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

In the video captured by British Egyptian filmmaker and photographer Dexter Navy, the 25-year-old catwalk star flaunted Muaddi’s new Drop 2/22 collection.

The videos and images featured Hammam in multiple scenarios, including standing alongside a white Arabian horse and posing atop intricately woven rugs.

She posed for pictures alongside women and men wearing traditional outfits and head and face covers decorated with jewelry.

Hammam is one of the most in-demand models in the industry. The now 25-year-old was scouted in Amsterdam’s Centraal Station before making her catwalk debut in 2013 by walking in Jean Paul Gaultier’s couture show.

Since then, she has appeared on the runway for major fashion houses, such as Burberry, Fendi, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Moschino, Balenciaga and Carolina Herrera, to name a few.

Hammam, who has been featured in leading fashion publications, such as Vogue and V Magazine, also starred in international campaigns for DKNY, Celine, Chanel, Versace, Givenchy, Giorgio Armani and many more. 


Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 

Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 
Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 

Saudi Arabia continues to rank among top 5 overseas markets for ‘Bullet Train’ 

NEW YORK: The Brad Pitt action film “Bullet Train” led all movies in ticket sales for a second straight weekend, according to studio estimates this week, with Saudi Arabia continuing to earn a spot on the overseas play ranking.

David Leitch’s assassin-crowded film grossed $114.5 million globally in two weeks from 61 overseas markets. 

Saudi Arabia led the Middle East and North Africa market with $3.6 million and it ranked among the top five globally. 

Overseas play was led by France with $5.8 million. The UK is currently at $6 million. Mexico has grossed $5.4 million, followed by Australia’s $4.1 million and Saudi Arabia and Spain at $3.6 million each. 

The Sony Pictures film cost $90 million to make.