Review: ‘Priscilla’ is an eye-opening look at life with Elvis Presley

Review: ‘Priscilla’ is an eye-opening look at life with Elvis Presley
Cailee Spaeny headlines the film while Jacob Elordi plays Elvis. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 November 2023
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Review: ‘Priscilla’ is an eye-opening look at life with Elvis Presley

Review: ‘Priscilla’ is an eye-opening look at life with Elvis Presley

CHENNAI: It would not be a reach to say everybody knows of Elvis Presley — the king of rock and roll has been widely written about and has been the subject of many a film. But very few know about his young wife, Priscilla, and director Sofia Coppola made it her mission to share her story.

Coppola’s film “Priscilla” is based on the 1985 memoir “Elvis and Me” penned by Priscilla Presley. Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown,” “Bad Times”) headlines the film while Jacob Elordi (“Euphoria,” “The Kissing Booth”) plays Elvis, who has been fantastically directed so as not to upstage his on-screen lover.

Having had its world premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival, the film then travelled to the recently concluded Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. “Priscilla” is a fascinating work that fetched Spaeny the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in Venice. 

The love story begins when teenage Pricilla Beaulieu meets Elvis Presley at a party. Seen through Priscilla’s eyes, the movie underlines the unknown side of the American legend as well as the couple's long courtship and a marriage that ran into turbulent waters and eventually hit the rocks. A journey from a German army base camp to the dream estate at Graceland in the US, “Priscilla” turns out to be a fantasy and a story of fame and love — as well as one of extreme control, co-dependence and the pitfalls of fame.

One of the first songs one hears in Coppola's work is Frankie Avalon's “Venus” wafting from a jukebox in a snack bar in 1959. The director has always had great choices in musical scores, but this song is thrillingly perfect.

Coppola then details the young lady’s struggle over the next 14 years to hold on to her man. Her's was a life lived in the overwhelming shadows of a legend, an entertainer par excellence who intoxicated her in no small way. The ups and downs of their relationship are well charted, and we see how it falls into addictions and power.

The film does not moralize, nor does it shy away from sadness. It does not take any easy routes and its lead star gives an intense performance. 


Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week
Updated 27 February 2024
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Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura to headline first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

DUBAI: The first-ever Abu Dhabi Comedy Week is set to kick off in May this year, with Aziz Ansari and Tom Segura announced as headliners for the inaugural event, to be held from May 18–26 at the Etihad Arena.

Ansari, who rose to fame for his role in “Parks and Recreation,” as well as his Emmy-winning Netflix show “Master of None,” will take to the stage on May 18.

US actor-writer Segura, one of the biggest names in the comedy business, will take the stage on May 25. He is best known for his Netflix specials “Ball Hog,” “Disgraceful,” “Mostly Stories” and “Completely Normal.” In July 2022, he released his New York Times bestselling book, ‘I’d Like To Play Alone, Please,” which was described as “laugh out loud funny” by Forbes. 

“We are thrilled to be a part of Abu Dhabi Comedy Week, the capital’s new annual celebration of joy and laughter, underscoring our commitment to presenting premier entertainment offerings to the vibrant community of Abu Dhabi,” said James Craven, president of Live Nation Middle East.

“With an incredible line-up featuring some of the biggest names in the industry brought to the festival by Live Nation Middle East, Abu Dhabi Comedy Week will offer unforgettable experiences for comedy fans across the region. Having already established ourselves on the comedy circuit, hosting the biggest comedy show seen in the UAE last year, this is another incredible step in our live entertainment journey.”


Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival

Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival
Updated 26 February 2024
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Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival

Soulful Arab, French songs mark opening of Francophonie Festival
  • French-Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany pays tribute to Fayrouz, Dalida and Farid Al-Atrash
  • Month-long event will have events organized by French-speaking nations

JEDDAH: French-Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany opened the Francophonie Festival on Sunday here with soulful tributes to Arab legends including Fayrouz, Dalida and Farid Al-Atrash.

Dressed in white and gold attire, reminiscent of the clothing of the ancient Egyptians, El-Dibany, accompanied by Mina Barsoum on piano, Ahmed Boustaji on oud, and Aymen Attitallah on percussion, took the audience on a musical journey transcending borders and cultures.

El-Dibany’s repertoire included iconic French tunes such as “Je suis malade” and Arabic classics.

Diplomats, French expats, and cultural enthusiasts from Saudi Arabia and France attended the launch event. (Supplied)

El-Dibany said: “I am so thankful for being here in Jeddah for the first time,” encapsulating the spirit of cultural exchange and collaboration that defines the Francophonie Festival.

Prior to the performance, the French consul-general in Jeddah, Mohammed Nehad, spoke about the festival’s significance.

FASTFACTS

● The Francophonie Festival’s aim is to promote French and foster education, cultural and business ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

● For the opening performance, Farrah El-Dibany was accompanied by Mina Barsoum on piano, Ahmed Boustaji on oud, and Aymen Attitallah on percussion.

● The launch event was attended by diplomats, French expatriates, and cultural enthusiasts, as well as Saudi Arabian officials and citizens.

He said the aim was to promote French and foster education, cultural and business ties with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

“Through this festival, we aim to bring people together … francophone itself is a great example for cultural exchange,” he told Arab News.

The launch event was attended by diplomats, French expatriates, and cultural enthusiasts, as well as Saudi Arabia officials and citizens.

Cultural exchange and education are the main purposes of the festival in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Among those in attendance was Larry Lamartiniere, the director of Alliance Francaise in Jeddah, who lauded El-Dibany’s performance as a fitting inauguration of the month-long Mois de la Francophonie 2024 in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “During March, the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise Saudi Arabia alongside other French-speaking countries and partners will organize events celebrating the rich diversity of francophone cultures.”

Established in 1970, the month is aimed at promoting cultural ties and human development across French-speaking nations worldwide. In Saudi Arabia, the festival acts as a platform for cultural exchange and education.

Cultural exchange and education are the main purposes of the festival in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Several upcoming events include Benjamin Piat performing at NougCafe on Feb. 28, and the French University Graduates’ Night on March 27.

The Alliance Francaise will host a children’s workshop on Feb. 29, featuring culinary and visual arts programs. This will take place alongside a screening of the 2022 French film “Divertimento” that is the story of twin teenage sisters who dream of forming their own orchestra and making classical music available to everyone.

Senegal’s consulate will have discussions and cultural exchanges, the Francophonie Village will have a celebration of food, clothing and folk dance; and there will also be films shown at various schools, consulates and French clubs.

 


Charlotte Church denies antisemitism claims after singing pro-Palestinian song at concert

Charlotte Church denies antisemitism claims after singing pro-Palestinian song at concert
Updated 26 February 2024
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Charlotte Church denies antisemitism claims after singing pro-Palestinian song at concert

Charlotte Church denies antisemitism claims after singing pro-Palestinian song at concert
  • Welsh singer-songwriter led a 100-strong choir singing “From the River to the Sea” during a pro-Palestine fundraising concert in Caerphilly, South Wales, on Saturday
  • Critics say the song calls for the destruction of Israel but pro-Palestine campaigners say it asserts “the right of all Palestinians to freedom, equality and justice”

LONDON: Welsh singer-songwriter Charlotte Church on Monday denied allegations of antisemitism after she was criticized for leading a choir singing “From the River to the Sea.”

Church led the 100-strong choir during a pro-Palestine fundraising concert at a village hall in Caerphilly, South Wales, on Saturday. The song refers to the land between the River Jordan, bordering the occupied West Bank and Israel in the east, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has labeled the song and its central message “antisemitic,” saying it calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

However, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and other activists say the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” refers to “the right of all Palestinians to freedom, equality and justice.”

Church addressed what she described as the “alarmist” reports about Saturday’s event live on Instagram on Monday, in a message in which she explained she was “fighting for the liberation of all people.”

She said: “Just to clarify my intentions there, I am in no way antisemitic. I am fighting for the liberation of all people. I have a deep heart for all religions and all difference.

“It was a beautiful, beautiful event. But unfortunately the powers that be can’t have that. (They) can’t have such a powerful symbol of resistance as what we worked towards on Saturday.”

Church confirmed the event ended with a chant of the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

She said: “Clearly, if you know the history of it all, (it is) not an antisemitic chant calling for the obliteration of Israel. It is not that in any way, shape or form. It is calling for the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians.”

Church added that “lots of other beautiful songs … of liberation and freedom” were performed during the event, including Arabic songs, Welsh songs and South African songs associated with the anti-Apartheid movement, “the lyrics of which were adapted to the situation in Palestine.”

In video footage from the concert, Church is seen standing behind a banner that reads “Let Palestine Live.” She and the members of the choir are wearing keffiyeh scarves, a symbol of solidarity among supporters of Palestine.

In November, Church posted a video message on Instagram in which she expressed support for the Palestinian cause. She urged her followers to watch footage from Gaza and the West Bank, and to amplify Palestinian voices during “this genocide that is happening in front of all of our eyes.”

The 37-year-old singer told her fans, “Do not look away,” and expressed concern about the children “caught in this geopolitical insanity.”

In the same video she said that starting on Nov. 20 she would be offering weekly singing sessions “for the liberation of Palestine and the liberation of the Palestinian people.”


Lone ‘Free Palestine’ protestor disrupts Spirit Awards

Lone ‘Free Palestine’ protestor disrupts Spirit Awards
Updated 26 February 2024
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Lone ‘Free Palestine’ protestor disrupts Spirit Awards

Lone ‘Free Palestine’ protestor disrupts Spirit Awards

DUBAI: A lone protestor with a loudspeaker took to the barricades during the Independent Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach in the US on Sunday evening to chant, “Free Palestine! Ceasefire Now,” repeatedly.

According to a report in Deadline, the chants continued through most of the show, to the point where comedian Jim Gaffigan remarked on stage, “That’s my Dad!”

When “Fremont” director Babak Jalali was accepting the John Cassavetes Award, he said: “There are people speaking outside, and whatever they’re saying, I think it’s far more important than what I’m about to say. I’m so inspired by what they’re saying outside.”


Saudi Reporters talk collaborating with Cartoon Network on anti-bullying song

Saudi Reporters talk collaborating with Cartoon Network on anti-bullying song
Updated 26 February 2024
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Saudi Reporters talk collaborating with Cartoon Network on anti-bullying song

Saudi Reporters talk collaborating with Cartoon Network on anti-bullying song

DUBAI: As part of a commitment to combating bullying and spreading awareness on the issue, Cartoon Network and UNICEF MENA recently teamed up with popular content creators Saudi Reporters to release the song “Be A Friend.”

Twin brothers Abdullah and Abdulaziz Bakr, popularly known as Saudi Reporters on YouTube and social media, told Arab News in an email interview that their goal was to “create a song that would resonate with those who have experienced bullying, offering them comfort and encouragement. Through the song’s lyrics and melodies, we aimed to convey a message of hope and solidarity, reminding listeners that they are not alone in their experiences.”

The award-winning duo, who most recently picked up the Favorite Team award at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Abu Dhabi in September 2023, said they were excited to collaborate with Cartoon Network on such an important subject.

“It allowed us to address a crucial issue like combating bullying in a creative and impactful way by using music as a medium to connect with young audiences. Through this song, we were able to leverage our platform to spread the message on the importance of fostering friendships and discouraging bullying among children, instilling valuable lessons through the power of music,” they said.

The brothers also went in about the process of creating the song, which they called a “collaborative effort.”

“Initially, we held brainstorming sessions to craft lyrics and melodies that would resonate with children and effectively convey the message of friendship and acceptance,” they said.

“We collaborated closely with Cartoon Network throughout the creative process. Their insights were important in ensuring that the track effectively addressed the issue of bullying while maintaining an uplifting and positive tone. Their input helped us strike the right balance between delivering a powerful message and creating an enjoyable listening experience for children.”

The 29-year-old brothers, known for their humorous and satirical content, established their YouTube channel in 2010, becoming one of the first Arab content creators to hit the scene.

“Our initial idea involved visiting the streets of Jeddah and interviewing people as reporters. However, at that time, people weren’t ready as they were uncomfortable with social media and YouTube being new to them. Despite this, we became known by that name and continued because it carries significance. What makes it special is that we refer to our followers as reporters too, as they are part of our family,” they said.