Review: Romance and heartbreak collide in appealing series ‘One Day’

Review: Romance and heartbreak collide in appealing series ‘One Day’
Created by Nicole Taylor and based on David Nicholls’ best-selling novel, the 14-episode series is a lovely love story that follows Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall). (Supplied)
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Updated 25 February 2024
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Review: Romance and heartbreak collide in appealing series ‘One Day’

Review: Romance and heartbreak collide in appealing series ‘One Day’

CHENNAI: Created by Nicole Taylor and based on David Nicholls’ best-selling novel, the 14-episode series is a lovely love story that follows Emma Morley (Ambika Mod) and Dexter Mayhew (Leo Woodall), who meet on their graduation day.

The audience checks in on the pair over the period of 20 years, from 1988 to 2007, on July 15 every year. Though the romantic tension is palpable, they each lead largely separate lives while remaining in touch.

The novel clearly holds enormous appeal (a film adaptation with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess was tried out in 2011, but it turned out to be wishy-washy) and “One Day” seems to have done justice to the book. It is a story of hope and heartbreak, romance and remorse and is as close as possible to the literary work. The series saw various auteurs try their hand at different episodes, with Molly Manners, Luke Snellin, John Hardwick and Kate Hewitt in the director’s chair.

When Emma and Dexter run into each other for the first time, we see endless possibilities. They split but continue to meet every July 15, nurturing and cementing a friendship that merely gets stronger and deeper. He becomes a successful television personality, but her dream to become a writer appears unattainable at first. Both try their luck at love and grapple with loss — and this is where the series shines. Side characters are fully fleshed out, for the most part, and not treated as window dressing, which is a breath of fresh air.

Though “One Day” is eminently watchable and incredibly emotional, it has one glaring omission: We spend lot of time with Dexter’s folks, his jovial mother Alison (Essie Davis) and his stern but loving father, Stephen (Tim McInnerny), but we are clueless about Emma’s family. Casting an actress of South Asian origin seems to serve no purpose in the context beyond saving the series from failing the diversity checklist.


Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

DUBAI: Saint Levant, a Palestinian French Algerian Serbian rapper, performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival music festival in California on Saturday.

The musician used the opportunity to address the ongoing war in Gaza, saying: “Coachella, my name is Saint Levant and I was born in Jerusalem and raised in Gaza … as I hope all of you are aware, the people of Gaza have been undergoing a brutal, brutal genocide for the past six months. And the people of Palestine have been undergoing a brutal occupation for the past 75 years.”

Saint Levant performed a series of his hits, including “Nails,” “From Gaza, With Love” and a slowed-down version of “Very Few Friends.” The artist also performed “Deira” and “5am in Paris,” which was released last week.

“It’s about exile,” he said, describing the new song. “A feeling that us Palestinians know a bit too well.”

Born Marwan Abdelhamid in Jerusalem, the singer previously spoke to Arab News about his childhood.

“The actual cultural makeup is my mom is half-French and half-Algerian. My dad is Serbian, half-Palestinian. And they actually both grew up in Algeria. But they decided, in the early 90s, post the Oslo Accords, that Palestine was going to be free.

“So they went back, my dad went to live in Gaza in the early 1980s. And my dad actually built a hotel there and that’s where I grew up,” he said.

“For everyone, childhood is very meaningful. And for me, it was a juxtaposition because I remember the sound of the drones and the sounds of the bones. But more than anything, I remember the warmth, and the smell … and the taste of food and just the odd feeling of soil.”


Cinema for Gaza auction raises over $300,000 with the aid of Annie Lennox, Jonathan Glazer, Ramy Youssef and more

Cinema for Gaza auction raises over $300,000 with the aid of Annie Lennox, Jonathan Glazer, Ramy Youssef and more
Updated 13 April 2024
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Cinema for Gaza auction raises over $300,000 with the aid of Annie Lennox, Jonathan Glazer, Ramy Youssef and more

Cinema for Gaza auction raises over $300,000 with the aid of Annie Lennox, Jonathan Glazer, Ramy Youssef and more

DUBAI: Cinema for Gaza, which was launched by a group of female filmmakers and film journalists, has raised $316,778 to support the UK charity Medical Aid for Palestinians through a celebrity auction, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The auction featured donations from Tilda Swinton, Annie Lennox, Joaquin Phoenix, Spike Lee and Guillermo del Toro among others. 

Lennox’s handwritten lyrics to her Eurythmics hit “Sweet Dreams” was the top seller, with a bidder paying $26,222 for the item.

Meanwhile, “The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer, who received criticism online for referencing the Gaza conflict in his 2024 Oscars acceptance speech, donated seven posters from the film, signed by himself, composer Mica Levi and producer James Wilson, as well as a selection of posters for his 2014 feature “Under the Skin,” which collectively raised $13,702. 

US-Egyptian comedian and creator Ramy Youssef donated tickets to his live show as well as to the afterparty and a meet-and-greet. Oscar-winner Phoenix donated a signed “Joker” poster. Del Toro contributed six signed books. Lee contributed a signed, framed poster of Malcolm X.

“We thought we might raise maybe £20,000 ($25,000),” said London-based film journalist and critic Hanna Flint to The Hollywood Reporter.

Flint set up Cinema for Gaza together with her film-industry friends Hannah Farr, Julia Jackman, Leila Latif, Sophie Monks Kaufman, and Helen Simmons a few months after the start of Israel’s ongoing military assault on Gaza.

“We’re a very diverse group of women, we’ve got women of color, we’ve got Jewish women, Muslim women, Christians, atheists, who all came together out of this need to do something tangible to show our support and activism for the humanitarian crisis that’s going on (in Gaza),” said Flint.

“We really believe that cinema can be a powerful tool, a political tool, to speak about the world, to reflect and engage with what’s going on, and, we thought, what better way (to get) people in our industry to come together to try and help people who are not doing that well?”
 


Palestinian American comedian Amer Zahr all set to speak ‘the truth’ at Dubai show

Palestinian American comedian Amer Zahr all set to speak ‘the truth’ at Dubai show
Updated 13 April 2024
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Palestinian American comedian Amer Zahr all set to speak ‘the truth’ at Dubai show

Palestinian American comedian Amer Zahr all set to speak ‘the truth’ at Dubai show

DUBAI: Palestinian American comedian Amer Zahr, who is set to perform at the Dubai Comedy Festival on April 17, says he is an activist who “likes to use comedy as his tool.”

In an interview with Arab News ahead of his show at the Dubai Opera, Zahr said: “Activism is about telling the truth. Being Palestinian is about telling the truth. And comedy is about telling the truth. People sometimes say to me, ‘Hey, I never know when you’re joking.’ I tell them, ‘Look, I’m always being serious. I’m always telling the truth.’ But a comedian uses humor to tell the truth.

“Because if you can make someone laugh, they listen to you and they let down their guard.

“And we Palestinians have been trying to tell our story for 75 years. And we’ve been using art, music, poetry … but for me, I found that comedy is a very effective way. So, I’m a Palestinian first who is trying to tell our stories, and comedy is my tool,” he added.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Amer Zahr (@amerzahr)

Zahr, who is also a law professor and political activist, said he got hooked to stand-up comedy while in law school.

“I had thought about comedy and then in law school, the opportunity presented itself where there was a show going on, and they kind of asked if anyone wants to do some comedy before the main comedian comes on. And so, I said ‘let me try it.’ I got up there. I told a couple stories about my dad. Everybody laughed, and I got kind of hooked to the idea of being on a stage and being able to make people laugh and connect with people in that way,” said Zahr.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Amer Zahr (@amerzahr)

For Zahr, the allure of stand-up comes from the fact that it involves “speaking truth to power.”

He said: “Comedy is one of the purest art forms. When somebody sings, we’re okay with it if we learned later on that they didn’t write the song. We’re just happy they have a great voice. But when you hear a comedian, you assume that everything that that person is saying is genuine and coming from them. And if you learned later that it wasn’t, you might feel cheated.

“Comedy is a very personal art form between the audience and the comedian. And, so, that’s something that you that you grow into. And then comedy, in its purest form, is a form of protest, speaking truth to power. And, so, it kind of fits the Palestinian story perfectly,” he added.

Asked about what audiences can expect from his Dubai show, Zahr said: “It’s going to be me telling the Palestinian story from before Oct. 7, and after Oct. 7, with love, laughter and the truth. And maybe during the show, I’ll make people laugh until they cry. And sometimes I’ll make them cry until they laugh.”


The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the Arab world

The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the Arab world
Updated 12 April 2024
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The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the Arab world

The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the Arab world

DUBAI: From art and fashion to Egyptian electro, here are pop-culture highlights from across the Arab world.

 

Farah Al-Qasimi 

‘Toy World’ 

The acclaimed Emirati artist’s latest exhibition, which runs until April 19 at The Third Line in Dubai, includes her first black-and-white image series. “Black-and-white images automatically historicize,” Al-Qasimi told Sarah Chefka in an interview for promotional material. The series includes this image, “Camel Bones,” of which Chefka writes: “I know that the camel bones lying in the barren grass are innocuous victims of the cycle of life, but all I can think of are anonymous human remains, lying forgotten in battlefields that will never bear another rose.” 

 

Weam Ismail 

‘Ala Belady’ (Remix) 

The latest release from the Egyptian producer is a remix of his popular track “Ala Belady.” According to his label, Universal, Weam “invites listeners on a transformative journey where artistry and spirituality intertwine.” His blend of electronic music, Afro-house beats and Arabic sounds has connected with fellow artists in the region and in Europe, and his upcoming album should be one to look out for. 

 

Majdulin Nasrallah 

‘Hadatha Ghadan’ 

Zawya Gallery announced a series of new prints from the Palestinian artist Majdulin Nasrallah last month, in which, according to the gallery, she “takes us on a journey through the urban landscape of Palestine, offering a fresh perspective on power dynamics” and sparks conversations about “the role of built environments in perpetuating or challenging systems of control.” The series, including this image, titled “The Hole Hanging,” is typical of Qatar-based Majdulin’s work, which focuses heavily on life and the built environment under occupation. 

 

Odeem 

The Dubai-based luxury accessories label recently launched its latest handbag collection, ranging from elegant clutch purses to practical tote bags. “Whether you're seeking a sophisticated companion for the office or a chic accessory for a night out, our drop caters to the diverse facets of your lifestyle,” the label stated in a press release. “Each piece in this new line up exemplifies our unwavering commitment to quality, functionality, and contemporary aesthetics.” 
 

Mohammed Suliman Al-Faleh 

‘Kara tribe’ 

The Saudi photographer was one of the winners of March’s Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum International Photography Awards’ Instagram competition, which was held under the theme “Culture.” The striking image is one of a series of photographs that Al-Faleh has taken of members of the Kara tribe in Ethiopia. This one was shot on the banks of the Omo River. 

 

Salama Hassan 

‘Kanji’ 

This piece by the self-taught Saudi conceptual calligrapher was featured in “Senses and Spirituality,” an exhibition curated by Saudi designer Amar Alamdar at Riyadh’s Centria Mall. In “Kanji,” Hassan used Chinese typography characteristics to reproduce Qur’anic verses. “I love Eastern cultures like Japanese and Chinese and their calligraphy, as well as Arabic,” she told Arab News previously. “I wanted to prove that the Arabic letter is valid in any time and space.” 


‘The First Omen’ puts a women-led spin on horror classic

‘The First Omen’ puts a women-led spin on horror classic
Updated 09 April 2024
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‘The First Omen’ puts a women-led spin on horror classic

‘The First Omen’ puts a women-led spin on horror classic

LOS ANGELES: Set to hit cinemas across Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, “The First Omen” marks the sixth installment in the famed horror series.

Set before the 1976 original fan favorite, the new film marks Arkasha Stevenson’s feature film directorial debut and stars Nell Tiger Free, Charles Dance, Bill Nighy and Ralph Ineson.

“The First Omen” follows a young American woman who is sent to Rome to begin a life of service to the church. While in Italy, she encounters a darkness that causes her to question her faith and uncovers a terrifying conspiracy, according to the movie’s log line.

“I think it's just wonderful having females at the epicenter of these fantastic horror films,” Free said in an interview with Arab News.

“So often the women were used as bait in these horror movies or used as some sort of gratuitous relief for the male audience. And now they're here and they're taking control and they're at the epicenter of all of it. And it's just it's just a wonderful thing to see,” she added.

"The First Omen" brings chilling and controversial scenes reminiscent of the original to the silver screen. Early reviews laud its sound and cinematography and thoughtful discussion of the dangers of fanaticism.

“There's loads of little moments of symbolism in the movie that echo the beginning. The opening scene is also an homage to the first movie, all of our fantastical deaths and crazy violent moments are all very much thematically a nod to the original,” Free noted, referring to the Richard Donner-directed original that follows a married man who agrees to switch his wife's stillborn baby with an orphaned infant, opening the way for a series of chilling events. 

British icon Nighy shared the cast and crew’s aims when making the horror flick.

“Someone who saw it in London said, ‘I was traumatized.’ Well, that's pretty much what we're shooting for. So if you want to get traumatized, it's not so much about the themes —  it's more about the trauma and being stunned by horror,” he said.

“The people that like to make an appointment with fear actually pay money to get scared. What better way than to do it with a lot of other people? Because then it's like then it's like frightened ‘squared’ … then it's a collective howl of horror,” he added.