Review: ‘The Apprentice’ stirs the hornet’s nest with Trump portrayal

Review: ‘The Apprentice’ stirs the hornet’s nest with Trump portrayal
‘The Apprentice’ stars Jeremy Strong and Sebastian Stan. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 June 2024
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Review: ‘The Apprentice’ stirs the hornet’s nest with Trump portrayal

Review: ‘The Apprentice’ stirs the hornet’s nest with Trump portrayal

CANNES: Iranian Danish director Ali Abassi's Cannes Film Festival competition entry “The Apprentice” was one of the most talked about films at the recent event.

The movie caused a stir largely because it zeroes in on a hardly known aspect of the man, played by US Romanian actor Sebastian Stan. We first meet Trump as a young man in the early 1970s while he was working for his cold and condescending father Fred (Martin Donovan).

Enter Roy Cohn (Jeremy Strong), a notoriously vicious lawyer who mentors the young Trump and imparts his three rules for success: Always attack, never admit to any wrongdoing, and never admit defeat.

With a screenplay by political journalist Gabriel Sherman, the film depicts an eager apprentice being tutored by Cohn to override humane notions of morality and ethics. While a disclaimer says that some artistic licence has been taken, it hasn’t stopped the film from stirring the hornet’s nest — in fact, two weeks on from the premiere and an eight-minute standing ovation the film still does not have a US distributor.

The movie goes further than a mere biographical sketch of Trump and Cohn by chronicling the dirty days of the Nixon era and the corporate greed that fuelled the Reagan years. The second half of “The Apprentice” focuses less on the mentor-mentee relationship and more on Trump himself, with his first wife Ivana essayed in the film by the savvy and self-aware Maria Bakalova. 

 The film has a grainy texture which portrays the 1970s and 1980s in all its tacky authenticity and Aleks Marinkovich’s production design highlights some of the vulgarity that the era is famous for.

 Some will say the film is too harsh, while many will say its not harsh enough and Stan’s performance as an almost gentle young man is so at odds with the character we know today that it is a little jarring.

 


Saudi violinist, DJ and producer Kayan: ‘Everyone wants to see how the new generation will present the Saudi song’ 

Saudi violinist, DJ and producer Kayan: ‘Everyone wants to see how the new generation will present the Saudi song’ 
Updated 25 July 2024
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Saudi violinist, DJ and producer Kayan: ‘Everyone wants to see how the new generation will present the Saudi song’ 

Saudi violinist, DJ and producer Kayan: ‘Everyone wants to see how the new generation will present the Saudi song’ 
  • Kayan talks creating a new style of music for her homeland 

DUBAI: The Saudi violinist, DJ and producer Kayan (who prefers not to reveal her real name) doesn’t do things by halves. When she decided to learn Indian music, for example, she went all in. She dressed the part, met with a guru, and sat on the floor while learning in order to “feel it fully and live it fully and understand its essence,” she tells Arab News. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but when I get into something, I get into it with all its elements.”  

Kayan’s journey has been unconventional and unique. She was reportedly the first female violinist in the Saudi National Orchestra. She is the first musician in her family, but says she may have inherited a love of the arts from her grandmothers, who both painted.  

Kayan was raised in the Eastern Province, and went to a government school, where she wrote poetry, painted, danced and took part in school plays. (Supplied)

Kayan was raised in the Eastern Province, and went to a government school, where she wrote poetry, painted, danced and took part in school plays. Where music was concerned, she says she was a “deep listener,” enjoying Khaleeji, Egyptian, and Lebanese tunes. Later, Western pop and electronic music entered the picture. 

“For me, sound and music is how I express myself — how I see life, how I feel life, how I remember life. It is my way of experiencing this existence, externally and internally,” she says. “Existence” is the translation of her chosen artist name. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KAYAN (@kayan_music)

After school, Kayan spent six years living in Bahrain, earning a bachelor’s degree in international relations. But her heart always belonged to music.  

“My degree could get me the best corporate job, and it did get me that for the longest time. So choosing to leave that and go into music, it was a question of course,” she says. “There were a lot of questions along the way.” 

Kayan performing at Riyadh Golf CLub. (Supplied)

While in Bahrain she studied Eastern music — from Khaleeji to Hindi — and also worked for BBC World Radio, where she learned about music software and hardware. It was also where she began to learn what she calls the most challenging instrument in the world: the violin. 

“It picked me, I did not pick the violin,” says Kayan. It all began with a YouTube video of a violinist playing on the streets, using a loop pedal.  

“I was in that moment. I was frozen in time and space, listening to that performance over and over again,” she recalls. “Something inspired me and, the next day, I bought a violin and I registered with an institute. I didn’t think about it. I just did it. 

“I had no clue that the violin was the hardest instrument in the world,” she continues. “With the violin, there is no way to know where the note is. Your ear has to guide you because the instrument has no identification of where the note is.” So, she bought other instruments to experiment with, including the drums and the xylophone. But, at the back of her mind, she was still thinking of the violin.  

Kayan believes that playing the violin requires both technical and emotional abilities, as they both “contribute to one another.” She favors the emotional part more. The violin is known as a highly expressive instrument, tapping into melancholy, longing and sorrow. It is also believed that the violin is the closest instrument to the human voice, akin to a person telling an intimate story.   

For her solo work, Kayan combines her violin playing with electronic music — she is also a DJ and producer. (Supplied)

Her relationship with the instrument was strengthened when she returned to Saudi Arabia in 2020, a time when the country’s entertainment industry was undergoing unprecedented changes and receiving heavy government backing. She won a scholarship for aspiring musicians launched by the Ministry of Culture and the Saudi Music Commission, then joined the Saudi National Orchestra. As its first female violinist, Kayan says that the pressure is on, not just for her, but for her Saudi colleagues too.  

“It’s a big responsibility, because Saudi is developing in a way that, when it opened up, you’re expected to be the best in the world. I’m someone who didn’t start in a proper way, because I was trying to figure things out. . . We are expected to learn Eastern and Western music, and be the best at both, and represent the country, and score A-plus.”  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KAYAN (@kayan_music)

For her solo work, Kayan combines her violin playing with electronic music — she is also a DJ and producer. She has performed across the Kingdom, notably in AlUla and Riyadh, as well as abroad. One of her main goals is to modernize Saudi music — staying true to its essence while infusing it with electronic vibes.  

“People are curious to know what Saudi music sounds like — not in its traditional form, but in its contemporary form. And that’s the question,” she says. “Everyone wants to see how the new generation will present the Saudi song.”  

Kayan is currently working on a new concept album of Saudi electronic music, she says, adding that her ultimate dream as an artist is connection.  

“Sometimes, music is a friend. Sometimes, it’s a healer. Sometimes, it is magic. To me, it is not an escape — but it can be,” Kayan says. “On a personal level, I always dreamed that if I felt something beautiful and I played it and I felt its beauty, I would love for someone else to feel that beauty.” 


Sofia Boutella unveils poster for ‘The Killer’s Game’

Sofia Boutella unveils poster for ‘The Killer’s Game’
Updated 24 July 2024
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Sofia Boutella unveils poster for ‘The Killer’s Game’

Sofia Boutella unveils poster for ‘The Killer’s Game’
  • Boutella plays the role of the protagonist’s love interest
  • Cast includes Dave Bautista, Terry Crews, Ben Kingsley

DUBAI: French Algerian actress Sofia Boutella took to social media recently to share the poster for her latest film “The Killer’s Game,” and revealed that it would hit theaters on Sept. 13.

Set against a bold red background, the poster features her alongside the ensemble cast, including Dave Bautista, Terry Crews, Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Pom Klementieff and Ben Kingsley.

Bautista stands at the center of the image, surrounded by his co-stars, each holding various weapons including knives, swords and axes. The tagline “Winning is all in the execution” appears at the bottom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Directed by JJ Perry and based on the novel by Jay R. Bonansinga, the screenplay was written by Rand Ravich and James Coyne.

Diagnosed with a terminal illness, hit man Joe Flood (Bautista) decides to take a hit out on himself. However — and here is where the comedy kicks in — the hospital made a mistake and Flood is not dying at all. And now he has to escape a steady stream of hit men who will not be called off.

Boutella plays the role of the protagonist’s love interest, who gets caught up in the mayhem.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Boutella this week also shared the trailer of the director’s cut of her film “Rebel Moon,” directed by Zack Snyder.

Both “Rebel Moon – Chapter One: Chalice of Blood” and “Rebel Moon – Chapter Two: Curse of Forgiveness” will be released on Netflix on Aug. 2, Boutella wrote on Instagram.

The cuts are the extended and more intense versions of the initial releases. The new drops will include entirely new scenes, alternate takes, and a different sequence of events.

Boutella plays the role of Kora, a mysterious stranger living on a peaceful moon settlement threatened by the armies of the tyrannical Regent Balisarius. Kora, a former soldier of the Imperium, becomes the settlement’s best hope for survival.

She is tasked with finding and assembling a group of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants, and orphans of war — to make a stand against the oppressive forces of the Motherworld.

Her journey delves into themes of redemption and revenge as she leads this diverse group to defend their home.


Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival

Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival
Updated 23 July 2024
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Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival

Movies backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation to feature at Venice Film Festival
  • International jury led by acclaimed French actor Isabelle Huppert

DUBAI: Two films backed by Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Foundation are to be screened at the upcoming 81st edition of the Venice Film Festival.

Tunisian director Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s “Aicha,” which was supported by the Red Sea Fund and the Red Sea Souk, will feature in the competitive Orizzonti section, which highlights international films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends.

“Aicha” is Barsaoui’s second feature following his award-winning drama “A Son.” The film’s plot revolves around a young woman living in a backwater in southern Tunisia who attempts to build a new life in Tunis after she is reported as having died in a tragic bus crash.

Egyptian filmmaker Khaled Mansour’s “Seeking Haven For Mr. Rambo,” which was part of the Red Sea Lodge development program in 2021 and supported by the Red Sea Fund, will have its world premiere in the Orizzonti Extra section of the festival, which highlights young talent in international cinema.

The film follows a young man as he confronts the fears of his past and embarks on a journey to save his dog and best friend from an unknown fate.

Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” — starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Justin Theroux, Monica Bellucci, Jenna Ortega, and Willem Dafoe — is the out-of-competition opener at the event.

This year’s international jury will be led by acclaimed French actor Isabelle Huppert, and includes James Gray (“Ad Astra”), Andrew Haigh (“All of Us Strangers”), Agnieszka Holland (“Green Border”), Kleber Mendonca Filho (“Bacurau”), Abderrahmane Sissako (“Bamako”), Giuseppe Tornatore (“Cinema Paradiso”), Julia von Heinz (“Treasure”), and Zhang Ziyi (“Memoirs of a Geisha”).
 


‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome
Updated 22 July 2024
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‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

‘Those About to Die’ stars talk new swords-and-sandals series set in Ancient Rome

DUBAI: British-Yemeni actor Moe Hashim (“Ted Lasso”) and Iceland’s Johannes Haukur Johannesson (“Succession”) spoke to Arab News recently about playing gladiator frenemies in new swords-and-sandal series “Those About to Die,” streaming in the Middle East on Starzplay.

The action-packed series set in Rome in 79 A.D., stars the legendary Anthony Hopkins as Emperor Vespasian, the founder of the Flavian dynasty, and is inspired by Daniel Mannix’s classic non-fiction book of the same name.

Johannes Haukur Johannesson and Moe Hashim star in ‘Those About to Die.’ (Courtesy of Starzplay)

Hashim, known for his minor role as footballer Moe Bumbercatch in hit Apple TV + series “Ted Lasso,” plays Kwame, a lion tracker, who has been taken to train as a gladiator and now faces an existence that means fighting for his life every day.

When asked what drew him to the series, Hashim said: “For me, (it was) Kwame where he was from and what he represents. And I was very excited because I was like: ‘This is a character that is not really spoken about or has been documented too much in the Roman Empire.’

“And when I did the research on North Africans and the influence they had in the Roman Empire, I was like: ‘Oh, I definitely want to be part of this for sure.’”

Johannesson, in turn, plays an imposing Norse gladiator who befriends Kwame in arena training. His main draw to the show was the grittiness of daily gladiator life. “I thought it was really beautiful to see how the gladiators, who were essentially prisoners made to fight till their death, fought for their lives daily, the way they found humanity and friendship, I thought that was really, really beautiful. That really stood out to me,” said Johannesson.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by STARZPLAY (@starzplayarabia)

The show also marks the television directorial debut of blockbuster director Roland Emmerich (“Moonfall”, “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”).

Said Johannesson: “Roland is a whirlwind to work with. He sweeps you along. He’s very intense, which is enjoyable. You sort of step on set and you just jump on the Roland Emmerich train. It’s an express train.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by STARZPLAY (@starzplayarabia)

Added Hashim: “It was also fun getting to know him on a personal level. We practically did a tour of every restaurant in Rome, we had all types of pasta and, you know, during those dinners, you kind of get to see who Roland really is.

“A man at that point of his career still making time to listen to my stupid questions about ‘Independence Day’ and him being so happy to tell me about all the stories and willing to answer my questions.”


Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifeh carves out a path in Hollywood with ‘Borderline’

Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifeh carves out a path in Hollywood with ‘Borderline’
Updated 22 July 2024
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Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifeh carves out a path in Hollywood with ‘Borderline’

Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifeh carves out a path in Hollywood with ‘Borderline’

LOS ANGELES: Lebanese actress Cynthia Khalifeh is teaming up with Lucien Laviscount from “Emily in Paris” and Laura Marano of “The Royal Treatment” for the horror-thriller “Borderline.”

The former TV presenter is also eyeing future projects as she aims to achieve her Hollywood dream.

“I’m one step forward on the path to achieving my big dream since I was young, which is to act in international films. So, baby steps and I really feel like I am a bit closer,” Khalifeh told Arab News in an interview.

“It was a lot of risks that I had to take, a lot of just jumping on adventures where I didn’t have anything that was guaranteed.”

“Borderline”, a film shot in a specially constructed studio in Malta, highlights the darkest fears associated with dating apps.

“It talks about online dating and how sometimes you might go to meet someone you don’t know, and there’s a certain danger,” Khalifeh said.

The actress said the show is called “Borderline’ because, “they meet in a place located at the border between two countries, so there is no law applied from this country or the other, so anything can happen in this place.”

“The girl or I find myself stuck over there in one night, contained, in one place, trying to run away from this person but I face him at the end. I learnt a lot of fights,” she added.

About her co-star Laviscount, she said: “Lucien plays a completely different role than that of the handsome sweet guy that all girls fell for in ‘Emily in Paris.’ Here, you will not like him at all.”

Khalifeh’s contributions to the screenplay led to her role as co-writer of the film. Choosing horror to launch her global career, she hopes to dominate this year’s Halloween season.

“I started throwing ideas and then they told me, ‘You know what? Do you want to join in?’ It happened and I joined the writing team,” she said.