Category Archives: Movies & Television

Asking The Wrong Questions

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tripo

MTV shared yesterday a chart that showed the Ministry of Public Works spending by area, in order to “prove” that Christians areas are barely receiving 18% of the total expenditure. They picked cities that have a Shiite majority (Baalbeck, Hermel, Nabatieh, Bent Jbeil) and compared them to areas of Christian majority like Matn, Jbeil, Jezzine, Zahle and Bcharreh.

I am not really sure what they were trying to prove, but they failed miserably because what matters here is how this money is being spent and not in which area. I currently live in Keserwan and I am more interested in knowing how these 3 billion Liras were spent because the roads are worse than ever and nothing has really changed in the past year or so. Corruption is the real problem in Lebanon and fueling sectarianism through such reports will only strengthen those who are in charge now.

More importantly, and I think this is the real scandal here, MTV were complaining about the lack of spending in Batroun yet they missed out on the fact that Batroun got almost twice as much as Tripoli, the most populous and poorest city in the north. (Thank you Mustapha for noticing that!)

[YouTube]

Cash Flow 2 Review: Should Have Stopped At 1

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cash flow2 Source

To be honest, the title should have been “Should Have Stopped At 0” because the first Cash Flow movie is as bad as its sequel. I really wanted to say a couple of positive things about that movie, but the only thing I enjoyed were the bloopers at the end. Nevertheless, I decided not to share the harsh review that I had drafted but instead list some of the things that bothered me in this movie and that are being repeated in most Lebanese movies and series.

Comments on Cash Flow 2:
Actors:
– I didn’t like the guy playing the main character (Carlos Azar) because he doesn’t fit the role. Also, why is there so much focus on his looks? I felt like watching Fashion TV at some point.

– Hisham Haddad is not funny (he never was), I like Gabriel Yammine but he’s yelling the whole time for some reason, Teta Latifa jokes are no longer funny and the new girl is cute but she’s not making any sense in the movie. Oh and that guy playing Gabriel’s right hand is disturbing and not funny at all.

Plot:
– The plot is very confusing to say the least. Going back to Cash Flow 1, why would a random rich man give a guy who just saved him a credit card? Who gives away credit cards randomly? Moving on to Cash Flow 2, why would you give Mazen, a struggling young man who tends to spend more than he has and is heavily indebted and couldn’t control his credit card spending, control of your company? Isn’t it obvious that he doesn’t know how to manage his money?

– Assuming the movie is a comedy, how is killing a guy by mistake in one of the scenes funny? How is beating up someone funny? And why is Mazen (the main character) depressed and sad the whole time?

I won’t say more because it will ruin the movie for those who want to watch it, but you get the idea.

General Comments on most commercial Lebanese movies and series:

Some of these comments apply to Cash Flow but there are far worse movies and TV series out there. I am sure you can relate to most of these points:

– Actors are always dressed up, even when they are shopping at the supermarket.
– They all own sports cars, especially the girls, and Range Rovers.
– They only eat sushi.
– They all live in villas with a huge garden.
– They don’t know how to yell or get angry normally.
– They are always loud.
– They speak in a weird (Mexican-Syrian-Lebanese) language.
– They are trying too hard the whole time.
– The roads they drive on are perfectly paved.
– The pubs and night clubs they go to all have disco balls.
– The jokes are cliché and not funny.
– George R. R. Martin couldn’t come up with a more complex plot.
– We still see people wearing sunglasses indoors.

All in all, The only reason why I enjoyed the bloopers was because the actors were being themselves and not faking it and that’s what they should be doing in the movie as well. Of course, this is my opinion and I’m sure a lot of people beg to differ.

Score: 2/5

“Gods of Egypt” Movie Renamed to “Kings of Egypt” in Lebanon

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gods via Jad

Does anyone know why Gerard Butler’s latest movie “Gods of Egypt” was renamed to “Kings of Egypt” in Lebanon? I first thought it was a mistake but then I noticed the same poster is being used online. If someone got offended by the title, this is freaking ridiculous!

I wonder if they are going to use a voice over to censor every time they say “Gods” in the movie and replace it with “Kings”. Now that would be hilarious, sad but hilarious!

Update: The distribution company apparently decided to rename it to “Kings of Egypt” for the Middle East release to avoid any censorship from the authorities or outrage from religious figures.

kings

Al Jadeed Making Fun of Al Jadeed

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jadeed

Did you know that aliens are mating with humans? Did you know that there are weird looking kids out there born with horns and stuff? Did it occur to you that a potential solution to the “spinster crisis” (عنوسه) is mating with aliens? Did you know that ex-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that there are tons of aliens out there?

Of course you didn’t because this is total rubbish and I wasn’t sure whether I should be laughing or not when I saw this report. However, Al Jadeed managed to make things worse by mocking its own report. Needless to say, there’s nothing wrong with making fun of other colleagues over a small mistake or a tongue slip, but to bash a report of your own TV due to its fabricated and non-verified facts is like slapping yourself in the face.

I just wish they had just removed the report and apologized.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

8 Things to Consider Before Signing up to Netflix

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Netflix11

If you’re just getting started with Netflix, here are 8 tips for making the most of a Netflix streaming subscription:

1- Choose the right subscription plan:
Netflix subscription plan

It offers three types of subscription plans; Basic, Standard or Premium.

The Basic subscription plan is perfect for mobile-only users especially for people with a limited data plan, because movies will stream in SD and not HD.

The Standard or Premium plan work perfectly on multiple devices (for a single user or multiple users) whereby you can watch a movie or TV show at the same time, on different devices in different locations.

2- Create Multiple Users:
Who's Watching

If you are not the only one at home using Netflix, then make sure to create multiple users before you watch any movie. Netflix, and similar streaming platforms, work on a recommendation engine. The more you watch, the more will Netflix recommend shows that you might like. Your favorite shows will also be neatly displayed on the home screen under “shows you watch”.

If everyone in the family is watching under the default user, then your favorite shows will be mixed with the ones your family members have picked and Netflix will start recommending shows that will be tailored for all the members and not just for you.

3- Parental Control:
Parental Control

Netflix contains content for all ages. So, if you have kids, you surely need to turn the parental control setting on. This can be done from the website and it will automatically apply to all the devices you use.

You must create a user for your kids, as there’s a huge variety of animated movies and series that are tailor-made for your little ones.

Netflix Kids

I would also recommend the family movies section, it has a wide selection of films for parents and kids to enjoy together.

4- Watching on a big screen:
Big Screen

If you have any of these devices (Apple TV, PS4, Xbox, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast…), then you can enjoy watching Netflix on your big screen.

My favorite is the Apple TV because the interface is slick, and the new Apple remote control experience is fully optimized to get all the features out of the app with a few swipes and minimal effort. It is far better than controlling it with your console controller.

5- Mobile Data:

If you are watching movies on your mobile, then make sure you are always connected to WIFI for if there’s a streaming movie, it will drain your data plan and it will cause additional unwanted charges.

6- Internet Connection:

If your internet connection is anything less than 2Mbps then Netflix will NOT work properly but if you are on a +2Mbps connection, like most of the Lebanese, then here are a few tips to better optimize your experience:

Take your time to choose the movie and check the reviews on IMDB before watching. You don’t want to start a movie and then drop off 15 minutes later. It’s a waste of time and data consumption. The movie usually starts the first couple of minutes with a low quality pixelated video. But, you don’t have to worry about that as it will adjust automatically to enhance the quality. Avoid constantly skipping through the movie as it will increase the data consumption taking more time to reload the video with every leap.

Average data usage: Low-Medium (0.3-0.7GB per Hour), High (up to 7GB per Hour).

7- Watchouts:
Netflix Shows

One of the disadvantages of Netflix is that you cannot watch the currently running season of your favorite series; it will only be released after all the episodes have been aired. On the other hand Netflix has lots of original content that is not found elsewhere, noting that not all content is available in Lebanon due to legal rights.

Remember, ONLY the first month is free of charge by default but it will renew automatically by the end of the month cycle.

8- Alternatives to Netflix:
Amazon Prime - Hulu

Hulu: My personal favorite; a similar service to Netflix with an even better option whereby you may watch your favorite shows directly on the next day after the episode has been aired on TV. Unfortunately, this service is only available in the US.

Amazon Prime: Its library is not as rich as the others but it does include some original content like “The Man in The High Castle”.

Finally, here’s a useful link to easily browse all the Netflix content by genre.

Happy streaming!

There Has NEVER Been A Confirmed Case of Satanism in Lebanon

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1993

I was expecting another silly report when I first read the title but it turned out to be a decent report on satanism. I’m really glad MTV is finally making sense on that topic. Take aside the creepy intro, they actually explained that skulls are not satanic symbols and got a believer tattoo artist to explain that. Moreover, they clearly stated that music and satanism are not directly related and that rock, as well as trance and pop singers use satanism in their music.

More importantly, they stated there has NEVER been a confirmed case of satanism in Lebanon, which puts in question all previous reports and articles on satanism.

Just to remind you on how stupid this whole thing is, a Friday 13 themed party got mistaken two years ago for a devil worshiping party and people got arrested in the process. Also recently, a trance party got cancelled because some journalist wrote a stupid article claiming it’s a satanist party (Black Mass, Sacrifice rituals, recitation of prayers, digital drugs etc ..)

All in all, if you are still worried about attending devil worshiping parties, watch out for these signs:

1- Satanist parties usually last more than one night.
2- Arguile is forbidden there.
3- Jägermeister is their preferred alcohol.
4- They don’t play Ali el Deek songs.
5- They love blood so make sure you keep a bag of blood on you and spray it on them. If they enjoy it then run for your life!
6- They dance tirelessly for hours.
7- Guys don’t dress up and girls rarely wear heels.
8- Party venues are not fancy and consist of remote places or abandoned warehouses.
9- They don’t eat.
10- Digital drugs are distributed at midnight.
11- They hate cotillion.
12- Satanists like yoga.

[YouTube]

“Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” Review From A Non Ziad Rahbani Fan

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I just got back from “Bennesbeh Labokra Chou?” premiere at Beirut Souks and the least I could say is that it was a beautiful experience. It felt great to finally watch the original footage and put a face to all these voices that people have been listening to for ages. I’m not even a Rahbani fan and I enjoyed it, so you can imagine how happy Ziad fans were. People were singing along with the songs, laughing at their favorite quotes and repeating some of the lines and they clapped more than once throughout the play. As far as the image and sound quality were concerned, I think M Media did an amazing job by reconstructing this play from bits and pieces. The play is 2 hours long, a bit too long for me, but more than good enough to be shown in theaters.

For those who are not familiar with the plot, it’s about a couple Zakaria (Ziad Rahbani) and Souraya (Nabila Zeitouni) who decided to move to Beirut and work together in a trendy bar in Hamra to provide for their family and improve their social status. However, the couple’s ambitions are thwarted by the high cost of living in Beirut and Souraya starts going out with customers to get some extra cash. Sadly enough, things have become even worse 35 years later and more and more Lebanese families are struggling to stay above the poverty line and provide for their families.

najib I finally got the “Bet7ebba ya Najib” line

One of the most powerful acts in the play was the last one where Zakaria is fed up with the situation and lets his frustration out. It’s a whole different thing when you see it live rather than hear it on a radio and Ziad’s acting was quite impressive in that part. Speaking of which, I loved how genuine the acting was in general. The characters weren’t shouting and faking it like most Lebanese actors do these days and it felt like they were all having fun and just being themselves. My favorite character was Joseph Sakr, I always admired this man and listened to his songs and seeing him perform “live” was a dream come true for me! (Check out the small video I shared [here])

All in all, Bennesbeh Labokra Chou? is a must-see whether you’re a Rahbani fan or not. It’s all about the experience rather than the play itself and if you enjoy looking back at old footage like myself, you will love it even more!

PS: On another note, and just like I mentioned back in November, a second Rahbani play “Film Ameriki Tawil” will be in cinemas soon.

Netflix Finally In Lebanon: Here’s How You Get It

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netflix2

I was few meters away from the Netflix keynote that was taking place at CES 2016 when they announced they are finally launching their service globally to over 130 new countries (except China) around the world. The expansion included the Middle East and Lebanon of course. The service actually went live during the keynote which is pretty cool!

Since I’m not in Lebanon right now, I cannot check what’s available but I’ve been told not all the series are available yet. In fact, Netflix mentioned that they will be adding throughout 2016 “31 new and returning original series, two dozen original feature films and documentaries”.

How To Get It?
netflix1 (2)

It’s really quite simple.
– Go to netflix.com
– Choose your plan
– Enter your credit card details during signup. First month is for free so you won’t be billed for now.
– You will probably get an SMS with a small charge, which is an authorization check that you won’t be charged for.

What Are The Plans Available?
The plans are identical to the ones in the US:

– Basic at $7.99: You get to watch on 1 screen and HD is not available.
– Normal at $9.99: You get to watch on two screens at the same time, HD is available.
– Premium at $11.99: This plan will get u Ultra HD content on up to 4 screens simultaneously.

Will it affect my internet usage?
Our internet is still not so good in Lebanon, and the real problem is not only with the speeds but the data caps which are very low. I recently signed up for Ogero’s unlimited 2Mbps service which costs me $50 and the speed is almost stable at around 1.6 1.7Mpbs which should be good enough to stream Netflix videos and TV series.

In terms of consumption, “Watching movies or TV shows on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video”, so it really depends on how frequently you will be using Netflix.

If you look up the data usage settings for your account, you can actually reduce the amount of bandwidth used while watching Netflix by selecting the lowest plan which consumes around 300MB per hour:

Low (0.3 GB per hour)
Medium (SD: 0.7 GB per hour)
High (Best video quality, up to 3 GB per hour for HD and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD)
Auto (Adjusts automatically to deliver the highest possible quality, based on your current Internet connection speed)

Will NetFlix Be Censoring Any Content?

I don’t have a clear answer for that but as far as I know, Netflix doesn’t censor any content. We will have to see though what will happen if a movie or a TV series that’s on Netflix gets banned in Lebanon.

All in all, I’m still in Vegas so hopefully by next week I will have a more elaborate post on Netflix. Till then, netflix and chill (If your internet connections allows you too)!

Ghena Bou Hamdan: The Young Syrian Girl Singing For Syria’s Children Of War

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ghena

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, famous Lebanese child singer Remi Bandali captured Arab hearts by singing “3touna el toufouli” and “Imani A7la Iman” to a war-torn Lebanon. Over 35 years later, Ghena Bou Hamdan did the same by bursting into tears while singing Bandali’s “Give Us Our Childhood” song on the new MBC show “The Voice Kids”. Ghena was carrying a message of peace and hope for her home country and singing for all of Syria’s Children of war. Syria has become the toughest and most dangerous country in the world to be a child and the Syrian War has left millions of children deprived of their rights to survival, health and nutrition.

There are over 14 million children who can’t go to school because of wars in the Arab World, and a lot of children are unfortunately losing their innocence due to the war. We see hundreds of them begging and selling flowers on the streets instead of being in school, others are being sexually exploited or even recruited to become child soldiers.

These kids are the forgotten victims of the horrific war and they need every help they could get. I hope Ghena’s performance will help shed more light on this situation and get these innocent children much-needed assistance.

[YouTube]