Category Archives: Movies & Television

Review: “Spectre” Is Fun But Slightly Disappointing

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spectre

I enjoyed “Skyfall” and was looking forward to the latest installment “Spectre”. The trailer was very promising but the movie failed to impress. I don’t know if I had unreasonably high expectations for this installment following the success of Skyfall but I honestly got a bit bored in the last hour and lost interest in the plot.

Spectre did start promisingly with Bond in Mexico City climbing over rooftops, assassinating terrorists, running from explosions, finding himself in a spinning helicopter and causing an international incident. However, the actions scenes that followed weren’t that impressive and could have been executed better especially the car chases. Even the main seduction scenes were disappointing with Monica Belluci showing very briefly and Léa Seydoux not worthy of a Bond girl in my opinion.

As far as the plot is concerned, it’s way too complicated and can easily confuse those who are not familiar with Craig’s previous three installments and old Bond movies as well. In fact, the filmmakers were juggling modernity and nostalgia, just like they did with Skyfall, but it didn’t work out this time. Also, Craig’s character didn’t really help and his lack of humor and emotions remains problematic.

All in all, I think the problem is that Spectre had a lot of everything, from villains, locales, explosions, dialogues. It has all the ingredients but it’s not as fun and entertaining as it should be. It feels like Daniel Craig has had enough of Bond and the last scene where he walks away with his new found love (Bond in love?) is a clear sign of things to come.

Spectre remains a fun and entertaining mid-level Bond movie but I think it’s time we get a new actor to make James Bond relevant again. Quoting Vulture, “the result is fun, even if it’s a mishmash, leaving you shaken, not stirred.”

PS: I hated the song by the way.

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Review: 3.5/5

Netflix Might Be Launching In The Middle East Soon

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According to IGN, Netflix has confirmed they will be launching in the Middle East soon. In an email to IGN ME, Netflix’s Joris Evers said, “We plan to complete our global expansion by the end of 2016. Of course the Middle East is part of that, hence our hiring.”

If you look under Jobs on Netflix.com, you will find that there’s one specific position for the Middle East area. This is definitely great news but we still have to see what will be available on Netflix once it starts here. Currently, people are using VPN services to access Netflix.

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What Happens To The Victims Of Car Bombs In Lebanon?

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Jennifer

Jennifer Chedid was seriously injured three years ago in Achrafieh after a car bomb targeted the head of the ISF information branch, Wissam el Hassan. Jennifer’s condition was very critical but she refused to die, fought back and recovered.

Three years later, Jennifer’s wounds still did not heal completely and her family is unable to admit her to the hospital when needed due to financial reasons and lack of support. To make things even worse, Jennifer is being bullied at school and she thinks that it’s normal and she “understands those” who mock her.

Jennifer had nothing to do with politics and just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Even though she survived the blast, she’s obviously in pain and unable to lead a normal life. This being said, the least the authorities can do is provide medical support at all time and make sure she’s fully recovered. Moreover, Minister Bou Saab should intervene and talk to the school principal to see why she’s getting bullied by other students because this is totally unacceptable!

I’m glad MTV shed the light on Jennifer and I hope they do the same with other car bomb victims.

[YouTube]

Homeland (TV Series) Got What They Deserved

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homeland via The Guardian

Street artists were apparently approached to add authenticity to the Homeland TV Series set somewhere in Berlin to make it look like a refugee camp on the Syrian-Lebanese border, but they did more than that and planted subversive messages in Arabic like “Homeland is racist”, “Homeland is not a show” and “Homeland is watermelon” to protest the show’s stereotyped portrayal of the Arab world. The Arabic quotes were not checked by the producers and were visible in the second episode of the fifth season, which aired earlier this week.

Here’s what the artists said in a joint statement:

“For four seasons, and entering its fifth, ‘Homeland’ has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat,” the artists Heba Amin, Caram Kapp, and Stone wrote in a joint statement published Wednesday.

home1 via The Guardian

Three years ago, the Lebanese Government wanted to sue Homeland for misrepresenting Hamra in Beirut and showing armed men roaming in it.


Hamra street according to Homeland

Lebanon Wins the World Cup

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brazil

A movie about war and football and the power of forgiveness. I loved the trailer and I think this should be made into a proper film not just a short one. The release date was apparently yesterday in Poland but I’m not sure where and when it will released in Lebanon. I also checked the BIFF screening schedule and it’s not on the list.

If anyone has further info regarding this movie’s release date, please let me know.

Beirut, on the eve of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, two battle hardened veterans – a Christian and a Muslim – who fought each other in the Lebanese civil war prepare to support their favorite team Brazil. More than just a celebration, the tournament will offer them a chance to unite around a game despite all that has gone wrong.

Lebanon Wins the World Cup – Official Trailer from Tony H. Khoury on Vimeo.

LGBT Movie “WASP” by Lebanese-Swiss director Philippe Audi-Dor Banned In Lebanon

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wasp

WASP is a movie by Lebanese-Swiss director Philippe Audi-Dor that tells the story of a gay man in a relationship, who finds himself unexpectedly attracted to a woman. The film won Best International Feature and Best Actress in a Feature at the Film Out San Diego Film Festival, and recently had a sold-out UK premiere at the renowned Raindance Film Festival in London. WASP was scheduled to play at the Beirut International Film Festival but failed to secure a screening license due to the film’s topic. The Lebanese-Swiss director was surprised by the decision as LGBT films (Lilting (UK) and Tom à la Ferme in 2014) were previously screened at the festival.

We all know censorship is random in Lebanon but there are several Lebanese films that tackled homosexuality in the past and I’m sure there are tons of Hollywood movies in the theaters that included gay scenes so why did they ban WASP? It’s not even playing in theaters so what’s the big deal?

Actually, I will never understand why the censorship bureau would ban any movie or anything. I don’t even know why this bureau exists in the first place. If some people don’t like a movie or a play or a book, they can simply not watch it. Banning it is useless as it will not stop us from downloading it online or getting a pirated copy. More importantly, it’s about time that the Lebanese authorities acknowledge the fact that homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. There are plenty of homosexuals in Lebanon and it’s their right to be so.

If you are interested in the BIFF screening schedule, check it out [here].

“Waynon” (Void) By George Khabbaz To Represent Lebanon At The Oscars

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The Lebanese Ministry of Culture has chosen George Khabbaz’s new movie “Waynon” to represent Lebanon at the Oscars. Waynon is about six Lebanese women representing three generations, each one still waiting for the man in her life who was kidnapped during the Lebanese Civil War and is still missing. The movie tackles a very sensitive topic that hasn’t been resolved yet. In fact, thousands of people who disappeared during the war in Lebanon and its aftermath are still missing today. The government has done nothing to clarify the fate of the missing persons, and the families are still waiting.

“Waynon” was written by Georges Khabbaz and directed by Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim and Salim Habr (All NDU Graduates). “Waynon” was awarded Film of the Year Award at the Lebanese Film Festival. This is the second movie that Khabbaz is involved in that makes it to the Oscars, after Ghadi last year.

Lebanon has already submitted 11 films for the Oscars but never got a nomination. Let’s hope we do get one this time!

PS: You can find [here] the list of foreign-language movies that Waynon is competing against this year.

[YouTube]

A Shameful And Inaccurate Report On Baby Ali

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baby ali (2)

Update: I got a clarification from MTV saying “that the title used was indeed wrong and that it was changed at the midnight news. Moreover, they didn’t mention the online campaign because it wasn’t related only to Ali and they wanted to shoot another report on online campaigns especially that there are already two success stories. Also, they couldn’t mention all the names and they made sure to thank everyone”.

I thank them for the clarification and for changing that horrible title. The report should have been elaborated further in my opinion as it sent out a wrong message unfortunately and the title made it worse. What matters the most and MTV agrees on that now is that Ali is now in a new shelter with his family.

Everyone is happy that Baby Ali was rescued from the street and moved into a new shelter but MTV’s report last night was a disrespectful one for the baby and his family and those who helped.

To begin with, they gave themselves all the credit for shedding the light on the story which is not correct as the story had spread before on Twitter and was highlighted by several media as well. I personally knew about Baby Ali from the MTV report but a lot of people were following up on the baby since day 1 and posting updates.

Second of all, calling the baby a “bastard” is inappropriate and unnecessary. The headline used “بعد الاعلان: منزل للرضيع اللقيط!” was a terrible one! Did you verify that he’s a bastard? And if that’s the case what difference does it make? Did you check if the mother was raped or forced into prostitution for example? Or if the father ditched her or maybe died in the war in Syria? This baby has a name and you could have used it for announcing the story.

Last but not least, why didn’t they mention who helped and how? If they don’t want to say Alfa helped, what’s wrong with mentioning LiveLoveBeirut and letting people know about the online fundraising campaign to help Ali and other children?

Speaking of donors, Alfa covered the rent as you all know and Touch promised to buy the family everything that’s missing in the house. Several anonymous donors also offered to help and one of them was referred by MTV. As far as the 30-day long online campaign is going, we collected over $6500 in only 4 days which is amazing!

Overall, moving Baby Ali into a new apartment was a very demanding task that took a lot of time and dedication mainly from Carol Maalouf and the Leb4refugees team but also from a lot of people who were taking care of the baby since Day 1. Rachelle, Lama and Rana spent hours every day watching over the baby, feeding him, buying him and his grandpa stuff, taking him to a doctor on their own expenses, getting him meds, trying to reach out to the media and other things. They were the first people I talked to about sharing the post and they were extremely helpful and caring. they were sick worried about the baby and wanted to know every single detail of the story and still ask for updates every day. It is not MTV’s report nor my post that got baby Ali out of the street, it’s the follow-up of these mothers and the Leb4refugees team. Carol made sure that Ali won’t be sleeping on the street the day she found out about him and did all the arrangements to move him and his family the next day to a new house despite the obstacles (Police, paper work and some NGOs) that she ran into. It’s very easy to show support online and share stories but things are very different on the ground especially when it comes to refugees and street children.

Despite this disappointing report, what matters the most is that Ali and his family are doing great now and they are enjoying their new shelter and the new life they were given.

[YouTube]

The Bad Guy In “BlackHat” Is A Lebanese

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One of the key villains in Michael Mann’s latest action thriller Blackhat is a Lebanese known para-military who fought with the Christian Phalanges during the Civil War and is called Elias Kassar. The character is played by Ritchie Coster. Kassar is a ruthless machine gun-wielding and bloodthirsty guy who would do anything to protect the big boss.

I don’t remember the last time someone referred to the Lebanese civil war and militias in a Hollywood movie. There are two movies that had scenes shot related to Beirut during the civil war era and that I can think of now: The Delta Force with Chuck Norris and True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As far as Blackhat is concerned, it’s an action-packed movie but the plot is not that good. I’d give it a 6/10.

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[YouTube]

Here’s another movie as well: (Thanks Christian)
[YouTube]