The year in [Google] Search

As the year comes to a close, Google has released a 2012 Zeitgeist (and an awesome video- watch above) capturing what the world was searching for this year.

The UAE top trending query is Gangnam style (given that this was only a recent event yet trumped everything in the year), and the top trending person is Whitney Houston. Same as Australia, actually…

The epic Arabic series ‘Omar’ was the most searched for in the UAE, followed by the Arabic-dubbed Turkish show ‘Fatima’. The latter was the most searched for TV show in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

On a global level…
  • Top search: Whitney Houston was the most search for topic overall, followed by Gangnam Style and Hurricane Sandy. 
  • Top images: One Direction- I guess the teens have moved on from Justin Beiber.
  • Top film: The Hunger Games, followed by Skyfall and Prometheus. 
Check out what the world was up to on Google here.
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Movie Review: Cirque Du Soleil- Worlds Away

Let me start off by saying I love Cirque Du Soleil. I’ve been lucky enough to catch 2 different shows of theirs- Alegria and Quidam- and both were spectacular. So you can imagine the kind of expectation I went in with to this film. Because Cirque Du Soleil is basically the circus on steroids, I expected the movie to be Cirque Du Soleil on steroids. 

But all I saw was Cirque Du Soleil on a big screen, with water elements (as this was no longer a limitation for them), minus the excitement. The beauty of their live performances is all the anticipation and amazing tricks they do while before your very eyes. It’s a very engaging show. I nearly fell asleep watching the film though, and I never ever fall asleep watching anything! In the film, there were too many shots of the performances in slow motion; they’re beautiful but then I got tired of it. The flow of the music didn’t move me either. I’m not undermining the talent or all the production that went into making this- it looks like a ton of effort and I appreciate that- but it didn’t really give me the same kind of excitement as the live shows. And after speaking to a few people who also saw their live shows I found they shared similar sentiments.

Yes they did have a story (the quest to find the Aerialist), and yes they had their fabulously extravagant costumes and everything they did looked effortless; but is filming Cirque Du Soleil on a bigger stage and showing it in 3D really ‘bringing it to life’? In my opinion, it isn’t.

 

Rating: If you’ve never been to a live show, this is a nice intro to Cirque Du Soleil. Kids would love this too. If have been to a live show, I say skip it and avoid disappointment. I give it 3 Oi’s out of 5.

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Movie Review: Bekas

Each film festival has a couple of gems that everybody loves and talks about, and it’s usually not one with an all-star cast. This year, I think one of these gems is Bekas.

Set in the 90s, Bekas starts with two Kurdish brothers living on the streets of Iraq when the movie Superman hit theatres. They go and sneak a peak, only to get caught, and then they decide that they’re going to America to meet Superman and become friends with him. Their journey to get to America is so emotional as they keep dreaming and hoping inspite of all the bad surrounding them. And their brotherly love is so beautifully captured- those kids are super talented! Karzan Kader has done a superb job with this film.

Rating: A powerful film with the charm of childhood innocence. I give it 5 Oi’s out of 5

The next showing for Bekas is on Saturday 15 Dec, and you can buy tickets at MoE or online here.

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Movie Review: L’Ultimo Pastore (The Last Shepherd)

L’Ultimo Pastore (The Last??Shepherd),??is an Italian documentary about the last shepherd of Milan, Renato Zucchelli. Since he was 17, he wanted to be a shepherd. He says that he feels free when he does his job, and who wouldn’t be? He’s got the mountains to himself and his sheep, and a lovely supportive family living in Milan. But the job doesn’t come without challenges. With Milan laying down more and more concrete, finding grass for his sheep becomes more difficult. The other angle of the story are the kids of Milan and how nowadays they don’t get exposed to animals or know what a real shepherd looks like, and Renato’s dream is to show these kids just that.

I really liked the different tones the director,??Marco Bonfanti, took us through in the film. It started off comedic, then went into the more serious issues of the job, and then a more emotional ride. The visuals of Renato and his kids walking through the city of Milan with hundreds of sheep were simply stunning. It looked so surreal throughout the film.??

Rating:??A beautiful documentary that took me by surprise, and I highly recommend you give it a watch. I give it 5 Oi’s out of 5.

The next showing for L’Ultimo Pastore is on Wednesday 12 Dec at 3.45pm, and you can buy tickets at MoE or online??here.??
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Movie Review: Radioman

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This was the first movie I see at DIFF this year, and what a great way to start the festival! 

Radioman is the first feature film for director Mary Kerr, and is a documentary about a guy called Craig Castaldo (or Schwartz as sometimes mentioned in the movie- either way he hates his name) who is an urban legend in New York.

A former homeless guy, he hangs around movie sets in New York, and knows so many actors and their schedules! He’s even gotten roles in some major movies, which you’ll see in the documentary too. The guy has been around for decades doing this, and Hollywood stars are on the lookout for him when they’re shooting scenes in New York.
As Tom Hanks put it, “he [Radioman] is a national institution”. Other interviews include George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Robin Williams (they look so alike, by the way), Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, Shia LaBeouf, and many more. 

Throughout the documentary, we got to know Radioman a little bit more, as they delved into the history behind the name, his life and family, as well as his movie career (Shutter Island and 30 Rock to name a couple!). Then Radioman decided to go to LA for the Oscars, and here it got a bit sad…but you’ll have to watch it to see what happens. All I’ll say is that it made me think twice about how the celebs’ sentiments towards him.

It’s a funny documentary with some serious parts too, and I think how you view this film could also say a little something about who you are too. I’ll be honest; at first I was quick to judge: ‘who would choose to live like this?’, but as I kept watching I changed my mind- we’re so easily sucked into conformity that when we see people like Radioman we’re perplexed and puzzled as to why they didn’t choose the path we chose, or go through the ‘standard routes’ of doing something. But if they’re happy with their choice, why don’t we just accept it and appreciate it? We can’t all be alike, right? And are were truly happy with the choices we’ve made in our life? Are we really doing what we want to do?

The surprise after the screening was Radioman making an appearance! He made us laugh with his Robin Williams impersonation, and he started asking people questions and interviewing them. Really hilarious stuff. I asked him how many radios he’s gone through in his lifetime, and he said over 100! 

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As funny and quirky as he is, he’s a pretty sharp guy and despite everything he’s gone through, he still dreams big and I really admire that. He has an agent now, so hopefully we’ll be seeing Radioman in more  movies!

Rating: Funny and interesting, definitely a must see this festival.  I give it 5 Oi’s out of 5.

The next showing for Radioman is on Wednesday 12 Dec, and you can buy tickets online here
(Image source: dubaifilmfest.com and own photos)
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my DIFF 2012 schedule

This time last year, I said to myself that I would take a week off work to be able to see more films, because I love movies and I really do enjoy DIFF. 

A year later, here I am actually following through with the plan! I’ve got 16 films lined up to watch, including 4 Galas. It’s going to be a busy week!

Today I watched 2.5 films, which I’ll be reviewing in an upcoming post, but here’s my schedule for the week so you know what reviews to expect (or you’re not sure what you want to watch, this might help)! 

Monday (10 Dec)

Radioman- UK (also showing on Wednesday 12 Dec)

L’Ultimo Pastore aka ‘The Last Shepherd’- Italy (also showing on Wednesday 12 Dec)

Pieta- South Korea (also showing on Wednesday 12 Dec)

 

Tuesday (11 Dec)

[Update 1] Bekas- Sweden (also showing on Saturday 15 Dec)

Cirque du Soleil- USA

Hitchcock- USA (also showing on Sunday 16 Dec)

 

Wednesday (12 Dec)

Muhr Emirati #1 (was also shown on Monday 10 Dec)

  • SAFI
  • MIRAGE.NET
  • WE NEED TO TALK
  • MUTINY
  • DURBEEN

Muhr Emirati #2 (also showing on Saturday 15 Dec)

  • HALF EMIRATI
  • THE PATH
  • WHITE COLORED ELEPHANT
  • THE GOAT’S HEAD
  • LIFE SPRAY

Hyde Park on Hudson- UK (also showing on Friday 14 Dec)

Muhr Arab Documentary #2 (also showing on Friday 14 Dec)

  • GAZA CALLING- Palestine, Switzerland, UAE
  • MY FATHER LOOKS LIKE ABDEL NASSER- Lebanon

 

Thursday (13 Dec)

The Thieves- South Korea (also showing on Tuesday 11 Dec)

Back to 1942- China

 

Friday (14 Dec)

When Monaliza Smiled- Jordan (also showing on Wednesday 12 Dec)

Line of Sight- Jordan, UAE, Qatar (also showing on Saturday 15 Dec)

 

Saturday (15 Dec)

Sleepless Nights- Lebanon, UAE, Qatar, Palestine, France (also showing on Tuesday 11 Dec)

Wadjda- KSA, UAE, Germany (also showing on Wednesday 12 Dec)

The Sapphires- Australia

 

Sunday (16 Dec)

TBD [Update 2] Wolf Children- Japan (also showing on Friday 14 Dec)

 

You can find the DIFF film schedule here.

Are you watching anything during DIFF? Drop them in the comments.

See you there!

 

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Meet Dolores

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I was shopping with my mum in the afternoon when I mentioned to her that Phyllis died. She responded with, ‘do you want another plant?’, to which I replied, ‘No. I’m a plant killer, it’s what I do’. She shrugged it off, ‘keep practising, you’ll get the hang of it’.

I walked out sans plant. Earlier this evening though, I had to go back and exchange something when I walked past- you guessed it- plants.

So meet Phyllis’ sister, Dolores! I will try my best to take better care of her. And like they say, third time’s a charm…right?

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Movie Review: Death of a Japanese Salesman

I watched this film during DIFF last year, but only got around to writing the review now. What can I say, I’m a busy girl…

 

This film is the directorial debut of Mami Sunada,  and is a documentary about her dad’s life- who was diagnosed with cancer- up until he died. I really should have gone more prepared, because by the end of the screening my face was a mess- tears streaming down my face, puffy eyes, mascara everywhere. If you thought Braveheart and The Notebook were bad, think again. They really should mention this sort of stuff on the ticket…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMvuA1MUhIk?rel=0]

Mami told the story through footage of her dad- Tomoaki Sunada- every step of the way, from the day he was diagnosed right up until the funeral, with her voice narrating his possible thoughts in that point in time. It  took a little while to get used to that, but I found it to be an interesting approach. I also admire her strength in being able to go through with the project, as I can only imagine how hard it could have been; it’s a wonderful way to celebrate someone’s life and preserve their memory.

Her father was a man who worked his way up the company ladder (the same company) up until retirement, only to discover shortly after that he has cancer. He decided not to let it get him down though, and continued to spend time with his family and doing things he enjoys.

It was also an interesting glimpse into the Japanese way of life: the incredible dedication and loyalty towards the company they work for, family dynamics, and what they do for fun. The family dynamics caught my attention. For example, Mr. Sunada and his wife were pretty much separated until he retired from work (it took a toll on their marriage), after which they started dating again…only to find out he had cancer shortly after. That was heartbreaking to watch, and it’s just another reminder that time is precious. Don’t wait until you’re old to do the stuff you love or spend time with people who matter to you. On the other hand, I found it amusing how his children had so much respect for him and their mum, and were there for them no matter what, yet their approach was very pragmatic and logical.

Another thing I found interesting was the way they talked to the doctor. They’re so polite, and proper, and constructive in their conversation, and they have full faith in the doctor’s skills and abilities. No drama, no panic- nothing. I expected *something*, but nope; the whole time they were just polite and proper and constructive. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Big C…

The most bizarre thing to me was how her dad planned his funeral. He made a list of people who should attend, what his family should say to those who want to be there but aren’t allowed (his co-workers aren’t invited because it’s only for family and close friends…!!!), where it should take place, the proceedings, and so on. The funniest thing was during his last days he asked his son to retreive the list from his computer, but when the son returned he told Mr. Sunada that the list is no longer on the computer, and the dad responded ‘oh it’s ok, I made a back-up!’. He just really thought of everything, didn’t he?!

But it felt like he was planning a birthday party, not a funeral. I found it quite strange as our funerals aren’t anything like that- you wear black for 3 days, people show up to your house to give condolences (friend or foe- it’s the time to put those differences aside at a time like this), and you have arabic coffee available.

The last moments before he parted with this world were very emotional…waterworks.

There are just so many angles to this film that it really is worth seeing. I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

 

 

Rating: I highly recommend this film, but make sure you have a box of tissues next to you. I give it 4 Oi’s out of 5.

 

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Book Review: The Left Hand of God

If you want to the final rating on the book and can’t be bothered reading the whole post, scroll to the bottom.

This was not an unusual pick for me. I read His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman and enjoyed it a lot, so I thought this novel would be something along those lines.

Left_hand_of_god

The Left Hand of God, by Paul Hoffman, is about this kid who is supposedly the one who will destroy the world. A skilled fighter, he was brought up in The Sancturary of the Redeemers who train them to be emotionless, thoughtless creatures using a lot of violence and religious bullshit.

The character that develops the most throughout the book is the main character, Thomas Cale. There’s a lot of suspense and action in this book, with the escape from The Sanctuary and that whole journey, and showing off Cale’s fighting skills. It was also interesting to see how, for a 14 year old, his way of thinking is sometimes like a child, and in other things- like planning for war- he is way beyond his years. The book also showed how a change in environment can affect a person’s actions and reactions, and how there are some characterstics at our very core which we cannot change about ourselves, even though our opinions and ideals may evolve. One of the most intriguing characters I found was Kitty the Hare- he’s so evil it creeped my out.

I couldn’t put the book down- it was that good…until the last 5 chapters. Then it just imploded. Really disappointing ending and, in hindsight, the whole escapade and war with the Redeemers dragged on for way too long. I later find out that this book is the first of a planned trilogy, so I would imagine the other characters would develop a bit more in the second book, and parts of the story line in the first book would be better explained. I’m not expecting anything grand though, so I don’t think I’ll be picking it up any time soon.

 

Rating: Read it if you like books about religious conflicts and fantasy, and trilogies. Otherwise, don’t bother. I give it 2 Oi’s out of 5

 

Image source

 

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Book Review: The Bronte Project

If you want to the final rating on the book and can’t be bothered reading the whole post, scroll to the bottom.

I love the Bronte sisters and their books. Even though I’m not considered the ‘romantic type’, I just love the way they write, the (often tragic) story lines, and the way they intertwine the lives of the characters with each other. One of my favourite books is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Bronte_project

So you can see why I would pick a book called The Bronte Project to read. It’s about a scholarly woman- Sara Frost- who’s doing her doctorate on Charlotte Bronte love letters, but it’s wasn’t really going anywhere for her and  at the risk of being dropped from the program. Her fiance, on the other hand, is a successful writer and has published several books. They go to this party, and enters Claire Vigee- a ‘Princess Diana expert’ (if there is such a thing- if you haven’t lived with someone, you don’t know jack about them. But that’s just my opinion)- with her charm and wild red hair. And that’s when Sara’s life starts falling apart, only then to pick up the pieces and watch Claire crumble as they become friends. Yea, it’s kind of weird.

I have to say though, I have never been more disappointed in a book. Jennifer Vandever (the author) did a fabulous job  boring me to death, with a flailing story line. The characters are plain; Sara had my eyes rolling the whole time. And the love letters, which are the premise of the book, ended up on the sidelines; that made reading the entire book rather pointless, really.

 

Rating: Don’t bother reading it, even if it was the last book on Earth. I give it 1 Oi out of 5 (if that).

 

Image source

 

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