Saturday, December 10, 2011

Censorship craze

Artistic creations in Lebanon is facing a new challenge with the recent announcement about canceling the long-awaited screening of Beirut Hotel in Lebanon theaters by the censorship committee. As suggested, the film was banned due to political reason, not for the intimate scenes inside, it was considered as it would "endanger Lebanon's security"! We hope that this decision will be reverted quickly and witness the release of the film soon in Lebanon.

We take this occasion to hope best luck for the director Danielle Arbid during the screening of this movie in Dubai during the DIFF. Apparently the margin of freedom is getting wider in Dubai, in contrast to Beirut.

Note: Thanks for the Independist for pointing out to this sad story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ok, Enough, Goodbye - طيّب، خلص، يلّا

Scenes from "Ok, Enough, Goodbye"

The main theme of this movie is the city of Tripoli. Painted in beautiful colors and the enjoyable dialect of the second Lebanese city, this feature manages to attract the audiences by a light comedy, yet charged with analysis of the society in the general Lebanese life.  Among the thoughts that emerge upon watching it is the reliance of the Lebanese male on women. When the mother of the main character leaves home (for a reason that would've been better accepted if explained more in the script), he exhaust every available means to compensate her absence. I will avoid any spoilers, it's an amusing first film made by young directors a Lebanese Tripolitan Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, a foreigner. As described by the film makers, the production was mainly a "two person" work, with most cast selected among Rania's own family, reducing the budget to a micro one. Nevertheless, the movie is fun and highly recommended... Hoping to be screened in Tripoli soon!

One of the used posters

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Mountain - الجبل

Trailer of "The Mountain"

The latest movie by Ghassan Salhab, The Mountain, follows the style of The Last Man with the minimum use of conversations and reduce the cast to almost one actor with all the difficulties that ensue when producing under such decision. The movie tells the story of a man who decides to isolate himself to concentrate on wirting in some hotel room in a remote mountain region. The isolation is nearly complete with TV, phones and other means of communication cut-off, but also the window closed down, hence loosing the sense of day and night. Fadi Abi Samra who plays the leading role impersonates the isolated man situation in a very convincing way. Ghassan Salhab manages another time to escape from the cliché themes originating from movies in our region to draw fictional scenes that can be set anywhere (despite some elements that would relate to Lebanon such as radio news stories). Some ideas in the movie can be seen echoed in other features like A Lost Man which tells the story of a man who decided to run away from his country, or The One Man Village a documentary where a single man lives alone isolated  in a far away village. Salhab was able to shed the light on this issue in a new angle, tickling the memory of the viewer of similar moments of loneliness, and the corresponding audio and visual sensations that follows. This film is not a general public movie, nonetheless, it will provide a new interesting experience to the viewer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where do we go now? (review) - وهلّأ لوين؟

HD trailer of Where do we go now?

After long wait, Labaki's second feature is released in Lebanese theaters. Unfortunately, this time Lebanon was not a priority on the release schedule, France beat us to be the first to release the movie to the public :-(.
To describe the movie simply, it's a must-see exquisite tale full of emotions, inspirations and motivations. Anyone should enjoy it. It's a movie about peace, not war. Unlike what some myopic Western critics say that it's a movie about a war between Christians and Muslims, it is wiser to see it as a universal movie to eliminate division, to reduce discrimination of all forms (not only religious), and avoid wars. In contrast to In the Battlefields, it should be noted that Where do we go now? throws the division problems to outsider agents, and avoid tackling the hatred that is originating from within. Nevertheless, It merits all the awards that it's currently gathering. The music, along with the intelligent lyrics by Tania Saleh, makes an integral part of the story and cannot be separated. You can enjoy the complete original score at Mouzanar's myspace. Although it may reveal some of the plot, even if listened apart.
The actors are very natural, most noticeably talented is clearly Claude Baz playing as Takla. The microcosm goal of Labaki was reached successfully. Nadine's directing talent becomes very clear by her manipulation of the emotion with such an ease: flipping the audience from laughter to tears in seconds. As in Caramel, the messages are passed smoothly to the viewer. Nadine is very talented in knowing how to attract the viewers, and she continues to confirm this assertion with each new work. This debuted long ago when she started her career, but it's getting more obvious with the collection of audience prizes almost everywhere: Tornoto Festival, and the San Sebastián Festival (for her second feature, she lost to second place by a thin margin of a mere 32 votes out of 9,046).
Even though it might be considered as Nadine's signature, some transitions might be felt interrupted, but at no time, it may disturb.
My single complaint is that, for some reason, the Lebanese theaters decided to include subtitles for Lebanese audience! Why would anyone think that the Lebanese people need English subtitles to understand Arabic in Lebanese dialect?!! Whose decision is it anyway? Unfortunately, aside distracting the viewer from the beautifully set scenes, the subtitles even spoiled and overrode  the nicely designed movie Arabic title at the beginning :-(. One might think that subtitles are added for foreigners, but it becomes even more disturbing when you witness English passage went untranslated to Arabic. Usually, one or two theaters may include subtitles, but to implement this decision nation-wide might be considered somewhat offending! Note that, when Caramel was released, the release date in Lebanon preceded that of France, and the film was released without any subtitles in the theaters.
Among minor "glitches" (or minor directing mistakes), I couldn't help noticing that the only victim received a bullet in a place that should be normally protected with the worn helmet, yet the helmet remains intact. Another glitch, the cross got broken in a visibly artificial way, leaving behind 2 bars with the sawed regular (rectilinear) sections clearly apparent.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

TIFF Victory!

"Where do we go now?" won the prestigious People's Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival. Unfortunately, Labaki was not present there to deliver a speech.
We would like to congratulate Labaki and her team for their success in making such a good movie. The movie is already enjoying a popular success among French film viewers since its public release few days ago.
A reminder that in the recent years, previous winners at TIFF won the Best Picture Oscars at the Academy Awards.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cannes 2011

Among the films in the official competition of the 2011 Cannes festival we should mention "Where do we go now?" by Nadine Labaki. The movie, as noted in previous posts, is showing in the section "Un certain regard". You may find here few teasing scenes from the movie as well as some exquisite stills, as well as the beautiful movie title above. We hope the best luck to Labaki and her team. The screening of the movie is scheduled on Monday, May 16 at 1400 and 2200 in salle Debussy, for those who will be lucky to attend in Cannes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beirut Hotel - بيروت بالليل

Trailer for Beirut Hotel

The year 2010 was a busy year in Lebanese movies production. After the successful release of Stray Bullet, two more movies produced in 2010 are very promising, Where do we go now? made it to the Cannes selection, but another movie that was also rumored to make it to the official selection was that of the prominent director Danielle Arbid. The movie is called Beirut Hotel, and the trailer gets us impatient until the release of the full feature. Beirut Hotel is the third long feature by this distinguished director. We can feel from the few scenes in the trailer the presence of the flesh and violence in an artistic way as an essential ingredients as we've seen before in previous movies of Arbid. I hope to watch it very soon in Lebanese theaters.

Update: On the eve of the DIFF opening, Lebanese censorship committee decided to cancel the screening of the movie in Lebanon theaters that were scheduled to debut in January.

Update 2: Below a new released Music Clip for the original song Sa'at Sa'at  directed by Daniele Arbid, composed by Zeid Hamdan and performed by Darine Hamze.