Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The ABCs of Arab Entertainment

From the multiple genre-encompassing glory of Shadia, Soad Hosny, Farid al-Atrash and Duraid Lahham to the state of Arab entertainment today, something somewhere has gone terribly pear-shaped. Even Sherihan's mental fawazeer series is unmatched amidst the sea of uninspiring Nishan's and Ahlam's. Razan Moughrabi is now being hailed one of Arab television's rising stars, butt implants have become a prerequisite for aspiring Syrian and Lebanese actresses... and that, ya 7abaybi, is only the beginning. The below is a starter list of things wrong with the state of Arab television*:

1. The result of a Google images search for Arab series crops up stills from Turkish shows (Muhannad ruined it for everyone else really), something censored and (snooze) historic television. I'm so bored I'm considering not writing this list anymore.

2. Collagen, hair extensions, coloured lenses and wigs are a must.

3. Our reality shows are a) 95% ripped off and/or franchises and b) hosted by the least charistmatic personalities in Arab entertainment.

 Oh, Ahlam.

4. Most of our original series storylines are about strife and pain and war. Things that are even slightly inspired are lifted off external sources (and still find a way to be about pain and strife and war), i.e. Sana3ood Ba3d Kaleel and Everybody's Fine.


5. Is a character in a nightclub? They're probably doing something bad. Because clubs are bad places where people drink bad things, etc.

What would you add this list?

*I write this list in jest but also with hopes that the standard of our entertainment offerings elevates itself once again to something we can be proud of. Arab cinema is once again making a name for itself - fingers crossed Arab television picks up too.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Megabites of Zombie Deadication

Thanks perezhilton.com 

First, I'm sorry about the title of this post. Secondly, and more importantly, to celebrate the single-handed demise of the zombie genre, thanks to WORLD WAR Z, I have compiled a list of extras, short films, games and graphic novels officially linked to and inspired by the far superior 28 DAYS LATER. Just to highlight the pronounced failure of the former as compared to the latter. Light, Sunday reading.

Deleted Scenes:

Beyond Contagion (mega grainy)
Cabbie Impressions
What Being Attacked by Rage Zombie Would Really Be Like (sans music)
Alternate Ending (terrible)

Behind the Scenes Footage - mainly a lot of wind swept Boyle-age, terrifying rage SFX make up and models of zombie ravaged humans.

Six official short films released in support of 28 WEEKS LATER (slightly NSFW, if only for gore-related reasons). Some of these are better than the actual film:

Jealous Rage
28 Seconds Later
Welcome to London
Light 'Em Up (don't do drugs, kids)
28 Weeks Earlier (why are they American?)
77 Days Later (the actor is a schmuck but this is pretty good)

Free preview issues of 28 DAYS LATER the graphic novel, following Selena's return to Britain, kind of a time-filler between DAYS and WEEKS.

And finally, a Stop the Zombies! simulator, alongside a bunch of naughty kids and their zombirific parodies, including LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem (sorry) and The Boondocks (really).

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rule #4

For the love of God

As you may have deduced with wits I hope are sharper than those of the FBI unit in NBC's Hannibal, this list continues on from last week's deceptively titled 'Rule #1' on the social media faux pas committed by a) the regular user and b) the filmies. And without further ado...

Rule #4: wishing people who aren't on Facebook a Happy Birth/Mother's/Father's Day or Fourth of July or Groundhog Day or whatever it is any of you celebrate. "Happy Father's Day to the world's greatest dad!" Is your dad on Facebook? No? So wait, he didn't even read that message? No? Do you have your dad's phone number? Yes? Would that have been more personal? For him to hear your voice? You know.... just putting that out there. Stop it.*

*the geeky/obsessive exception to this rule is when wishing pop culture icons/people who inspire you a happy birthday. If you do this, avoid looking like a hipster know-it-all and reference these people's works, preferrably by including a link to who they are/what they've done.

Rule #5: don't abuse social media privacy privileges or it will come back to haunt you and will become a nightmare worse than any horror film you've ever seen. Security on social media, and email for that matter, is more flimsy than 2008 Grammy's J-Lo. Cyber safety is currently a huge issue - treat the hidden coves of your social media existence as if they were public. Is there anything you wouldn't want your bosses to read? Any politically sensitive material? Offensive to where you live/work? Get rid of it.

Rule #6: documenting your every movement is silly because a) if you're Foursquare'ing all your locations, you are like a walking blimp for stalkers**, b) noone cares that you just made John a cake and that you are now having a cup of tea and that you are now watching a film and in another hour will watch another film and in another hour will discuss how awesome this film is with everyone on Twitter until you are all spent and retire to your bat caves digitally exhausted and ready to re-boot for another day with your pixel families and c) it's annoying. Moderation is key.

**security settings can help here, but really, why do we all need to know you were at Burger King and are now at the pub and are now back home? WHO CARES?

Are you guilty of any of these? Do you have any SM pet peeves?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rule #1

If you do this, everyone will know and laugh at you

I've been on a blogging vacation for a while (soz) but I think I might be back. Maybe. I'm not sure. All I know is I have some social media hang ups I need to divulge. Film people really suck at digital things. And also I lied - this is rules #1, #2 and #3. Bonus rules for you.

Rule #1: don't be a social sheep - look through user timelines before you follow. Don't judge based on a #FF (utterly useless unless personal) or on a single engagement. If someone has made the effort to conversate, check out their bios, their discussions and then make a decision. If they're not someone you see yourself networking/bantering with, drop your Follow finger and move on.

Rule #2: you are missing out on a world of psychological analysis if you do not look through a users' Favourites. Or Favorites, as Twitter (wrongly) calls them. These tweets are like a diary with a faulty lock. You can tell a lot about someone from what they archive - are the tweets self congratulatory? (i.e. they've saved every single rave review about their new trailer/book). Informative? Is there a trend in topic? (mine will be Guillermo del Toro and 'zen' quotes). This is gold, people.

Rule #3: avoid general schmuck-ness - everything you do on any social media platform is visible. Are you liking something offensive on Facebook? Yep, I can see you in the side bar. Are you following Sasha Grey on Instagram? Yes, your girlfriend knows. Are you tweeting in the middle of the night? Or during a work (your day job, I mean) meeting? There's a time stamp on your tweet. Nothing is a secret on SM. Or on the internet, really.

What are some of your film-relevant social media rules?

Monday, November 19, 2012


I will be - and have been - here (in the screen below to be precise) for the next six days of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival 2012, interviewing some brilliant directors, actors, screenwriters and personnel from the Doha Film Institute, live from their respective Red Carpet events.

In the past couple of days, we've hosted the directors of The Lebanese Rocket Society, Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Jreige, homegrown talent in the form the directors of Arab hip hop/revolution doco Lyrics Revolt, and the Raging Bull himself, Bobby de Niro.

Over the next six days of festival, we will be hosting some of the most promising regional talents, including Ali Cherri (Pipe Dreams), Ehab Tarabieh (Al Mansiyun), Hanan Abdulla (In the Shadow of a Man), Damien Onouri (Fidai) and more.