First of all, you might think, why 2021-2002 and why now? Well, I have a planner that is my assistant, my manager, my coach, and my mentor … it is called the W Planner, and since it is undated and customizable, I make my “planning year” equal to 11 months (winning a month a year in planning). So the 2021-2022 year was from August 2021 to June 2022, and hence I have made my lists at the end of this “W Planner Year”.
Here are the list from bottom to top:
5. Road Runner
It’s not where you go. It’s what you leave behind… Chef, writer, adventurer, provocateur: Anthony Bourdain lived his life unabashedly.
4. At Berkley
If you don’t know Frederick Wiseman (born January 1, 1930), then you don’t know documentary film making. He is an American filmmaker, documentarian, and theater director. His work is “devoted primarily to exploring American institutions”. He has been called “one of the most important and original filmmakers working today”.
Wiseman uses Observational Mode to craft the theme of the film, which is a prominent style within direct cinema but he doesn’t like to agree:
What I try to do is edit the films so that they will have a dramatic structure. That is why I object to some extent to the term “observational cinema” or cinéma vérité, because observational cinema, to me at least, connotes just hanging around with one thing being as valuable as another, and that is not true. At least, that is not true for me, and cinéma verité is just a pompous French term that has absolutely no meaning as far as I’m concerned. Wiseman has been known to describe his films as “Reality Fictions”, usually in defense that his films are pieces of art
If you are not used to cinema verite, then be ready to be bored to death, unless that is what you are looking for .. being submerged in the topic of the film … in this case it is University of California at Berkley.
3. The Alpinist
I get rock climbing and solo climbing and free climbing when you become a hero and a brand ambassador … but being a solo free climber breaking world records one after the other with hating cameras or celebrity .. that was shocking to me.
I could not stop watching this documentary once I started, and it ends with an existential shock, which I won’t give away for you.
2. The Mole Agent
It is not clear if this is a documentary or a film, but I would like to consider it a documentary. If you have a member of the family growing old, or if you have the concern of being old one day and entering into a nursing home, it is important to take a moment to be there within this documentary, that will make you rethink the meanings of life.
1. I Am Greta
One of the iconic faces of the 21st century bringing the topic of global warming to its appropriate level of urgency. We will remember her more if Global Warming doesn’t stop and we and our children suffer the consequences.
Dark, and entertainingly disappointing at times, Call Soul gets too close to comfort but then always manages to depart. A show that will leave you neither happy nor sad. You are not happy because no ending is happy in its numerous intertwined stories; You are not sad because at least it is only a show.
4. Inventing Anna
True story that continues till today to unfold. A classical millennial mix up between reality and delusion, and pop culture unquenched pursuit of fame and luxury.
3. The Squid Game
Existential game that is riddled with symbolism, and too cruel to leave you waiting for the next episode. A game of life, obsessive to teenagers and adults alike.
2. Narcos Mexico Season 3 and 4
1. Lake Ozark Season 4
Leaves you wanting more. It will indulge you to the point of hate and love together. Morality is extremely pragmatic and the whole show rotates around moral judgements and entangles you in them.
Dark relaxing comedy of friendship that borders intimacy, and the long lasting pursuit of love that is hidden under your nose. It is a perfect pick for a relaxing date night with subtle romance and perfect sarcasm.
9. Stillwater with Matt Demon
Matt intensity brings this movie to life. I love the clash between American bravery and honesty with the complexities of French society and teenage life. As a father of two daughters, I found myself relating to the emotions of Matt, and it is the first film set up in Marseille that I watched.
8. Perfect Strangers (أصحاب ولا أعز)
I watched the French version few years ago and it is a wonderful concept. Now this is history … that is Netflix producing a strong Arab film with a strong cast … pretty much some of the best actors and actresses in the Arab World.
The film is full of controversy as far as the Arab World is concerned, but for Arab Expats, it seems very realistic. I also love how you mix Arabs from different nationalities so smoothly. Goes along my theory of the inevtiablity of the Awaited Arab State.
Watch it and if you hate it, make sure to discuss it.
7. Uncle Frank
I don’t usually like films focused on sexual orientations, but this film had a beautiful dynamic, and gave a glimpse of the suffering of any person hiding a natural tendency .. .in this case homosexaulity in the American 60’s or 70’s.
6. Arab Blues
A realistic comedic take on clash of cultures for Arab Expats when returning home. The kindness makes up for the ignorance, and the expat Arab is lost translating and mending civilizations.
What a beautiful contemplative narrative of the complexities of raising children in todays age, and to be a child. Poetic, nostalgic, and existential, it is a rare creation of modern American film.
3. Red Rocket
Much more that the impression it first gives. There a totally hidden layer in the film, and you feel it, it feels you, and it makes you uncomfortable, but you learn to live with it till the end.
2. The Worst Person in the World
The Norwegian film doesn’t fail the Scandinavian film genre of deep thought, and extensive discovery of emotions, unweaving our mind and feelings in a post-modern way. Films like this always leave you thinking, and warning, they may change you.
The film is about many things, so many natural ends that are just part of the cruelty of nature. We blame ourselves sometimes for them, some more than others, and this film will unpack this for you.
I watched it in Paris, and I don’t think it will get to American screens due to its extreme problematic rating. Borders a porn genre, but totally not. This film is more than a journey to the behind the scenes story of the want-to-be porn stars; it is a journey to the concept of pleasure in humanity, success, and morality. This film will split your friends opinions, and it might split you too.
I watched Ahed’s Knee, an Israeli film by Nadav Lapid, a very advanced director whose stories fragment and detour in shocking ways.
Ahed AlTamimi is a teenage Palestinian activist. She was born in 1997 in the village of Nabi Saleh, which is located in the occupied West Bank. Her family has been involved in resistance against the Israeli occupation for years and she has been participating since she was a little girl.
In December 2017, Ahed slapped an Israeli soldier who was guarding her house. The incident went viral on social media and led to Ahed being arrested by Israeli authorities and put into prison for eight months.
An Israeli member of Parliament suggested she be shot in the knee. The film starts focused on producing a show about Ahed’s Knee and then becomes more about the director’s journey and censorship in showing his film.
The film starts focused on producing a show about Ahed’s knee, but quickly evolves into an exploration of the decay of Israeli society and the rise of censorship as a way to protect such a decaying society.
Numerous dance scenes show the randomness of cultural production and arbitrariness of censorship. It is also a surreal representation of the different facets of Israeli society. The director here is making serious subjects not serious by using dance to represent them.
The camera is hijacked later by a monologue that I saw as a way for the director to speak to the government and through it to the Israeli people.
The film disintegrates and questions the concept of negative aggrievement, toxic tensions, oppressive systems, irrational censorship, and through the desert settings, the emptiness at the end of this whole project called Israel.
“No one sees anything. Ever. They watch, but they don’t understand.” So observes Connie Nielsen in Olivier Assayas’s hallucinatory, globe-spanning Demonlover, a postmodern neonoir thriller and media critique in which nothing—not even the film itself—is what it appears to be. Nielsen plays Diane de Monx, a Volf Corporation executive turned spy for rival Mangatronics in the companies’ battle over the lucrative market of Internet adult animation. But Diane may not be the only player at Volf with a hidden agenda: both romantic interest Hervé (Charles Berling) and office enemy Elise (Chloë Sevigny) seem to know her secret and can easily use it against her for their own purposes. As the stakes grow higher and Diane ventures into deadlier territory, Assayas explores the connections between multinational businesses and extreme underground media as well as the many ways 21st-century reality increasingly resembles violent, disorienting fiction.
Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker is a fiery and urgent documentary portrait of downtown New York City artist, writer, photographer, and activist David Wojnarowicz. As New York City became the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, Wojnarowicz weaponized his work and waged war against the establishment’s indifference to the plague until his death from it in 1992 at the age of 37. Exclusive access to his breathtaking body of work – including paintings, journals, and films – reveals how Wojnarowicz emptied his life into his art and activism. Rediscovered answering machine tape recordings and intimate recollections from Fran Lebowitz, Gracie Mansion, Peter Hujar, and other friends and family help present a stirring portrait of this fiercely political, unapologetically queer artist.
Marie recently found herself abandoned on Christmas Eve by her husband and has been falling apart ever since. Berling has been the eternal “bacherlorette” who outwardly denies her age and lives the sweet life, all seems perfect until we find out about her complicated relationship with her daughter. Vanja is still living in the past and has never been able to move on from her late husband. The three life long girlfriends decides to travel to Italy together to attend a cooking course in Puglia and here they each find the opportunity to redefine themselves and acknowledge that the most important thing in life is their friendship and that it’s never too late to live a more fulfilling life.
7. THE GOOD TRAITOR
April 9, 1940: Denmark is invaded by Nazi Germany with demands for immediate and unconditional surrender. The government surrenders after a few hours and begins cooperating with the Nazis. On the other side of the Atlantic is Denmark’s ambassador to the United States of America, a daredevil and a man of the world – Henrik Kauffmann, who is willing to put everything on the line. He refuses to follow the German directives and engineers a rebellious plan to defeat Hitler and give the Danish people their freedom back.
6. THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY
Based on a true story, this entertaining and informative film took place in 1972. It’s about an outlandish study on the effects of marijuana on young women. This film centers around five young women who shared a common goal: to make some money and have a fresh start in life. It began as fun, like Hippiie camp, and many of the young women thrived and at their given tasks despite their “toke times”. The scientists, frustrated and surprised with the women’s motivation, decided to give them ever-increasing THC levels. This didn’t stop most of the women’s productivity until many become zombified by the excessive doses. The girls used their unique strengths, resilience and friendship in order to overcome this extreme adversity. To this day, the women still do not know the results. They deserve their story to be told, and they deserve answers.
In 2015, a fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv club leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. Then a doctor blows the whistle to a team of investigative journalists. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces. Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best.
4. Nawal El Saadawi: A Daring Legacy
Nawal el Saadawi, an Egyptian author, activist and physician who became an emblem of the struggle for women’s rights in the patriarchal Arab world and campaigned against female genital mutilation, which she had endured at age 6, died on Sunday March 21, 2021, in Cairo. She was 89. Muslimish invites you to a seminar titled “Nawal El Saadawi: a daring legacy” with host Wissam Charafeddine, coFounder of Muslimish, and Guests Dr. Ginan Rauf, Barbara Nimri Aziz, and Zeinab Assaf Lecanu on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 7PM EST. Join us for the live discussion with your comments and questions.
A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.
1. THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN
Sam Ali, a young sensitive and impulsive Syrian, left his country for Lebanon to escape the war. To be able to travel to Europe and live with the love of his life, he accepts to have his back tattooed by one of the World’s most sulfurous contemporary artist. Turning his own body into a prestigious piece of art, Sam will however come to realize that his decision might actually mean anything but freedom.
Films are an educational opportunity that can be worth multiple months of reading. At the same time, film watching is a great family activity because of the shared feelings and emotions, the opportunity for discussions, and the insights we get of each other’s thinking and feelings.
Here are 5 films I recommend for you and your kids this Spring Break.
STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays – Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal – as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society that allow us an unvarnished portrait of human life — and their own canine culture. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The disparate lives of Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians who share the streets with them. Whether they lead us into bustling streets or decrepit ruins, the gaze of these strays acts as a window into the overlooked corners of society: women in loveless marriages, protesters without arms, refugees without sanctuary. STRAY is a critical observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.
2. Captain Abu Raed
When an old airport janitor finds a captain’s hat in the trash, he gets pulled into the lives of children in his poor neighborhood. He weaves imaginary stories of his world adventures to offer hope in the face of their harsh reality.
3. Raya and the Last Dragon
Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the last dragon in order to finally stop the Druun for good. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than dragon magic to save the world—it’s going to take trust as well. From directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa, producers Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, and featuring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” will debut simultaneously on Disney+ Premier Access and in theatres on March 5, 2021.
This film is a Lebanese-Swedish movie, directed by the Lebanese-Swedish Joseph Fares. It’s not the first to show the Lebanese civil war from children eyes (check for West Beirut, and In the Battlefields) but it shows how the war and its consequences follows a kid beyond the country’s borders. So for a boy, once in Sweden, his life is not necessary easier than how it was back in a flaming Lebanon. In fact, I found that in this movie, Zozo’s life in Lebanon was full (relatively) of joy, while when he arrived to Sweden it was reduced almost only to disappointments, some may think that it contradicts expectations, some my not share the same opinion, but either way, it was a beautiful way to present such a transition for a young child. In fact, it goes beyond to show how hard for an immigrant (young or old) to integrate into a foreign society (here the grandfather mark a good example). From what I could’ve understand, the story is a fiction, but related somewhat to the director’s life since he left Lebanon during the civil war when he was ten years old. Following Danielle Arbid and Ziad Doueiri’s way to make peace with their past.
Globally the film was good, make fair use of special effects (I think that funding films in Sweden is easier than Lebanon). Actors were pretty good as well; Antoinette Turk’s (playing Rita) acted nicely, Imad Creidi’s (as Zozo) role surprised me with his Swedish language and good performance for a child of his age. And then there is Carmen Lebbos, playing perfectly, as she always do, the mother role model.
The script was nicely written from a child eyes, things go smoothly. Though I should point to some minor flaws that come up when trying to see things rationally. For instance, how can a ten years old child go from east Beirut to the mountains (walking??!), then to the airport that easy in a city shredded into two parts? Then once in Sweden writing to Rita without having her address. In the end I remind that this feature was the representative for Sweden for the 78th academy awards. It needs to be seen since it’s a nicely done good movie.
5. Ghadi (if you haven’t watched it already)
In a small Lebanese costal village, growing fear by the neighbors towards Ghadi, a young special needs boy in their midst forces his father Leba, the town’s only music teacher to concoct a crazy scheme to convince his fellow townspeople that his son is not the “demon” they fear but rather an angel who holds all the answers to their problems.
The audacious murder of the brother of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jon Un in a crowded Malaysian airport sparked a worldwide media frenzy. At the center of the investigation are two young women who are either cold-blooded killers or unwitting pawns in a political assassination. ASSASSINS goes beyond the headlines to question every angle of this case, from human trafficking to geo-political espionage to the secretive dynamics of the North Korean dynasty.
“Ryan White’s fascinating documentary chronicles plays like a political thriller with tragic consequences for the two women at its center.” Matt Goldberg, Collider
“It’s a Kafka-esque and sometimes darkly comic tale of deception and exploitation that makes for a smartly assembled and eminently topical film that arrives at a crucial juncture in world affairs…” Justin Lowe, The Hollywood Reporter
Well, me, I was avoiding it intentionally for years because I don’t want to feel angry. But I had to finally face the ultimate betrayal of Arabs by Great Britain during the The Great Arab Revolt.
The film is an epic, with Anthony Queen, Noor AlShareef, and a conglomerate of Hollywood’s best actors and film makers. Lawrence is a special personality who is more Arab than half of the arabs today in the Arab World. To see a glimpse of his story done right is great.
Off course, historically speaking, he had a less important role that it is shown here, and King Faisal had a much more important role that displayed here. Also, there were many arab heros who were ignored for the purpose of highlighting Lawrence in this film.
Over all it is a great film, and must be seen by at least every Arab.
4. The Climb
What a dark comedy … the intricacies and frustrations of imperfect friendships .. the vulnerabilities of men .. the subtle challenges of life that hurt slowly .. this will leave you happy and sad.
3. My King (Ma Roi)
Abuse and love … this film struggles in the problematic space between them. Science says that what a woman wants and what a woman thinks she wants are two different things. Sometimes they are opposite. Sometimes what we love in a person is also what makes him eventually a monster, the devours us. Epic performance … and if you love Paris, this is so parisian.
2. Joshy (2016)
This is the best American film of this year, and it is so independent and simple, that puts the multi million productions to shame. Another mastered dark comedy that you will relate to. A weekend to make Joshy happy turns into a self discovery for everyone, and a salad of different personality types. Awkward moments weave these scenes … an orchestra with 10 conductors, and no players.
1. Another Round (2020)
This is the guy of THE HUNT. The Hunt is one of the best films I have seen in my life, and this one turns into another Hunt, and makes it to the same list.
I don’t know how Danish or Swedish people think, but definitely they are years ahead in the understanding of the human situation. This shows up in their films, and this film is an epic display of Scandinavian realism.
The theme is about drinking in Western society, but behind the lines and scenes there are much deeper existential themes… so watch carefully and look into the eyes of the actors.
Starring: André Benjamin, Juliette Binoche, Lars Eidinger, Mia Goth, Robert Pattinson
Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of the solar system. They must now rely on each other to survive as they hurtle toward the oblivion of a black hole.