Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf has been granted permission to move from the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza to the West Bank in Israel. The 23 year old, who won the TV talent show in June (13), has lived in the facility since he was four, but now, thanks partly to his success on the programme, he, his sister, brother-in-law and the couple's three children have been given approval to relocate after a request was made by the Palestinian Authority.
Assaf was the first Palestinian to win the competition, making him a national hero and earning him the title of honorary ambassador from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas In June (13).
United Nations officials also made Assaf a youth ambassador.
With the relocation, Assaf will now be able to travel freely.
The Palestinian winner of TV contest Arab Idol has been named a United Nations special ambassador. Mohammed Assaf became the first Palestinian to win the show on Saturday (22Jun13) and a day later, he added a new title after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made the singer an honorary ambassador.
U.N. officials also made Assaf a youth ambassador.
The singer has lived at the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza since he was four.
His TV victory was celebrated in the streets of the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday as fans and countrymen alike gathered to watch the final episode of Arab Idol on big screens. Fireworks lit up the sky when he was announced as the winner.
Much like its Greek mythological source material Wrath of the Titans is light on dramatic characterization sticking to blunt moral lessons and fantastical battles to tell its epic tale. That's perfectly acceptable for its 100 minute run time in which director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) unleashes an eclectic hoard of monsters upon his gruff demigod hero Perseus. The creature design is jagged gnarly and exaggerated not unlike a twelve-year-old's sugar high-induced crayon creations — which is perfect as Wrath is tailor made to entertain and enamor that slice of the population.
Clash of the Titans star Sam Worthington once again slips on the sandals to take on a not-quite-based-on-a-myth adventure a mission that pits Perseus against the greatest force in the universe: Kronos formally-incarcerated father of the Gods. A few years after his last adventure Perseus is grieving for his deceased wife and caring for their lone son but a visit from Zeus (Liam Neeson) alerts the warrior to a task even more urgent than his current seabass fishing gig. Irked that the whole Kraken thing didn't work out Hades (Ralph Fiennes) with the help of Zeus' disaffected son Ares (Edgar Ramirez) is preparing to unleash Kronos — and only Perseus has the required machismo to stop him. But Perseus enjoys the simple life and brushes off Zeus forcing the head deity to take matters into his own hands…just as Hades and Ares planned. The diabolical duo capture Zeus and having no one else to turn to Perseus proceeds into battle.
The actual reasoning for all the goings on in Wrath of the Titans tend to drift into the mystical realm of convolution but the ensemble and Liebesman's visual visceral directing techniques keep the messy script speeding along. As soon as one starts wondering why Perseus would ever need to hook up with battle-ready Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) or Poseiden's navigator son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) Liebesman and writers Dan Mazeu and David Johnson throw in another bombastic set piece another three-headed four-armed 10 000-fanged monstrosity on screen. Perseus' journey pits him against a fire-breathing Chimera a set of Cyclopses a shifting labyrinth (complete with Minotaur) and all the dangers that come with Hell itself. The sequences have all the suspense of an action figure sandbox brawl but on a towering IMAX screen they're geeky fun. If only the filler material was a bit more logical and interesting the final product would be the slightest bit memorable.
Liebesman reaps the best performances he possibly can from Wrath's silly formula Worthington again proves himself a charismatic underrated leading man. As the main trio of Gods Neeson Fiennes and Ramirez completely acknowledge how goofy shooting lightning bolts out of their hands must look on screen but they own it with campy fun tones. But the film's overwhelming CG spectacle suffocates the glimmer of great acting opting for slice-and-dice battle scenes over ridiculous (and fun) epic speak nonsense. If a movie has Liam Neeson as the top God it shouldn't chain him up in molten lava shackles for a majority of the time.
Wrath of the Titans is a non-offensive superhero movie treatment of classic heroes that feels more like an exercise in 3D monster modeling than filmmaking. Its 3D makeover never helps the creatures or Perseus pop turning Wrath into an even muddier affair than the single-planed alternative (although unlike Clash of the Titans you won't have 3D shaky-cam blur burned directly into your retinas). The movie reaches for that child sense of wonderment but instead cranks out a picture that may not even hold a child's attention.
Based on the novel Q&A this sharp adaptation tells the tale of a young man Jamal Palik (Dev Patel) who becomes a contestant on the Indian version of the hit game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and ends up being accused of cheating. As we see him beaten into admitting that he “knew” the answers the film darts back and forth in time to show how he came to this place and exactly where the truth lies. We see how Jamal and his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) joined by their female friend Latika (Freida Pinto) grow up in one of the country’s worst slums where they must resort to a spree of petty crimes in order to survive. Later we catch up with them in their teens as they conduct tours of the Taj Mahal and make up tall tales for the unsuspecting visitors. Out of desperation their crimes get more intense as Latika gets herself into big trouble. By the time we get to Jamal’s appearance on the game show it’s clear he has learned what really counts as the tension-driven sequences have him answering questions at a furious pace by the dubious quizmaster (Anil Kapoor). Using a cast of largely unknown actors director Danny Boyle has created an ensemble that exudes freshness and vitality. Outstanding performances come from all the kids who play the main characters of Jamal Latika and Salim at three different ages. They are countered by the adults in the story who also make the most of their juicy roles -- particularly Indian superstar Anil Kapoor playing the shady host of the game show. His scenes on set opposite Patel’s 18 year-old Jamal are riveting and suspenseful beyond any thriller. Both actors play a telekinetic cat-and-mouse game with complete believability. Patel is terrific a real find as is the gorgeous Freida Pinto as the older Latika. Equally effective is Madhur Mittal as the crime-bent older Salim. Irrfan Khan as the determined inspector has his own intense moments while interrogating Jamal. Serious-minded movies rarely get to show off such talented younger actors but Slumdog is virtually a treasure trove in this regard. Danny Boyle’s direction is vibrant alive and pulsating with originality. This director has shown great aptitude for tackling all sorts of different genres from the dark drug-filled Trainspotting to the light-hearted family fare Millions. He’s even done zombies with 28 Days Later. With Slumdog the Brit tackles a completely foreign culture to his own and effortlessly engages us in the plight of these characters. The filmmaking is crisp and cutting-edge with an array of colors and editing choices that put us smack into the center of the story. Cutting back and forth seamlessly between the game show tapings and the flashbacks slowly filling in the answers to Jamal’s ultimate fate Boyle has crafted a completely original movie-going experience. Ending it all on an upbeat note there’s a great Bollywood-type pop number that ranks as the best musical sequence we’ve seen on film all year. You are guaranteed to leave the theater on a high.
The Manhattan district attorney's office declined to prosecute the son of former morning television host Bryant Gumbel who was arrested on Thursday on purse snatching charges, Reuters reports. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney for Bradley Christopher Gumbel, 24, said that he would be released from jail where he had been held since his arrest. "I have just been informed that the prosecutor has declined to prosecute Bradley at this time. No charges are pending against him," said Benjamin Brafman, Gumbel's lawyer. "We believe by the end of the day, the matter will be dropped," he added. The young Gumbel was accused of swiping a 31-year-old woman's purse as she walked along Manhattan's posh Upper East Side and fleeing, police said.
Canadian pop diva Celine Dion's palatial Florida home is up for sale, and the "king looking for a castle" will have to come up with $20 million to move in, Reuters reports. The mansion in Jupiter, near the swanky resort of Palm Beach, is being sold complete with furniture and other contents, including china, linens, wine, and artwork, said Rob Thomson, a partner with Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, which is handling the sale. "For a king looking for a castle, they are hard to find, but this one is a castle; it's fabulous," Thomson said on Thursday. The home, built four years ago by Dion and her husband, Rene Angelil, boasts 15,000 square feet of air-conditioned space as well as landscaped gardens and a pool.
NFL Films is providing a little fantasy relief for moviegoers who wish the guy sitting behind them would just shut up by producing a tongue-in-cheek, 75-second trailer that will run before movies on the 2,448 screens owned by Loews Cineplex Entertainment starting this weekend, according to Variety. In the spot, a loudmouth theater patron is yanked out of his seat by two ushers who drag him to a room where a judge determines his punishment. Michael Strahan of the New York Giants and Bruce Smith of the Washington Redskins play the ushers and former Baltimore Raven Tony Siragusa plays the judge. Tim Couch of the Cleveland Browns also has a role in the trailer, which is the highlight of a national promotion campaign called "Lights, Camera, Kickoff." An ESPN Sports polls show that NFL fans are 35% more likely to go to the movies every week than the rest of the U.S. population.
It's another accolade for director Martin Scorsese, who will become a Commander of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite--Morocco's highest honor-- at the second Marrakech Intl. Film Festival in September. Variety reports that the director will receive the honor from King Mohammed VI, who founded the event to provide a forum in North Africa for cultural exchange. Tributes will also be paid to director Francis Ford Coppola and Bollywood leading light Aamir Khan (producer and star of Lagaan) and filmmaker David Lynch.
Hope they remember to pack their capes: Former development executives-turned-screenwriters Lauren Iungerich and Brad Follmer have sold their pitch Superhero Summer Camp to Warner Bros. Pictures through Oscar-winning screenwriter/producer Akiva Goldsman's Weed Road Pictures, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Iungerich and Follmer will now tackle the screenplay, which will follow a group of misfit kids who go to summer camp and discover that it's a training ground for superheroes.
Keep your eye on the sparrow: AP reports Universal Studios Home Video plans to release episodes of Baretta, the 1970s detective series starring Robert Blake, on DVD this fall, even as Blake remains jailed on murder charges. The series ran from 1975 to 1978 and starred Blake as a streetwise police investigator who arrested thugs and crooks and had a pet cockatoo named Fred. Baretta creator Stephen J. Cannell said the DVD might attract interest due to "morbid curiosity…It might be because the show is back in the consciousness of America, given the notoriety of the Blake case." Baretta: Season One is set for release on Oct. 29.
Despite his thug-life image, rapper-turned-film star Eminem (the upcoming 8 Mile), 29, told MTV that fatherhood is the most important thing to him, according to People magazine. "I'm a father before anything," says the controversial music star, who has one daughter--six-year-old Hailie. "I'm a father before I pick up the mic. I'm a father before I'm Eminem. Of course I'm not the perfect parent. There may be things I'm doing wrong and I'll find out in 10, 15 years, but right now I'm doing the best job I can and that's all I can do." As for a Marshal Mathers IV? "No more kids," says the rapper. "I'm good with Hailie. I'll spoil her and give her everything I never had. I have other family members that I take care of and want to take care of, but as far as kids, I'm cool. No more, one is enough."