Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now Shortlisted for Original Song & Score Oscars

Where Do We Go Now - Nadine Labaki new movie - poster w halla2 lawein - et mainteant on va ou

Who knew that more than a year after its release Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now, which lately garnered Paulo Coelho’s love, would be in the running for an Oscar?

While going through recent articles regarding the upcoming movie award seasons, I stumbled on two press releases published by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for the shortlists of original song & original score, which are quite extensive. However, keep in mind that they have been narrowed down from a much wider selection.

The original song list can be accessed here. The original score list can be accessed here.

As you can see, Hashishet Albe has been shortlisted for best song and Khaled Mouzanar’s musical work has been shortlisted for best score. I don’t think they stand a chance at a nomination, especially not when you have people like Adele and Hans Zimmer in the running. But it’s still interesting to see that the great musical work done on the movie hasn’t been lost.

It’s slightly ironic that the movie is doing better at the Oscars with its music than with its film aspect. Where Do We Go Now failed to be shortlisted for best foreign movie last year.

This is hashishet albe:

My Last Valentine in Beirut – Movie Review

This movie is for serious and smart people only” said the marketing tagline. Then by all accounts, I’m a stupid person who knows nothing of seriousness.

My Last Valentine in Beirut is not a movie. I have no idea what to make of it actually. It’s a horrid mess. It’s a nauseating spectacle. It’s a disgustingly bad atrocity. It’s a jumble of scenes with no apparent link between them except a quest to build up into a running time of approximately 80 minutes. Meet Juliette, a whore in Beirut. Meet a movie director and his assistant wanting to make a movie about Juliette. That’s basically the entirety of My Last Valentine in Beirut for you.

There’s no depth in the movie. Not one bit. The characters are as flat as a board. The storyline – or lack thereof – is so void that you shouldn’t even attempt searching for anything in it. The jabs at Lebanese society are delivered by the characters turning to face the camera – there’s not even one hint of subtlety anywhere. The movie takes cheap shots at other Lebanese movies such as Caramel, Bosta and W Halla2 la Wein which by all accounts are much, much better than this mess. Juliette’s attitude, obviously hyperbolic, becomes more than grating at points. The point of this being a critique of Lebanon today becomes entirely detached from what’s happening on screen that any message the movie tries to pass feels forced especially as the last scene rolls around and you start wondering how the movie got to the conclusion it tries to bring forth with its obvious lack of build up towards anything mentally stimulating.

The absolutely useless 3D is only here for the extra revenue and it’s so distracting at times that it visually hurts. Some camera angles, which are supposedly “artistic,” don’t make sense – even to someone like yours truly whose expertise when it comes to movies is restricted to being an enthusiastic viewer.  Even the only sex scene in the movie is of such catastrophic execution that it becomes one of the movie’s funniest moments. Those are not many.

You’d think that struggling Lebanese cinema would actually bother to come up with good enough movies especially with production being so scarce. But no, you get movies like My Last Valentine in Beirut which keep throwing one crappy scene after another at you in order to break the worst movie in history record, which is a shame really because the premise of a movie discussing prostitution in Lebanon is so dense that this movie, if actually done like a proper movie with a decent script, could have turned out well. Maybe. Who am I kidding. At some point during My Last Valentine in Beirut‘s rather short running time, I wished I was watching Breaking Dawn again. This was one of the worst movie experiences of my life. And that’s not an easy feat at all. My Last Valentine in Beirut has shattered my faith in Lebanese cinema into so many little pieces that next time a non-Nadine Labaki Lebanese movie is released, I’ll rely on other people going on a martyrdom viewing mission before I venture out.

Do not watch this. Even if your life depended on it. Even if your mother’s life depended on it. You could use the $10 admission price in so many better ways, not to mention the time of your life you wouldn’t have wasted trying to watch this cinematic massacre.

1/10 – and I’m being generous. 

Where Do We Go Now is Banned in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia may not have cinemas but it allows some DVDs to be sold in its shops. Where Do We Go Now won’t be one of those DVDs because the Saudi government has deemed the movie offensive and unsuitable for a Home Video release. Therefore, the movie was banned entirely.

In retrospect, this is very much expected. A movie whose ultimate message is about religious tolerance will be allowed in Saudi Arabia how?

In simple terms, Saudi Arabia is here and the concept of religious tolerance has escaped them so much that it’s flown all the way to Pluto and settled there.

The way I see it, in this day and age, banning any movie, book or TV show is irrelevant. The only entity that will get hurt here is some wallets.

There’s simply  a little bay for pirates where everything can be found. If Nadine Labaki’s aim is to deliver a message first and foremost instead of filling up her treasury, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind audiences in Saudi Arabia making a slight detour to that bay.

Or the Saudis, whose government still allows them to come over to Lebanon for the summer, can purchase the super-overpriced DVD here. You know they can afford it.

Tannoura Maxi is Banned in Lebanon

Because the government has so much free-time on its hands,

Because nothing else is important & going on nowadays,

Because there’s nothing wrong in Lebanon that needs to be rectified,

Because our threshold for offenses is so damn low and our pride so damn high,

Because our journalists are so keen on research,

Because our TV stations can’t wait to eat up a controversy,

Tannoura Maxi has been banned in Lebanon, following a request by the Lebanese Catholic Information Center. Hate or like the movie, you can’t but be against such a thing. If you think this is irrelevant compared to what the country is going through, you are right. But then think about how such a decision came to be in the light of what the country is going through and you’ll come to the same conclusion I got to.

This is pitiful. This is a disgrace. This is an insult to our intelligence and our freedom. This is an insult to Christianity, an insult to the Bible and an insult to anything Jesus Christ stood for.

Christian priests, are you happy? I am a Christian and I’m telling you – you are disgusting. You are so narrow-minded that if I tried to look through the hole that is your mind, the only thing I can see is emptiness. Is that what they teach you at whatever school you go through to become priests? To close in your mind and get offended at anything that touches on your religion in a way you find unfavorable?

How does this reflect on us, Christians, when your narrow-mindedness if the only thing people can see of us? Have you perhaps wondered that if some people decided to convert from Christianity because of a movie like Tannoura Maxi, however unlikely that may be, it’s not the movie’s fault but it’s your own? Or it’s perhaps because you don’t want the reality of having so many people with so little faith on your hands that you are panicking about anything and everything?

Weren’t you offended, dear priests, by Muslims smashing statues of the Virgin Mary in Where Do We Go Now? Weren’t you offended by them faking a miracle and saying the word “waté” in church? Weren’t you offended by one of the actresses throwing dirt at the statue of the Virgin Mary?

Or is “offending” religions also hypocritical in Lebanon, some can get away with it while others are burned at the stake?

The whole idea of bans in Lebanon needs to be banned. Censorship is never the solution. Prohibition should never be allowed. Religious men should not be permitted near anything that exceeds their field. Go to your churches, parishes and mosques and leave books, movies and TV shows alone.

Where Do We Go Now (W Halla2 La Wein) Released on DVD & Blu-Ray

For those searching for torrents or a way to download Where Do We Go Now, you might want to stop searching and go buy the DVD for the movie, which will be released today.

Check out my review of the movie here.

Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now (W Halla2 La Wein) No Longer In Running For Oscars: Not on Foreign-Language Shortlist

The shortlist for Best Foreign-Language movie at the Academy Awards has just been announced and Lebanon’s Where Do We Go Now is not on it.

Therefore, we are no longer in the race for an Oscar nomination.

The nine shortlisted movies, out of which five will be selected for nomination, are:

Belgium, “Bullhead,

Canada, “Monsieur Lazhar,” 

Denmark, “Superclásico,” 

Germany, “Pina,” 

Iran, “A Separation,” 

Israel, “Footnote,” 

Morocco, “Omar Killed Me,” 

Poland, “In Darkness,” 

Taiwan, “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale.” 


That’s it, fellow Lebanese, I guess we were too foolishly optimistic about our chances. I guess having a movie from Iran, Israel and Lebanon in a shortlist was too much for the region. Till next time, I guess (which means till Nadine Labaki’s third movie). You’d think winning the same prize that the King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire won, at one of the world’s top festivals, would be enough to pull an Oscar nomination for a movie. But I guess politics is more important.


Top 13 Movies of 2011

Note: This list is tentative and will be constantly updated to be hopefully finalized by March at the latest due to the unavailability of many movies that are garnering critical acclaim and award traction, be it on DVD or in local theaters.

After checking my first “Top of 2011″ list which dealt with music, it is time for the second one about another thing that I’m interested in and which I’ve discussed many times throughout this past year: movies.

So without further ado, let us begin.

13 – X-Men: First Class

This reboot of the franchise of which I am a fan was a very needed approach in order to keep these X-Men relevant. Showing how Dr. Xavier became as such and Magneto became, well, Magneto, the movie was really a breath of fresh air for action movies that became more reliant on screen explosions and aerobics than on a decent story to which those special effects come as a complement. (My review of X-Men: First Class)

12 – Stray Bullet

This Lebanese movie may be too short and not a very accurate reflection on the war it is supposedly set in but the acting performances in this are so gut-wrenchingly real, it can’t but be on my list. (My review of Rsasa Tayshe/Stray Bullet)

11 – The Ides of March

This political drama is my favorite of its genre this year. I may not agree with the accolades it’s getting everywhere over more deserving movies but it’s still a great movie in its own merits. It’s riveting, engaging, highly reflective and real. It can happen anytime in any political campaign. The performances are top notch as well. (My review of The Ides of March).

10 – Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s back to basics is definitely one of the better movies of the year. This Parisian comedy will make you dream. It will take you beyond the confines of whatever room you’re watching the movie in and take you aboard its own fantastical world in a trip back in time. Marion Cotillard is more than brilliant in this. The plot is very original and the movie is very enjoyable. (My review of Midnight in Paris).

9 – One Day

Many didn’t like this movie. I found it enthralling and enchanting. Telling the story of a couple revisiting each other on the day they met every year over the course of 23 years. The premise is intriguing and while I’m sure it flows more smoothly in the book upon which this is based, the movie doesn’t botch it. In fact, the transitions are very smart at times. (My review of One Day).

8 – A Separation

This Iranian movie is simply stunning. It’s a cross examination of Iranian society through the lives of  a couple getting a divorce. The emotions in this run high, they never relent. The hurt in the characters is examined and not feared. Taboos are approached and at the end of the day, it leaves you with a stereotype-breaking view of Iranian society. (My review of A Separation).

7 – War Horse

Steven Spielberg’s WWI epic is, well, an epic movie as well. Based on the children’s book of the same name, War Horse is emotional and phenomenal. It’s stunning to look at and boasts one of the most pleasurable scores I have heard this year in a movie. It is a sentimental movie that transcends age lines and turns into a story for the ages. A must watch. (My review of War Horse)

6 – Moneyball

Brad Pitt shines as Billy Beane, manager of a struggling baseball team, as he tries to get his team to survive a grueling league with a dismal budget. So he enlists Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand to help him change the whole baseball game and turn it head on heels. Moneyball might be the best sports movie made. (My review of Moneyball)

5 – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher’s take on this Swedish noir novel preserves the book’s essence and turns it into a stellar movie, fueled by a top notch performance by Rooney Mara who embodies the novel’s heroin Lisbeth Salander in spellbinding manner. I loved the book and the movie. (My review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)

4 – The Artist

The Artist is a black and white movie which relies on the symphony playing throughout its run for its only auditory input. And it just works. It asks nothing of you as a viewer but to simply watch, not even listen. It relies on the strength of the performances by its cast to communicate the emotions it tries to convey. (My review of The Artist).

 3 – The Help

Based on the book of the same titleThe Help is easily one of the best movies this year as well. It is the tale of the quest of three Southern women in a 1960s racially segregated America for racial equality. The movie may be a work of fiction but it feels so real when you watch it, you can’t but be amazed. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important” – that’s a sentence for the ages. (My review of The Help).

2 – Where Do We Go Now? (W Halla2 La Wein?)

The Lebanese movie that could. Nadine Labaki’s latest movie is without a doubt one of the best movies this year. After being robbed of a Golden Globes nomination (Angelina Jolie, I’m looking at you), we find solace in this movie winning at the Toronto International Film Festival. Telling the tale of women who go beyond their means to get the men of their religiously-divided hometown to ease the tension, the movie tugs at your heartstring, activates your tear ducts and makes you laugh uncontrollably – all at the same time, sometimes. (My review of Where Do We Go Now?)

1 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Because there’s no other movie that deserves to be here. Because there’s no other franchise that has had such a thrillingly brilliant finale. Because no other movie has ever gotten me this close to tears and because every single award show is hell-bent on shunning this from the awards it most definitely deserves. Yes, this may be predictable to many but there’s just something about the final installment in the story of Harry Potter that transcends it being just a movie and turns into a cinematic experience that we, as the Harry Potter generation, are very lucky to have experienced. (My review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2).

- – – – – — – – – – — – – – – -

Notable mentions:

Puss in Boots, previous #13 on the list’s initial version. 

Soul Surfer (check my review) previous #12 on the list’s initial version.

Source Code (check my review) previous #11 on the list’s initial version.

5 Reasons the 2012 Golden Globes Nominations Are A Big Failure

If you, like me, were outraged by how ridiculous the Golden Globes nominations were this year, this is for you. And if you’re not, this is why you – as a movie enthusiast at the very least – should be.

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 was nominated… for nothing. Not a single category. Nada. Disregard the fact that it’s the last movie in the series. Disregard the fact that it’s the highest grossing franchise in Hollywood history and disregard the fact that Hollywood owes a huge chunk of its financial well-being to Harry Potter. Leave it all aside. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has an aggregate score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. For reference, the other nominated movies have scores that range from Moneyball’s 95% to The Help’s 75%. And if you thought Moneyball’s 1% difference is irrelevant, it becomes relevant when you notice that Moneyball has this score based on 194 reviews whilst Harry Potter has his based on 257 reviews.

But no matter. For those who think Rotten Tomatoes is not a decent criteria – after all Bridesmaids is truly horrible – I shall refer to Metacritic, which gives movies a certain grade if you want based on the reviews they get. Harry Potter has a grade of 87. Hugo has a grade of 83. Moneyball’s grade is 87 as well. The Help comes in at a measly 62. I’m just saying.

It’s either the reviewers are bipolar or those nominating in these award shows are bipolar. I’m sure there’s a correlation between those reviewing and those nominating, which leads me to think this double bipolar disease they have is truly damaging to the industry. What’s even worse about this is that Warner Bros actually tried to get Harry Potter a nomination. Ah well… elitist snobs always win, I guess.

2) Lebanon’s Where Do We Go Now was not nominated in the foreign movie category but the United States’ In The Land of Blood of Honey was. Apparently the fact that the latter movie had an American production, albeit being filmed in Bosnia, did not deter them from considering it foreign. They consider the language the movie was spoken in apparently. Add to that the fact that the movie has an English version which was submitted to other categories for consideration. But as you know, In The Land of Blood of Honey is Angelina Jolie’s movie and as a friend put it, these award people can sometimes be starwhores. Just look at the other nominated movies in this category: Flowers of War has Christian Bale. The Kid With The Bike and The Skin I Live In were also directed by more famous names than Nadine Labaki.

Perhaps our Oscar hopes are not totally dead now. But Where Do We Go Now‘s chances are now very slim at best.

3) Glee gets nominated for best comedy series but The Big Bang Theory, which is truly a comedy, does not get any nominations except for Johnny Galecki’s (Leonard) nomination for best actor in a comedy. Jim Parsons (Sheldon) was not nominated. I don’t even feel like having to elaborate on this.

4) Nina Dobrev, who plays two characters on the CW’s hit series The Vampire Diaries, doesn’t even get a nomination for drama actress in a TV Show. Her characters have nothing to do with each other to make it at least easier for her to portray them. They’re as different as different go. And yet, she’s snubbed. How could a CW TV show be considered worthy after all, right? It’s not like it’s not better than most TV Shows out there. But I guess you should refer to point #1 for their view on quality. I’m sorry to break it to Nina Dobrev but apparently anything she does won’t be enough to get her an award outside the Teen’s Choice or People’s Choice Awards.

5) House’s Hugh Laurie and Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall are both not nominated for best actor in a drama even though they’re both portraying totally twisted and sick characters that should be eaten up by any award committee. The fact that they’re slowly becoming iconic characters in our generation apparently doesn’t help as well.

I guess the finger given by Hugh Laurie as House is fitting.

A Separation – Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s new movie, A Separation, opens with an Iranian couple in court. Simin (Leila Hatami) is asking for a divorce from her husband Nader (Peyman Moaadi) because he refuses to travel with her to a European country now that their visa paperwork is in order. The visa has 40 days left to expire and Simin wants to leave now. “Has this man beaten you or cheated on you?” the judge asks her. She replies negatively. He simply refuses to leave. Why can’t Nader leave? Because e can’t abandon his father who has Alzheimer’s. “Your father doesn’t even know you,” Simin tells Nader. “But I know him,” he replies. Simin and Nader also have a daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi – the filmmaker’s daughter). Being eleven years old, Termeh can choose the parent she wants to stay with after the divorce and both want to bring her to their side.

As he goes back home, Nader is faced with the realization that he cannot tend to his father all day long due to his work obligations. So he hires Razieh, a very religious woman, to look after his dad while he’s at work. But taking care of Nader’s father will prove much more difficult than Razieh had anticipated especially with her strict religious rules. One day, Nader comes back home and finds the house empty and his father almost dying on the floor next to his bed. Razieh is nowhere to be found. Money is also missing from the drawer in his house – the exact equivalent of a day’s work for Razieh. When she comes back, he accuses her of theft and pushes her out of his house. She stumbles on the stairs. And soon, Nader finds himself in court being accused of causing the miscarriage of Razieh’s nineteen week old fetus.

Peyman Moaadi, as Nader, delivers a great performance as the morally torn father between his own family and his obligation to his own father. You can see him making the decision of choosing to take care of his dad every single day of his life with every action he does, every word he speaks. One scene in particular is so masterfully acted out by Moaadi that it will play on your heartstring. Soon after he pushes Razieh out of his house, Nader breaks down as he cleans his father in the bathroom – the father that doesn’t even know who his son is.

Leila Hatami’s role is much more limited than Moaadi. She gets much less screen-time and her character isn’t as like-able as his. She comes off as the woman who wants her husband to let go of his parents even though on one particular scene, Nader’s father holds her hand and calls her name as if telling her that no one can really take of him the way she did.

A Separation is not a movie strictly about a divorce. In fact, the divorce aspect of the movie – the separation of a couple – takes very little time to unravel compared to the other plot elements offered in the movie. The problem that arises with Nazieh’s miscarriage is most of what the movie is about – how Nader deals with it in a way to protect himself and his daughter and how Nazieh, the mother of a little girl, is trying to deal with it in her way to protect her little girl and her unemployed husband.

A Separation’s forte, however, is simply its brilliance realism. There’s not one scene in the movie that is impossible to have been acted out in real life. It also transcends stereotypes of an Islamic society and offers a cinematic experience that can be relatable to anyone who watches. It’s not simply the manifestation of male dominance in the court of law in an Islamic country. It’s the legal, political, dramatic and intriguing family dissolving that the movie is about.

A Separation is multi-layered. It’s not bland. It runs deep. It showcases its characters in a way that reveals their secrets, their vulnerabilities. It does not shy away from ripping bandages dry. It doesn’t flinch from showing the hurt. It also smartly maneuvered around obvious Iranian censorship and managed to become Iran’s official submission to the Oscars this year. It is, at the end of the day, a moral dilemma revolving around family. It takes on gender, class, social, family issues and spins them into a fabric that a sort of critical view of Iranian society. The actors and actresses in the movie stand out. The screenplay is very sharp and the directing exquisite.

And now to the part that would interest any Lebanese movie enthusiast. Is A Separation better than Where Do We Go Now? I’m sad to inform you, dear Iranians, that the answer is no. No, I’m not being biased. While watching A Separation, your emotions are roused. You feel compassion to the characters and the story is interesting enough to keep you grounded. But it doesn’t offer the emotional roller coaster that is presented by Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now. You don’t find yourself laughing and then crying. You don’t find a smile on your face while watching A Separation as tears trickle down your cheek. A Separation is more tense. But Where Do We Go Now is more universal, more heartfelt, more approachable and more genuine.

For those who are still shocked, yes… I have watched an Iranian movie. Yes, it was also spoken in Farsi.


Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now, W Halla2 La Wein, Nominated For Critics Choice Award

The nominations for the Critics Choice Awards, seen by many as one of the Oscar indicators, were revealed today and our little movie that could, also known as Where Do We Go Now (read my review), has been nominated in the Foreign Movie category.

The Critics Choice Awards pride themselves on having a greater predictability of the Oscars turn out than most other Award shows, including the Golden Globes. So this is a great sign for Nadine Labaki’s movie that it might get an Oscar nomination. Getting a win, though, is a far different story.

However, the people who vote for the Foreign Movie category at the Oscars are the same type of people who attend the Toronto Film Festival where Where Do We Go Now was voted as best film. I wouldn’t get my hopes way up just yet but I would start getting slightly optimistic that Lebanese cinema, thanks to Nadine Labaki, is slowly but surely getting there.

Back to the Critics Choice Awards, the competitors of Where Do We Go Now are:

In Darkness (Poland)
Le Havre (Finland)
A Separation (Iran)
The Skin I Live In (Spain)

I’d say out of all of these movies, A Separation is Where Do We Go Now‘s main competitor.

I am saddened by the no Deathly Hallows love though. Hopefully that will turn around when the Golden Globes nominations are announced on Thursday.

One thing is clear though, things are looking very good for Nadine Labaki.