Spotted in Achrafieh: Lebanon’s Neo-Nazis?

Because it doesn’t make sense not to have something of everything in Lebanon, we also have our own Neo-Nazis. Have they read Mein Kampf? I doubt. Do they know what Nazism stands for? I doubt as well.

I really have a hard time understanding how someone’s mentality could actually bring them to be this convinced with Hitler and his ideology that they’d take the time to paint the swastika on a building in Beirut. I even know one person from my hometown who wears the swastika around his neck.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Movie Review

Having nothing planned on a Saturday night, my friends and I found ourselves going to the movies with this being as the only viable movie choice available.

Set in 1942, the movie stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, a disease-ridden and poor built American wanting to serve his country. Steve attempts to enroll the army many times, under different names and different hometowns, and gets refused every single time. On the eve of his best friend reporting for duty, Steve is overheard by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) and is taken to a special training program. There, he proves to be the best candidate for the secret project the government is preparing, not because of his physical built but because of his great heart. The project turns out to be a set of injections with a serum that will transform Steve into a superhuman.

At the same time, Johann Schmidt, a Nazi officer, invades a town in Norway and steals an artifact with untold powers that he starts harnessing in building weapons. And soon enough, it’s up to Steve Rogers, who becomes known as Captain America, to stop Johann Schmidt.

Captain America is nothing groundbreaking. But it has heart. It’s rare to see a superhero movie where the main protagonist is unaware of his own power. The vulnerabilities of Steve Rogers’ weaker self are transmitted to his stronger self. And that is refreshing to see on screen: a superhuman who is, at the end of the day, human and weak and vulnerable.

Moreover, there’s an artistic tint to Captain America that you cannot help but notice. The movie feels like it was produced with old-fashioned¬†craftsmanship: the movie cinematography feels associated with the era in which the events take place. After all, the plot is a retrospective view, similarly to X-Men: First Class.

The performances in the movie are nothing over the top but they do not underwhelm. And after all, a movie featuring both Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones cannot be that bad – no matter how hard it tries. And no, Captain America does not try to be bad.

The plot might be color-by-number, especially with the overdose of superhero movies that Hollywood keeps throwing at us, but unlike other superhero movies, this one is charming. Sure, it doesn’t come close to greatness like The Dark Knight but it holds its own and manages to entertain you at the same time. The action sequences are nothing extraordinary but they are very well done and complement the plot without overdoing it, like superhero movies tend to do.

At the end of the day, Captain America is a breath of fresh air and an enjoyable cinematic experience that will entertain you for the duration of the movie, serving as a good prequel to next year’s The Avengers. You will love the innocence and the genuine characters it portrays. At the beginning of the movie, and part of why Dr. Abraham Erskine takes on Steve for his project, he asks Steve: “do you want to kill Nazis?” to which Steve replies: “I don’t want to kill anyone. I just don’t like bullies.” And that’s precisely where this movie differs from other superhero flicks: the ultimate message it attempts to convey. The 3D in it, however, is mostly useless.

Sophie’s Choice – Movie Review

I have been intrigued by this movie ever since I read a newspaper article about how great Meryl Streep was in it. The fact that it was also referenced many times on The Big Bang Theory doesn’t hurt either and I recently got the opportunity to watch it.

Sophie’s Choice tells the story of Sophie (Meryl Streep), a Polish Catholic and a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. As part of her new life in the United States, Sophie falls in love with Nathan (Kevin Kline), an American Jew. The relationship is abusive at times and great at other times, but through the good and the bad, Sophie sees Nathan as her reason to live. The movie is told via a narrative by the older self of the character Stingo, a writer who decides to take up residence in the same house where Sophie and Nathan live. Soon enough, Stingo befriends the couple and starts to fall for Sophie as she starts telling him her life in flashbacks.

Sophie’s flashbacks are the most interesting part of the movie. They reveal the intricate details that have made Sophie who she is in the movie’s present time. They reveal her darkest secrets, the truths she chose to keep hidden, and most importantly, the gut-wrenching choice she was forced to make, one that will shake you to your core.

To say Meryl Streep was great in it would be an understatement. Meryl Streep is an acting Goddess. There isn’t any role that she doesn’t nail to a point where further nailing cannot take place anymore. She works with the Polish accent perfectly and even throws in some German dialogue there for good measure. When Sophie gazes into the distance, looking at her past, the gaze goes right through your soul.

The movie, however, I felt was overstretched. It runs for over 150 minutes and sometimes drags on. I thought the focus on the relationship with Nathan became borderline obsessive sometimes. The flashbacks, which are the best part in my opinion, are interspersed throughout the movie and sometimes feel underdeveloped. I definitely wanted to see more of them. Moreover, you could easily consider the movie as a vehicle for Meryl Streep to shine. The other actors in it are simply accessories for her character’s weaknesses and strengths to get across.

Overall, Sophie’s Choice is a movie that solidifies what most of us already have in our head, that Meryl Streep is, simply, the best.