A List Of Major World Leaders That Passed While Lebanon Has Nabih Berri

nabih-berri

With the United States getting Trump *shivers* as their new president, and regardless of what one would think of the new administration (if you need help, it sucks), transition of power and changing politicians is a sign of a healthy democracy (at least until the new face of democracy cancels it out).

So to celebrate our version of democracy, I felt like putting the stagnation of the Lebanese political system in perspective with how the World Leaders have changed while Nabih Berri remained where he is.

USA:

5 presidents: George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump.

France:

4 presidents: François Mitterand, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande.

UK:

5 PMs: John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May.

Germany:

3 Chancellors: Helmut Kohl, Gerhard Shröder, Angela Merkel.

Italy:

11 PMs: Giulio Andreotti, Giuliano Amato (2 non-consecutive terms), Carlo Ciampi, Silvio Berlusconi (3 non-consecutive terms, Lamberto Dini, Romano Prodi (2 non-consecutive terms), Massivo D’Alema, Mario Monti, Enrico Letta, Matteo Renzi, Paolo Gentiloni.

Canada:

6 PMs: Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau.

Australia:

6 PMs: Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd (2 non-consecutive terms), Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Malcom Turbull.

Russia:

3 presidents: Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin (2 non-consecutive terms so far), Dmitry Medvedev.

And for fun – Lebanon:

4 presidents: Elias Hrawi, Emile Lahoud, Michel Sleiman, Michel Aoun.

8 PMs: Omar Karami (2 non-consecutive terms), Rafic Hariri (2 non-consecutive terms), Selim Hoss, Rachid Solh, Najib Miqati (2 non consecutive terms), Fouad Sanioura, Saad Hariri (2 non-consecutive terms), Tammam Salam.

I’m just saying.

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Anna Karenina [2012] – Movie Review

Anna Karenina Joe Wright 2012 movie poster

Joe Wright, the director who gave us “Atonement” and “Pride and Prejudice” tries his hand at one of Leo Tolstoy’s most popular novels and does so by going bold via a new cinematic vision that’s never be done before.

Anna Karenina, the story we all know of the woman who after being tormented by an uncaring husband seeks companionship in a much younger suitor, is given a fresh approach in Joe Wright’s version. The movie has a theatrical aspect that is most definitely quirky. If you are able to get past the weirdness of it, Anna Karenina will prove to be a highly enjoyable movie. If not, then it’s two dreary hours for you.

Keira Knightley gives a great performance as Anna and is definitely helped by the setting the director envisioned for the movie. She brings a ton of sensuality and sexuality to the table, as she has previously done with similar period pieces. Her best scenes, however, are as much a product of her own acting chops as they are of the art direction, camera angles and whole vision. Newcomer Aaron Taylor-Johnson, whom you’ve probably seen before in Kick-Ass and Nowhere Boy, gives a terrific performance as Count Vronsky, Anna’s younger lover. His performance is definitely years older than his young age of 22 and he delivers the right amount of emotion and subtlety that the character requires. Jude Law is almost unrecognizable as Anna’s husband Alexei Karenin. His role, however, borders on the irrelevant at times due to his grossly underdeveloped characters and that’s one of the major flaws in this adaptation.

Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, while visually enchanting, is flawed when it comes to character development. If you haven’t read the book, Anna’s movie character comes off as a bored housewife whose husband couldn’t satisfy her anymore while, in fact, it was Anna’s husband who drove her to cheat on him but constantly shutting her out. This is not portrayed in the movie. Alexei Karenin is shown as a near saint who can’t understand why his wife would cheat on him and who’s ready to forgive her despite all odds so that by the time the end credits roll, your sympathy towards Anna, the movie’s main protagonist, is next to none.

This adaptation of Anna Karenina is fresh and energetic, risky and ambitious but it’s more about image than it is about content. What Joe Wright did was infuse some sense of modernity into this nineteenth century tale which might get it to connect with a younger demographic that’s not all too willing to read the keystone-sized book. Anna Karenina is one of the most visually inventive movies of the year and despite that taking out some substance, I was still taken away by the world portrayed on screen. However, all in all, the movie is nothing short polarizing, starting with Wright’s new take on the art direction to the way the screenplay was written, culminating in the finished product as a whole. I personally really liked it – but I can see why others would absolutely hate it. Anna Karenina is a movie that seduces you but ultimately fails to break your heart as the ice-cold train wheels break hers.

8/10

The Meteorite Shower over Lebanon – a Russian Missile Launch?

New information is surfacing regarding yesterday’s meteor shower over Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Israel/Palestine and Armenia.

It seems as if the whole thing was not mother nature’s doing. Instead, it was mother Russia flexing its military muscles.

This video shot in Syria shows the “meteorite” as following a spiral trajectory, which is not possible for a meteorite.

The Voice of Russia reported that the country’s Missile Forces conducted a test from the Kapustin Yar firing range in southern Russia on Thursday. Such a launch could theoretically be seen from areas of the Middle East and the Caucasus. While they said the missile hit its target, Israeli officials are saying the missile spun out of control.

It could just be the Israelis panicking as usual though.

Similar spiral-trajectory objects were seen in 2009 over Norway but they turned out to be a failed missile launch.

Sorry to disappoint you my fellow Lebanese but the Mariam Nour jokes have just become unfounded – or she could be a Russian spy. Let the conspiracies begin.

X-Men: First Class – Movie Review

Ever since the first X-Men movie was released more than a decade ago, I was fascinated by the saga and the upcoming sequels did not deter me from still liking it.

X-Men: First Class is both literally and figuratively a return to basics. It is both the prologue to all X-Men movies that were released before it and it is also a return to form of a series that kinda lost its way with trying to build too much history and subplot.

Erik Lehnsherr is a teenage boy, imprisoned in German Nazi concentration camps. When Dr. Schmidt sees him move a metal gate as his parents are taken away from him, he summons Erik and asks him to move a metal coin. Erik fails, with devastating consequences that lead to great anger, launching Erik’s powers of controlling metal and killing two guards on the spot.

Fast forward twenty years and Erik (Michael Fassbender) is on a mission to find Dr. Schmidt and kill him in revenge. On the other hand, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is seeking a PhD in Genetics with his research about the upcoming mutations in the human species. Charles, along with shape-shifter Raven (later known as Mystique and played by the awesome Jennifer Lawrence *insert fanboy hearts*) are trying to find other people of their kind and help them accept their condition. That’s when they are recruited by the CIA in order to prevent a nuclear war between the US and Russia, a war that is spearheaded by the present form of Dr. Schmidt, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant whose power is deadly and his group of mutants who will do their best to bring destruction.

James McAvoy, as young Dr. Charles Xavier, is in a role he was born to play. I couldn’t imagine a better actor in this role simply because McAvoy embodies the serenity that Xavier has in the previous movies, set in the future compared to this one, perfectly. He is wise, calm and intelligent, exactly as the future Dr. X is.

On the other hand, Fassbender is as great in portraying Erik, later known as Magneto. He sets the tone for the character we all know later on amazingly well: the many layers that shape this man and his beliefs. And he does so perfectly.

Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays a younger Mystique, is absolutely stunning both literally and figuratively in that portrayal. Mystique (or as she is known in this movie: Raven) controls her powers really well. But her weakness is acceptance. She hates her blue-scaled look and seeks out a much more “acceptable” form as a human. Her path in the movie is first and foremost one towards self-acceptance, with which she will also help Henry McCoy (later known as Beast) to accept his mutation as well.

X-Men: First Class is fueled by the directing chops of Matthew Vaughn, whose latest offering was Kick Ass, a very interesting movie if you haven’t seen it. And you need to give lots of props to this director for taking what was, according to many (I still enjoyed the movies), a sagging franchise and breathed new life into it by reinvigorating its past and reminding everyone how it all started.

Why is it that Dr. Xavier is paralyzed? How did Magneto get that weird helmet he wears to prevent Dr. X from accessing his mind? How did the term X-Men originate? How did both sides of the battle (call them good and evil) originate? X-Men: First Class answers all these questions and more. It is a movie that doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. X-Men has always been a saga about the fine line between good and evil and how that line gets blurred often. This one is no different. You feel that both sides of the equation have things going for them. It doesn’t show one side in a good light and the other in a bad light. Both have strong and true convictions. You get to choose the side you want to be on.

2011 is shaping up to be a great movie for superhero movies. After the highly entertaining Thor (my review), X-Men: First Class steps it up. And with more superhero movies to come, it will take a mighty effort for them to overtake the caliber that this movie presents. Go watch it now. You will be absorbed for over two hours. Your move, Captain America.

The Last Station – Movie Review

The Last Station is a  movie about redemption. It’s a movie that tells the story of the basic human need for forgiveness and continuity and love. Set in the early 20th century Russia, this movie is centered around the last days of Leo Tolstoy, famous writer of Anna Karenina and War and Peace. Tolstoy had founded the Tolstoyan movement. However, his wife, the countess Sofya, does not agree with those views, especially regarding the relinquishment of private property, and is more worried about sustainability than about her husband’s movement.
The Last Station is the story of the struggle of everyone against the countess, as they try to bring her down to get her husband’s movement to triumph. And in the center of that story is love, be it the love that existed for over forty eight years in the marriage of Tolstoy and the countess or the newly developing love between Valentin (James McAvoy), the new secretary, and Marsha, a woman who lives in a Tolstoyan colony. And how can love survive in a movement that calls to love everyone equally, where loving someone else preferentially is breaking the rules – the rules that even Tolstoy himself cannot but break.

Nominated for several academy awards, especially in the acting department, this movie is simply excellent. Helen Mirren, in her role as the countess, delivers a powerhouse performance as the woman trying to ensure that her way of life remains the same throughout everything. She portrays the hurt of a woman who feels her husband doesn’t love her anymore and embodies the frustration of not being able to communicate with him like before, which she blames on those her husband had befriended after starting the movement.
The actor who plays Tolstoy, Christopher Plummer, delivers a rich and multilayered performance of the man lost between the principles he set for himself and others and his basic need as a human being: love for his wife and family. The Last Station is the battle of the protective wife and a dominant advisor, all going in front of Valentin, another great performance by James McAvoy, a man whose basic needs have been clouded over the years by his sense of belonging to  the Tolestoyan movement.

The beauty of The Last Station is that it shows even the greats, like Tolestoy, are basically human after all. They have their flaws and needs and, regardless of how sophisticated they may be, at the end, they are as simple as we all are. A truly magnificent conclusion, indeed.