Sameen Amer

Sameen Amer

The author is a Lahore-based freelance writer and critic. She tweets as @Sameen (twitter.com/Sameen)

Silly, zany and utterly delightful, Paddington 2 is a masterclass of children films

It has been over half a century – 61 years to be precise – since Michael Bond found a lone teddy bear on a shelf in a store near Paddington Station on Christmas Eve. The lovable stuffed toy went on to inspire one of the most celebrated children’s book series of all time (starting with a volume in 1958 and ending in 2017 with the author’s death). His stories have now led to a delightful film series that proves Paddington’s adventures remain as relevant as ever. The latest big screen instalment in the series, Paddington 2 – the sequel to ...

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Despite its great cast, The Greatest Showman failed to put on a show

Every once in a while, a project comes along that, on the face of it, has several elements that suggest the final piece will be stellar. However, it ultimately ends up failing to turn its promising individual components into an impressive whole. The Greatest Showman will go down in history as one such film. Based on an intriguing real life story, starring a terrific leading man, and featuring the musical work of award-winning songwriters, the movie theoretically seems like it would be an entertaining home run. But what we find instead is a shallow, hollow musical that ignores the nuances of ...

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Can Disney live up to its own fantasy standards with ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’?

Over the decades, Disney has mastered the art of recycling popular stories and fairy tales and turning them into either animated or live-action cinematic adventures that charm audiences while also dominating the box office. After all, some of their highest grossing ventures, such as Frozen (2013) and Beauty and the Beast (2017), have been inspired in a similar fashion from existing works. Their latest foray into the fantasy adaptation is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a live-action reimagining of a Christmas classic. Directed by Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström, the movie is based on both, ETA Hoffmann’s story The ...

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We tried to hate ‘Mamma Mia!’ but ended up singing and dancing to its tune – Can the same be expected from ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’?

Meryl Streep – widely regarded as one of the best actresses in the world – has starred in some terrific films. And, presumably to balance things out, she has also starred in Mamma Mia!, a shoddy jukebox musical that was basically little more than an attempt to cash in on the nostalgic draw of the popular 70s Swedish band ABBA. Based on the stage musical of the same name, the 2008 movie had a flimsy storyline, uneven direction, and a cast that couldn’t even carry a tune, and yet it brought us so much campy, nonsensical joy that despite its many ...

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Pixar reclaims its place atop the animation throne with its powerful and emotional ‘Coco’

A string of wonderfully creative and thoroughly entertaining films in the ‘00s helped establish Pixar as an animation powerhouse that was creating some of the finest family-friendly animated movies of the decade. But the studio was unable to maintain its momentum as it developed a disappointing case of sequels. Instead of coming up with interesting new releases, the Disney subsidiary chose to build its franchises by revisiting its most popular ideas. This resulted in the making of films that admittedly weren’t bad by any measure but simply lacked the imagination and spark that had made the studio’s best work so ...

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Can the biopic ‘The Mercy’ do justice to Donald Crowhurst’s intriguing story of travelling around the world in a boat?

In October 1968, amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst set out to compete in a non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Eight months later, the fascinatingly shocking details of his journey would come to light and end up causing a public sensation. Now, nearly half a century later, his story – just as intriguing today as it was almost 50 years ago – is being brought to the big screen in the upcoming British film The Mercy. The official trailer for the movie shares a few scenes from this drama while shedding light on its overall narrative. Colin Firth portrays the film’s protagonist, a struggling ...

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Did Disney just ruin our childhood with its adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time?

If you read Madeleine L’Engle’s fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time as a child (or even as an adult for that matter), then chances are that your mind’s eye probably didn’t conjure up an image of Oprah Winfrey in a blonde wig whenever the character of Mrs Which appeared in the story.  And if you were to come up with a fantasy casting for a movie adaptation of the 1962 classic, then once again, blonde Winfrey probably wouldn’t have been the first person you pictured in that role. Photo: IMDb But that somehow is exactly what we’re getting in the ...

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After Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie brings her charm and magnetism in the darkly comical biopic, I,Tonya

Directed by Craig Gillespie, the biographical sports comedy is based on the real life of Tonya Harding (played by Margot Robbie), who rose to infamy because of her involvement in the attack on her fellow skater. Photo: Screenshot Sports rivalries can add excitement to games by raising the stakes and making the experience more intense and thrilling for both the participants and viewers. But there is also a dark side to such rivalries, especially when they get out of control, turn ugly and overzealous fans or over-competitive athletes take things to dangerous levels. This is exactly what ...

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard would have been a clichéd action movie if it weren’t for Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson

Even when the script they have to work with isn’t quite exceptional, talented actors still have the ability to elevate the mediocre material they’re provided and turn it into an entertaining cinematic experience for the audience. That is exactly what Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson have done with The Hitman’s Bodyguard, an otherwise middling action comedy that benefits from the chemistry and charisma of its leads. The actors portray two bitter rivals who must set aside their differences and work together to evade countless armed baddies on a journey across Europe. Reynolds appears in the role of Michael Bryce, a ...

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Beatriz at Dinner: An impactful clash between race, social class and ideals

It’s a clash of personalities and perspectives as two very different people end up at the same gathering in Beatriz at dinner. The movie is from an odd but touching drama genre with an impressive cast and a terrific performance by its lead actress. The protagonist is Beatriz (Salma Hayek), a massage therapist and spiritual healer who works mainly with cancer patients at an alternative clinic. One of her private clients is the wealthy Kathy (Connie Britton), the mother of a Hodgkin’s survivor, Tara, who Beatriz helped during her cancer treatment and recovery.   After Beatriz is done with her massage session at Kathy’s posh residence, ...

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