Sameen Amer

Sameen Amer

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

Are Disney and Tim Burton about to ruin our childhoods with Dumbo 2.0?

The trailer for the upcoming Dumbo makes me rue the day Disney figured out they could make a killing simply by turning their animated classics into live-action adventures. It’s a shrewd strategy – recycling tales that have already proven to be popular, cashing in on the nostalgia they invoke, and reselling the same product all over again in new packaging. It’s also a strategy that has generally brought in a lot of dough for the House of Mouse, so obviously the studio has doubled down on the idea and decided to reimagine everything they can possibly think of (looking at ...

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The Grinch: A memorable story’s unmemorable (and uninspired) adaptation

Illumination Entertainment clearly has a thing for anti-heroes. The animation studio has practically established itself on the popularity of Gru and the minions, making billions by telling tales of the lovable super villain and his endearing helpers. And now, their love affair with sympathetic villains continues in The Grinch, yet another adaptation of Dr Seuss’s well-known Christmas classic. Based on the 1957 book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by the ever-popular children’s author, the movie retells a story that has already made its way to the screen twice before – in the form of a (beloved) 1966 animated television holiday special and a ...

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Will ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ be the ultimate ‘anti rom-com’ to end all romantic-comedies?

Imagine being stuck in a universe made up entirely of romantic comedy stereotypes. And to make things even worse, imagine if that universe was rated PG-13!  That’s the living hell Rebel Wilson’s character Natalie finds herself in as she wades through rom-com clichés in Isn’t It Romantic, a meta romantic comedy that’s on a mission to lampoon its own genre. It’s a premise somewhat akin to last year’s Amy Schumer starrer damp squib I Feel Pretty – a woman suffers a head injury, gets knocked out and wakes up in an alternate version of reality. But unlike the 2018 comedy, the ...

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Bohemian Rhapsody is a disgrace to Queen’s genius and to Freddie’s legacy

As the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody commences, a young Freddie Mercury (portrayed by Rami Malek) approaches the members of Smile – a local band he admires and whom he has just seen performing at a club – and shows interest in joining the group. Too bad, he’s told; he’s five minutes too late. But their lead singer just quit so the band is effectively over unless they can find a new vocalist. Well, they’re in luck! Freddie belts a few lines from one of their songs and proves that he’d make a terrific new frontman, his overbite notwithstanding. Oh and just before ...

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If Neil Armstrong was your childhood hero, then ‘First Man’ is not the movie for you

Of the many, many elements that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) needed to get right to ensure the success of Apollo 11, perhaps one of the most crucial was the selection of the mission’s crew, particularly its commander. As it turned out, the American space agency couldn’t have possibly made a better choice than Neil Armstrong. Armstrong was a remarkable man, ideal for the space program in every aspect, from his qualifications and experience to his temperament. His courage and composure before and during the lunar landing as well as his modesty thereafter has made him one of ...

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With an unrecognisable Bale as Dick Cheney and a gripping story, Vice is headed straight for the Oscars

You aren’t likely to recognise Christian Bale in the trailer for Vice, an upcoming biographical comedy drama about former US Vice President Dick Cheney. You’d even be forgiven for thinking that was Jeff Daniels or Chevy Chase in the titular role instead; it certainly looks more like either of them than it does the iconic Bale. The chameleonic actor is simply unrecognisable here. His extreme makeover, the latest in a string of incredible physical transformations, sees him take on the role of the controversial politician who served as George W Bush’s second-in-command for eight years. Vice charts Cheney’s political rise and invites ...

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A Simple Favour: Not the most riveting mystery but still captivating enough

Ever since David Fincher’s Gone Girl captivated viewers with its dark and twisted web, a number of similar big and small screen projects have tried to replicate its success, but have invariably paled in comparison to the 2014 thriller. The latest in line is A Simple Favour, a new mystery thriller built around flawed, complicated women, and is yet another film that will find it hard to avoid comparisons to its more impressive predecessor. Based on Darcey Bell’s 2017 novel of the same name, the movie follows the story of a vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious best friend. Stephanie (portrayed ...

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Mary Poppins Returns may not surpass the classic, but it certainly stays true to its spirit

Several years ago, in the movie Saving Mr Banks, Walt Disney Pictures told us in considerable detail how much writer PL Travers disapproved of her work being turned into films. Then, a few years later, Disney decided to go ahead and do just that anyway. Because why let a well-respected author rest in peace, when you can have her rolling in her grave instead? Everyone other than the spirit of Ms Travers, however, is likely to be enthusiastic about the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns, a bright and sunny sequel to the beloved 1964 classic. Well, beloved by everyone except for the lady ...

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First Man: Watching Ryan Gosling take a giant leap for mankind will be one rewarding cinematic experience

The Apollo 11 moon landing remains one of the most iconic milestones in human history, while Neil Armstrong remains one of the world’s most celebrated heroes of the Space Age. The remarkable story of the first lunar landing and the first man to walk on the moon is the subject of Damien Chazelle’s latest project First Man; a look at the events and circumstances surrounding the historic mission and the man at its centre. Set to be released next month, the film is based on James R Hansen’s terrific biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A Armstrong. The movie’s trailer ...

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Tag: How far are you willing to go for friendship?

For almost two and a half decades, a group of childhood friends have been playing an amusingly absurd game of ‘tag’, an activity that started in school and has been carried over into adulthood as an offbeat way for the cohorts to stay in touch. For one month every year, the players go through ridiculous lengths to tag each other; the last person tagged is “it” till the next year. Their story came to light through a 2013 piece in Wall Street Journal. Inspired by the real-life shenanigans of the aforementioned group, Tag tells the tale of six grown-ups who have turned a ...

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