Murder Mystery: an unexceptional, unmemorable summer movie

After starring together in Just Go With It, Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston have reunited for another comedy outing. But instead of taking the big screen route, this time around they have chosen to bring their adventure to the smallest of small screens. Available on a smartphone, or laptop if you so prefer, near you is the duo’s latest offering, Murder Mystery, the tale of a getaway gone awry. Created in the image of the many mystery movies which have come before it, only with a more comedic slant, this Netflix film focuses on a couple that goes to Europe on ...

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Artemis is one giant leap in the wrong direction for Andy Weir

The massive success of a debut project may propel its creator to global stardom, but it can also have some side effects. Operating under the shadow of an acclaimed first effort while struggling to meet its standards thenceforth can have its downsides, an idea that is conveniently illustrated by the phenomenon of the sophomore slump. Artemis appears to be Andy Weir’s sophomore slump. The American writer’s first novel, The Martian – the story of an astronaut stranded alone on Mars – was one of the most exciting, interesting and compelling science fiction adventures of recent years. Unfortunately, exciting, interesting and compelling are three of ...

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Aladdin: all spectacle and no heart

Disney has been busy churning out live-action remakes of its animated classics, and these revisits have been earning tonnes of money despite the fact that they invariably fail to elevate the original material in any significant way. The studio’s latest remake is Aladdin, a live-action adaptation of the beloved 1992 animated film of the same name. And does it exceed or even match the joy of the original? No. No, it does not. The storyline is all too familiar. With his pet monkey and partner in crime, Abu, by his side, Aladdin (Mena Massoud), a street urchin and petty thief, meets and ...

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Godzilla: King of Monsters is not great but delivers what it promised: monster action

Cinematic universes are all the rage these days, and staying true to this enduring trend of our times, Legendary Pictures has brought two of America’s most well-known movie monsters, King Kong and Godzilla, under one roof in what they call the MonsterVerse. Now most cinematic universes tend to get stale with the progression of each inter-connected film due to the heavy-handed interference of studios themselves, who care too much about uniformity, marketing and selling the film like a product. The MonsterVerse – which till now has given us Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and now Godzilla: King of ...

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What/If: Defying the norms of conventional television

It is no secret that modern day television has become more mainstream than it is creative. Unappealing stories, poor writing and constant recycling of antiquated ideas for TV have pushed away viewers who seek something unique and out of the blue for their entertainment. This is where the new Netflix neo-noir thriller What/If comes in, for it defies the norms of conventional television. Based on what I believe to be the concept of opportunity cost – something to lose, something to gain – the premise centres on the notion of power used by the privileged as an effective tool to manipulate the disadvantaged. Academy-award ...

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Chhalawa: Don’t waste your eidi or your time

What happens when you announce a film with the leading lady of the Pakistani film industry, who has also recently been honoured with a Tamgha-e-Imtiaz? Expectations are bound to skyrocket. With a comparatively newer cast alongside box office superstar Mehwish Hayat, Wajahat Rauf’s latest film Chhalawa released yesterday. Azfar Rehman will be seen playing a leading role for the first time here; he was last seen on the silver screen alongside Hayat in Punjab Nahi Jaungi in an extended cameo. Will Rehman be able to make it big with Chhalawa? Can Hayat carry an entire movie on her shoulders? Let’s find ...

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A simple yet grand Eid feast: rice-stuffed chicken and finger-licking Znoud el Sit

Eidul Fitr is almost upon us. Keeping in line with tradition, it is time to iron those shalwar kameez and new lawn outfits. Time to buy colourful bangles, matching jewellery and prepare for the arrival of guests. But those are not the only traditions. Another very important tradition is the Eid feast. This year I decided to ditch the usual chicken karhai/qorma and sawaiyan (gasps), and try something different. Something that is simple to make, yet looks grand on the table. So let’s get to it! Rice Stuffed Chicken My inspiration for the main course was a Middle Eastern delicacy of stuffed lamb ...

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Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini: A father’s lament of the barbarity we call human beings

“My dear Marwan, I look at your profile, In the glow of this three-quarter moon, my boy, Your eyelashes like calligraphy, Closed in guileless sleep. I said to you, ‘Hold my hand. Nothing bad will happen’.” These are a few verses from the context of Sea Prayer, the fourth book by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is a well-known author of three books, including the international bestseller The Kite Runner, and is the Goodwill Ambassador to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Sea Prayer is a 40-page book, or rather, a free verse poem beautifully complemented by Dan Williams’ illustrations. It can best be described as a ...

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Made in Heaven shows modern India a mirror, and it’s beautiful, warts and all

The stories a society tells reveal a lot about its character, its maturity, and its willingness to look itself square in the eye and embrace the entirety of not just its beauty, but also its abundant blemishes. Indian cinema has been a window to contemporary India for a while now. It has produced some quality work but has also contributed a lot of pure mindless drivel. It has entertained, educated, and exasperated audiences the world over, but through it all, it has carved a place for itself, much like the country it represents. Traditionally, Indian content creators have been hampered by ...

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Game of Thrones: From great and glorious to passable and forgettable

Winter has come and gone for the first time since 2011, as an epic saga comes to a close and the band plays the outro to the fervent song of Ice and Fire one last time.  Game of Thrones is not just another TV show but a global phenomenon, and with millions of people watching throughout the world, expectations from the final season kept skyrocketing. Now that the finale has finally aired, we can discuss whether or not it was able to meet those expectations. The following are the highs and lows of the GoT’s final season: **spoilers alert** The highs: 1. Jon’s ...

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