What We Are Doing Today: Story and Toy

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Updated 10 October 2020
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What We Are Doing Today: Story and Toy

  • The program’s online shop provides simple step-by-step online courses for mothers and caregivers on authentic play-based learning, which is the key to raising problem solvers, creators, and future leaders

Nature is perfectly designed for our children: It stimulates their senses and helps them develop all the skills they need in order to grow. Story and Toy is a Saudi play-based learning program inspired by children and nature and founded by Maram Al-Ameel.
The program offers an ideal way for mothers of preschoolers aged 3-6 to provide a simple yet powerful playing experience for their children.
Story and Toy offers many science experiments for kids to explore the nature of their environment. Problem-solving exercises, like how to set up a tent or stack rocks, and experiments like how to make mud thick or runny help keep kids active while also honing their thinking skills.
The program’s online shop provides simple step-by-step online courses for mothers and caregivers on authentic play-based learning, which is the key to raising problem solvers, creators, and future leaders.
Creative drama — a complete preschool educational system that encourages kids’ curiosity through role-playing — is another program offered by Story and Toy. Different scenarios help children build their vocabulary in new subjects. You can reach them through https://storyandtoy.com


Sofia Boutella unveils poster for ‘The Killer’s Game’

Updated 24 July 2024
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Sofia Boutella unveils poster for ‘The Killer’s Game’

  • Boutella plays the role of the protagonist’s love interest
  • Cast includes Dave Bautista, Terry Crews, Ben Kingsley

DUBAI: French Algerian actress Sofia Boutella took to social media recently to share the poster for her latest film “The Killer’s Game,” and revealed that it would hit theaters on Sept. 13.

Set against a bold red background, the poster features her alongside the ensemble cast, including Dave Bautista, Terry Crews, Scott Adkins, Marko Zaror, Pom Klementieff and Ben Kingsley.

Bautista stands at the center of the image, surrounded by his co-stars, each holding various weapons including knives, swords and axes. The tagline “Winning is all in the execution” appears at the bottom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Directed by JJ Perry and based on the novel by Jay R. Bonansinga, the screenplay was written by Rand Ravich and James Coyne.

Diagnosed with a terminal illness, hit man Joe Flood (Bautista) decides to take a hit out on himself. However — and here is where the comedy kicks in — the hospital made a mistake and Flood is not dying at all. And now he has to escape a steady stream of hit men who will not be called off.

Boutella plays the role of the protagonist’s love interest, who gets caught up in the mayhem.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Boutella this week also shared the trailer of the director’s cut of her film “Rebel Moon,” directed by Zack Snyder.

Both “Rebel Moon – Chapter One: Chalice of Blood” and “Rebel Moon – Chapter Two: Curse of Forgiveness” will be released on Netflix on Aug. 2, Boutella wrote on Instagram.

The cuts are the extended and more intense versions of the initial releases. The new drops will include entirely new scenes, alternate takes, and a different sequence of events.

Boutella plays the role of Kora, a mysterious stranger living on a peaceful moon settlement threatened by the armies of the tyrannical Regent Balisarius. Kora, a former soldier of the Imperium, becomes the settlement’s best hope for survival.

She is tasked with finding and assembling a group of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants, and orphans of war — to make a stand against the oppressive forces of the Motherworld.

Her journey delves into themes of redemption and revenge as she leads this diverse group to defend their home.


REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

Updated 24 July 2024
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REVIEW: Book censor falls victim to the malady of imagination in Kuwaiti novel

JEDDAH: Getting lost in a good story is an occupational hazard and a crime in “The Book Censor’s Library,” a dystopian political satire with elements of magic realism. The story follows an unnamed narrator whose life unravels after he reluctantly begins working for an all-powerful government.

With a spellbinding and smooth translation from Arabic by Ranya Abdelrahman and Sawad Hussain, Kuwaiti literary icon Bouthayna Al-Essa’s novel warns against the loss of originality and personal freedoms in its depiction of the transformation of a man into a reader and his inevitable fall down the rabbit hole of books and imagination.

Set in the near future “in a place that would be pointless to name, since it resembles every other place,” the novel follows the book censor in the New World as he combs through manuscripts, looking for any offending word or idea that would render a book unfit to publish.He is a “guardian of surfaces,” and his task is to ensure that books that carry depth and ideas should be identified and removed from the shelves because “one curious person who picked up a volume and read a few lines could poison the entire society.”

In a swift turn of events, the protagonist himself is swept away by classics like “Zorba the Greek,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “1984,” his dreams and waking hours engulfed in the siren song of good storytelling.

As the world around him slowly regains color, he falls into the throes of an existential crisis, torn between doing his duty as a simple cog in the machine and the secret society of “Cancers” attempting to restore books to their former glory and preserve the collective memory of humanity.

Drawing from the power of timeless stories, El-Essa’s Orwellian tale delves into the terrifying heart of darkness to remind us that “cancer cells are the only ones that thrive in a dying body.”


Hail’s ancient crafts breathe new life into Saudi cultural festival

Updated 21 July 2024
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Hail’s ancient crafts breathe new life into Saudi cultural festival

  • Abdullah Al-Khazzam highlighted the distinctive features of the Najdi door, which typically incorporates three crossbars, in contrast with the traditional Hail door’s four-crossbar design

RIYADH: The third Beit Hail heritage festival, themed “Your Home Away from Home,” is a vibrant display of Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage, with traditional craftsmanship taking center stage.

At the heart of the festival is the “Hail Wooden Door Making and Plaster Engraving” exhibit, which has drawn crowds to the Aja Park Entertainment Center where the techniques and tools used in crafting intricate designs are on show.

Abdullah Al-Khazzam’s specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties. (SPA)

Abdullah Al-Khazzam, a Hail native and registered artisan with the Saudi National Handicrafts Program “Bari,” began his journey into the world of intricate woodworking with a childhood fascination for mud construction, which evolved into a passionate pursuit of mastering the art of wooden door-making and engraving, Saudi Press Agency recently reported.

At the festival, Al-Khazzam showed his expertise, demonstrating the nuanced differences between regional door styles. His specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties.

Abdullah Al-Khazzam’s specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties. (SPA)

He highlighted the distinctive features of the Najdi door, which typically incorporates three crossbars, in contrast with the traditional Hail door’s four-crossbar design.

Festivalgoers seemed captivated by Al-Khazzam’s craftsmanship, marveling at the intricacy of his work, SPA reported.

Abdullah Al-Khazzam’s specialty lies in crafting the distinctive old Hail house door, traditionally made from tamarisk wood and other local timber varieties. (SPA)

Beyond door-making, the booth displays a range of related crafts. Islamic plaster engravings, integral to Najdi architecture, adorn mock-ups of building entrances and the majlis (reception rooms).

Visitors were drawn to the elaborate engravings, patterns and motifs that offer a glimpse into the social fabric of bygone eras. The festival has reported a surge in demand for these traditional designs, with many visitors expressing interest in buying replica doors and decorative pieces for their homes.

Al-Khazzam’s repertoire extends to other traditional items, such as replicas of historical water-raising devices, an ornate camel saddle that was once a common sight in the region, and recreations of the decorative elements that once adorned traditional mud houses.

Some of these designs incorporate Qur’anic verses, proverbs, and ornamental patterns while others incorporate motifs based on local flora.

 

 


Review: ‘My Spy: The Eternal City’ is a Bautista-led letdown

Updated 20 July 2024
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Review: ‘My Spy: The Eternal City’ is a Bautista-led letdown

LONDON: Thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic, we never really got to find out what audiences made of 2020’s “My Spy,” in which CIA operative JJ (Dave Bautista) is forced to team up with precocious 9-year-old Sophie (Chloe Coleman) to take down an international arms cartel.

The movie’s cinematic release, and subsequent box office receipts, were curtailed by global lockdowns as the film went straight to streaming, and found an audience suddenly a lot more tolerant of decidedly average content.

Anna Faris as Nancy and Dave Bautista as JJ in ‘My Spy: The Eternal City.’ (Supplied)

You wonder if, had audiences been able to vote with their feet first time around, “My Spy: The Eternal City” might never have seen the light of day. For while this is ostensibly a comedy-action romp co-starring a teenager, it is also a weirdly violent, oddly graphic spy caper that does not seem too sure of what it is trying to be.

JJ and Chloe now live in suburban almost-harmony. He has taken a desk job so he can be at home more, while she rebels against his overbearing presence and constant demands she keeps up her spy training. When JJ offers to chaperone a school trip to Italy, he must balance being a cool stepdad with a rapidly unfolding plot to blow up the Vatican in which the pair become embroiled.

Returning for the sequel are Ken Jeong as JJ’s boss, and Kristen Schaal as his nerdy analyst Bobbi. But if you are hoping that continuity of casting means a coherent follow up to the 2020 original, you are in for a disappointment.

Chloe Coleman as Sophie and Dave Bautista as JJ on the set ‘My Spy: The Eternal City.’ (Supplied)

Director Pete Segal (also returning) starts off with the same familiar, comedic beats (and leans heavily on this franchise’s spiritual predecessors “Kindergarten Cop” and “The Pacifier”) but makes the baffling choice to turn up the violence.

The sequence with some attack budgerigars is a particular lowlight, and the bottom-drawer comedy with jokes about bodily functions and a fight involving a naked statue.

It is all a bit of a mess, which is a shame, because Bautista (so good with deadpan comedy in the Marvel movies) and Coleman manage to recreate some of the same chemistry that was one of the few good things about the original.

That film was not great, sure, but compared to this, it seems like a fondly remembered masterpiece.


Institut du Monde Arabe’s ‘Arabofuturs’ examines singularities of the Arab world 

Updated 20 July 2024
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Institut du Monde Arabe’s ‘Arabofuturs’ examines singularities of the Arab world 

  • We need to ‘stop seeing the Arab world as a block,’ says IMA curator 

PARIS: The latest contemporary art exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris — “Arabofuturs,” which runs until Oct. 27 — is, according to curator Élodie Bouffard, “built around the dynamic of the singularities expressed in the Arab world, and the singularity of each of the artists.” Those artists come from the Arab world and its diasporas, and include Saudi artists Ayman Zedani and Zahrah Alghamdi, Lebanese sculptor Souraya Haddad Credoz, Tunisian artist Aïcha Snoussi, and Moroccan artist Hicham Berrada. 

The show is divided into two parts: “Programmed Futures” and “Hybrid Futures.” In the first, Bouffard explains, the featured artists explore contemporary society, “capitalism, ultra-consumerism, the question of exile, the diaspora, and identities — often through a post-colonial approach.” 

The second part tackles imagined societies — the artists deploy aesthetic fictions that take visitors into organic worlds “that make us travel in time, and reflect on transhumanism, the future of the human, and the resilience of nature,” Bouffard says. 

Saudi artist Ayman Zedani's video installation at 'Arabofuturs.' (Supplied)

Both sections underline that the notion, and perception, of the future is personal, with each artist drawing on his or her personal experiences. 

The exhibition begins with a space dedicated to artwork from Gulf, and an introduction to the concept of Gulf futurism formulated by Qatari-American artist Sophia Al-Maria and Kuwaiti musician and conceptual artist Fatima Al-Qadiri in 2012 as part of a photo series and interview in Dazed magazine. It was, according to the IMA website, “a worried questioning of the accelerated hyper-modernization at work in the region.” 

“This article was a pivotal moment in Gulf futurism, having led the artists to become interested in the question of futures and science fiction,” explains Bouffard. 

Sophia Al-Maria et Fatima Al Qadiri's 'The Desert of the Unreal.' (Supplied)

Al-Maria’s “Black Friday” — a series of photographs and a video installation — questions the standardization of spaces and the loneliness that can stem from it. It is followed by Al-Ghamdi’s “Birth of a Place,” which was previously displayed at the Diriyah Contemporary Art Bienniale, and explores new architectures. 

“She's trying to create a new cosmogony — a new (example) of the skyline, the enhancement of heritage, and the future of metal and glass constructions, in environments where there’s a real material and architectural cultural,” notes Bouffard. 

The aim of this section is to present the different approaches to architecture, heritage, identity, and exile in the Gulf and North Africa.  

A still from Larissa Sansour's 'In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain.' (Supplied)

“Themes pertaining to the future of societies can be rooted in their past,” Bouffard says. “It is our job at the IMA to stop seeing the Arab world as a block. We wanted to show that there is not just one future. When we talk about the future, everyone thinks of video games and artificial intelligence, but futures unfold in all forms. We thought it would be interesting to reflect on artefacts, paintings, ceramics, and organic material.” 

Al-Ghamdi, for example, used leather, an organic material in “Worlds to Come,” while Berrada used metal to create hybrid masks combining insects, plants, and humans in “Les Hygres.” Elsewhere, Credoz worked with ceramics “to shape coloured magma and build post-apocalyptic organic worlds,” Bouffard says. 

A piece from Hicham Berrada's 'Les Hygres.' (Supplied)

Snoussi, meanwhile, “recreates manifestos that bear witness to past societies that have disappeared, leading to Arabic writing, but also to Amazigh, with a theme of symbolism that recreates bridges between the present and the future.” 

Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour contributes “In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain,” a video from 2015 featuring archaeological activists burying porcelain bearing a keffiyeh motif, an attempt to make future claims on this territory. 

“She highlights the politicization of archaeology in Israel and Palestine in this video, which has a particular resonance today,” Bouffard says.