‘Transatlantic’ on Netflix is a fascinating WWII drama

The show is now streaming on Netflix. (Netflix)
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Updated 25 May 2023

‘Transatlantic’ on Netflix is a fascinating WWII drama

CHENNAI: Anna Winger's frightening Word War II adventure “Transatlantic,” now on Netflix, was adapted from Julie Orringer's novel “The Flight Portfolio.” 

“Transatlantic” will grip viewers with its exciting narrative of how famous painters and writers — many of them Jewish and the others critics of Hitler — were moved from Marseille in unoccupied France under the Vichy regime to Portugal and the US.



Some of them trudged through treacherous paths on mountains to reach Spain.

Some were lucky to get visas to fly to the US. Literary journalist Varian Fry (Cory Michael Smith) and American heiress Mary Jayne Gold(Gillian Jacobs) were responsible for helping many flee France as the German forces closed in on Marseilles. 

The first few of the seven episodes — all around 50 minutes — are somewhat dull. It is only in the last couple of segments that the pace picks up and the series gets exhilarating.

The visually captivating “Transatlantic” opens in 1940 in the port city of Marseille at a time when the US had not joined the war. US Consul Graham Patterson is essayed by Carey Stoll as a heartless human being. 

Fry and Gold decide to take things in their own hands and form the Emergency Rescue Committee (later known as International Rescue Committee).

At first, Gold has enough resources arriving from her wealthy father back home in America, but he is not happy with his young daughter living in a hostile environment and cuts off the resources. 

Fry and Gold then spend their meagre money in accommodating refugees in Hotel Splendide and later Villa Air-Bel using false documents to get as many men and women out of France.

Among them are writer Walter Mehring (Jonas Nay), artist Max Ernst (Alexander Fehling) and philosopher Walter Benjamin (Moritz Bleibtreu). However, many things work against their mission, and in the final run in with the French police, there is tension and turmoil.  

An international cast speaking English, German and French give real pep to the limited series. With people shacked up on beaches while others sip coffee in cafes discussing racism and antisemitism, there is always something new to provoke thought in every episode. 

However, “Transatlantic” has one flaw — instead of focussing on Fry and Gold’s work, the series veers into covert love affairs. But even then, the underlying levity lifts “Transatlantic” to near glorious heights. 

Saudi star Fahad Albutairi on his new family comedy film

Updated 12 July 2024

Saudi star Fahad Albutairi on his new family comedy film

  • Albutairi plays workaholic dad in Maitha Alawadi’s Saudi-Emirati film ‘Al Eid Eiden’

DUBAI: Saudi actor, writer and comedian Fahad Albutairi cites two main reasons for taking on the role of beleaguered workaholic dad Rashid in the new family comedy movie “Al Eid Eiden,” which follows a young Saudi-Emirati couple and their three unruly children on vacation at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

“What attracted me to the character initially was the fact that Rashid was a father. And I became a father myself recently,” the 39-year-old tells Arab News. “Also, it’s not very common to see millennials being portrayed as parents in productions in the region, and specifically in the GCC.”

Albutairi ’s second reason involved the film’s all-Emirati female crew, including award-winning director Maitha Alawadi, producer Rawia Abdullah and screenwriter Sara Al-Sayegh.

“Sara has been a colleague and a friend for quite some time now. But this was her screenwriting debut. And, for me, I was really curious about the script,” he says. “The fact that it wasn't slapstick in any way, or a little too on the nose when it came to the comedy… It was very much situational. And the premise just got me hooked.

“I also met online with the director Maitha Alawadi and saw that she was a very collaborative person,” he continues. “So that got me really excited about the film.”

Fahad Albutairi and Meera Al-Midfa star as a married couple with three children in ‘Al Eid Eiden.’ (Supplied)

Emirati actress Meera Al-Midfa, making her feature-length debut, plays Rashid’s wife, while Abdulmajeed Fahad, Layal Fahad, and Abdulmohsen Al-Harbi feature as their energetic children: mischievous Ali, headstrong Mariam, and shy Mohammed.

“I immediately picked up on Meera’s tininess,” says Albutairi, laughing. “So that helped with a lot of the physical comedy in the film. I had never seen her in anything before, so then I looked up her short film ‘Monster,’ which she was wonderful in, but that was a drama. Working on comedy scenes is a two-way street; it’s a collaborative effort. If the other person doesn't have good comedic timing, it can ruin (a) funny moment. That was never the case with Meera. She really came into her own when it came to the comedy. I think she’s one of the funniest characters in the film.”

At the heart of the story, Albutairi says, lies “the struggle of parents who are trying to excel professionally as well as have a pretty stable family life. It's a very delicate balance between the two. And in the case of Rashid, I think he's swayed one way more than the other. And the film explores how he turns it around.”

Albutairi — who rose to fame in the early 2010s with his YouTube sketch show “La Yekthar” and, in 2016, was reportedly the first Saudi stand-up to perform at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood — is delighted to be appearing in a movie representing local culture, humor, and family life. It’s something he believes we need more of in the Saudi entertainment scene.

“We have one of the biggest box offices in the region, if not the biggest,” he says. “And it’s happened over a short period of time since we opened cinemas in Saudi (in 2018). With that comes a huge hunger for content and for more representative films that people can watch and relate to a little more — especially if they're made by Saudi filmmakers.

“I'd like to see more family films like this one. But we also need a diversity of genres. There’s definitely a need for more action stuff, more sci-fi stuff. And I'd love to see that happen very soon,” Albutairi continues. “We’re still testing the waters and seeing what the audience's tastes are. As a content creator and filmmaker myself, I’d like to know more about the audience's thoughts through their reactions and appetite for different productions.”

Best & Worst: Actress Darin Al-Bayed talks fashion trends and bad advice

Updated 12 July 2024

Best & Worst: Actress Darin Al-Bayed talks fashion trends and bad advice

DUBAI: Based in Saudi Arabia, Lebanese actress Darin Al-Bayed discusses fashion trends, breathing exercises, and bad advice. 

Best TV show/film you’ve ever seen?   

“The Pianist.” Adrien Brody gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. And I really enjoy true stories in movies.  

Worst TV show/film you’ve ever seen?  

I don't like horror movies because they’re fantasies and I don't like fantasy films.  

Best personal style moment so far?   

I absolutely love oversized clothes! You can wear them out, keep it casual, dress them up for formal occasions… Basically, no matter how you style them, they always look great. Even as PJs or when you're chilling with the girls, they just work. 

Worst personal style moment?   

I can’t stand anything tight. Neon colors are a no-go for me too. One time, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something new — a fabric test to see what colors suit me. Silver and gold were okay, but bright pinks and similar shades just don’t work for me, and, honestly, I don’t like them. 

Best accessory for a little black dress?   

I prefer when a girl's natural beauty shines through. Simple and natural is my style. I believe the woman should bring value to the outfit, not the other way around. If I do accessorize, I go for simple, petite gold jewelry, like earrings and rings. I hate necklaces. I prefer something subtle that complements the look. 

Worst accessory for a little black dress?   

If someone forces me to wear jewelry they think looks better, it can be tough. That often happens with photoshoots when there’s a stylist involved. They have their own vision, which can be quite different from mine. You know what works best for you and what you’re comfortable with, but sometimes they push you out of your comfort zone. So, I end up wearing the bulky, chunky pieces they pick out. 

Best fashion trend of 2024?    

I still think oversized pieces are trending, and I love that.  

Worst fashion trend of 2024?    

Ripped outfits. I can’t stand them. I just don’t see the appeal. To me, they make a person look like they don't know how to dress properly. I’m not sure how it became a trend.  

 Best advice you’ve ever been given?   

I forget a lot, but the best advice always comes from my mom. She's a treasure trove of wisdom. I’m short-tempered, and my anger issues sometimes lead me to do things I regret. I often wish I’d listened to her when I was younger, around 15, especially about breathing. She’d tell me to go to my room, take 15 seconds to breathe, and make this a habit before bed. When I finally followed her advice, it completely changed me. I thought I needed a doctor, but my mom was the doctor all along. 

Worst advice you’ve ever been given?  

“Do whatever you want” is the biggest lie and the worst advice. I need people who understand situations, especially older people with more experience. I can’t always rely on my feelings. I might think I’m making the right choice, but that’s not always the case. 

Best book you’ve ever read?    

“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” It inspired me to start my show “Ana Wa Heya,” which explored the differences between men and women in their duties, thoughts, responsibilities and feelings. I did two seasons. Back then, YouTube was the trending platform, and we’d get six to seven million views for each episode. 

Worst book you’ve ever read?    

I don’t really have a “worst” one. Some take more time to get through, but I don’t regret reading them — I think it’s good that I did. 

Best thing to do when you’re feeling low?    

Breathing exercises. Seriously, they’re incredibly helpful. I also write. A lot. I jot down things that are hard to talk about. I had habits that I’ve changed. Instead of ranting to a friend, I take a notebook and write down my feelings. I also do yoga and stretching. Or I go outside and sit on the beach. During this time, I don’t speak a word. I just write and keep my phone away. 

Worst thing to do when you’re feeling low?    

You have to confront situations. It’s OK to acknowledge that you’re feeling down and give yourself time to feel that. Escaping is not the solution. Give those feelings time, sit alone, and work through them. Then you can move past it. 

Best holiday destination?    

For me, a perfect holiday is doing what I love. Playing volleyball, going to the beach, swimming, and driving from one city to another with people I love are all I need. Even enjoying my favorite foods can make my holiday special. These might seem like small and simple things, but to me, they’re everything. 

Worst holiday destination?   

I can't stand being around controlling people. I hate when someone tries to force me to do things while I am traveling. Having people dictate where I should go and what I should eat feels really limiting to me.   

Best subject at school?    

I really liked history and arts. I love watching historical movies and exploring monuments when I travel. I used to enjoy them even more when I was younger.  

Worst subject at school?    

Math. I never understood it.  

Best thing to do to ensure you have a productive day?   

I always plan my day the night before. I can’t wake up without knowing what I need to do. Not having a plan makes me feel lost.  

‘Beverly Hills Cop’ cast, director talk ‘iconic franchise’ as nostalgia-fueled film hits Netflix

Updated 10 July 2024

‘Beverly Hills Cop’ cast, director talk ‘iconic franchise’ as nostalgia-fueled film hits Netflix

LOS ANGELES: It took 30 years for the fourth installment of the iconic “Beverly Hills Cop” series to return to the screen and now the latest film has hit Netflix with a nostalgia-tinged bang.

Eddie Murphy returns in "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F" as Axel Foley. Joining him are familiar faces and new talent — and some of the cast and crew sat down to talk more about the film that sees Axel Foley return to Beverly Hills after his daughter's life is threatened. The high octane, joke-filled film sees our lead star work with old pals John Taggart and Billy Rosewood to uncover a conspiracy.

“It's been a few years since I've seen Eddie because all three of us live in different parts of the country … but we developed a good friendship in the earlier ones. And friendships don't die,” John Ashton, who plays now-police chief John Taggart, said.

Meanwhile, US actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt approached the project from a different position, with "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F" marking his first time on the set of the franchise. He commented on working with Murphy on the fan-loved series.

“One of the things that I think is often underappreciated about Eddie is even though he's so funny, he's also a very honest and real actor,” Gordon-Levitt said.

It’s a quality that the lead star made full use of in the film, with emotional moments focusing on Axel Foley’s tense relationship with his estranged daughter, Jane, played by Taylour Paige.

But there is also, predictably, a healthy dose of action and this installment trades heavy CGI for action set pieces, notably in a gripping helicopter sequence that reintroduces authentic danger to the franchise.

“That helicopter was being flown by this stunt pilot who really did all that. He dropped the helicopter off the building, came that close to the street, barely missed the bus. That was all real and they just photographed it,” Gordon-Levitt explained.

“To be trusted with the keys to such an iconic franchise like this and get (franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer) to give me that trust was really humbling. Of course I felt a lot of pressure, but I just tried to be as prepared as possible,” Australian director Mark Molloy, who made his feature film debut with this movie, added.

Review: ‘Inside Out 2’ by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures

Updated 09 July 2024

Review: ‘Inside Out 2’ by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures

  • Newcomer to the “Inside Out” world is Maya Hawke as Anxiety, the angsty new orange-tinged emotion that is likely the most relatable for many teens

If you have been reluctant to watch the much talked about family-friendly, coming-of-age animated film, “Inside Out 2,” it might be time to give it a watch. With a budget of $200 million, the film has generated $1.134 billion in the first month since its release and that number is projected to climb.

Is it worth the hype? It seems so.

Produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures, the 2024 film comes nine years after the first “Inside Out.”

The film picks up where the first left off, telling the story of blue-eyed, blonde-haired Riley Andersen.

During the first years of her life, Riley had advocates that lived within her head that helped run her life. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust — each with their own personality and color — have been running the show.

But something peculiar happens. After Riley blows out the candles of her 13th birthday cake, everything changes. And more colors pop into her world.

Overnight, Riley’s life — and body — changes. This is not an awkward “Oh, my body is changing from a biological standpoint” story. It is about how emotions and belief systems shift once you hit puberty. It is about dealing with regulating your emotions instead of simply self-soothing. It is about practicing empathy while maintaining your integrity. It is about opening your eyes and finding your way into the world you live in, either in your mind or in your physical reality. Or both.

Newcomer Anxiety shows up with Embarrassment, Envy and Ennui in tow.

Riley still centers ice hockey and her best friends but now has to deal with new complex emotions that are new to her.

With a newly-formed element taking over Riley’s mind, identified as her “Sense of Self,” the party gets bigger. That new part of her brain, which houses good and bad memories, becomes confusing. And now, her new belief system keeps morphing with every decision she makes.

Amy Poehler returns to voice Joy, the protective yellow emotion that takes on a leadership role and feels most responsible to ensure that Riley is constantly happy.

Newcomer to the “Inside Out” world is Maya Hawke as Anxiety, the angsty new orange-tinged emotion that is likely the most relatable for many teens. She tries to avoid pain but clumsily causes even more pain.

While the two films are nine years apart, Riley was 11 in the first film and is 13 in the newest version.

And while some of the cast returned for this iteration, it also had some big changes.

This time, Riley’s teen voice comes from Kensington Tallman who took over the role from Kaitlyn Rose Dias, who voiced Riley in the first film. Diane Lane returned to voice Riley’s mother, while the voice actor who played her father changed.

In fact, “Inside Out 2” is the feature directorial debut of Kelsey Mann, who took over from Pete Docter, who directed the first. Meg LeFauve returned as co-writer of the screenplay, and the story was conceived by both LeFauve and Mann.

You could easily watch “Inside Out 2” without having seen its predecessor — the standalone narrative in the sequel offers a fresh chapter in the story. But once you watch this version, you might be compelled the watch the first.

To me, the relatable push-and-pull between the “I’m not good enough” and “I’m a good person” embodies what many of us go through, no matter our age. The fact that this comes from the point of view of a young girl further shows the filmmakers’ clear stance on attempting to make girls’ complex emotions worthy of a complete film.

It will make you feel like you’ve just brought out your inside emotions, well, out.



‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ cast on why the prequel is ‘devastating’

Updated 09 July 2024

‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ cast on why the prequel is ‘devastating’

LOS ANGELES: Buzz-worthy horror film “A Quiet Place: Day One” is the eagerly awaited prequel in the popular franchise. The film is making a mark at the global box office and stars Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn and Djimon Hounsou shared why this film is “so much more devastating to witness” than its predecessors.

John Krasinski hands the directorial baton off to Michael Sarnoski for the third installment in the franchise that plunges audiences into an alien-invaded New York, where silence means survival. Samira (Nyong'o), a tourist, must adapt to this new reality alongside Eric (Quinn), a stranger she encounters. Together, they navigate the eerily hushed metropolis, struggling to stay alive amidst the deadly visitors with hyper-acute hearing.

“Day one of the invasion in New York City comes with chaos and pandemonium,” Oscar-winning actress Nyong'o said, adding: “Nobody knows the new rules of the world and everybody has to learn them. And we take you on the journey of how that happens.”

Quinn addressed the popularity of the films, saying: “I think it's a franchise that people have a lot of reverence for and a very loyal fan base. And the fact that I get to contribute to it in any way is beyond anything I could have imagined.”

Building on the success of the previous two films, the new installment surpassed the $100 million mark at the worldwide box office earlier this week and continues to thrill cinema goers with its fresh take on the sci-fi-meets-horror genre.

“It's a completely different perspective, a different environment, a different setting. And this one is so much more devastating to witness … how a city so vibrant and so full of people gets shut down and gets completely overwhelmed by … these type of creatures,” Hounsou said.