Review: ‘99’ captures the drama of Manchester United’s annus mirabilis

The documentary series “99” celebrates the 25th anniversary of one of the most remarkable achievements in sporting history: when Manchester United won England’s two biggest domestic trophies. (YouTube)
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Updated 26 May 2024
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Review: ‘99’ captures the drama of Manchester United’s annus mirabilis

DUBAI: The documentary series “99” celebrates the 25th anniversary of one of the most remarkable achievements in sporting history: when Manchester United won England’s two biggest domestic trophies — the Premier League and the FA Cup — and the most prestigious tournament in European club competition — the UEFA Champions League — to complete a (then) unprecedented treble.

The fact that the feat has since been repeated (most recently by United’s arch rivals Manchester City), has taken some of the shine off it, but this was still one of the greatest single seasons in the history of any sport.

The show is stacked with interviews with the players who made history, as well as their fearsome manager, Alex Ferguson, whose obsession with winning the Champions League has been well-documented elsewhere. There isn’t much new insight here, and footballers aren’t renowned for their eloquence, but the filmmakers have done a good job of getting them to dig beyond the platitudes and explore the sometimes-thorny relationships between certain players, the pressure of playing for (at least then) arguably the biggest club in the world, and the self-doubt that could creep in during the biggest games.

But even if its makers had managed to get nothing from the interviewees, they would have known that “99” couldn’t fail to grip even the most casual of sports fans, because the story of the actual football during the season is so outlandish that even a Hollywood exec might question anyone pitching it. Throughout the season, and particularly in the last couple of months, United staged numerous late comebacks in situations where it seemed they’d blown their chance of making history — not least in the last game, the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, when they famously scored two goals in three minutes of injury time to turn almost-certain defeat into the unlikeliest of victories: an act of what seemed like sheer willpower, inspired by the manager’s self-belief. As Ferguson said at the end of that game, “Football. Bloody hell!” The makers of “99” have successfully captured that sentiment.


Hijabi heavy metal trio to make Indonesia’s debut at Glastonbury

Updated 21 June 2024
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Hijabi heavy metal trio to make Indonesia’s debut at Glastonbury

  • Voice of Baceprot will play Glastonbury’s Woodsies stage on June 28
  • Hijabi trio has toured Europe, US, and was named to Forbes Asia’s 30-Under-30 list

JAKARTA: Hijabi heavy metal band Voice of Baceprot is set to become the first Indonesian act to perform at the UK’s iconic Glastonbury Festival next week, marking another milestone in the all-female trio’s trailblazing career.

More than a decade after first emerging, Voice of Baceprot was named in Forbes Asia’s 30-Under-30 list just last month. The group has toured Europe and the US, and released its debut album last year.

With lyrics that address issues from gender inequality to climate change, members of the group from Garut, West Java said on Friday that they hope to help improve the world for future generations through their music.

“We care about what’s happening around us, that’s why we make a lot of songs about what we ourselves experience, see, and hear. We only want the world that we live in to become a better place for the generations after us,” Firda “Marsya” Kurnia, who is the lead singer and guitarist, told reporters.

“We certainly feel excited and proud, especially after finding out that we are going to be the first Indonesian musicians to perform in Glastonbury. It will also be our first performance in the UK.”

Voice of Baceprot will play the Woodsies stage at Glastonbury on June 28, sharing the glory of performing at the legendary music festival alongside artists such as Coldplay, Dua Lipa and Cyndi Lauper.

“We will try to use this opportunity to also uplift Indonesian culture through music, including using tonal elements from Sundanese music,” Marsya said, referring to their ethnic origins.

Voice of Baceprot sings a mix of English, Indonesian and Sundanese — their native tongue. The word “baceprot” is Sundanese for “annoyingly noisy.”

Marsya met the other band members — drummer Euis Siti Aisyah and bassist Widi Rahmawati — at an Islamic boarding school and established the group in 2014.

Now in their early 20s, they have been overcoming prejudice and shattering stereotypes about Muslims and Islam.

“We try to introduce the other side that is closer to the truth,” Marsya said.
The band has already gained praise from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and was met with great interest during its 2021 and 2022 Europe tours.

“It was beyond expectation. Every time we have an international tour, I am afraid that no one will show up ... because we’re not that big yet,” Siti said.

“But after a few times performing there, we’ve seen how enthusiastic the audience was. Some would even wait for our performance.”

The trio’s accomplishments have also been noticed by the Indonesian government, which is supporting the group’s upcoming UK trip.

“This is a form of soft diplomacy,” Desra Percaya, Indonesia’s ambassador to the UK, told reports.

“Voice of Baceprot is truly taking up the role of Indonesia’s ambassadors and, of course, they are on a mission to make Indonesia proud.”

 


The best movies of 2024 so far 

Updated 21 June 2024
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The best movies of 2024 so far 

  • Senegal shines, ‘Hit Man’ is a hit, and Zendaya slays it — twice

‘Dune: Part Two’ 

The second instalment in Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi saga isn’t just one of this year’s best films, but has a strong argument for being one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. It follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalomet) as he attempts to earn the trust of the native Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis to persuade them to help him take down House Harkonnen, who are responsible for the massacre of Paul’s own house. This sprawling second chapter covers some heavy themes, including love versus duty, religious extremism, and the morality of violence, but always keeps sight of the need to entertain its audience. This it does throughout its almost three-hour running time with some dazzling battle sequences, the central love story between two of Hollywood’s biggest young stars (Chalomet and Zendaya’s fierce Fremen woman Chani), and thrilling sandworm rides.  

‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ 

With two hugely bankable stars (Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth), a lauded director (George Miller), and the fact that it’s a prequel and spin-off to one of the finest action movies of the past 10 years (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) — itself a part of a hugely popular post-apocalyptic franchise, “Furiosa” looked set to be one of the year’s box-office blockbusters. Instead, it was a relative flop. But that shouldn’t be taken as any reflection of its quality: Taylor-Joy is excellent in the lead role, finding an emotional connection to Charlize Theron’s portrayal of Furiosa in “Fury Road,” Hemsworth holds nothing back in his performance as the evil warlord biker Dementus, the action scenes are astounding (of course, it’s George Miller), the screenplay (uncommonly for a “Mad Max” film) has real depth, and the whole thing makes for brilliant big-screen entertainment.  

‘Hit Man’ 

Despite the title, director Richard Linklater’s latest isn’t filled with cunningly planned “Killing Eve”-style assassinations. Instead, it’s an entertaining blend of noir-thriller, black comedy, and romance held together by Glenn Powell in the lead role of Gary Johnson, a mild-mannered university professor who adopts a variety of personas while working for the New Orleans police department as a fake contract killer in order to catch people thinking of hiring an actual assassin. That wild premise is actually based (very loosely) on a true story. Johnson finds himself in trouble when he falls hard for a potential client, the beautiful Madison (Adria Arjona). Unwilling to get her sent to prison, he begins a relationship with her, but as “Ron,” his latest alter-ego. Inevitably, Johnson’s plan doesn’t go smoothly, and the results make for a great cinematic romp. 

‘Io Capitano’ 

Migrants and refugees have become populist political scapegoats, and with so much news coverage around the clock inuring others to the hardships those groups face, it takes something special to cut through. Director Matteo Garrone and his Senegalese star Seydou Sarr provide it with “Io Capitano,” which follows two young cousins, Seydou and Moussa, on a perilous journey from Dakar to Europe — a journey they undertake not because of the threat of starvation or violence, but because they want to travel and see the world, just as young people in the developed world do. Garrone mixes magical realism and graphic horror to convey the traumas the cousins have to deal with, and, in Seydou, gives us a memorable hero. The dialogue may be sparse, but “Io Capitano” packs a real emotional punch.    

‘Challengers’ 

Hollywood’s brightest young female star, Zendaya, steals the show in Luca Guadagnino’s sporty romantic drama. She plays former tennis prodigy Tashi Duncan, who’s now a coach after an injury forced her retirement. She’s coaching her husband, Art (Mike Faist), who just needs a US Open win to complete a Career Grand Slam. But Art is struggling with form and fitness, so Tashi enters him in a minor event in New York, hoping he’ll pick up a win and a confidence boost. But facing him is his former best friend (and competitor for Tashi’s affections), Patrick (Josh O’Connor). And it seems like he’s still carrying a torch for her, and vice-versa. The story gets pretty silly, but the performances of — and chemistry between — its three stars make “Challengers” a lot of fun. Great soundtrack, too. 

‘Civil War’ 

Alex Garland’s dystopian thriller — which follows a team of war journalists traveling from New York to Washington DC during a US civil war between an authoritarian government and a loose coalition of regional factions — has proven divisive, with some arguing Garland is championing style (this is the most expensive film so far made by distributor A24) over substance, and others arguing that there’s too much intellectual substance and not enough emotion. All of which suggests that maybe Garland has pitched his take on the horror of war, and the traumas faced by those involved and those reporting on it, just right. Visually, it’s stunning — the shots of war-torn suburbia as breathtaking as the famous scene from 2002’s “28 Days Later” (which Garland wrote) when Cillian Murphy awakes from a coma and staggers out into London’s abandoned streets — and Garland proves a master at ratcheting up the suspense whenever a new encounter happens. Treat it as entertainment, and not a thesis, and “Civil War” is worth a watch.  


Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

Updated 21 June 2024
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Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

DUBAI: French chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Paris and influential eateries in Moscow. He is now chef de cuisine at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort’s overwater restaurant Tilina.  

Colette says his grandmother, also a chef, was the inspiration behind his passion for cooking. “I always helped her, and it became quite natural that, when I was around, like, 12, if I was alone at home, I would try to cook something for myself, or for my family,” he tells Arab News. 

Here, he discusses common kitchen mistakes, annoying customers, tips for amateur chefs and shares a special salad recipe. 

Tilina at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. (Supplied)

When you started out, what was the most common mistake you made? 

Seasoning. I started out in a Michelin-starred restaurant, and there, it wasn’t just salt and pepper. It was all about the balance in the dish, so you also need to think about the acidity and things like that. So at the beginning it was quite complicated. Every time my chef tried something I made, he was, like, “No, it’s not good. It’s missing this, this and that.” 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

Don’t be scared to experiment, and don’t be scared to fail, because, actually, many great dishes came from failure. So try and enjoy it — that’s what cooking is all about. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

Many chefs will say it’s love — because you need to care about and love what you are doing. But for me, it’s salt. Seasoning is so important. Even if you have the best ingredients, if you don’t season them, they’ll lack flavor.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

No. Even if there’s something wrong, I would never tell the chef. If I see a mistake on the service side, or if there is food I don’t like, I would just try and learn from it to prevent my own customers from experiencing it. 

Tilina at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. (Supplied)

What’s your favorite cuisine?  

It’s really about the chef, not the cuisine. If I want to go to a restaurant, then I’ll find a chef that I want to try, so it will be either be a set menu or his signature dish. And when I go back to France, I have to have a nice steak tartare. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home? 

Pasta. You can play with it so much — you can make it with fish, with meat, with vegetables… Boil some water, put some pasta in, and see what you have in the fridge: maybe some shrimp, some tomato, a little bit of garlic and parsley. That’s perfect. 

What customer behavior most annoys you? 

Asking to change an ingredient in a dish. When I make a dish, it’s all about the balance. So, if you take out one ingredient, then the idea behind the dish doesn’t make sense anymore. I really try to avoid doing this. I’ll go and talk with the guest, and rather than change the dish, maybe try to do something special for them, something else that they would like. 

What is your favorite dish to cook? 

Seafood. This was my childhood in Normandy: When the sea was low on Sundays, we would go and pick up fresh fish. We’d go back home and cook them very simply, with a little bit of garlic, parsley, cream, and that’s it. So seafood always reminds me of this time. 

As a head chef, what are you like? Are you strict? 

You can’t run a kitchen without discipline, everyone needs to be focused during service. But, I don’t believe that discipline comes from shouting, it comes from mutual respect.  

Chef Thomas’ Red Sea Salad recipe 

INGREDIENTS: 

500g heirloom tomatoes; 3 Carabineros prawns; 10g chives; 10g salmon roe; 5g gelatine leaves; 1 egg yolk; 100g grapeseed oil or sunflower oil; 10g olive oil; 1 lemon; 50g parsley (leaves)  

INSTRUCTIONS: 

For the tomato jelly  

1. Process 250g of tomatoes in a blender. Once the mixture becomes smooth, strain it through a cheesecloth. 

2. Place the gelatine leaves in cold water. 

3. Take 50g of the tomato mixture and heat to 50° C. Add the gelatine, let it melt and then add the rest of the tomato mix. 

4. Pour 80g of it into each of three bowls and place in refrigerator. 

For the tomato tartare  

1. Boil 1L of water. 

2. Using a small knife, make a small cross at the bottom of the remaining tomatoes. 

3. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then put them in iced water, remove the skin and dry them with a paper towel. 

4. Cut the tomatoes into four, remove the insides to get tomato petals. (Keep the insides for later, they can be used for a sauce.) 

5. Chop the tomato petals into cubes of 0.5mm. 

6. Finely chop the chives. 

7. Mix the tomatoes and chives with 5g olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and salt, then place in the refrigerator. 

For the marinated prawns  

1. Clean the prawns. (Tip: If you keep the heads and the shell they can be used in a sauce or soup later). 

2. Chop the prawns in 1cm cubes. 

3. Mix the prawns with 5g olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and lemon zest. Let them marinate for 10 minutes.  

For the parsley mayo  

1. Warm up 100g of grapeseed oil to 72°C, then pour it into blender with parsley leaves and mix for two minutes. 

2. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. 

3. Put 1 egg yolk, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk while slowly adding the parsley oil. 

Plating  

1. Take your plates of jelly out of the refrigerator 

2. Place a circular disc on the jelly and put 1.5cm of tomatoes and 1.5cm of marinated prawn inside. Remove the circle. 

3. Finish with a few dots of parsley mayo and a few dots of salmon roe. 


Highlights from artist Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive’ exhibition

Updated 21 June 2024
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Highlights from artist Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive’ exhibition

DUBAI: Here are three highlights from Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive,’ which runs at Zawyeh Gallery in Ramallah until June 23. 

‘I’m Still Alive No. 1’ 

In the early days of the ongoing Israeli military assault on his hometown of Gaza, artist Maisara Baroud lost both his home and his studio. So he took to drawing a diary, which he has continued as the devastating violence continues, “to tell my friends that I am still alive.” This exhibition sees artists including Mohammad Sabaaneh recreating Baroud’s works in Ramallah. 

‘I’m Still Alive No. 3’ 

“To declare that Maisara is still alive is a declaration that we are all still alive too,” Sabaaneh said in a statement. “So, we don’t become neutral in this genocidal war targeting and annihilating Palestinians physically and spiritually, we decided to participate in re-drawing Maisara’s paintings in Ramallah, playing the same role of a prisoner smuggling another prisoner’s paintings out of prison.” 

‘I’m Still Alive No. 5’ 

On June 23, Baroud’s works will be wiped from the walls, “highlighting the project’s impermanence and the transient nature of the war, hoping for an end to the occupation nightmare one day, as “no condition is permanent,’” the organizers stated. “The exhibition serves as a tribute to Baroud and Palestinians in Gaza.”  


The best TV shows of 2024 so far 

Updated 20 June 2024
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The best TV shows of 2024 so far 

  • From warlords in feudal Japan, through post-apocalyptic wastelands, to a stalker in Scotland

‘Baby Reindeer’ 

Richard Gadd’s autobiographical drama is the most talked-about show of the year, though not always for the reasons its creator — or Netflix — would have wanted. The streaming giant is almost certainly regretting the “This is a true story” splash at the start of the series, when adding “based on” could have saved them at least some of the cash it will likely lose in lawsuits from the real-life people that the too-easily-cracked characterizations have exposed. But the legal and ethical fallout shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Gadd’s painfully honest depiction of a wannabe comedian (himself) and his relationship with an unhinged female stalker is original, compelling, infuriating, and sometimes, at least in the early episodes, as funny as it is horrifying. And Jessica Gunning, as the stalker, Martha, turns in an extraordinary performance that should earn her a slew of awards. 

‘Fallout’ 

An adaptation of a post-apocalyptic video game was one of 2023’s finest shows (“The Last of Us”) and, thanks to “Fallout,” the same will likely be said for 2024. But the two shows — like the two games — are vastly different. Yes, “The Last of Us” had monsters in it, but it was largely grounded in gritty realism. “Fallout” is far more cartoonish, both in its aesthetic and its violence. It’s set in an alternate history in which a nuclear exchange between the US and China in 2077 drove many survivors underground into bunkers known as Vaults. More than two centuries later, a young woman, Lucy, leaves her Vault and ventures into the wasteland that used to be Los Angeles to hunt for her father, who has been kidnapped by raiders. Having been raised in the safety and the — ostensibly — polite society of the Vault, Lucy is woefully unprepared for the horrors that await her in the outside world.  

‘Ripley’ 

The plot of Steven Zaillian’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological crime thriller novel “The Talented Mr. Ripley” is fairly straightforward: Tom Ripley (the excellent Andrew Scott), a down-on-his-luck con-man in 1960s New York, is hired by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to convince his wayward son Dickie to return home from Italy, where he is living a leisurely life at his father’s expense. But Ripley sees a chance to transform his life — if he’s willing to cross some serious boundaries. Zaillian draws out the suspense with lingering shots of the Italian seaside town where Dickie is living and long sections without dialogue, carried by Scott’s commanding performance. The anomaly of shooting the series in black-and-white only helps it stand out all the more.   

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ 

Farewell, then, Larry David. Or at least the version of Larry David that anchored this brilliant largely improvised sit-com over 12 series and 24 years. In this final season, Larry doesn’t suddenly see the light and transform into a decent human being. Instead David continued to find new ways for his misanthropic character to make us laugh and cringe in equal measure. The final episode is titled “No Lessons Learned.” That’s all you need to know, and all fans would have wanted. 

‘Shogun’ 

Kudos to FX and Hulu for making a success of a show that, the majority of the time, is in Japanese. John Blackthorne, the hero of this historical drama adapted from James Clavell’s 1975 novel, is loosely based on the English navigator William Adams, who became a samurai for the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate in the early 17th century. The show’s beautifully paced mix of political intrigue and brutal combat is compelling viewing. 

‘True Detective: Night Country’ 

With a female showrunner, Issa Lopez, and two female leads (Jodie Foster as detective Liz Danvers, Kali Reis as Trooper Evangeline Navarro), the fourth season of the anthology series naturally enraged online trolls. But this tale of the simultaneous disappearance of eight scientists living at the Tsalal Arctic Research Station in the small town of Ennis, Alaska, during the winter period when the sun never rises is immediately gripping. Lopez leans into the supernatural horror elements that were an undercurrent of the acclaimed first series, and Foster and Reis are a badass double act.  

‘Masters of the Air’ 

Executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks signed off from their trilogy of miniseries based on the events of World War II (from an American point of view) in spectacular fashion with this show focused on the Eighth Air Force, which was engaged in some of the war’s most-dangerous missions in Northern Europe. “This is not a narratively complex beast, replete with twists and turns,” our reviewer wrote. “Rather, it’s a show that seems to belong to a bygone era: a lovingly made, epic chronicle of remarkable people doing remarkable things during remarkable times.” 

‘Mr & Mrs. Smith’ 

When it was announced that “Fleabag” creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge had walked away from this spy series (loosely) based on the 2005 film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, which she was meant to be co-creating and starring in with “Atlanta” creator Donald Glover, there were fears the show would flop. Instead, Waller-Bridge’s replacement, the Japanese-American actress Maya Erskine, is excellent as the Jane Smith to Glover’s John Smith, matching her partner’s easy onscreen charisma all the way and giving the show a grounded heart around which to base its often-outlandish storylines. “Mr & Mrs. Smith” was a lot of fun.