7:30 PM, 26th August, 2016
John Carney – the man behind Once and Begin Again – is back with another infectious, feel-good musical that will have you tapping your toes for days.
Drawing heavily from his own Irish upbringing, Carney’s ’80s-set Sing Street spins the story of 14-year-old Conor, played by brilliant newcomer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo. When his family falls on hard times, Conor is taken away from his posh private school upbringing and moved to a rough new neighbourhood in Dublin. At his new school, the kids are rough and the teachers even rougher, but there’s one saving grace: a cool and mysterious older girl named Raphina (Boynton). In an effort to impress her, Conor invites her to star in his band’s music videos. It’s a foolproof plan, with just one tiny problem: he’s not actually in a band… yet.
Rounding up some local lads, and mentored by his sage older brother (Reynor), Conor and his new posse immerse themselves in the rocking ’n’ rolling music of the decade – everyone from Duran Duran to The Cure, A-ha, Hall & Oates, The Clash and beyond – and pour their hearts and souls into their newly formed band’s music, which soon takes on a life all its own.
Irresistibly optimistic, Sing Street will make you laugh, cry and rush out to buy the soundtrack as soon as you’ve seen it (or, more likely, rush home to download it). If you like ‘80s music, heartfelt comedy, or even just listening to an Irish brogue, this film is for you.
9:25 PM, 26th August, 2016
The Idol tells the true story of Mohammed Assaf, the Palestinian wedding singer who made his way from a Gaza Strip refugee camp to become a popular contestant on reality show “Arab Idol”.
We get to see the whole (so far) story, with the first third of the movie focusing on a young boy, his sister and his two best friends earning money by smuggling fast food to Egypt through the tunnels, and the rest of the movie centring on the college-age man who goes from driving taxis to the glamourous world of Cairo.
Director Hany Abu-Assad has taken us on similar journeys through the occupied territories before with such films as Paradise Now and Omar. But where both of those were thrillers, this is a more standard romanticised story of triumph over adversity. The script falters in places, but never loses focus on the humans involved. Particularly engaging is the actress who plays the young sister, Hiba Attalah.
Abu-Assad had to get past the Israeli military, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to make this film, and it is the first to be shot in Gaza in 20 years. For that effort alone, you should come and see this beautifully shot, politically motivated but ultimately charming film.