x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Today's entertainment news: The Hunger Games is a critical hit

Plus: 21 Jump Street face autism controversy; Katy Perry to open cricket league; Russell Crowe to play biblical Noah; Abraaj art prize announced; Babey Drew comes to Dubai and Al Jazeera to screen Arab documentary worldwide.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

The first reviews for The Hunger Games are in and they are overwhelmingly positive.

Empire magazine gushed about how deftly the novel has been adapted to the big screen: "The Hunger Games has been dissected, expanded and retooled into something intelligent, immersive and powerfully current."

Roger Ebert wrote: "It's effective entertainment. Jennifer Lawrence is strong and convincing."

"Fans will be delighted. Non-fans should give this movie a chance," said James Berardinelli of ReelViews.

The New York Daily News gave the film five stars out of five, saying the film "aims an angry eye at our bloodthirsty, watch-anything-and-cheer culture".

The professor and culture commentator Greg Garrett, the author of One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter, said it offers "a perfect tale of apprehension for our time". "In cultural criticism, we ask what needs are served by popular culture; the film addresses the anxiety caused by the biggest recession in generations," he said.

One of the few dissenters is Salon's Andrew O'Henir: "It never really holds together or makes any sense, except as an elementary fairy tale."

The Hunger Games opens in UAE cinemas today.

More Hunger Games, page 8

21 Jump Street faces autism controversy

Blogs are abuzz about an autistic insult uttered in 21 Jump Street. In the movie, Ice Cube uses the term to refer to Jonah Hill's character, after the latter makes a sloppy presentation at a detective training programme. "Are you autistic?" Ice Cube mocks Hill.

The organisation Autism Key, run by parents of children with autism, posted online: "The insinuation that autism is characterised by individuals who are messy, unorganised and incoherent – this couldn't be further from the truth."

The actress and autism advocate Holly Robinson Peete, of the original 21 Jump Street TV series from the late 1980s, has a cameo in the film. Peete, the founder of the autism support group HollyRod, posted on Twitter that the insult was not in the original script and that autism should never be used as "a punchline".

"Hated it! Sad because they didn't need that dumb joke," Peete said.

Katy Perry to open cricket league

Katy Perry is to perform at the opening of the Indian Premier League, in a return to the country where she sealed her ill-fated marriage to Russell Brand.

Perry is among a host of celebrities who will take the stage in Chennai on April 3, a day before the cricket league gets under way. Bollywood's Amitabh Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra are also set to appear.

Babey Drew comes to Dubai

Chris Brown's official DJ Babey Drew will be performing at Armani/Privé, Burj Khalifa on Saturday at 10pm. Drew has supported the likes of Kanye West, Christina Aguilera and Estelle. For tickets, call 04 888 3308.

Al Jazeera to screen Arab documentary worldwide

Mahmoud Kaabour's multi-award-winning documentary Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times) has been acquired by Al Jazeera Network. The unique deal will see the film broadcast worldwide in various languages and marks the ultimate distribution push for a film that has become the most successful Arabic documentary of recent years.

Russell Crowe to play biblical Noah

Darren Aronofsky, the director of Black Swan and The Fighter, is working on an "edgy retelling" of the biblical tale of Noah's ark, Deadline reported yesterday.

Russell Crowe is said to have signed up to play Noah, after Aronofsky's original choices Christian Bale and Michael Fassbender passed on the project.

Paramount and New Regency have reportedly agreed to a US$130 million (Dh478m) budget.

Abraaj art prize announced

This year's Abraaj Capital Art Prize-winning works were unveiled Tuesday at Art Dubai. It's a clear step-up from previous iterations of the prize. With five winners, the 2012 edition looks and feels tight. Whereas previously the winning works were sited in the awkward location of canal-front Madinat Jumeirah, the ACAP team has moved the prize inside, giving the works the gravitas they need.

The winners are: Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Wael Shawky (Egypt), Risham Syed (Pakistan) and Raed Yassin (Lebanon).

The fair continues until Saturday at Madinat Jumeirah.

New Twilight clip revealed

A brand new clip from the final Twilight instalment was released on YouTube on Tuesday. The teaser trailer features Jacob (Taylor Lautner) coming face-to-face for the first time with Bella (Kristen Stewart) since her transformation into a vampire.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 arrives in cinemas on November 16.