Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
One thing I’m dedicated to doing during this year long movie binge is seek out films I’ve never heard of. Yes there are several classics I’m trying to watch as well, but I’ve heard of those films, and I will get around to watching them. It’s a real joy to discover a film that wasn’t even on your radar, it’s doubly joyful when it’s a fun film. The Idol (2015) is a biopic about Palestinian pop singer Mohammed Assaf, and his journey from Gaza wedding singer to the winner of Season Two of Arab Idol in Egypt.
The story is familiar rags to riches set up. The first act is of Mohammed as a child, forming a band with his friends and sister Nour (Hiba Attalah). We get glimpses to the challenges of living in a country that isn’t recognized by the rest of the world and is under constant military threat from Israel. The big emotional moment of Mohammad's childhood is the death of his sister from a kidney disease. That moment is hard for the audience as well, Nour is the most compelling character in the entire movie. While Mohammad Assaf is talented, he is driven by his sister to achieve more. She is the driving force behind his singing, and losing her, the film loses a big part of its soul. The final act of the film is Mohammad’s journey through the Arab idol competition and the challenges he faces to even become a contestant.
What I found most interesting as a white person from the midwest was the real glimpse into a culture I don’t know much about. The film goes on a great journey of Palestine throughout. We see buildings ruined from constant conflict with Israel, people living their normal lives even under this conflict, and we see how strong and important family can be in such an environment. There is a strong message of how much a community and a family can support an artist, and even in such a glitzy competition as Arab Idol, how it can be very humanizing and personal.
One of my favorite parts of the film was the editing of real footage from Gaza during the Arab Idol competition. Mohammed Assaf became a sensation throughout the Arab world and the people in his homeland where behind him. Director Hany Abu-Assad cleverly edits in scenes of giant public gatherings in Gaza as people watched Mohammed and his journey to victory. This was a very delightful and fun visual addition to the film.
This is a very by the numbers rags to riches biopic about a very talented young man. It offers a glimpse into a part of the world not many westerners care to spend time thinking about, and it makes the Palestinian and Arab world relatable and human. It’s a region rich in tradition and art, it is wise to remember that especially in an age when our leaders and media demonize that part of the world for their own gain. The cast is strong from top to bottom and the use of real footage ads a nice extra touch to the finished project. This is a kind and uplifting film about human triumph and perseverance.
Movies new to me watched: 41/292
Other movies: 9/73
Total movies watched: 50/365
Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kbdekker.