Adeel Akhtar

review stranger things

Oona (Bridget Collins) arrives at her recently deceased mother’s small, seaside home to clean the place up and get it ready for sale. Feeling overwhelmed on her first day there she visits a neighbor who invites the young woman to spend the night so as not to be alone. Oona agrees, and while she’s gone a homeless man named Mani (Adeel Akhtar) presumes the house for sale is unoccupied and heads in to squat for the evening. She discovers him the next day, but after shooing him out with a broom handle to the head she guiltily tracks him down in the street and offers him her shed as a nighttime shelter. Slowly and cautiously the two develop a friendship built on their individual solitudes. Oona’s relationship with her mother was a bumpy one, but it was clearly preferable to the veiled loneliness she suffers through now. Mani’s lifestyle leaves him alone much of the time, but he has found solace before in the company of an older transient who’s now on the bring of a serious illness. Stranger Things is an honest and uncomplicated tale of two people finding what they didn’t know they needed in each other. There’s a natural rhythm to the performances of the two leads that feels lifelike and real until the film’s final minutes, but not even an ending that rings more convenient than true can detract from what these two have built.

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Every so often, it becomes artistically necessary for someone to come along and combine a serious political issue with The Three Stooges. In lesser hands, it can be an offensive disaster, but fortunately it was director Christopher Morris that answered the call from fate this time. With Four Lions he attempts to bring a sense of levity to terrorism – specifically the brand of terrorism that the news cycle has brought to the forefront of our psyche within the past decade: Islamic extremism. Jihadism. The Mujahideen. This might be the most dangerous territory to go mining for comedy, but Morris does it the right way – by finding the comedy first, cleaning off the political mess, and delivering it dead pan to the audience. Omar (Riz Ahmed) and his moronic mate Waj (Kayvan Novak) head to Pakistan to train with Al Qaeda so that they can take their small band of terrorists in Britain to the next level and achieve the grand goal of blowing themselves up constructively.

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Four Lions

It’s incredibly difficult to take a look at terrorism (especially Islamic terrorism) and laugh at it. Four Lions does just that, and does it with flying colors.

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