If I made a list of favorite films, then another of my most beloved music tracks of the year, then yet one more of the best dates and most delicious restaurants of 2010, it would be all too long and tedious. I can’t personally read more than one ‘Best Of…’ list at this time of year, too busy planning my New Year’s Eve party schedule and how I’ll get from one place to the other, in my ridiculously high Louboutins. So, here’s to one list, just one, but yet all you’ll ever need to know about 2010.
But I’m never too busy to say Happy New Year everyone and may you be inspired, safe and joyful during 2011!!
THE MODERN HERO OF FILMS LIKE SOMEWHERE, MIRAL AND DHOBI GHAT
There was a time when being a film hero meant hauling guns and snatching damsels in distress from big apes, atop tall buildings (if you were watching Hollywood) or dancing and lip-sinking to Shaan and Sonu, while also stealing the girl away from the unappreciative boyfriend – if Bollywood was more your cup of tea. But these days, there are guys like Tareq in Cairo Time, Johnny Marco in Somewhere and Munna in Dhobi Ghat to change all that. Sensitive, calm, atypically beautiful and silent, these men are redefining the word HERO.
DHOBI GHAT AT TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Apart from having become an even bigger fan of Aamir Khan since meeting him in person and getting to know his super-talented wife Kiran Rao, TIFF for me was a special treat. I’d never been to the festival and since it’s second only to Cannes, and a great stop on the circuit for films to garner supporters and awards, I felt the power of the film world players all around me. Sitting at a cafe outside, walking through the media center, standing on the Red Carpet awaiting the stars, it was surreal and beautifully high powered. Down to the police reinforcements that were called in for Robert De Niro’s arrival for Stone. But the real discovery, the wonder of TIFF for me was Rao’s Dhobi Ghat, and its stars, particularly the sensitive and handsome Prateik with whom I share a passion for chocolate mousse cups… Read about the whole experience on the AVS TV blog and watch the film come January 21st, when it opens worldwide.
DOHA TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
If you thought a film festival had to be in France, the US or even Canada to be fashionable, you would be wrong. Doha TFF, as it’s known to insiders, was the best time I ever had viewing films and people watching. Forget NYC, Bombay or LA. Doha during this nearly weeklong festival became a who’s-who of mega stars, from Kevin Spacey to Robert De Niro, from Salma Hayek to Freida Pinto and with every hot world filmmaker in between. It felt incredible to sit next to the director of Captain Abu Raed, a Jordanian film I loved watching last year, while awaiting to meet up with the star of Miral, all the while being served free chocolate mousse and chai on a patio outside in the pleasant afternoon heat. If you ever have a chance to go, 2011 in Doha, Qatar promises to be even more glamorous and chock-full of films than ever. Need more incentive? Read up about it on elan The Mag, and AVS TV’s blog. All by yours truly…
DISCOVERING OUR INNER ROCK STAR WITH ALL SAINTS
Now that the economy ain’t at its best, shops and department stores are reinventing the wheel. Or the clothing industry, rather. If you liked Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin in 2009, then you could probably only afford Forever 21 and H & M this year… But then, midway through the summer the wonder of All Saints opened on Broadway, in Soho, and glamour took a rockstar turn for all NYC chic princesses. Forget the $2,000 Prada bag, or the pricey Louboutins, it’s now the deconstructed leather hobo and suede lace-up booties from this UK brand which have taken over fashion blogs and fashionistas’ must-have lists alike. And don’t even get me started on their amazing clothing. Just as I become tempted to own one of everything, they have their semi-annual sale and I’m “forced” to get a few things for myself, at 50% off. Just try it for yourself. Dark eye makeup, unkempt hair and hangover optional…
FINDING THE TRUE MEANING OF BURNOUT
This is a relatively new find for me, but I like the way this woman thinks. Dr. Joan Borysenko has written a book titled Fried: Why You Burn Out and How To Revive which explains the difference between our so often diagnosed blue moments, when everyone starts uttering the D word. While depression is a continued state of being, treated only with therapy and drugs, burnout is quite simply doing too much of your own thing and getting fed up with it. Its preferred therapy: a nice long vacation. There is so much more info from the good doctor, available in her book. While I’m blessed with the Italian mentality that depression does not exist, I can definitely sell my family on the concept of FRIED and order us all to go to Hawaii for medical reasons!
CUTE GIRLS WHO DON’T ACT CUTE IN MOVIES LIKE BLACK SWAN, MIRAL AND TRUE GRIT
As the great Fran Lebowitz says in Public Speaking, the Martin Scorsese documentary about her – and I paraphrase – “Women want power, men have power. But men won’t easily share it because no one wants others to have what they have.” But on the other side of the spectrum, some amazing men have been making incredible films with strong, strange and at times a bit scary women characters and that’s just fine by me. Give me a Nina – not me, the Natalie Portman version – or a Miral and Hind from Schnabel’s film or Mattie by the Coen Brothers and my feministic muscles feel relaxed and happy. Cheers to the new Heroines of Hollywood, I say!
EATING WITH ALL THE GUSTO BUT NONE OF THE GUILT
We at The Ajnabee also have a great heroine and her name is Kanwal Ullah. It is because of her recipes, and now her wonderful new restaurant reviews, that we are able to keep the pounds off while still enjoying tasty foods with lots of flavor and spice. Eating healthy does not mean filling up on bland, dry recipes and only chowing down salads and sprouts. What it does mean, in her able hands, is lots of great recipes that are easy on time, calories and money but never skimp on great taste. Check out Kanwal’s Healthy Corner here weekly on Wednesday evening and see what she whips up for us next.
CREATING A BEAUTY ROUTINE THAT WORKS
While we are definitely in the dumps with this economy and everyone is trying to nickel and dime us, we can still find our inner goddess, or god. This simply means finding a workout routine that allows us to spend minimal money and time on it, while giving us the best results. I am a huge fan of Yoga and jogging, as a combo to stretch and increase strength. Throw in a couple of 8 lb. dumbbells – 20 for the men – and you’ve got THE complete workout. I need the discipline of a trainer, once a week, which is why I swear by High Performance in Chelsea. For hair, well you know my secret – Salon Musa, and for nails, another must for releasing your inner glam queen or king, try Jin Soon, at three locations around NYC.
BOOKS THAT MAKE US THINK, LAUGH, CRY
My list does NOT include THAT book, you know the one with the three words which was recently made into an equally silly movie starring Julia Roberts… What I mean are stories like Rula Jebreal’s Miral, or Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, or Geoff Dyer’s Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, which all are bound to bring out sentiments so big I suggest reading these gems at home, and not at – say – the hairdresser, where your feelings will end up overwhelming you, tears will flow and your stylist will think you are having a breakdown… Eh hum and yes, that is from personal experience. Please don’t say “I can see the film” because it is a completely different experience and it’s much better to be prepared for that extra layer of visuals which the film versions will feature. Read the book, then watch the film. Repeat.
FINDING A SOUNDTRACK FOR OUR LIVES
We may not live in Bollywood’s outrageous setups or even call Hollywood our home – anymore! – but we can still feel like a star, especially during a time of year that calls for making resolutions and plans for the future. I say, make yourself a soundtrack and call it MY LIFE. In this playlist you should have a song that makes you laugh, one that makes you cry, one that makes you want to love with all your heart and a dance track. While mine at the moment is sounding an awful lot like the soundtrack from Sofia Coppola’s latest Somewhere, with songs like Cool by Gwen Stefani and My Hero by the Foo Fighters, I know it will change with each passing stage… Today it may have more US rock, but tomorrow it may just feature Arab ballads and Hindi pop songs. Make yours personal and rock out to it!