To stave off possible boredom while at home, every week Marhaba delves in to the wonderful world of popular culture to find the best new TV series, movies, books and music.


New to HBO, Amazon Prime and OSN Qatar on 14 September is The Third Day, a collaboration between HBO, Sky Studios, Plan B Entertainment and Punchdrunk. This dramatic folk-horror miniseries tells the stories of Sam (Jude Law) in Summer, and Helen (Naomie Harris) in Winter, who both arrive on an island at different times. Sam rescues a troubled teenage girl on the beach and offers to take her home to Osea, a strange island off the British coast, and meets a group of eccentric locals led by Mr and Mrs Martin (Paddy Considine and Emily Watson). Enough red flags are waved about the locals’ behaviour to suggest Sam should leave – but he feels compelled to stay. In Winter, Helen comes to Osea with her daughters for the eldest’s birthday. Neither daughter is happy to be on a remote island, but know their mother is there for some as yet secret reason. In the middle of these is Fall, a 12-hour live experience taking place on Osea during the fall festival; HBO has said it is not necessary to watch this, but it may enhance the viewer’s understanding of the other episodes.


If The Third Day doesn’t scratch your psychological itch, The Devil All the Time will. It is a tense thriller based on the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, and was released in some theatres on 11 September before landing on Netflix on 16 September. Actor/producer Jake Gyllenhaal heads a star-studded cast – Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, Riley Keough and Mia Wasikowska – to bring to life an epic tale of Southern gothic-noir nostalgia. Set in the 1950s and 1960s (with an appropriate strong soundtrack), psychopaths, a crooked sheriff, and other sinister characters threaten to scupper Arvin (Tom Holland) as he tries to protect his family from evil forces. The movie’s descent into darkness has strong performances from the cast – especially Holland who is managing to shed his fresh-faced Spiderman persona – and is enhanced by the gravelly-voiced narration of author Pollock.

Don’t forget – you can get cinema timings for all the new theatre releases in Qatar here.


What to Watch, Read and Listen to

Hiding in plain sight in a leafy English village, Ursula Burton was not the shy and unassuming wife and mother of three children that she led people to believe. Born Ursula Kuczynski, she was in fact one of the Soviet Union’s highest ranking intelligence officers. Agent Sonya is the remarkable story of how she and her husband ran one of the most powerful agent networks in Europe, hunted by the Chinese, the Nazis, MI5 and MI6, and the FBI. Author Ben Macintyre writes for The Times in the UK and has written a number of books including the bestselling The Spy and The Traitor and A Spy Among Friends. He now brings us the true-life story of Sonya, having had access to her diaries and correspondence, as well as previously unseen information regarding her illicit activities. Sonya was one of Russia’s most daring wartime spies, instrumental in changing the course of the Cold War, due to her proliferation for stealing scientific secrets to enable the Soviet Union to build a nuclear bomb. This book is one of those examples of truth being stranger than fiction.


What to Watch, Read and Listen to

Alicia Keys recently announced on Twitter – as in just a couple of days ago! – that her new album will be released on 18 September. ALICIA is the artist’s seventh studio album, with the accompanying promotional tour delayed until further notice. The full soundtrack hasn’t been announced as yet, but will include the singles Time Machine, Underdog, So Done featuring Khalid, Show Me Love featuring Miguel, Love Looks Better, and Good Job. Keys revealed in an interview the reason for the album’s title: ‘That’s why I feel so strongly about calling this work ALICIA. Because I feel like I have, for the first time, been most fully myself now.’ You can catch Alicia and ALICIA in a virtual concert on 18 September to celebrate the album’s release – visit for details.

Author: Sarah Palmer

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