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Sarkhat Namla: Definitely Not the Official Film of the Revolution
Sarkhat Namla revolves around the economic differences in Egypt seen through the eyes of Gouda (Abdel Gelil), an Egyptian contractor who was wrongly imprisoned in Iraq. The film tries to address the issues that Egyptians have been faced with in increasing economic difficulties such as the increase in food commodity prices, the rate of corruption and their effects on the Egyptian people.
Upon returning from Iraq, Gouda is disillusioned at the depressing state of the country. With very little to his name, Gouda finds himself in conflict; his sense of patriotism compels him to get involved in the revolution, but at the same time, his efforts to live a comfortable life lead him to become involved in the same type of underhandedness that the revolution is rising up against. Naturally, this inner struggle drives Gouda to extreme measures and consequences.
Originally meant to be a comedy, the story suffers from many elements that simply felt forced. Since it's mainly seen through the eyes of Gouda, you'll get the feeling that his jokes are misplaced. Egyptian films in the last twenty years or so have invariably pulled off adding humour to real-life situations but sadly, it doesn’t work here. It wasn't only the script that was the downfall of the film; but the setting as well.
Sarkhat Namla’s advertising campaign positioned it as the official film of the revolution. This is inaccurate, as it tries to focus on the events that helped in inspiring the revolution. In fact, the shooting was almost completed before January 25th, and when the revolution kicked off, additional scenes were filmed to make it more relevant. This further adds to the mess of the script, as the story seems disjointed. Another contributing factor is surely the fact that it had to be quickly edited after being picked to screen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Abel Gelil turns in an adequate performance that doesn’t stray too far from his usual style. On the other hand, Youssef fails to shine and isn’t adequately used, appearing intermittently as Gouda's belly-dancer wife. The rest of the cast are distinctly average; nothing more, nothing less.
It’s actually astounding how the film fails to deliver on any of its promises. It’s neither really about the revolution, nor is it funny; the jokes and scenarios are worn out, the parts that specifically talk about the revolution only do so in a very shallow way, and images and footage of the protests are used awkwardly. Ultimately, Sarkhat Namla is a poorly executed film that fails to portray an important and topical subject adequately.
The fourth and supposedly last film in Bryan Singer’s X-Men reboot trilogy has a decent mix of action and visual splendor enough to keep the fans happy; only the movie is not short of stretched out running time and lack of emotional gravity.
Set in the early eighties – almost a decade after the events in Washington D.C exposed mutants to the world at large - the story begins with Professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy) seemingly happy teaching at his school for the gifted where we get to meet several new faces, including Scott Summers’ Cyclops (Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Turner).
Meanwhile, Magneto is keeping a low-profile somewhere out in Poland whilst Mystique (Lawrence) is busy travelling around the world looking to free enslaved mutants, coming across a special young man known as Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee).
When the remains of En Sabah Nur – a.k.a. Apocalypse - (Isaac) are discovered in the deepest trenches of Egypt, the powerful mutant is soon awakened and he is not happy.
With plans to rule the world, he recruits The Four Horseman including, Psylocke (Munn), Storm (Shipp), Archangel (Hardy) and Magneto himself and it doesn’t take long before he begins his reign of terror upon the world, forcing the students – led by Mystique and Beast (Hoult) – to come together and learn to control their powers in order to fight the new evil.
While it does reach a certain level of superiority above its previous installments in terms of visual grandness and action set-pieces, X-Men: Apocalypse has failed to raise the stakes in its supposedly closing chapter– sure there is more death and devastation on display but the consequences are free from any emotional impact - with Singer struggling to find sentiment and meaning in his a little too serious world of mutants.
On the other hand, however, the movie delivers on the action front with a couple of sequences - including Quicksilver’s (Peters) dazzling showdown inside of a burning building and Magneto’s takedown of Auschwitz – while Apocalypse’s very own mythological beginning earns the movie points for creativity.
Performance wise, X-Men’s younger cast doesn’t exactly ooze confidence in their very first X-Men outing, however, they are all still very likable and watching them learn to embrace their powers is entertaining. Meanwhile, the turbulent relationship between Xavier and Magneto – both McAvoy and Fassbender reliable in their roles– takes a seat back with the duo sharing very little screen time this time around.
As for the major villain of the story, well, he is not as threating as the movie might want him to be and despite Isaac’s best intentions, he doesn’t really manage to resonate as anything but a one-note villain.
X-Men: Apocalypse may not be one of the series’ finest entries to date. Big, colorful and not as loud as it should have been, the movie offers more of the same; which, depends on how you look at it, is not exactly a bad thing.
There’s a certain draw to the idea of watching George Clooney and his real-life gal-pal Julia Roberts together on-screen. The duo’s fourth movie together, after Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, comes in the form of director Jodie Foster’s fourth-feature-film, Money Monster; an intriguing but seemingly cheesy and off-balance financial thriller which, despite its brief moments of genuine tension and topical subject, feels empty and somewhat even outdated in its storytelling.
The film tells of Lee Gates (Clooney); a flamboyant TV host of a financial show called ‘Money Monster’ where he provides advice to his viewers on how, where and when to invest their money. Gates has earned quite a bit of success in doing what he does, though his long-time producer, Patty Fenn (Roberts), is deserving of most of the credit.
Things take a turn, however, when IBIS Global Capital's stock takes a tumbling dive and results in an $800 million loss for its investors - a day after Gates advises viewers to invest. The studio is then taken hostage during a live broadcast by one seemingly irate and explosives-strapped investor, Kyle Budwell (O’Connell), who has lost his entire life savings and blames Gates.
One of the most disappointing things about Money Monster is how predictable it all feels with its socio-political commentary. Attempting to depict the ugly face of Wall Street, the subject is a topical one, yes, but has been covered much more affectively with recent films such as The Big Short and 99 Homes. Adding very little understanding or insight into its subject, Foster keeps things relatively tight in the first half, only to lose focus and complete control in the second when the plot swerves off-course into moments of complete implausibility, as the Julia Roberts’ Patty figures that the only way to diffuse the hostage situation is to go digging into IBIS, to provide an explanation to the hostage taker.
However, Clooney and Roberts share an easy chemistry and seem very much at home with their respective roles, with the former offering just enough charisma as the media pinhead with a heart of gold and Roberts keeping things grounded as his steadfast producer and friend. O’Connell, dubious New York accent aside, is equally convincing, however, the solid performances make little difference. Money Monster is just too contrived, uninvolving and one-dimensional.