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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.
Chances are that the average moviegoer won’t be all that familiar with Ant-Man – not unless you’re a hardcore Marvel fanatic – but the previous anonymity of miniature-sized superhero who dates back to the 60s, doesn’t prevent it from becoming one of the most entertaining and successful combinations of action and comedy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Directed by Peyton Reed, the story is centered on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd); a skilled cat burglar who is ready to reunite with his young daughter, Cassie (Fortson), and put his life back on track after a stint in prison. However, finding the right line of work for an ex-felon is never easy and Scott is soon reeled back into his old ways by his friend and ex-cellmate, Luis (Peña), who convinces him to break into a San Francisco mansion to steal an old man’s fortune. After a successful break in, Scott finds no money; just motorcycle-type suit and a helmet. Convinced that the job is a total bust, Scott is soon shocked to learn that once he dons the suit and presses a special button, he is reduced to ant-size. Amazed at the discovery, Scott soon comes face-to-face with the suit’s inventor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who’s looking to find someone with the right set of skills to take over on his invention and help him put a stop to his one-time protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has taken over his company and is now getting ready to unleash ‘Yellowjacket’; a special-suit threatening to endanger world order.
Much like last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the humour not only plays a large part of Ant-Man, but serves to be the driving force of the film. Embellished with a bold colour palette, Ant-Man looks fantastic it never becomes overbearing – something that many superhero’s tend to adopt. Written by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Rudd himself, Ant-man’s screenplay is engaging and smart enough to give the audience the time to get to know and invest in the characters fully.
Speaking of characters, the cast is superb and for those who had doubts that Rudd - yes, the same guy who plays Mike on Friends - could pull it off, will be pleasantly surprised. Sporting an impressive six-pack, Rudd is extremely likable – and flexible – as the eponymous character, while Douglas, as the scene-stealing scientist, is the quiet force of the film.
Playing out as more of a comedy than a straightforward super-hero action, Ant-Man never takes itself too seriously and, even though it’s not as visually grand or as explosive as any of the Avengers films, it is still more than capable of standing on its own. Two (unlikely) thumbs up. How Ant-Man will come to play apart in the wider plot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be interesting to see.
Most actors and directors will tell you that tackling a biopic is no easy task. The portrayal of any iconic figure – loved or hated – comes with pitfalls and any filmmaker faces an uphill struggle before the first scene is even filmed.
Such is the case with Diana; a biopic detailing the most tumultuous times of the late Princess Diana that ultimately fails to match the splendour and majesty of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
Based on Kate Snell’s book, Diana: Her Last Love, the story opens on that ill-fated night in Paris in 1997 with Princess Diana (Watts) walking down a hallway towards a waiting elevator – recorded by the hotel’s CCTV cameras – before heading out and climbing into a waiting car.
The events then rewind back to two years before the tragic death, with Princess Di finding herself drowning in bad publicity, following her separation from Prince Charles. The once media-darling struggles to keep her private life away from the public eye and bloodthirsty paparazzi.
She soon finds comfort in British born- Pakistani heart surgeon, Hasnat Khan (Andrews), whom she meets during a hospital visit. Diana is instantly besotted and she quickly begins pursuing the sweet-talking doctor who is, naturally, flabbergasted by her interest in him.
Their relationship is soon splashed all over the media and the immense pressure of it all becomes a too difficult for Hasnat to handle. Trying to balance his now highly-publicised love affair with one of the most influential women on the planet and the disapproval of his family in Pakistan soon drives Diana away and into the arms of one Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) as more drama ensues.
Two-time academy-award nominated actress, Naomi Watts, tries her best to bring authenticity to the monumentally tricky role and, to her credit, succeeds in some parts. That aura of vulnerability, that soft-spoken voice and the all too famous shy gaze beneath those long lashes is captured wonderfully; however, anything else that may have been buried deep beyond the façade is never fully explored.
Meanwhile, Andrews – of Lost fame – looks like he may have bitten more than he can chew; aimless and ineffectual pretty much the whole way through, he manages to overstate his every move and that spark of chemistry – which initially brought these two lovebirds together – is never really felt on screen.
Directed by Oliver Hirchbiegel, this could have been a heart-rending tale of one of the most beloved figures of our time. Instead, it fails to really utilise the endless well of inspiration that is impossible love.
Diana never truly grabs your attention; it’s ultimately uninteresting, unexciting and a little too inclined to the haziness of a soap opera.