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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.
Created and directed by award-winning animators, Helene Giraud and Thomas Szabo – and based on a popular French animated television series – Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants is a story of friendship and courage told entirely without words.
Set in the diminutive world of insects, the film opens with a sprawling and sun-drenched forest landscape setting, where wildlife is at peace.
After witnessing the birth of ladybug triplets, their very-first flying lesson and the ill-fated separation of the youngest offspring, the story brings its focus on an abandoned picnic, left behind by a live-action couple.
It doesn’t take long before a group of animated black ants move in, delighted to get their hands on a tin box of sugar cubes. However, before they can whizz off back to their colony with their newly-found treasure, they discover a ladybug trapped in the box.
Intrigued and fascinated by their discovery, the black ants quickly make friends with the little bug, who – as they will soon learn – is set to play an important role in their quest; their plan is intermitted by an army of evil red ants, who just like everyone else, wish to get their hands on the sugary fortune.
Unlike the more flashy and boisterous Hollywood animated, Minuscule takes a whole different approach to the matter. Simple, undemanding and dialogue-free, with no star-studded cast to fill the void, the story celebrates wildlife, relishing in the glorious beauty of Mother Nature.
Shot in 3D, the visuals are wonderful, but never overbearing. Everything from the cleverly-constructed creepy-crawlies, their boggy eyes and their indistinguishable voices, to the picturesque dense-forest scenery, makes the film a truly unique, unforgettable experience.
Playful and entertaining, Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants offers a terrific insight into the world of these hard-working and untiring little soldiers, who – not unlike humans – have their own barriers to cross and battles to conqueror.
Based on a true story, George Clooney’s World War II set gilm, The Monuments Men – inspired by Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History – tells a tale of heroism and the importance of preserving cultural heritage.
Set in the final stages of World War II, the story follows Frank Stokes (Clooney); an art historian who assembles a team of art specialists to help track down, and retrieve, all of the priceless artefacts stolen by the Nazis during their invasion of Europe.
Eager to participate, the team includes a brittle museum curator, James Granger (Damon), theatre operator, Preston Savitz (Balaban), loopy architect, Richard Campbell (Murray), shabby sculptor, Walter Garfield (Goodman), French art dealer, Jean-Claude Clermont (Dujardin), and Englishman, Donald Jeffries (Bonneville). Arriving in Europe, the team splits into groups to search for clues across Germany and France; however, the leads to the missing treasure are not so easy to find, and with the Germans threatening to destroy all of the stolen artwork, Stokes and his team need to work fast if they are ever to retrieve the precious goods.
The star-studded, multi-Oscar-winning cast appear relatively at ease in their respective roles and emdoy their respective characters well. Murray offers a couple of memorable moments, while his onscreen hostility towards the equally entertaining Balaban is entertaining throughout. The energy between Clooney and Damon, meanwhile, is like seeing to old friends getting back together, following their Ocean’s Eleven days. Unfortunately, Blanchett’s role as the secretive, extremely cautious French museum employee is incredibly underwritten, while the dynamics between Goodman and Dujardin, wh spend much of the film together, feels forced.
The cinematography is impressive and the structure of switching between different chapters of the story is clever; however, with Clooney starring, directing and producing, he may have just given himself too much to do. The overall final execution leaves the film with very little room – or time – for the story or its colourful characters to fully develop.
Riddled with pacing issues, The Monuments Men, is refreshingly bloodless, humorous and touching at times, but ultimately fails to build on either emotion or momentum, leaving Clooney’s message of the significance of a culture’s of history and heritage a little lost.