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Samy Oxyde Al Carbone: Tired, Silly Slapstick Comedy
Samy (Ramzi) is a jobless playboy, who spends his time wasting money and chasing women. Then he meets and falls for Gihan (Dorra), a hardcore social activist who regularly organises protests and despises egocentric, wealthy people like him. In order to impress her, Samy does what any man in his position would do, and pretends to be a low-maintenance, working class version of himself. While trying to woo Gihan and fit into her activist circle, Samy discovers that the land he owns is being contaminated by pollution from a nearby factory owned by Gaber (Fawzy). Karma can get you like that.
Things become even more complicated when Samy's ex-wife Haidy (Tetiana) reappears after many years only to tell him that he has a daughter called Sandy (Nasrat). Haidy is terminally ill and can’t take care of Sandy, and so Samy suddenly has the responsibility of fathering a child he’s never known of. This is, understandably, Samy’s opportunity to redeem himself and become a changed man. Queue the violins or the Rocky theme tune; both are fitting.
The film's main plot is actually split into two parts; the first is about him changing into something he's not, and the second revolves around his dealing with the responsibility of parenthood. Predictably, both stories suffer from various annoying elements. To begin with, Ramzi’s depiction of a successful womaniser is very hard to believe – the actor has pulled off the awkward, dorky roles for years, but he lacks the suave charm to convince us of his flirting skills.
Additionally, his father-daughter scenes with Nasrat are forced and seem to shove the jokes down the audience’s throats. An example of this is a when Samy and his best friend Medhat (Edward) dress up in various costumes, including Avatar characters, in an attempt to entertain his newly acquired daughter. Nasrat does her best adorable act as the charismatic young daughter, but it borders on slapstick and – again – forced.
Director Akram Farid seems to have borrowed themes from US films like Game Plan and Big Daddy, but this film lacks the charm and humour to pull it off. Essentially, this film is all about Ramzi, which is unfortunate considering that his flat portrayal of an immature man lacks the type of charisma needed with an anti-hero character like this, and fails to command the audience’s attention. His cheesy lines don’t help either. Even hardcore Ramzi fans will be disappointed, and the supporting cast fails to impress: as Samy’s best friend Medhat, Edward plays the same funny sidekick that we’ve seen him play before, while Dorra’s efforts are lacklustre as she gives a lukewarm performance with little charm.
By Egyptian standards, this comedy is weak and almost offensively silly in its use of cheap humour. This type of slapstick comedy may have worked back in the 90s, which in hindsight is still a little embarrassing if it did, but you’d think that Egyptian cinema has evolved and improved in the past two decades.
Pierce Brosnan returns to the world of action films as an ex-CIA operative in Roger Donaldson’s latest espionage drama, The November Man; a clichéd spy thriller that relies heavily on outdated tactics to deliver the goods.
Written by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek, and set mostly in Eastern Europe, the film opens in 2008 with the veteran CIA operative, Peter Devereaux (Brosnan), teaching the tricks of the trade to new recruit, David Mason (Bracey), whilst out on a mission. However, when Mason fails to follow through with the instructions given, the mission – although successful – leave an innocent civilian dead.
The story then fast forwards to five years later, with the now retired Devereaux drinking his pension away. He is soon approached by his former colleague, John Hanley (Smitrovich), who wants him to get back into the game for one last job; travel to Moscow and help extract a CIA contact who holds valuable information on the soon-to-be president, Arkady Federov (Ristovski).
With a little bit of Bourne, Mission Impossible and Bond thrown into the mix, it’s easy to see where inspiration has been drawn for The November Man. Loosely based on Bill Granger’s 80’s novel, There Are No Spies, Roger Donaldson – see Cocktail and Dante’s Peak – manages to offer a couple of relatively interesting action set-pieces; however, with the incorporation of every single espionage trick in the book, the minutes tend to feel a little predictable, outdated and, most of all, terribly clichéd.
Despite the film’s shortcomings, Brosnan manages to hold his own and although his particular action mould lacks edge, he still manages to charm his way through the film and delivers a performance that’s relatively entertaining, if a little too wholesome in the context of modern action films.
On the whole, The November Man is a generic and a somewhat conventional thriller but for those looking forward to seeing Mr. Brosnan back in the spotlight, it does provide a certain level of enjoyment.
In 2006, John Carney wrote and directed a small indie-romance breakout hit, Once, and ended up walking away with an Oscar for Best Song, a Grammy for its folksy soundtrack and a Tony for its stage adaptation. In 2014, he returns to direct another musical-drama, Begin Again; a joyful and a moving story of music and lost souls which, despite its subtle corniness, still manages to hit the right notes.
Scripted by the Irish-born director himself, Begin Again is centred on Dan Mulligan (Ruffalo); a down-on-his-luck record label exec and self-described “selfish, depressed pr*ck” who’s just been fired from the very same company he helped build. His drinking problems, brought on by the bitter divorce from his wife, Miriam (Keener), and a strained relationship with his estranged teenage daughter, Violet (Steinfeld), doesn’t help his situation much and Dan – who is growing more cynical by the minute – is in desperate need of salvation.
His luck soon turns for the better when he meets Greta (Knightley); a British singer-songwriter who reluctantly agrees to play one of her songs during an open-mic night. Immediately taken by her performance – a soulful Norah Jones-like guitar solo – Dan soon begins to create his own music by visualising the instruments surrounding her playing on their own and very quickly decides to offer the Brit a chance to record an album together.
Greta, who is getting over her breakup with her rock-star boyfriend, David Kohl (Levine) – a self-centred musician who is slowly beginning to climb the ladder of success – was scheduled to fly out of New York the very same day. However, she too is taken by Dan’s enthusiasm and agrees to stay behind.
As previously demonstrated in his magnificently unassuming Once, John Carney once again allows the story to flow naturally; fluid and full of grace, Begin Again never feels forced. Some of the film’s best moments are the quiet ones, where no words or dialogue is needed. Naturally, the music is one of the film’s major components and, although the songs tend to feel a little sappy in the beginning the playlist of indie-folk and pop tunes slowly begin to grow on you as the minutes go by.
The performances delivered by the two leads are incredibly sincere and organic and for those doubting Knightley’s singing abilities will be delighted to learn that the young actress handles her task well. The chemistry shared between her and the deliciously neurotic Ruffalo is easy, off-beat and, most of all, engaging, while Levine should probably take a few extra acting lessons before deciding to make another big-screen appearance.
There is a sense of vagueness and general unpredictability that follows the story from beginning to end and that’s probably why Begin Again works. Modest, grounded and incredibly uplifting, it’s one of the year’s best feel-good film.