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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.
It should come as no surprise that Nicholas Cage has once again found himself in a bit of a career-move pickle; starring in yet another poorly crafted and ultimately absurd feature film as he takes on the horror genre.
Whilst working on securing a tenure, literature professor, Mike Lawford (Cage) has been spending a lot of nights away from home, much to the dislike and frustration of his wife, Kirsten (Callies), and their seven-year-old son, Charlie (Fulton), who, as most boys do at this sensitive age, is craving for his father’s attention. After one too many disappointments, Mike is hoping to make up for the lost time by taking Charlie to a nearby Halloween street carnival, where Charlie begins to act strangely, asking his father to “pay the ghost” before disappearing.
One year later, a now divorced Mike is still on the hunt for Charlie and urges Detective Reynolds (Bent) to keep the investigation open and as another Halloween approaches, Mike begins to experience strange apparitions – including large birds flying overhead and strange figures in the mist.
Directed by Uli Edel and written by Dan Kay – who has adapted the story from a novella by Tim Lebbon - there is very little in the story’s core that distinguishes it from other, similarly-fashioned ghost tales of revenge such as The Woman in Black or Dead Silence. There’s no heart, no oomph no passion and very little narrative suspense or anything that resembles tension hiding underneath its already-cracked surface.
Talking about cracked, Cage – an Oscar-winning actor, lest we forget – is surprisingly straight-faced here, with an exception of a few seriously funny wide-eyed moments of disbelief that will have you roaring with laughter rather than empathising with his distraught.
Although riddle with issues, the biggest of which are originality and overall execution of what is decent source material, Pay the Ghost is not as a complete time-waster as some of the actor’s previous films. But it’s still not smart or crafty enough to do much to regenerate and restore the actor’s already tarnished flailing career.
The fourth and final instalment in The Hunger Games film series is upon us and director Francis Lawrence has injected the closing chapter of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling dystopian adventure with a bit more heart and oomph than from what was witnessed in the first and rather dreary half of this two-part tale. However, although Mockingjay Part 2 is definitely a better and more exciting offering, it’s still not completely free of fault.
Mockingjay Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off, with Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) trying to recover after almost being choked to death by her former ‘lover’ and ally, Peeta (Hutcherson), who by the looks of things, seems to have been brainwashed and poisoned with thoughts of killing Katniss. Driven by the anger and her pure hatred for President Snow (Sutherland), Katniss soon escapes District 13 to join an assault on The Capitol under rebel leader, President Coin (Moore), only to discover that there is one last version of the Hunger Games still to play.
One thing’s for sure; Part 2 is a definite improvement over Part 1, which spent most of its time shifting about and setting things up for the big payoff. It’s a problem that we’ve seen before in the waves of adult-fiction novel adaptations – the first half spends so much energy in setting up the second that it fails to convince a stand-alone film. Although the pace picks up, there’s no sense of grandness to what is meant to be a huge finale and, actually, some may even feel underwhelmed by how the plot plays out.
On the plus side, the action is engaging and some of the battle scenes are staged with great attention to detail. In addition, Lawrence is, as always, her fantastic self and she’s once again the anchor on what has been a shaky ship.
As a story which has always attempted to frame the horrors of war through the eyes of a fiercely brave young heroine, so much more could have been done – much like the whole series, there’s something engaging about the finale, but it all feels like a chance missed.