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Geddo Habibi: Cringingly Irritating Egyptian Comedy
Fekreya (Boshra) is a British-raised Egyptian who insists on being called Vicky. Completely broke and out of her job after the stock market crash, she decides visit her estranged grandfather Hussein (Yaseen), who is on his deathbed in Egypt. As his sole heir, she stands to inherit a fortune which would effectively cure her financial woes. Predictably, she gets to Egypt, meets her granddad and after a thorny adjustment period, they become best buds.
The film kicks off with an awful opening credits sequence that really sets up how irritating Vicky’s character is. It was during this sequence that this reviewer first found herself cringing; something that would be repeated quite frequently throughout the rest of its running time. The film’s first act involves Vicky and her roommate harping on about the money Vicky stands to inherit if her grandfather would just die already. The movie paints the roommate as the more awful of the two, although Vicky is every bit as distasteful.
The middle of the film revolves around twenty-something Vicky’s friendship with a bunch of teenage boys and the problems this poses for her grandfather who thinks it isn’t proper. Cue a bunch of partying scenes and her granddad coming home to find kids making out and a random guy offering him a spliff.
The final act has Vicky and her granddad tracking down a former flame of his who, lo and behold, has a grandson who would be perfect for Vicky. This is when the film takes an inexplicable turn for the preachy which, all things considered, is still a definite upgrade to everything that preceded it. It extols, quite heavy-handedly, the virtues of real-love marriages as opposed to arranged ones, and gives Vicky the happy ending she’d been dreaming of forever; a husband.
678 had Boshra showcasing some decent dramatic chops and this reviewer would like to implore her to stick to drama because her comedic timing is completely off. Vicky was something along the lines of a manic, grossly materialistic person until she falls in love and suddenly calms down. It’s a very unlikable character and one that’s frankly highly irritating mainly due to the thrashing around that passes as physical comedy. It was the visual equivalent of nails on a chalk board. On the plus side though, Boshra has a pretty decent English accent.
The rest of the actors didn’t fare much better. Yaseen looks remarkably healthy and active for someone who’s knocking on the doors of death, while Abdel Aziz looks distractingly botoxed and is made up to look like a raccoon. Meanwhile, Fahmy is so bland that he barely registers on screen.
The actors involved in this movie are capable of so much better which makes this wreck even more depressing.
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.
Unable to take the plunge and fully immerse itself into its own pool of ideas, Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime – drawn from the pages of Elmore Leonard’s 1978’s novel, The Switch – is, sadly, neither here nor there.
Set in Detroit, Michigan circa 1978, Life of Crime is centred on inept and useless low-level criminals, Louis (Hawkes) and Ordell (Def), who hope to extract one million dollars from drunken real-estate developer, Frank Dawson (Robbins), for the kidnapping of his seemingly lonely socialite wife, Mickey (Aniston).
The plan seems pretty straightforward at first, but little did they know that Frank – who’s busy canoodling with his young mistress, Melanie (Fisher) at their vacation home in Florida – has already filed for divorce and is now more than happy to use this opportunity to sidestep the obligatory alimony payments.
Now that Frank has called their bluff, things get a little complicated for the hopeless thugs who have clearly not done their research and even more so when Mickey – who is being held hostage at a home of a Nazi-loving fanatic, Richard (Boone Jr.) – comes to realise that her matrimonial bliss has now truly come to end. The deepening relationship between Louis and Mickey only adds fire to the fuel, causing a riff between the two partners, who seem to be running out of both ideas and time.
While the film still manages to serve its purpose and deliver the goods – through a mix of black comedy and slow-burning tension –Schechter, who also wrote the adaptation, plays it too safe; an approach that doesn’t really allow for Elmore Leonard’s distinctive storytelling style to shine through. Life of Crime is not the first Elmore Leonard adaptation – see Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Sonnefeld’s Get Shorty. Unlike those to adaptations, this lacks an edge, leaving it rather placid.
Aniston shines as the lonely trophy wife whose kidnapping – although distressing – also ends up being a one-way ticket out of her isolated and troublesome marriage. The actress, who is not usually seen in these types of roles, manages to show great versatility and the chemistry shared between her and Hawkes is equally convincing. Robbins is persuasive as the alcoholic, two-timing husband while Fisher was deliciously manipulative as the seductive mistress.
Capturing the 70’s era with plenty of polish and charm, Life of Crime is rather forgettable, despite occasionally popping into action – the source material deserved better.