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Juliette’s Trousers: Leggings Are Not Trousers
This film is a graduation project mostly shot on the AUC campus. Now as any student who’s tried to make a film knows, filmmaking is incredibly hard work; it can be very costly, even if you’re working with a micro budget, and usually it consists of using friends for as much free labour as possible. It’s an immensely difficult task and requires major guts and perseverance, but having said that, Juliette’s Trousers isn’t a very good film. And while some of its faults can be blamed on a small budget, the film’s biggest fault is in the script and plot; two things that could have held it together should all else fail.
The film revolves around the idea that leggings are not trousers and should not be treated as such. Arguing this is Tarek El Ibiary, while taking the stand for the opposing side is his girlfriend Mona Lasheen. He disapproves that she wears leggings with short tops; she maintains that her fashion choices are none of his business. This is the one issue that poses a problem for them in their otherwise blissful relationship and the film is basically a chronicle of how Mona’s leggings brought them together then tore them apart.
Funnily enough for a film with a central argument, it fails to make a convincing case for either side. The characters speak in clichés and platitudes never delving beyond the surface. Their arguments can be summed up to: leggings overly reveal a girl’s body, and the counter argument that girls are free to wear whatever they want. What is absolutely astounding is that not once does Mona tell Tarek that perverts will stare at a woman no matter what she’s wearing, and that the onus is on the harasser to stop and not on the woman to alter her lifestyle. There was clearly a concerted effort to avoid sexist tropes but due to the film’s shallowness, they fall into many of them anyway. For example, the justification that he is doing this because he cares and isn’t a control freak is trotted out a few times, though this makes it no better. The film doesn’t seem to realize that sexism is sexism no matter how sugar coated or how well-intended that person is.
Another problem that goes hand in hand with the aforementioned one is that the characters are wildly inconsistent with Tarek being the number one example of that. He fluctuates all over the place, starting out as a guy who’s idea of a good time is watching women as they walk by - in fact that’s how he first met Mona - only to become possessive when his friends insinuate that her leggings are a sign of her easiness. From then on, he goes back and forth between being mad at her for wearing them and supporting her right to wear whatever she wants. The acting doesn’t help much either; the cast is made up of amateurs and therefore the dialogue often sounds forced.
As for the technical side of things, the film is for the most part, poorly shot, lit and edited; some ‘funky’ editing tricks are liberally used, giving it an amateur feel - but there are some commendable points nonetheless. It was a pleasant surprise to see that even though the film revolves around leggings, not once did the camera focus on a woman’s curves, preferring instead to use multiple below the knee shots and guys’ reactions to convey the idea. The filmmakers chose the anti objectification route and kudos to them for that; this choice seemed to send a stronger message than all of the film’s dialogue. It says that women shouldn’t be ogled at no matter what they’re wearing and that is ultimately a very decent message to send.
Arriving fourteen years after the last Jurassic Park entry, the fourth film in the twenty-two-year old franchise is finally here with Trevorrow’s Jurassic World; a thrilling, but flawed, addition to the series that never really recapture the magic of the original, but still manages to excite and serve as a fitting summer blockbuster.
Picking up twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, the story is centred in and around the dinosaur amusement park on Isla Nublar, belonging to billionaire Simon Masrani (Khan), who has taken the idea from the late John Hammond and turned it into a multi-million dollar reality. Responsible for managing the park’s security is rigid operation manager, Claire (Howard), while her impressively knowledgeable colleague – and love interest - Owen (Pratt) is in charge of training the park’s dinosaurs.
As one might expect when playing god, things quickly go wrong when the genetically engineered Indominus Rex – the park’s latest attraction – escapes from its enclosure leaving Simon and his team of soldiers – led by Vic (D’Onofrio) – to fight of the giant monster.
Having spent over a decade in development limbo, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction to be found in the realisation of what, at times, like a pipedream for diehard fans. Though reception has been mixed, Jurassic World proves to be a thrillingly visualised world. The park and all of its bells and whistles – including a petting zoo and a triceratops ride – are designed with careful detailing and the film succeeds in communicating a sense of awe and wonder.
However, in the harsh light of day, the film just doesn’t have the same impact, when considering the fact that the plot isn’t all that fresh – in fact, the skeleton of the story is the same – scientists play god, things go wrong, step forward hero. Granted, the dinosaurs being substantially larger and smarter adds a grandeur to proceedings, their human counterparts aren’t so lucky.
Performances by both Pratt – channelling his inner Indiana Jones – and Howard are solid, however, most of the characters aren’t explored or fleshed out enough to make you care about the outcome, leaving the mass destruction the hub of enjoyment – and it’s simply not enough.
Considered by some quarters to be Spielberg’s biggest contribution to Hollywood, Jurassic Park has a timeless quality about it; a quality that stacks the odds against a successful sequel even more so. This is a top popcorn movie, so to speak, but just lacks the sheer magnitude in ingenuity of the original. But then again, it has broken several box office records.
Melissa McCarthy can rightly be thought of as a guaranteed box office draw, but even as she continues to climb the Hollywood comedy ladder, there has been more misuse of her comedic talents than fans would care to admit. But, boasting an interesting cast, Paul Feig’s latest action-comedy flick, Spy, puts McCarthy centre-stage and though there’s nothing groundbreaking or even particularly fresh here, there’s a decent amount of humour and brainless fun to be found in its surprisingly effective R-rated offerings.
Though this is the third collaboration between McCarthy and Feig – see comedy hit, Bridesmaids, and last year’s not-so-hot, The Heat – Spy sees the bubbly and versatile actress take a lead role under the writer-director for the first time as Susan Cooper; a sharp and an able CIA analyst who spends most of her day sitting behind computer screens, dreaming of one day going into the field. Essentially, she is the eyes and ears for one of the agency’s best field agents, Bradley Fine (Law), who, unfortunately, is totally unaware of her affections towards him.
Things soon go awry when Fine’s latest mission in Varna, Bulgaria goes bust, leaving the identities of the CIA’s top agents compromised. Seizing the opportunity to show what she’s made of, Susan manages to convince her boss (the terribly underused Allison Janney) to let her go undercover and track down Rayna Boyanov (Byrne); the daughter of a deceased arms dealer who has managed to get a hold of a nuclear device and is the only person on the planet who knows where her father might have hidden it.
Positioning itself as a bit of James-Bond spoof, Spy is engagingly humorous and, at times, brutal in a cartoonish way. It doesn’t take itself seriously and there’s a good dose of just plain silliness and far-fetched ideas thrown into the mix. But it’s still far from perfect; some of the jokes miss the mark – McCarthy’s ‘bodyguard-talk’ being the exception – while the action set-pieces and the visuals aren’t as refined as that of, say, Kingsman: The Secret Service, for example – another recent spy-comedy.
Nevertheless, McCarthy is the heart and soul of the party and as a woman who is constantly judged by her appearance, she manages to deliver a surprisingly heartfelt performance, all the while keeping her comedy acting-chops intact. Meanwhile, Byrne – equipped with a deadpan expression and extravagant hairdos – is equally entertaining and her character’s femme-fatale persona is cleverly lampooned. Law has proven he can adapt and deliver in comedies and does so as a handsome and vain operative, while Statham delivers the role of a wired field agent in surprisingly amusing fashion.
Spy is another fine collaboration between Feig and his go-to-girl, McCarthy; witty at times, brainless at others, not everything seems to gel, but if you’re in the mood for a mindless globe-trotting adventure, then Spy ticks all the boxes for an easy-breezy watch.