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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.
There is very little connective tissue in F. Gary Gray’s sprawling biopic about one of the most notorious and controversial Gansta’ Rap groups of our time, N.W.A. Written by Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff and a handful of other largely untested writers, Straight Outta Compton may not be the most cohesive of biographies, though there’s just enough affective material to draw on to pack a small punch.
The story begins in 1986, where we come to know drug dealer, Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright (Mitchell), aspiring DJ, musician and father, Andre ‘Dr Dre’ Young, and hip-hop poet, O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson, who – all battling their own struggles – form what becomes N.W.A alongside M.C Ren (Hodge), D.J Yella (Brown Jr.) and The D.O.C (Yates Jr.), with Eazy E’s drug money providing funding. As is so often the case though, fame and success begin to slowly create friction between the members.
Unlike their music – a raw and an explicit depiction of everyday life in the ghetto - Straight Outta Compton feels a little bland in comparison and is almost going through the motions with its story, rarely taking the time to us the larger-than-life moments that could have been better captured. Like so many bipoics, the film seems at a loss as to how to cover so much material in a span of a feature-length film that at 2 hours and 20 minutes is already rather long. As a result the film fails to depict the group’s legacy – it’s a little unfelt.
The performances are quite pedestrian, with the sole exception of O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s brilliant portrayal of his father, while even the surprisingly versatile Giamatti isn’t able to assert his role in the overall plot. Nonetheless, Straight Outta Compton has the intangible sense of nostalgia that’s farther emphasised by its larger-than-life characters. It’s a film that needed to be made. We just wish it would have been made better.
If you are in the mood for an uncomplicated, lighthearted and a feel-good romantic-comedy viewing, then Nancy Meyers is the one to turn to for help. Known for movies such as Private Benjamin, Something’s Gotta Give and The Holiday, the 65 year-old writer-director – who is often referred to as the female version of Woody Allen – always delivers and she does so again with The Intern: a likable cross-generation comedy that is kept afloat by a dependably engaging script and a couple of amiable lead performances.
Set in New York City, The Intern is centered on Ben Whittaker (De Niro); a 70-year-old widower who has become frustrated with the retirement lifestyle and is desperate for something to fill that ‘hole’ in his now, mundane and predictable everyday existence. Luckily, his prayers are soon answered, when he comes across an advertisement for a senior internship program at an online fashion company, founded by the high-strung CEO, Jules Ostin (Hathaway).
Ben applies and is soon accepted, ultimately landing a spot as Jules very own personal assistant. However, Jules is not so keen on the idea and doesn’t really know how to deal with the unusually well-mannered senior, deciding its best to keep him at an arm’s length. Nevertheless, Ben – an extremely patient man who may not be particularly tech savvy but knows a thing or two about life– soon finds a way to get closer to his boss and offer her the much-needed support, just in time when her career and position of power is at stake.
There is something awfully comforting about watching a Nancy Meyers film, as not only are her movies pleasing to the eye –her movie sets have ended up wondering onto the pages of numerous decorating catalogues over the years – but there is also something terribly gratifying in knowing how her stories will turn out in the end. Straightforward and extremely likable, the same goes for her latest directorial effort, a movie which may not be on the same creative level as Something’s Gotta Give perhaps, but still has plenty of its own harmless charms – no matter how far-fetched they may seem – to earn a warm viewing recommendation; a stamp of approval aimed mainly at a slightly older audience.
Stuck somewhere between a buddy-comedy and a romantic drama, The Intern is not entirely flawless and Meyers seems to have had a little trouble in setting out an even tone throughout; additionally, the subplot involving Rene Russo – who plays the company masseuse– is never really looked into or explored. However, it’s the two leads that keep The Intern from falling apart as both De Niro and Hathaway bring so much heart and chemistry to their respective roles that it makes it awfully difficult not to be drawn into their white-collar world.
Easygoing, likeable and perhaps a little too safe, The Intern is not Meyers’ best work to date but, it’s reliable and entertaining. What more do you need?