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Baba: Instantly Forgettable, Nonentity of a Film
Our prayers have been answered; El Sakka in a comedy, with nary an explosion or firearm in sight. Too bad this movie’s mediocre at best, though.
El Sakka stars as Hazem, a highly successful gynaecologist specialized in IVF. He meets Fareeda (Dorra), an interior designer, at their mutual friends’ wedding. Hazem and Fareeda fall in love and they soon get married which is when their troubles begin. Fareeda, feeling rather lonely due to Hazem’s insane work schedule, starts pining for a baby to occupy her time. Months of trying with no change in the state of Fareeda’s uterus put a huge strain on their marriage; one that’s compounded when Fareeda asks to be impregnated via IVF, an idea that Hazem takes as an affront to his manhood.
There’s really not much to say about the film; it’s not good, it’s not awful, it’s just there. It won’t have you laughing your head off, no matter how much the filmmakers may want you to, but you might chuckle a few times. Even the novelty of seeing El Sakka in a non-action role doesn’t carry through, since his mannerisms are just as Sakka-ish as ever. The fact that he’s not a police officer or taking down bad guys, though, does make his shtick a lot easier to digest. His co-star, Dorra, is stuck in the kind of wife role reserved for up and coming actresses, i.e. sickly sweet, cute and staunchly inoffensive. She’s fine and the role doesn’t require anything more from her. Either way she’s far better than Saba who has a small role as Hazem’s ex-girlfriend, and who is basically a stereotypical Lebanese sexpot (Is there like a law decreeing that there can’t be any other type of Lebanese women in Egyptian media?).
While the film’s message is something straight out of a Hallmark card and revolves around how kids are adorable little creatures who light up their parents’ lives and give them meaning, the film’s humour revolves almost entirely around sex; something we’re sure will come as an unwelcome shock to many families expecting a cute, child friendly comedy about babies. There are numerous scenes of guys struggling to fill sample bottles with semen, their wives trying, and failing, to help them with an array of lingerie. While these scenes are funny the first few times, the fact that they’re repeated so often and are so predictable makes them get old pretty quickly.
While Eid movies are generally hit and miss, this one’s just not worth seeing. Save your money and go see the similarly heavy-on-the-sex-jokes Ghesh El Zawgeyya instead. At least that way you’re guaranteed a laugh – kind of.
Those going in expecting an action-packed sci-fi adventure, complete with explosions, flying space-ship battles and a full-on war between humans and their extraterrestrial visitors, will be severely disappointed with Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Taking on a more philosophical approach to things, Arrival is an intelligent and a thought-provoking alien-invasion thriller which revels in its own complexity and manages strike all of the right chords, but for a few missteps.
Based on Ted Chiang’s short story titled Story of your Life, the film begins with the arrival of twelve mysterious alien spacecrafts which position themselves at twelve different locations around the globe, igniting fear and paranoia amongst the residents of Earth.
Recruited by Colonel Weber (Whittaker), linguist Louise Banks (Adams) – along with mathematician Ian Donnelly (Renner) – is brought to Montana to help deal with the possible threat by making contact with the aliens in order find out who they are and what their intentions may be.
However, establishing communication with the visitors is not as easy as one would have hoped with Louise soon discovering that the aliens have their own language which uses symbols to communicate. Deciphering their tongue into a language they can understand is no easy task and with the threat of a global war between humans and aliens on the verge of a breakout, Louise must work hard to suppress her own personal demons in order to get the breakthrough she, and everyone else on the planet, needs.
Following his success with a character-driven drama like Prisoners and intense drug-thriller, Sicario, Villeneuve turns to sci-fi this time and manages to deliver yet another impressive – and by far the most ambitious – piece of work. Tackling some rather big questions about life, time and what makes us human, the script - written by Eric Heisserer - works as both a character-focused drama and a sweeping sci-fi adventure. Drenched in an enigmatic aura of the unknown, the pacing is slow and purposeful with Villeneuve unraveling the story’s mysteries steadily but thoroughly, keeping the tension and momentum high, while composer Johann Johansson’s original score, infuses the story with plenty of atmosphere and mood.
Delivering yet another powerful performance, it’s not a stretch to say that Amy Adams is the true star of the show; embracing her character’s strength and vulnerability with plenty of presence and grace, Adams delivers on all fronts, while Renner, although not used as much, is quietly effective.
All in all, Arrival is a winner and although it does struggle a little bit with trying not getting too lost in its own complex ideas, it’s one of the most thought-provoking, touching and moving sci-fi films you will see this year.
On the surface, Robert Zemecki’s slick and a technically pristine WWII-set romantic-espionage-thriller looks like a winner. Boasting an impressive cast and a script by Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight, everything about Allied points to success. However, although visually striking and overall satisfying in terms of action, it’s the film’s central story - the romantic pairing between Mr. Pitt and Ms. Cotillard – fails to ever really get going, leaving the film a little hollow and difficult to invest in.
Set in 1942, the story begins with the introduction of Canadian intelligence officer, Max Vatan (Pitt), who finds himself on a mission in Morocco with French Resistance fighter, Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), who is to play the role of his wife during a covert operation that involves assassinating a high-ranking Nazi official. After successfully carrying out their assignment, the pair’s pretend relationship soon turns into the real thing with the duo soon marrying and welcoming a baby girl into the world, as they settle in war-torn Britain.
However, things are soon turned upside down for Max when he is informed by his by-the-books boss, Frank Heslop (Mad Men’s Jared Harris), that Marianne is currently under investigation and that she, in fact, may be a Nazi spy. Given seventy-two hours to prove her innocence before he will need to kill her, Max soon sets out on his own investigation.
Aesthetically, the film embraces an old-Hollywood approach, with a certain sense of nostalgic glamour and elegance present through the minutes. Told through a wonderfully slick lens frequent Zemeckis collaborator, cinematographer Don Burgess, there's a certain style and sophistication to every single frame. But while the film is pleasing to the eye and Steven Knight’s script boasts plenty of moments of suspense and intrigue, there‘s a serious lack of heart missing from the story, which turns the more passionate moments into melodrama.
In addition, the romance between the two leads is never really sold. Both Pitt and Cotillard definitely look the part and when they are not onscreen together, their performances are affective. However, it’s when they share the screen and viewers are asked to buy into their love story that it all goes south. Allied is a functional and an effective WWII spy thriller. It’s just not as captivating or engaging of a romance-drama that it sells itself to be.