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Ramadan TV: The Godfather - Master and Student
While Sharif continues to make films today, and Abaza passed away in the early eighties, Ramzy came out of retirement in 2001 to star in Wagh El Ammar, the much-hyped-up Ramadan series starring his old friend, Faten Hamama. Since then, Ramzy has worked on a few projects, but he himself has remained outside of the spotlight.
This Ramadan, the much-loved actor returns to the screen with the rather awkwardly named The Godfather: Master and Student, a talk show series featuring Ahmed El Sakka. Apparently, El Sakka has always regarded Ahmed Ramzy as his spiritual godfather (hence the title), and claims to have learnt much from the revered actor’s repertoire and acting technique.
During the show’s thirty-minute showing time, El Sakka plays the role of the interviewer and asks Ramzy about his colourful life. If you have any love for Ahmed Ramzy, this show is a little hard to watch. First of all, the setting, lighting and filming come off as rather cheap. For someone as dignified and well-respected as Ramzy, you’d expect a show that pays tribute to him accordingly. Drum rolls and music are used to build tension throughout the scenes, when in fact; it’s just a conversation between two actors.
Second of all, El Sakka tries far too hard to be charming and louder than Ramzy, who often seems uncomfortable to be in the interviewee’s seat. And while El Sakka tries fervently to make the interview more entertaining with his loud chuckle and exclamations of wonder and surprise, he tends to overpower Ramzy’s soft, conversational voice.
Thirdly, the show’s awkward schedule (7:15PM, just twenty minutes after the Maghreb prayer and breakfast time) and its very long commercial breaks make it a tough one to watch. You’ll need patience and a good amount of focus to stay interested in the show
Ahmed Ramzy himself is a very compelling interview subject, full of hilarious and interesting anecdotes about the golden days and his actor friends. While he’s lost his trademark boyish looks and wavy hair, the classic Ramzy glint in his eye is still present and his charming smile prevails.
Despite its shortcomings, this show is a must-see for Ahmed Ramzy fans and those curious about the bygone era of Egyptian cinema and society.
She wakes up from her coma to a husband who she doesn’t remember and parents who are overjoyed that she’s forgotten about their dispute. While Paige’s parents try to bring her back to the way of life that she’d rebelled against, Leo tries to help her remember why she’d left all that behind in the first place. Fighting for a wife who doesn’t remember him and is a completely different person than the one he knew, Leo tries to get her to fall in love with him again.
The film rarely gets unbearably cheesy, setting it apart from your run of the mill Sparks adaptation. It gets mushy, emotional and sappy, but it’s more likely to make you smile than roll your eyes. Leo’s pain and heartbreak combined with Paige’s family’s delight at having their daughter back, gives the film a level of grit that keeps it from becoming overly cloying. However, the secret of the film’s success is the leads, who have great chemistry and manage to pass off some of the cheesiness as bearable.
He could have been the next Bob Dylan; in South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia, he was even bigger than Elvis. His music was loved by the critics but ignored by audiences, and after two albums – titled Cold Fact and Coming From Reality – fell on deaf ears in the US, and his efforts proved commercially fruitless, the Detroit street-poet instantaneously fell from the face of the earth, vanishing into complete obscurity.
So, whatever happened to the talented and disturbingly underrated Detroit-born 70's soul-folk musician, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez? That's a question first-time Swedish filmmaker, Malik Bendjelloul, seeks answers to in one of the most compelling and touching music documentaries of the past decade.
Ingeniously titled, Searching for Sugar Man, the story takes us to South Africa where we learn that while Rodriguez never managed to find the artistic and marketable success in the US, his music – thanks to the bootlegging of his first album, Cold Fact – ended up playing a significant role in the apartheid-era. Rodriguez became the voice of the people despite governmental efforts to censor his record's 'offending' tracks; and for many years, he never even knew it.
With only a few pictures of Rodriguez available as proof that he really does exist, his devoted fans never really knew much about their beloved idol. Bizarre rumours surfaced alleging that he had committed suicide onstage during one of his failed performances, either by shooting himself or by setting himself on fire.
Rodriguez's legacy never died, even after the struggling apartheid years were long over. Often referred to as the 'prophet of the people', devoted fans, Segerman and Strydom, set out to undertake research, only to discover that their search only marked the beginning of something greater than initially imagined.
Well paced and cinematically striking, the film doesn’t fall back on simple on-camera interviews and narration, but rather, Bendjelloul adds a sense of intrigue and beauty using an evidently thought-out structure to his storytelling. Dazzling shots of Cape Town's skyline and striking animatics of Rodriguez walking the streets of his hometown play a big part in the story development; as a result there isn't one dull moment.
Rodriguez's songs play throughout the entire film and there is no denying the fact that this man – who was constantly compared to the likes of Dylan and Donovan – was unjustly disregarded. His soulful tracks and profound lyrics score the film and even though there is a sense of melancholy, the story still manages to find room for the positive, ultimately proving that it's never too late to fulfil your dreams.
Searching for Sugar Man is a truly fine documentary and a significant work of art. Although we would have liked to see a little bit more of the live-concert footage, and perhaps gotten to know a little bit more about what's hiding beneath the dark mysterious exterior, Searching for Sugar Man is still highly insightful and thoroughly entertaining.