Cairo Film Guide - Movie reviews in Egypt

Cairo Film

Bleed For This: Underdog Boxing Drama Feels All Too Predictable
Published On: 29/11/2016

Depicting the life of champion fighter, Vinny 'Paz' Pazienza, who returned to the boxing ring after suffering a devastating spine injury, Bleed For This is a film you've probably seen before. Just like many other boxing movies before it, Bleed For This stays close to the underdog formula, but with very little substance or emotional depth, failing to deliver land the right blows and make a connection to audience. Written and directed by Boiler Room director, Ben Younger, the story is set in 1988 and Vinny 'The Pazamanian Devil' Pazienza (Teller) already having gained some popularity after winning two world title fights. After taking a beating from one Roger Mayweather (the uncle of Roy Jr.) for the lightweight championship, he is advised by his trainer Lou Duva (Levine) to give up boxing for good. However, the feverishly stubborn boxer refuses to do so and soon finds himself teamed up with Mike Tyson's former trainer, Kevin Rooney (Eckhart), who manages to convince Vinny to take a chance and move up a weight class. Unfortunately, when a car accident leaves Vinny with a broken neck with the possibility of a permanent paralysis that will undoubtedly end his career, his boxing dreams are put to rest. Determined to beat the odds Vinny, along with Kevin's help, soon begins training and preparing to return to the ring in order to fight one of his biggest, and most dangerous, fights yet. Taking on a worn out and familiar approach to a premise that has been envisioned, told, rendered, tweaked and then retold again so many times over, Bleed For This struggles to elevate itself past the standard storytelling tropes and snuggles itself in predictable familiarity from beginning to end. In an effort to get to know our leading man a little better - and provide him with some sort of a backstory - Younger chooses to spend much of his focus on Vinny's life at home with father and boxing gym owner, Angelo (Hinds struggling with his Rhode Island accent) and his God-fearing mother Louise (Sagal). We also get to see a string of women that pass through his arms – any real romantic attachments are not explored - -and we even receive a front row seat to his ongoing gambling problems. It's all there, but it's still a little hard to invest. A bulked-up Teller brings a stubborn intensity to his performance and a seemingly arrogant determination to the role of a man who is not particularly easy to love. It's a great physical performance and the actor manages to hold his own, even through a series of predictable fighting montages. However, there is no excitement there and everything about the movie feels a little safe and flat. 

...

Arrival: An Intelligent, Complex Sci-Fi Thriller That Boasts Plenty of Heart
Published On: 28/11/2016

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. 

...

Shut In: Cliched Haunted House Thriller
Published On: 27/11/2016

Don't be fooled by Shut In's relatively intense and spooky trailer; the final product is unfortunately, everything that its trailer is not. Directed by Farren Blackburn – see Hammer of Gods - this haunted house thriller of the wearisome is-she-crazy-or-is-she-not variety finds itself completely devoid of any suspense or story, resulting in one of the most painful and unexciting movie going experiences of the year thus far. The story is set in rural Maine and revolves around child psychologist, Mary Portman (Watts wondering how the heck she managed to get roped into this mess), who is struggling to get over the loss of her husband who was killed in a horrific car accident some time ago. Left alone to take care of their teenage son, Stephen (Charlie Heaton from Stranger Things ), who was also in the accident and was left paralyzed from the neck down and unable to talk, Mary tries to do the best she can and to go about her duties as compliantly and passively as possible. However, the pressure of taking care of him alone is slowly getting to Mary who tries to find some sort of comfort and solace from her regular Skype sessions with fellow shrink, Wilson (Platt). Her life is soon turned upside down when one of her troubled patients, a young deaf foster kid named Tom (Room's Jacob Tremblay), shows up at her doorstep late one night before quickly disappearing into the cold without a trace. Wrecked with guilt, Mary soon begins to see evidence of Tom in the house; unable to differentiate between reality and her nightmares, her mind soon begins to play dangerous tricks on her, forcing Mary to believe that there is something else entirely at play here. Told with an unintentional sense of preposterousness and accompanied by an obscenely sluggish tempo, instead of concentrating on building its own story and generating genuine tension, wastes time borrowing ideas from other, better-executed films. Attempting to ignite chills and creeps through a series of predictable and terribly clichéd jump scares, the story fails to excite, offering very little suspense, energy or reason for the viewer to get invested in its characters. Even the talented Naomi Watts can't make up for its laundry-list of problems, while Room sensation Jacob Tremblay is disappointingly wasted in his role of Tom. While the idea may have read well on paper, Shut In's execution is dreadfully ineffective; uneventful, boring and a total of waste of both time and talent, watching Shut In ­­is just as exciting as watching paint dry. No fun at all.

...

Middle School The Worst Years of My Life: Colourful, Lively, But to Eager to Please
Published On: 21/11/2016

Directed by Steve Carr – the man behind disasters like Daddy Day Care and Paul Blart: Mall Cop – the lively and colourful Middle School doesn't quite hit the same lows as those films, but there is a certain misbalance to its storytelling approach. The story is centred on young introvert and young, Rafe (Gluck) who is hoping for a fresh start after being kicked out of two schools. His mother, Jules (Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham), worries about his general psyche and inability to focus, which are quickly tested run by the overbearing, art-hating Principal Dwight (Daly) when he hands Rafe a list of rules he must abide by if he is to make it through the year. Things take a turn for the worst when his most prized possession, a sketchbook filled with sci-fi doodles and satirical caricatures he turns to in order channel his discontent , is confiscated by Dwight, who believes that art is 'for old people' and that it belongs in a museum. Unable to sit back and watch, Rafe teams up with new pal Leo (Barbusca) to cook up a plan of revenge. The film's seemingly positive and spirited attitude, in the first half of the movie at least, is something that will only really be appealing to younger audiences. Although pretty standard in terms of premise and storytelling, the film successfully manages to highlight the importance of non-conformity and personal individuality. Employing a breezy tone and interesting visual animations in bringing Rafe's sketches to life, there's light-heartedness to the story and watching the young boy trying to settle into his new surroundings makes for an entertaining watch. However, the film runs into trouble as the third act comes into play, where slightly grimmer and solemner subjects are explored; the tonal shift is quite drastic and ends up putting quite a dent into the entire piece. Gluck is charming as the young lead, but it's the movie's unsuccessful attempt in trying to be both funny and earnest that limits it, with the whole concept coming across as a little forced and desperate to please.

...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Plenty of Magic, Not Enough Spark
Published On: 20/11/2016

Returning to the world of wizards and all things magic, J.K Rowling's screenwriting debut in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has produced mixed results. Following the massive and the enduring success of the Harry Potter film franchise, the story is both magical and visually arresting. However, although definitely entertaining, the fun factor seems to have been squeezed out of the proceedings. The plot follows 'magizoologist', Newt (Redmayne), who travels the world in search of magical animals in order to learn more about their powers. During his travels to New York City in 1926, Newt ends up losing his magical suitcase – a portable zoo of sorts which accidentally finds itself in the hands of an aspiring baker, Jacob Kowalski (Fogler) – setting off a chain of chaos. The incident soon attracts the attention of Tina Goldstein (Waterston); a federal agent working for the Magical Congress of the United States of America who, after some persuading, reluctantly joins our hero on his quest along with her mind-reading sister, Queenie (Sudol). Working from an original screenplay penned by J.K Rowling herself and directed by David Yates – filmmaker who helmed previous Harry Potter films – it would be easy to assume Fantastic Beasts to be nothing more than a blatant cash-grab which hopes to profit from long-time Harry Potter fans. However, although not as developed or as absorbing as one might have hoped, Fantastic Beasts proves to be a worthy addition to the fantasy arena which delivers an enchanting premise of eccentricity and magic. Set seventy years before a boy named Harry Potter first walked the halls of Hogwarths, the film benefits from a degree of creative freedom to expand on its premise, introducing new stories, characters and an array of magical beasts along the way. However, there seems to be too much going on and the film struggles to keep up with the sheer amount of characters and sub-plots, failing to offer any substantial back stories or weight support them. The performances are relatively likable, with Redmayne embracing Newt's love for magic with an gawky energy, though the rest of the cast – including Collin Farrell and Jon Voight - fail to make a similar impact. Fantastic Beasts is an entertaining piece of cinema which will more than likely please die-hard fans that have been waiting to return to the world of wizards and magic. However, it's not exactly what you might call an exciting movie or even a fully developed one; while it has sown the seeds for the films to come, as a standalone piece, it fails to really wow.

...

The Girl in the Photographs: So Gory, Not So Much Story
Published On: 17/11/2016

Despite its seemingly aggressive and gory premise, Nick Simon's The Girl in the Photographs is one of the most uninspiring slasher movies you will have the misfortune of seeing. Attempting to cultivate a sense of paranoia and dread, the film is completely devoid of suspense, despite the late, great Wes Craven being attached as executive producer. The story begins with college student, Janet (Isabelle), who, after returning home late one night from watching a bad movie at the cinema, is brutally attacked and killed in her home mask-wearing madmen, Tom (Baines) and Gerry (Schmitt) who, before disposing of her body, photograph their and put her pictures up around the sleepy town of Spearfish, South Dakota. Connecting the discovery to some kind of roguish art, the police is totally unmoved by the evidence; however, local grocery store clerk, Colleen (Lee), seems to think that there is something more malicious at play. The murder soon attracts the attention of a predatory photographer, Peter Hemmings (Penn), who decides to travel from L.A to Spearfish along with his assistant Chris (Wormald) and a group of models in order to seek inspiration and create his own art. Finding Colleen, Peter soon becomes obsessed in re-creating the sadistic photo and event, but as more people go missing and the photo count increases, chaos and paranoia takes over the town. The Girl in the Photographs is one violent and gruesome picture which doesn't sugar coat its sadism and depictions torture. However, while the grisliness of it all seems perfectly suited to its Slasher-movie premise, the execution comes across as a little dull with the story investing very little time or interest in building any sort of mystery or suspense. The snail-like pacing is another damaging factor with director Nick Simon – working a the script written by a group of largely inexperienced screenwriters – wasting too much time allowing for a scene to unfold, igniting boredom rather than tension, while the performances fail to rise above the tedious script. On the visual front, the film is slightly more effective thanks to the contributions of legendary cinematographer, Dean Cundey – see Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, Back to the Future. Gory, violent and exceptionally inane, The Girl in the Photographs is not completely without its terror-inducing moments, but there isn't enough of its redeeming features to sustain it.

...

I.T.: Cliched, Uninteresting & Just Downright Exasperating Thriller
Published On: 16/11/2016

There's a lot that can be said about John Moore's high-tech stalker-thriller, but unfortunately not much of it is very positive. Using just about every single cliché in the book, I.T is a poorly conceived idea playing against a poorly defined premise which, although promising in the beginning, is quick to fall down a rabbit hole of predictability and silliness. The story is centered on Mike Reagan (Brosnan); a savvy businessman and the C.E.O of a Regan Aviation who is about to take his company onto new horizons with a new Uber-like app which allows private aircraft owners to sublet their jets to wealthy businessmen looking to hitch a ride in a private plane. Problems arise when Regan's press presentation is disrupted by a technical glitch, but with the help of a new I.T temp, Ed Porter (Frecheville) the disaster is diverted. Impressed with the young man's skills, Mike – Brosnan offering a seemingly grounded and honest performance –invites Ed to his ultra-modern and super-smart home so that he can take a look at the Wi-Fi issues he's been having. Despite their blossoming friendship, Ed develops a keen interest in Mike's seventeen year-old daughter. After confronting Ed about his unacceptable behavior, Mike, his family and their high-tech household soon come under siege with Ed successfully hacking into his employer's system looking for some sort of retribution. Despite its high-tech setup I.T - not to be confused with the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's horror-classic IT – feels surprisingly washed out and dated. Tainted with a desperately formulaic structure, director John Moore – see A Good Day to Die Hard, Max Payne – manages to start things off on a relatively positive note, but Ed's systematic and painfully predictable house-invasion attack is when the movie begins to crumble. With very little suspense or build-up, the seemingly recycled story unfold in a highly forced manner, with the director offering very little focus, stride or originality along the way. In addition the uninteresting villain's often-laughable psychotic behavior is driven by some vague mental health issues that are never fully explained. While it attempts to offer insight on the dangers that the tech world could and has presented, it doesn't come close to exploring it intelligently as has been done in TV shows such as Mr. Robot and Black Mirror, leaving not very much to speak of for I.T.

...

American Pastoral: Influential American Novel Turned Flat, Dull Mess
Published On: 15/11/2016

Based on a 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning Phillip Roth novel of the same name, American Pastoral is a strong reminder that not every book is destined to be translated onto the big screen effectively, no matter what. Marking his directorial debut, Ewan McGregor steps up to the challenge of converting what is considered by many to be one of the most influential novels of the 20th Century, but ultimately fails to bring any sort of cohesiveness, meaning or depth to the film which, at times, comes across as uninspiring and dull. Adapted to the screen by Lincoln Lawyer's John Romano, the story is centered on Seymour 'Swede' Levov (McGregor); a well-respected Jewish high-school athlete who became known for his Nordic good looks and who, after earning the title of a prom-king, went on to lead an idyllic life with beauty queen wife, Dawn (the surprisingly frigid Connelly). Along with their seemingly angelic young daughter, Merry (Fanning), the couple is settled in the picturesque farmland hills of Old Rimrock, New Jersey and their life couldn't have been more perfect. Unfortunately, their seemingly blissful existence is soon fractured when Merry begins to develop a severe stutter and, later as the late 60's approach, begins to be drawn to seemingly radical political movements, forcing Swede and Dawn to reach out to their therapist, Dr. Shelia (Parker). Things begin to take a turn for the worst when a bomb explodes at a local gas station and Merry's labeled as a prime suspect. With his daughter on the run, Swede soon begins to witness his idyllic life fall apart right before his very eyes and whilst he begins to look for ways to find his daughter, his marriage to Dawn begins to crumble in the process. American Pastoral is no easy watch. Roth's work is often described as too elusive and abstract to be translated onto the silver screen. The story is told through flashbacks and is partly narrated by an acclaimed novelist - played by the ineffective David Strathairn - who, at the beginning of the movie, returns to Newark for a school reunion eager to learn more about his long-time obsession, Swede himself. Failing to establish the mood or any narrative connection, the story clumsily moves from one era to another and ends up miscarrying most of the weight needed to convey the story of an optimistic and a wholesome father dealing with his daughter's extremist views to the backdrop of a 60s America that was in social and political turmoil. Nothing sticks, so to speak, and while the visuals are relatively pleasing, McGregor fails to bring any substance or complexity to the material at hand. Trying to squeeze in a long list of ideas and themes, all dealing with the breakdown of American society in the 60's and all the way through the late 70's - including racism and the Vietnam war - it seems that McGregor has bitten off more than he can chew. Boring and devoid of any depth or interest, American Pastoral is one mind-numbing misfire. Not recommended. 

...

Hacksaw Ridge: Mel Gibson Returns to Direct Moving War Drama
Published On: 13/11/2016

The true story of Desmond Doss - a conscientious objector who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his selfless contribution in the WWII's infamous battle of Okinawa - comes to life in one of the most anticipated returns of the year, seeing that the film is directed by the one and only Mel Gibson, in the visually stunning, mercilessly blood and utterly moving, Hacksaw Ridge. The story is centred on Desmond T. Doss (Garfield); a young man who grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia in a working-class Christian family with an abusive alcoholic father, Tom (Weaving). Having grown up into a kind, responsible and a religious young man, Desmond soon falls for Dorothy; a young nurse who is instantly taken by his unassuming ways and the couple soon gets engaged to be married. However, before they are able to take their vows, Desmond decides to enlist in the army as he is unable to sit back and watch while his fellow men fight for their country. Joining with the intention of serving as a medic, Desmond - a devout Seventh-day Adventist - is quick to take a proud stand as a conscientious objector; a decision, which naturally puts him at odds with his supervisors, Howell (Vaughn) and Glover (Worthington). Having endured a gruesome hazing period, Desmond's faith is soon put to the test when his unit is deployed to the island of Okinawa, where they are tasked with an almost impossible mission of taking the gruelling frontline known as Hacksaw Ridge. It's been ten years since Mel Gibson was last seen behind the camera and the two-time Oscar winner shows no sign of rust – o the contrary, Gibson's strong return to the silver screen proves that he is still a quite a skilled storyteller. He spends the first half of the movie establishing base and allowing the audiences to get to know Desmond before eventually diving headfirst into the second half where an impressively ruthless and gory depiction of war awaits. Notorious for his love of graphic imagery and R-rated violence, Gibson doesn't shy away from the carnage in what proves to be one of the most harrowing battle scene sequences since Saving Private Ryan. Ensuring that each frame is given its own importance, the attention to detail is sublime with cinematographer, Simon Duggan, making sure that the audiences are able to keep up with the piling bodies and flying bullets at all times. Garfield's casting raised a few eyebrows, but the young British actor gives his character a self-effacing appeal and quiet determination that ensures the audience is on his side from the start. Despite on-the-nose religious imagery and undertones, Gibson delivers a grisly and moving cinematic experience; but deep at the heart Hacksaw Ridge are universal messages of courage, belief and a relieving return for the controversial Gibson.

...

The Blackcoat's Daughter: Surprisingly Affective Slow-Burning Horror
Published On: 12/11/2016

Blessed with a chilling atmosphere and a terrifying undertone of dread, The Blackcoat's Daughter - also known as February- is one of the most uncomfortable and unnervingly intense movie experiences you will come across this year. Written and directed by actor-turned-director Oz Perkins, the story is slow, quiet and deliberate in its delivery and as a result, requires a lot of patience from those watching. However, if you are willing to give it a chance and stick it out to the end, the outcome just might please you. Set almost entirely at a remote Catholic prep school for girls, students Kat (the astoundingly creepy Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Boynton) are the last two girls left in the building whilst everyone else has packed up and left home for the especially cold winter break. With their parent's arrival delayed, the girls have no choice but the spend the night alone at the institution, with only a pair of teachers who live on the grounds to supervise them. As the night arrives, so do the creeps, especially when Rose catches Kat doing something strange and creepy in the basement of the building. Meanwhile, in another town close by, Joan (Roberts) - a quiet and a seemingly distraught young woman haunted by mysterious flashbacks - can be found sitting alone in the cold and she seems to be heading towards the same location as Kate and Rose. She ends up catching a ride with a helpful couple (played by Remar and Holly) who, as it turns out, have their own personal traumas to deal with. Staying well away from cheap scare tactics and predictable jump scares, The Blackcoat's Daughter is followed by an inevitable sense of doom, which doesn't really ease up until the movie's closing minutes. The mood is thick and heavy, so much so that it's almost too difficult to sit through without squirming in your seat a little. Coated with a deadly silence, Perkins definitely takes his time in getting the story to unfold and while his crawling pace might put have some viewers a little agitated, the payoff is relatively pleasing. The performances are solid - Shipka delivers one of the creepiest performances of her young career - and the atmosphere is suitably isolating. However, it's the movie's leisurely pace which might not sit all too well with the viewers who, if they are not totally into the slow-build terrors, might lose interest.

...

View More
Feature

Five Ways the New Emaar Egypt Community App Makes Life a Whole Lot Easier

The digital age, as they call it, has brought everything – and we mean everything – a touch away through that small little thing we have come to take for granted: the smartphone. There's an app for pretty much everything these days and one of the latest to shake up the way we do things day to da