Samir A. Khouri – Ziab la ta’kol al lahem AKA Kuwait Connection (1973)

http://i50.tinypic.com/152zwp1.jpg

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

From IMDB:
I was very curious to see this Egyptian action/crime thriller from 1973, and boy, was it worth the wait! Similar in a lot of ways to the Italian films of this type, this one features gun fights, car chases, lots of nudity, askew camera angles, lots of hand-held camera work (though more out of budgetary constraints, than any post-modern considerations, ala Michael Bay, Tony Scott, etc), and just plain weirdness. A few scenes are effectively done in the style of giallos, and there’s quite a few surprises in the deceptively linear story. Some scenes and effects are laughably inept (like the point blank shooting of a naked woman where the squib turns out to be dry…!?), but the overall package is so deliriously trippy, you hardly mind the flubs. there is even a touch of lesbianism and a (possible) hint of incest in the script, which is familiar in places but accumulates enough elements to appear somewhat unique. But despite the crudeness of style and the sleaze, the film manages to say something meaningful, and end on a poignant note…just when I thought it was going towards a more happy ending. I love this baby, and I want to see more Arabic films like this one (if indeed there are any). apparently the film was later banned in Egypt, but that’s all good in my book. Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Iskanderija… lih? aka Alexandria… Why? (1978)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Set against the panoramic backdrop of war-torn Egypt, director Youssef Chahine tells a highly personal tale of love and determination. Amid the poverty, death and suffering caused by World War II, 18 year-old Yehia, retreats into a private world of fantasy and longing. Obsessed with Hollywood, he dreams of one day studying filmmaking in America, but after falling in love and discovering the lies of European occupation, Yehia profoundly reevaluates his identity and allegiances.

The first chapter of Chahine’s Alexandria Trilogy: Alexandria…Why?, An Egyptian Story and Alexandria Again and Forever. Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Al-ard aka The Land (1969)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

This film can be considered one of the world’s best movies, actually it was chosen on top of the best 100 movies in Egypt. The movie is adopted from a novel written by Abdel Rahman El Sharkawi and was directed by Youssef Shahin. Abdel Rahman El Sharkawi is a well known novelist and play-writer, in fact he’s much more recognized for the plays he wrote. The movie “El-Ard” was produced in 1969, which falls inn a very important period of time in the Egyptian history, at this time the Egyptian ideology was being restructured. As for the film itself, I would start by the choice of actors, when you think of the actors that were in Egypt at that time, you can’t find a replacement for any of the actors in the movie, and you feel that no one else can play in any of the roles. I would start by the Great actor Mahmoud El-Meliguy. His performance in this movie is like an intense lecture in the art of acting, Mohamed Abu Swelam, that character he played is so nicely written by Abdel Rahman El Sharkawi, it’s a character facing so many struggles and at the same time with a history to be proud of, but it reached a point where he feels helpless in the struggle between him and the rich man in his village, who is connected to the Egyptian Royal palace (the time of the story was before Egypt changed from a kingdom to a republic). Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Awdat al ibn al dal AKA The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)

http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/9351/prodigal0.jpg

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members at the farm governed by his strict father. Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait of personal and political disillusionment. (www.bam.org) Continue reading