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The Yacoubian Building

Three-hour Egyptian epic
By MICHAEL ATKINSON  |  December 12, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
inside_TRAILERS_yacoubian10
THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING: A Cairo-based Gone with the Wind.

This three-hour Egyptian epic — the most expensive ever made, and the first to get US release — has been crafted in the old school, by youngish pro Marwan Hamed, as a massive Arabic soap opera, a Cairo-based Gone with the Wind swoony with mourning for a privileged colonialist past and with a melodramatic fascination for the bloody ideological conflicts of the present. Notably in a nation with strict censorship laws (somewhere slackly west of Iranian sharia), Hamed’s film revolves around the need for, and the degeneration of, sex and money, and it’s groundbreakingly frank in its native territory about homosexuality and female exploitation. Hammy, lavish, and often thunderfooted, the movie is an immersion in rare pulp, and as much a window on Egyptian urbanity as on a semi-polished Arab film industry trying to come to grips with a tumultuous world and its own sociopolitical contradictions. Arabic | 161 minutes | MFA: December 14-16, 20, 22-23, 29-30; January 6
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