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4.3 out of 5 stars18
4.3 out of 5 stars
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2009
One of the most watchable Egyptian Movies. This excellent black drama is a must see despite its nearly three-hour running time, the movie is one of the most watchable and enjoyable pieces of art in Egyptian Cinema. I didn't read the story before seeing that controversial movie, so I had low expectations. But despite that, got hooked as early as the quality intro that takes you smoothly through an enjoyable ride to discover the background behind that nostalgic building in central Cairo through a Sepia short clip. The film is an artistic black drama which is full of cultural and political symbolism if you read carefully between the lines, my interpretation is that the building is a clear symbol of the country itself and how it transformed dramatically from the nostalgic early days of the 40s till the present day, shedding light on the price that the Egyptian society had to pay during that rough trip, and how the society has clear double standards that everyone is trying to ignore.

Every side story evolves in a different direction and involves controversial characters who are linked only by the same building (society) in some way or the other, the different stories are interweaved in an artistic way to dramatize different controversial issues and taboos from adultery, political corruption, homosexuality to Islamic fundamentalism.

The movie has a general sad feel around it especially for anyone who lived in Egypt as it touches on the deterioration and many negative issues that are becoming more and more the norm in most Egyptian society levels that was once a conservative and religious society.

It is strong wakeup call to those who love their country to stop burying their heads in the sand when it comes to double standards that's affecting everyone in the society making everyone feel inferior to the country. The story could make you think deeply about how and why a country like Egypt could end up where it is today.

The cinematography, steady cams, crane camera movement is brilliant, the smooth cuts and soft transitions boosts the romantic dimension of the storyline. As expected, the music score by Khaled Hammad is expressive, romantic and adds a lot of depth to many scenes. The tempo of the movie is just right, giving enough time for actors to express their feelings through longer than usual shots that will never leave you bored. Action scenes are also very well done.

A must see piece of art for anyone who is living or used to live in Egypt.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2011
I'm not reviewing the film itself, just making some comments about the quality and content of the DVD and noting some errors in the product description.

As you'd expect from a 21st century production, but don't always get, the image quality is very high, with excellent resolution, minimal noise, and no signs of over enthusiastic sharpening or denoising or similar commonly found artefacts. The picture is anamorphic and borderless (no cropping required if transferring or transcoding for use on PC, tablet or similar). The audio track is decent enough 2 channel AC3 (Dolby Digital).

Some reviewers have complained that their DVD didn't have subtitles. The disc I bought (used) definitely has English subtitles. As far as I can tell it's the same region 2, ICA/BAC films edition pictured and described in the Amazon UK product description. They are the normal DVD vobsubs, which can be toggled on and off via the disc's menu. I use a PC for viewing and in my player software (mplayer) the subtitles work perfectly well.

Amazon Product Description Errors:

Product description states Run Time: 70 minutes. In fact the run time is 172 minutes.

Product description states Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1. In fact it is 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen.

Product description states Language Arabic, English. In fact the only audio track is Arabic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2010
This film is brilliant.

I read the book first and -unlike many transfers of book to film - the film does not disappoint. What makes it so brilliant is that the story covers so many 'taboo' issues in modern Egypt and I actually saw it the first time round whilst I was living there - so it made it even more poignant. I was amazed that it wasn't cut, bearing in mind the, practically, no holes barred portrayal of homosexuality, contract marriages, fundamentalism, political & business corruption, police brutality, class bigotry and drugs, all taboo and much covered up in Egypt. The only minus is that one of the key stories (the one relating to the gay newspaper editor) suffered a change to the ending - and I was not quite sure why.

The film also perfectly captures so many great things about Egypt...the buzz, colour and excitement of modern Cairo, the Egyptians' wonderful sense of humour, their capacity for great friendship and their adaptability. The music is wonderful, the acting outstanding and, bearing in mind the lead actor is most famous for comedy roles, he carried off the part with style and credibility. Despite the fact that this film is 3 hours long, it will go in a flash. Please see it - you will not be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 June 2009
The idea of life in camera makes you think of reality TV: This documentary shows how it can also mean a poetic, intelligent overview not only of a life but of a whole country in transition: As a doctor myself from Greece working in the UK I could understand the hopes and frustrations and warmth someone gets by working for NHS - this movie is all of that and much much more. A realy jewel!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2010
This movie is an amazing portrayal of the hypocrisy and corruption that many countries suffer from. It follows the lives of different individuals who happen to live in different parts of the same apartment building. It shows some tenants basking in wealth, while others, who live on the roof, live a life of poverty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2009
I saw the premier of this adaptation of Alaa Al Aswany's book at its premier in Leicester Square. I recall either the author being present or Marwan Hamed to take questions from the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, if enjoyed is the right word, because it was certainly a bitter-sweet experience, but only because the film captured the books narrative so well. The casting was excellent and it was easy to fall into their various states of emotional turmoil due to the circumstances so wonderfully intertwined.

Read and watch The Yacoubian Building - both are very worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2012
Absolutely disappointed - Only bought this because it clearly said that it would have sub titles - however this DVD is without sub titles and have tried it on different systems but the sub titles just won't appear. The quality of video is great but doesn't serve any purpose if you you were hoping for English subtitles.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2009
I was really looking forward to seeing this film,missed it on BBC4,as they showed it one weekday evening.I have read the book,and as my partner is Egyptian I know the film was one of the most expensive and better produced ever made in country.Tried and failed to activate the subtitles,
and though my understanding of arabic is fair,I could not watch the film.
I have sent it back.I give it 5 stars because its worth it!! It portrays the hardship and bleakness of life in a deteriorating country,the people in this film are unfortunately realistic. Holiday makers to this country
who know so little of the life of Egyptians, would be advised to watch this and learn.I eagerly await a release with subtitles
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on 15 April 2009
A truely great film...highly entertaining and diverse storylines and characters.
Although I have entitled this review as an Egyptian epic it probably has more in common with one of the grittier soap operas but in an altogether good way!
The issues it deals with, homosexuality, government corruption, police brutality and torture, the keeping of mistresses, family rivalries and feuds,....are controversial and I am suprised that the film made it passed Egytian censorship....though I am aware that Egyptian TV has a lot of this sort of thing.
If I was to offer a criticism of this movie it would probably be that it tries to cover too much and that the film would translate better into a mini-series to give us more time too identify with the characters and for the script writer to develope the storyline..... however this would be a rather unfair criticism allowing that we are watchig a film almost 3 hours long rather than a soap-opera.
Definitely a MUST SEE for any fans of world cinema.
Word of caution, subtitles, naturally, but even then these have been translated into meaningful English, unlike many of the, (highly amusing), bollywood movie subtitles that I love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 March 2009
I had had no preconceptions about this film and was amazed at how good it is. It caught my attention from the beginning and by the end I felt I'd witnessed a truly great film. Excellent actors have created believable characters with all the flaws and merits of real people. The film-makers haven't flinched from including scenes that must have been controversial to show in Egypt.
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The Yacoubian Building
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (Paperback - 3 Sept. 2007)

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