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Now for Something Completely Different...

Posted by Melanie / August 8, 2007

I can not stop watching trailers for The Yacoubian Building (which opens this Friday at both Cinema du Parc and the AMC). Foreign politics aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, but everything I have seen of this film seems to be composed masterfully, including a colour palette that is nothing short of genius. It basically looks like it was expensive, which is good because it was the most expensive film made in Egypt to date, and it’s nice to see that in some parts of the world they stretch their budgets on serious movies and not just sequels. ( Most expensive movie in the USA to date: Spiderman3. I actually can’t get over it, I’m sorry)

Anyway, the premise of the movie closely follows Egypt’s best seller “Imarat Yaqubian” by Alaa Al Aswany. The film’s title location weaves together different storylines while forming a metaphor for contemporary Cairo, which is what I found most intriguing .

I can’t help but wonder which monument or scene could be metaphorical for modern day Montreal. I am really struggling with this. I can’t think of anywhere downtown that people think, “THIS is Montreal. This is where everything happens and is telling of how things are”, but maybe no one is that self aware. Or maybe such a place only exists in movies. Or Cairo. Regardless, director Marwan Hamed is getting a lot of well deserved buzz for what could someday be considered his masterpiece.

Picture from



Sami / August 10, 2007 at 02:53 am
Thanks for bringing up this interesting subject Melanie. The Hour Mag review is spot on, Yacoubian Building is a bit clumsy in its traditional over-dramatic approach by Western standards, but it's fairly monumental in its socio-political critique of Egyptian society. It's a very interesting movie on that level.

The building was chosen as a metaphor for social decline, it harkens back to a time when Cairo was a much smaller city with a healthy urban fabric, a city not yet blighted with the weight of third world afflictions and runaway political corruption, a city that used to be under the benign tutelage of the old urban bourgeoisie, from which the main character of the movie in the picture above is issued.

In Montreal, the cross atop Mt Royal was the metaphoric landmark in Jesus of Montreal, there is a similar contrast between the present and a past where social and religious norms were very different.

In "Comment Faire l'Amour avec un Negre...", the Carré St-Louis is the metaphorical focus of the movie, representing the cultural vibrancy, beauty and slightly offbeat side of the city.

"Les Aimants" is another Montreal movie that is strongly focused on a particular urban location: the building with Dutch architectural traits on Milton near McGill. It stands as the romantic stage of the Plateau, its aesthetic qualities unconsciously envelopping its dwellers and influencing their relationships.
Melanie / August 11, 2007 at 12:58 pm
Well said. Do you have a personal opinion of a place you find iconic of modern day Montreal?
Heyzeus / August 12, 2007 at 06:51 pm
Modern day Montreal? I think when people think of Montreal, they think of The Big O. That building has been the center of controversy since it was built but it is an absolute statement about Montreal's edgyness. That building was way ahead of its time and I truly think it's a shame that it was never completed so to speak... Maybe it's Aislin who created my conception of Montreal but I have always thought that this city's icons are also it's greatest blunders.
Sami / August 15, 2007 at 02:15 pm
It's hard to come up with one place that is iconic of Montreal because it's such a culturally fragmented city. The heart of the Main perhaps comes closest, as it is the border and also the point where a lot of cultural and social current converge and intermingle.
erp furniture / January 4, 2016 at 03:15 pm
Your guests will sink into the comfy cushions that are covered with soft however hardwearing fabric
and resist stains, water and fading.

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