The Reel Estate: A letter to the creator of masterpieces

Joseph Fahim
6 Min Read

Dear Mr Sobky,

For years now, I ve been contemplating sending you this letter, perhaps since the very first day you unleashed El Limby on the world. I naively assumed that you couldn’t do worse, but after watching your latest box-office smash Alaya El-Tarab Beltalata, I was determined, at last, to write you a few words and frankly to try to sway you from making any more films.

It all started in the beginning of the 90s; your family owned well-known butcheries with a multitude of branches spread throughout the country. Your stores were well reputed and the success you d yielded through the years was unparalleled.

But it wasn t enough and you decided to venture into other forms of business. You eventually found your perfect prey in the video cassette industry, which represented the dominant, most popular and most profitable source of entertainment back then. Surprisingly, your distribution of American and Egyptian B movies was another financial victory.

Yet this was still not sufficient for you. You itched for something higher: fame, immortality or maybe just a few more zeros to your fortune.

Anyhow, you went ahead and started a large-scale film production company that debuted in the mid 90s with two Ahmed Zaki vehicles: Mr Karate and Al-Ragol Al-Thalith (The Third Man). Both films were not bad in fact, but with prominent, highly respected directors like Mohamed Khan and Ali Badrakhan it would have been difficult to produce poor films regardless of the modest, unimaginative scripts both movies were built on.

But your true colors weren t disclosed until 2001 with your foray into the so-called new teen cinema in the form of “55 Esaaf (Ambulance #55) in 2001. The film contained the template for subsequent atrocities to come: bad scripts with no plot or logic to them, terrible acting, indifference to basic film elements and an unintelligible amount of profanity.

And then came El-Limby the following year – and the rest is history. A cultural phenomenon was born, second highest-grossing film in history, an unlikely superstar born in the shape of Mohammed Saad and a new chic type of contractor film was established.

Critics believed that your Limby would turn out to be a one hit wonder, but you defied both critics and human reason when this success was replicated with your subsequent films: Kalem Mama (Talk to Mama), Khalte Faransa (My Aunt Faransa), Sayed El-Atifi (Sayed the Romantic), Awdet El-Nadla (The Return of the Sleaze) and of course Alaya El-Tarab Beltalata, Egypt s box-office champion of recent weeks.

Each of these films set a new low for the industry and encouraged more producers to follow your notorious formula.

Alaya El-Tarab Beltalata distantly revolves around the unremitting quarrels between a rich young lady and her husband over his relationship with his friends of humble backgrounds. Naturally, there s no inciting incident or central conflict or even clearly defined acts.

Instead, the film feels like one agonizing lesson in dire filmmaking where the singing stars of the film (Mohamed Attia, Rico and the aforementioned El-Soghayyar) seize any vague chance to torture us with another tasteless musical number.

You adhered to the new common cinematic trend of producing clean cinema devoid of love scenes or saucy kisses.

But you knew that these scenes remain a significant element of attraction and so you brilliantly replaced them with belly dancer Dina displaying her hair-raising twins every time she s on screen.

Nevertheless, your fans still claim that you make clean movies, despite all the verbal vulgarities that cram your films and images of guys gazing in amazement at women s buttocks. Now that s loyalty!

The one remarkable aspect, though, of your new film is how you pushed the envelope and carefully inserted gay subtext within it. The fundamental idea behind a man dancing provocatively in a manner that s impossible to consider manly is for every young man to accept his little Elton John with arms wide open.

Not convinced? What about the scene where the two idiotic criminals attempt to rape the rich girl s butler or the other scene where he bursts into a Nancy Agram song while seductively washing his laundry in the pool?

This is too obvious to deny and I wouldn t be truly surprised if I find out 10 years from now that you re producing your very own, all-musical, “Brokeback Mountain.

Finally, I realize now that nothing, and no one, can persuade you to stop producing movies. However, if you re interested in expanding your bank account further, I ve got one piece of advice for you: Guantanamo! Americans would find in your films a brand new tool of torture.

Iranians would also be intrigued by the hideous quality of your awful films and might end up using them, instead of nuclear weapons, to strike Israel. And believe me, with the incredibly obnoxious El-Soghayyar s songs about grapes and his eerie affection for donkeys, Israel will definitely cease to exist!

Sincerely yours,An angry film fan

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