Just went to see the Egyptian movie "Cabaret" last night. Came out of it less than impressed, and with shaabi pop music ringing in my ears for hours. The movie tells the story of one night in a cabaret (an establishment that features belly dancers and singers) in Giza, and of the lives of nine characters from among the staff, the entertainers, and the customers. The movie suffers from faults common in the current crop of Egyptian films: too many characters, poor editing, over-the-top drama, "social issues" (like prostitution) shoe-horned into the plot. Then again, there are some funny scenes, some good acting, and a few plot lines which would have born great fruit if they'd been properly developed. But it's a bit troubling how much the film titillated the audience with endless shots of female booty, joint-smoking and beer-swilling--thus making the film "edgy" and above all marketable--but swathed all this voyeurism in a thin layer of moral condemnation. 

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.