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Alexandria... Why?

Director:  Youssef Chahine
Year Released:  1978
Rating:  2.0

World War II-era Egypt gets profiled with feverish intensity by Chahine, showing a town dealing with the presence of the British, the Australians and the incoming Germans and a movie-mad young man (Mohsen Mohieddin) who could care less about any of it, but just wants to act and direct. Chahine moves so briskly, however, that the results are incredibly sloppy, mixing together too many separate stories, rushing from scene to scene and permitting his performers to over-act - more often than not it comes across as a student project than a professional product. The attempt to cover-it-all at once is admirable, and it clearly has its roots in autobiography (like the Mohieddin character, Chahine studied at the Pasadena Play House and was involved with the theater), but settling down and pacing himself - to focus on the story and removing some of the tackier elements - would have made for a more refined picture.

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