I have been waiting for a year to see “In the last days of the city”. It – in turn- has been almost a decade in the making. Not that I knew of it, even though, I discovered -yesterday- when I saw it, that one of my most lovable school friends was involved in the project.
There is so much waiting in this movie.
Sometimes, in the cinema, you might find yourself waiting for it to end. The lead character wants to finish his movie. His friends in Beirut, Berlin, and Baghdad want it to finish, and when “Bassam” says that he is bored of movies that do not end, the cinema laughs because we all complicit in the waiting . The lead “Khalid” also needs to move on, from a relationship, from an apartment,
(may be from downtown? no that would be a narrative for later, strike it from this post) ..yet everything lingers in waiting. Wouldn’t that be the most honest statement about the years 2008-2010?!
We were all waiting for the city to appear.
even in explosion.
were on flight mode.
“We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”…”the last thing we do”…(today in one of the stores in oxford) we used to share it among ourselves often, in 2009, or 2010? did we not?
The characters are all helpless, the words fail when they want to refer to Cairo. “See this disaster”? ..”‘This’, Khalid frantically gestures to a Tahir square seen from above’I need to make sense of this'”. You can’t, right? Neither can I. But you can’t not try. And hence, here I am in the movie screening in London knowing exactly what a “this coupled with an imploring helpless gesture to the world” refers to without ever hoping to know what it means.
“A narrative hinging on uncertainty” ..”he is not moving”…
ah! but Beirut is beautiful no? it has a sea, a horizon, that Bassam can escape to when he wants to flee. In Cairo you recoil to escape.
There is noise.
All the time, the radio is on all the time. The day before I saw I, Daniel Blake, were the soundbites that were allowed to appear in the narrative were the BBC 4. In a story of Cairo soundbites, can’t get orchestrated, they are not allowed, they just invade. They sometimes sink with music, but will appear again. Hany Darwish called it a “grinding of the ear”. Is this why we all love Fairouz and um Kalthoum even if some of us won’t admit it?
Ah the rubble!
The scene I know was shot from real, were an apartment building is demolished. Where the (de)construction workers see the pictures of some long ago former tenants, and throw it to the air to fall, like the yellowed leaves here in the UK in autumn which Resist filming tumble falling on scales of air.
I am not nostalgic. There is nothing in the movie to illicit nostalgia. Just a look over your shoulder before the the storm of dust that rises as the building falls sweeps all vision away.
Before you run.