Discover more from Salty Popcorn
🍿64: Cairo Conspiracy
This week, we want your facts!
“The system is rigged. They want us to believe that it'll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else.”
~ Dark Waters, 2019
For facts sake!
This week we are, once again, asking for your help.
For every issue of Salty Popcorn, we publish the ‘Fact of the Week’, and we always try to find a fact that fits the theme of the issue. For example, when we reviewed Bones and All in SP#54, we spilled the beans (or rather, the blood!) on how much fake blood was used to film the iconic elevator scene in The Shining.
Then last year, to celebrate the BAFTAs in SP#32, we shared Jack Nicholson’s 1975 acceptance speech from the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - a must-watch for fans of the film. Funnily enough, that fact was submitted by one of SP’s earliest patrons, and was stored in the “fact bank” for almost a year!
Of course, it’s not always possible to find the perfect fact, but we do our best.
Nor is it easy to find interesting film facts every fortnight - at least not facts that we deem interesting enough for you, our discerning readers. While the fact bank is regularly being added to, we’re always looking for more, which is where you come in.
This week, we’re asking you to deposit your favourite film facts in the SP Fact Bank. Whether it’s weird, wonderful or simply not well-known, we want to hear it. So, please feel free to submit your facts by clicking the button below.
Now for the headlines:
Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon will be one of Hollywood’s longest modern films, pegged at three hours and 26 minutes - but that’s still three minutes shorter than The Irishman. Read more.
Michelle Yeoh is set to star in a new Star Trek movie for Paramount. Read more.
Alec Baldwin’s Rust resumes filming 18 months after the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Read more.
And finally, Pedro Pascal will join Matt Damon in Ethan Cohen’s next film, Drive-Away Dolls. Read more.
Salty Popcorn is 100% free, but if you enjoy SP, please consider buying us a cinema ticket for just £5 per month - or a bunch of tickets for just £30 per year. Thank you!
Talk To Me
UK: 28 July // USA: 28 July
When a group of friends discovers how to conjure spirits by using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill -- until one of them unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.
UK: TBC // USA: 12 May
Written, directed and starring Charlie Day, Fool’s Paradise follows a down-on-his-luck publicist (Ken Jeong) who catches a lucky break when he discovers a man (Day) recently released from a mental health facility looks just like a method actor who refuses to leave his trailer.
Fact of the week
Following the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, video game company Atari released a video game adaptation - one of the first of its kind.
Not only is it widely known as one of the worst games of all time, but commercially it was an absolute flop. So what did Atari do? Well, there were rumours that they dug a mass grave in New Mexico to bury them all.
If that sounds extreme, then you won’t be surprised to hear that a lot of people didn’t believe it. What started as a rumour became an urban legend and a reminder of the video game crash of 1983…
Then, just eight years ago, a Canadian entertainment company made a documentary (Atari: Game Over) to try and find out if there was any truth to myth…
If only we’d known about this two weeks ago, we could have published this with our review of Tetris!
Review: Cairo Conspiracy
3.5 (out of 5)
Where to watch:
USA: Select Cinemas
UK: Select Cinemas
After being offered a scholarship to study at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Adam (Tawfeek Barhom) becomes a pawn in a ruthless power struggle between Egypt’s religious and political elites.
The review (NO spoilers):
Despite the impeccable performances of its core cast, the slow pace makes Cairo Conspiracy more of a sedated drama than a tense political thriller. Despite this, writer-director Tarik Saleh has no difficulty in drawing out our empathy for the key characters, and their fates.
Supporting actor Fares Fares is particularly note-worthy as Ibrahim, the jaded state security operative that recruits Adam (Tawfeek Barhom). Fares plays his part effortlessly, which adds to the film’s feeling of authenticity.
In some ways, the slow-paced nature of the film works to the same effect as it feels like we’re getting a unique undercover glimpse into some secret world. Now, I’m not saying the film is in need of a car chase and a few shoot-outs, but it does need something to add to its immediacy. For the most part, it feels very low-stakes, even though it isn’t.
While I would have also enjoyed a little more spycraft, what does make this Cairo Conspiracy interesting is the light it sheds on the corruption of Egypt’s political and religious institutions.
Saleh, who has already been banned from entering Egypt on account of his last film, also does well to question not Islam as a religion, but the leaders who misinterpret, manipulate and abuse its teachings.
Though, as Peter Bradshaw (a critic I rarely agree with) points out in The Guardian: “In the final act I sensed that it perhaps did not quite have the courage of its satirical convictions. The religious authorities in Egypt may be mollified by this film’s final implication that the secular state is marginally more institutionally corrupt than the religious establishment. It’s a bold piece of work nonetheless.”
Scroll down for The Critic’s Cut and to see what’s in the next issue.
If you liked Cairo Conspiracy…
The Nile Hilton Incident
2017 | UK: Apple TV (£1.99) // USA: Amazon Prime ($2.99)
I’ve not seen it but similarly to Cairo Conspiracy, The Nile Hilton Incident was also directed by Tarik Saleh and stars Fares Fares - one key difference is it looks much more fast-paced.
In the next issue:
How to Blow Up a Pipeline
UK: 21 April // USA: 7 April | Watch the Trailer