Back in the early 2000s, Asrar El Banat was rumored to be considered for a ‘Best Foreign Film’ Oscar Nominee. It was almost 2 year after the fact, and the Academy is strict about the eligibility rules (the movie is not eligible unless it was released the same year) so it was obvious that it was just a curious and desperate rumor—Although any movie that features an impregnated girl who’s still a virgin deserves to be recognized and celebrated. I am sure the film had a positive effect on all Egyptian girls who after a heavy meal had serious doubts about the nature of their food baby—But being nominated is not the highest honor an Egyptian movie can aspire; Being played to sleepy travelers on their way to Sharm El Sheikh on a small tube screen is really where it’s all at. It’s the only real way to experience and appreciate an Egyptian movie, or Lethal Weapon 4.
For some odd reason, all Egyptian movies end up the same on the Buses. Their similarities are only amplified when two of them are played back to back without any sound. And to assure polarized viewers a déjà vu moment, Hassan Hosny is required by law to be on 80% of all film used in Egypt pretty much playing the same role; When did we all started befriending old painfully unfunny geezers? Where did that stock character originate?
My favorite moment in the world comes after the bus starts to move. I put on my headphones, play some music and start to fall asleep, and then the magic happens: Urgently, the glow of the TV and the cracking inaudible sounds gently wakes me up. I guess the only thing that could top that feeling is getting your cock sucked by a cobra.
When I say the best way to experience Egyptian movies is through watching them on the bus I am not kidding. It’s like fucking I-Max for Egyptian flicks. Instead of filling your peripheral with their ugliness, the bus tube gives them the minute visual space they barely deserve, and your brain tends to fill the gaps far beyond the filmmakers ability. If you’re watching them on mute it’s even better.
I’d like to think that the real reason they play movies on buses is to make us appreciate life and prepare us for a quick get-away without the comfort of TV, but that would be giving the bus companies to much credit. The only redeeming thing about watching movies on the bus is—and that’s only if you’re lucky—the ancient ads that momentarily make you nostalgic. But even the VHS tracking noise can’t distract from the fact that most Egyptian movies amount to a steaming pile of donkey shit, and even that is a stretch.