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Breakdown in negotiationsThe Negotiator (F. Gary Gray, 1998): Having been ambitious enough to cast the two top con-men (Samuel L Jackson and Kevin Spacey) of the '90s, this movie seems to have exhausted all its enthusiasm. The Chicago Police Department has a talented hostage negotiator, Lieutenant Danny Roman (Jackson). His best friend, who knows too much about the corruption in their department, is killed and Danny is framed. He rushes into the internal affairs office and threatens Inspector Nebam, whom he had reason to suspect, at gun-point, evacuating the office except for Nebam, his assistant, and an ex-con-convict -- who all become his hostages. He asks for top negotiator Chris Sabian (Spacey), and will speak to no one else. When both negotiators are finally on the scene, each pulls a few typically predictable tricks, then the holy truth is unmasked and the film ends. Jackson and Spacey are worth seeing, but the movie has nothing else to offer.
In the beginningThe Cairo Choral Society performing Haydn's Creation should be as great an experience as their other performances of Handel, Bach, the Verdi Requiem and the Petit Messe Solennelle of Rossini. The singers give Cairo's best: Nevine Allouba, soprano, Raouf Zaidan, baritone, Denise Nesbitt, soprano, Mohamed Abul-Kheir, tenor, Ashraf Sweilam, bass, and David Hales, piano. Haydn and Handel carried on Bach's great tradition of oratorio music, and Haydn's Creation more than sustains his reputation as the father figure of the greatest current in European music, the symphonic tradition that ended with Beethoven. Larry Catlin, the conductor, is a sensitive and dedicated musician, and just the person to take the exalted Creation out of the cold, academic context into which it can often slip, presenting it instead with humanity, warmth and original inspiration.
For performance details, see Listings.
A feast fit for a cinephileThe Italian Cultural Institute offers Cairene film buffs something to sink their teeth into in its May Cineclub programme. Every Saturday and Sunday, a landmark of Italian cinema will be showing. The Saturday series pays homage to distinguished Italian actress Monica Vitti, while the Sunday series honours great director Pier Paolo Pasolini. In the first three weeks of the Monica Vitti series (8, 15, 22 May), three Antonioni films will be screened: La Notte, 1960 -- an opportunity to watch the sumptuous Marcello Mastroianni opposite Vitti; L'Avventura, 1960; and L'Eclisse, 1962. The last film in the series (29 May) is Scola's Dramma della Gelosia, 1970.
The Sunday series will be showing four Pasolini classics: Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo, 1964 (May 9); Edipo Re, 1967 (May16); Teorema, 1968 (May 23); and Medea, 1969 (May 30) -- the second and third starring the luminous Sylvana Mangano and the fourth the legendary Maria Callas.
Saturday films begin at 6.00pm, Sunday films at 7.00pm.
Friends of learningLast June the Society of the Friends of Ahmed Bahaaeddin, a foundation established by the family and friends of the eminent late writer and journalist, announced the availability of a number of research grants in different fields for 1999. Fifty-six researchers applied. In October, a committee of jurors made up of scientist Ahmed Mustagir, economist Galal Amin, novelist and critic Radwa Ashour and journalist Mustafa Nabil, and headed by renowned jurist and historian Tarek El-Bishri, was formed to examine the applicants' research proposals. The jury will announce the results on Sunday, the 16th of this month. The meeting, presided over by Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, will be held at the Greater Cairo Library in Zamalek (7.00pm). The event highlights the unprecedented steps the society has been taking in establishing an endowment with the purpose of supporting young researchers and writers -- a welcome initiative, since the promotion of learning through such efforts has been a rare occurrence in the Arab world, where young scholars could profit greatly from the establishment of foundations by wealthy benefactors.