100% Arabica | Chicago Reader

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The title of this buoyant cross-cultural comedy refers to a poor North African enclave on the edge of Paris, where some residents cling to their Islamic roots while others try to break free through music and drugs. Fundamentalist clerics clash with young musicians whose blend of Algerian rai and American rap draws crowds; the conflict seems as familiar as a Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland musical, but the rap 'n' rai sequences—featuring Khaled and Cheb Mami, two of the genre's best known voices—keep the action bubbling. Mahmoud Zemmouri, an Algerian exile living in Paris, directed this 1997 French film, demonstrating a vivid sense of the neighborhood's discos, mosques, and cramped apartments.

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