ThePingOfPong

Pieces on Film, Prose and Music by a Nigerian

Tag: Nollywood

HOW NOT TO KEEP A MAN: DISCUSSING SANDA’S KEEPING MY MAN

When you head to the cinema and opt to watch a NollyWood movie with a corny title as “Keeping My Man”, you think you know what to expect- especially with a cast that includes Ramsey Nouah, Ini Edo and Monalisa Chinda.  What you will discover is that this film neither affirms the viewer’s assumptions nor surprises-it is flat. The cast, though stereotyped with the “romantic drama” toga, actually do their best to make something remarkable and rescue the movie from the free fall it may have been destined for.

Keeping My Man

Keeping My Man features three young couples, Zion and Tokunbo (Rukky Sanda and Ramsey Nouah); Maya and Rasheed (Ini Edo and Alex Ekubo); and Tamar and Lanre (Monalisa Chindah and Kenneth Okoli) who find themselves on a self discovery journey.  Zion and Tokunbo are the envy of the pack- they are adored by the other two and seem to have perfect lives- lovely children, good communication and of course sex pro re nata. Tokunbo dots on his wife and simply cannot get his hands off her. Tokunbo and Zion have no problems. Maya on the other hand doesn’t seem to get the right formulae with her husband Rasheed in the bedroom. He is not into playing dress-up, and kinky sex really isn’t his thing. Her attempts to spice up their two year marriage are failing and her self esteem is taking a hit. Tamar and Lanre are the exact opposite. Tamar is sick of Lanre’s sexual advances. She hates intimacy and it begins to border along pathologic lines. Tamar and Maya look to Zion for help. They want to know how her man is kept.

The movie drags on for some time without much direction. Not that there is no director, but she is also the producer and the script writer. Rukky Sanda, who assumes these three roles, must be commended for this feat. Her movie is replete with squirts of brilliance, but squirts are not waves.  The movie falls short of being brilliant for lack of a quintessence. It is not quite there, but it is close. The plot is not defined:  there is no suspense; there is no action; and this might disappoint Sanda’s fans, but there was no puzzle to unravel. Ramsey Nouah’s character, Tokunbo didn’t have to do much hiding to be found of his evil. Besides, there were inconsistencies in the mystery surrounding him. His friends (Rasheed and Lanre) act as though they have no clue about his indiscretions when Lanre tries to pick up a girl at a club- Tokunbo declines to join in and emphatically asserts that he will rather go back home to his wife-whereas the same friends tell on him to their respective wives.  “Keeping My Man” is not without humor though; a scene where Maya is cuffed to the bed while enduring taunts from Rasheed sends the hall into stifled laughter.

Rukky Sanda tries to write a story easily relatable to the regular Nigerian. Though marital problems especially ones with sexual nuance are common place, the couples featured on Keeping My Man are too rich, too happy, too comfortable and too air-brushed to be real. When normal couples do have problems (if you consider your husband wanting sex all the time a problem); it is more authentic to pray quietly to God to destroy his libido than having the family go see a shrink. If it was an attempt to challenge the norm in order to initiate a kind of behavioral shift, then she deserves praise. There was some talk about children but not one child is shown in the film. It would have been good to see how these problems affect a young child in the home.

Rukky Sanda joins Kunle Afolayan in a rare “amphibious” role of actor and director.  Her directorial competence cannot be questioned too much as the actor cum screenwriter cum producer ensured that the other casts were at their best performances. Newcomers, Kenneth Okoli and Alex Ekubo proved to be more than just pretty faces on the screen. They showed the promise that NollyWood has wished for.

The industry is not known for notable dialogue although one was forced to smile when Maya screams, “all I want is what they have”, in trying to get her man to respond to her more, and Rasheed replies with “be careful what you wish for” with a sarcastic grin. Again, Tokunbo spews a line from DMX: “I gave you, you gave me”.   The audience may respond with: “I blaze you, you blaze me”.

Nollywood has had its fair share of romantic dramas; whether we remember “Keeping My Man” is left for the history to judge. The movie comes to a close rather unconventionally and this is what is most beautiful about it, the viewer is left to decide the end she wants.

 

Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

WHO THE GODS WANT TO KILL: REVIEWING AFOLAYAN’S FIGURINE

Kunle Afolayan’s Figurine (subtitled: Araromire)seeks to change cinema culture in Nigeria- he wants viewers to think about film not just see it.

Figurine begins with a prologue on goddess, Araromire:  For seven years she blesses those who touch her statue with prosperity and fruitfulness; there is rain, plenty of harvest and the people are fruitful. The snag is she withdraws all her blessings, and brings despair and hardship for an additional seven years when the pleasantries are over.  Figurine somewhat modifies Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream about Egypt from the bible. Figurine is however not an adaptation of the bible story, it is something sinister…The Figurine

Sola Fajure (Kunle Afolayan), Femi (Ramsey Nouah) and Mona (Omoni Oboli)are the major characters featured in Figurine. The trio are former University mates caught up in a bizarre love triangle that develops into a grotesque revelation of human behavior. All three are posted to Araromire (a mysterious town named after the goddess) for their National Service. During an endurance trek, Femi and Sola come in contact with some artifacts in a shrine. Unwittingly, they have opened “Pandora’s box” and set in motion a cascade of events.  It was the year 2001 and the seven year clock begins to tick…

We are moved in time to 2007; Sola and Mona are married with a son and another baby is on the way. They are rich and happy. Femi is also well off. He has had a very impressive run in his company. His respiratory problems have vanished, his father’s cancer has gone into recession and he doesn’t use his glasses anymore.  The three meet again after a seven year separation at a party hosted by Sola and Mona. Femi’s feelings for Mona is evident even after seven years and he seems not to be interested in any other woman, not even the forceful but delectable Ngozi played by Funlola Aofiyebi.

The Yoruba language spoken sometimes in the movie helped create a certain level of realism. The characters spoke Yoruba to themselves in private and reverted to the English language for more formal conversations as regular people would in real life. This level of detail would ensure a wider audience watches Figurine.

The movie shifts to second gear when Mona visits her college history professor where she recognizes a picture of Araromire from a text of the figurine in her husband’s study. The Professor relays to her the myth surrounding the seven years of good and evil.  Something doesn’t feel right by her. She starts to worry and then begins to piece information together; the sudden wealth and prosperity in career and family begin to make sense. Mona admits to Femi in a private meeting that she and Sola had lived a charmed life for seven years.

By now, Afolayan knows he has the viewer’s attention.  At this stage, because we know the seven years of prosperity are up, we anticipate calamity. We expect equilibrium and normalcy restored.  Femi’s charactermakes this possible and sends the movie into third gear. The viewer begins to think… He does not picture murder and obsession in Femi’s personality. He certainly doesn’t fit the profile of a psycho killer who orchestrates a fourteen year plan.

Afolayan doesn’t leave us wondering, he shows us Femi’s motive and intent. Like a good story teller, he shows as well as he tells. The viewer begins to understand (and probably accept) Femi’s actions in reclaiming the love of his life.  After all, “all is fair in love and war”.

Figurine ends with the question: what do you believe? The intention is clear though- Afolayan set out to make a mystery movie that engages the viewer.

On one hand, it is said: “who the gods want to kill they first make mad”. So it is possible that Femi was a pawn in the hands of Araromire and therefore we may conclude that Araromire set the tone for the love affair and the convergence at the Youth Camp just to destroy them. On the second hand everything could have happened by sheer coincidence.

Viewers of Figurine: Araromire will leave the cinema neither happy nor sad. They will ask themselves questions, thus fulfilling what Afolayan set out to do: make us think.

 

Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

 

FLIGHTS OF FANCY: A REVIEW OF LAST FLIGHT TO ABUJA

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The director aiming to film real life events faces an arduous task, which gets harder when the events are recent history. One part of the problem is convincing the audience this is what transpired; another is particularly apparent when the event is tragic: the audience knows the end, there can be no suspense.

It is hard to tell if Obi Emelonye, the director of Last Flight to Abuja (LFTA), is fortunate to have slated the release of his air-disaster film weeks after the last air crash in the country. On the one hand there is the curiosity of the audience to see the cinematic version of events, a curiosity that is bound to fuel high box-office numbers; on the other hand, his motives must be called into question—though filmmakers are far from the most moral people on the planet. Thankfully, he has given an interview where he explains the timing is coincidence. Sadly, not a lot of people have seen that interview, thus the misconception persists. The start of the film—featuring a shaky plane in flames—seems to lend credence to this view; by the end, however, it becomes obvious he has sidestepped these problems by creating an entirely fictional story with the existence of a plane crash as the only connection to the recent event.

LFTA is a story about ordinary men and women caught in unusual circumstances: Suzie (Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde) plans a surprise for her fiancé but gets surprised by another woman; a company grants a holiday to its staff one of whom has a secret; a young footballer has just gotten signed apparently by English Premier League side, Arsenal; and an elderly man is going for a medical operation. All of these characters get on the plane with luggage—more emotional than physical—for possibly their last flight. Suzie’s calm frustration and the company worker’s guilt are perhaps the more perceptible emotions aboard the plane mainly because these are the only stories the script allows some back story, the rest of the characters are met abruptly at the airport.

At just over an hour, it is obvious there is not enough time for appreciable characterization especially as in typical Nollywood style, a significant part of screen time is taken up by needless camera shots: the most unnecessary being the endless shots of awkward computer generated images of the plane.

The film does not disappoint, as the characters end up as unfamiliar as the actors playing them who, with the exception of the Jide Kosoko as company CEO, Hakeem Kae Kazeem (who overcompensates his ‘foreigness’ with some funny sounding pidgin words) as Adesola the company employee with a secret, and Anthony Monjaro as pilot, read their lines as from a teleprompter in a foreign language. Yes, the culprits include AMAA nominated actress Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde whose scenes and dialogue with fiancé (Ali Nuhu) are a stilted, chemistry-less disaster. Though, in fairness to the cast, the script is not strong on flowing dialogue, a lot of it recalls the infamous Harrison Ford remark: “George, you can type that s**t, but you sure as hell can’t say it.”

Some chemistry finally develops between Omotola and an impressively subdued Jim Iyke (another company employee) but it is much too late.

The cinematography features scenes in Lagos contrasted with Abuja, inviting the viewer to note the differences between the cities, a brilliant use of camera detail which renders the subsequent dialogue comparing the cities—the latter city, according to the script, is endowed with “good roads, nice houses, clean babes”—redundant. Peculiar details abound: the airline is called Flamingo, a flightless bird and functions as a much better foreshadowing device if used as confidently as the child-seer; the pilot’s wife works in PWS Clinic- an apt acronym for Pilot’s Wife Syndrome which she is said to be afflicted with; and when the co-pilot (who manages to substitute ‘illegible’ for ‘eligible’) speaks about the perception of pilots in society, it is difficult to ignore that the principal actress is married to a pilot in real life.

Whether these are intentional details is not known but their presence lends an interesting angle to the proceedings.

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The film has substantial sponsors, and luckily advert placements are more artfully done than in most films of such magnitude of investment. It is an inventive piece of trickery to satisfy rich sponsors and yet minimize intrusion unlike, say, the commercial crudity of the ads in the last Jenifa film, the assured conspicuousness of placements in Afolayan’s Phone Swap or the incessant Mtn plugs in Balogun’s Tango With Me, all with a surfeit of big sponsors. All over the film are elements of good intentions but somehow something lets the director down: there is use of a clumsy foreshadowing device when a child warns a father to not board the plane after purchasing a ticket that is much too easily sold to the heartbroken Suzie; the plane crash is done heavy-handedly and is not likely to fool anyone despite the sweaty agonies of the crew on board—it almost squandered every ounce of goodwill the novelty of staging multiple lives in a Nollywood film had created. (Side note: how come the sky outside the cockpit is near dusk and outside the aisle the sun shines brightly?)

Eventually, it comes down to motivation. What exactly is Emelonye trying to say, if anything at all? What guided him here? Is LFTA a paean to the recent victims? A protest with cinema as medium? Is it a meditation on the inevitability of death? Or a reminder that mankind’s pressing worries are ephemeral? Or is he a businessman with a camera merely aiming for the dramatic? The answers to these questions are varied and different viewers will come to different conclusions—there is a scene or a stretch of dialogue to support each of the proposed motivations—and whatever the actual answers are, LFTA does not supply them: it appears unsure, and ends too quickly to give a definite statement. As a lot of filmmakers love lengthy discussions to linger long after the credits roll, that may be a sign of strength, especially if one is reclining in the director’s chair; but while the flexibility of answers or lack thereof, is not a weakness, it is arguable that those watching from aisle seats will consider it anything loftier than an evasion.

 

IS KENNETH GYANG’S CONFUSION NA WA NOLLYWOOD’S TURNING POINT?

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Kenneth Gyang’s Confusion Na Wa is the result of a progression, an evolution of film making in Nollywood. It is the most important film in Nollywood as the industry enters a new phase in its (generally acknowledged) third decade.

The film, a blend of western humour and a Nigerian sensibility, is from a director who came of age as the Nigerian film industry was making first steps— both Kenneth Gyang, 27, and Nollywood took first steps to an external consciousness together. This means Nollywood’s ethos, starting to gain a visibility by 1993, was part of the man’s childhood cinema experience.

However, to fully appreciate the influences so evident in Confusion Na Wa, another milestone in cinema history, happening just a year later, has to be noted. At the Cannes Film Festival, in 1994, a former video clerk’s film earned high praise, culminating in its win of the scriptwriting award at the Academy Awards. So, within a year, there was Nollywood and there was Pulp Fiction made by former video clerk Quentin Tarantino.

Twenty years later, both events would reshape and relaunch Nollywood.

The parallels between Confusion Na Wa and Pulp Fiction are apparent: both films were shot with manageable budgets, both have overlapping, if circular storylines or what David Denby of The New Yorker called a ‘collateral narration’ where every action causes a reaction in another character’s life. Both have major stars who took a pay cut to star in them. And perhaps most importantly, both have reprobates at the centre of their narratives. Gene Siskel, a popular American film critic in the 90’s, placing Pulp Fiction alongside great violent films like Psycho and A Clockwork Orange, said, “Each film shook up a tired, bloated film industry and used a world of lively lowlifes to reflect how dull other movies had become.”

Confusion Na Wa follows 24 hours, in some fictional city, of some six lives; the stories overlap in the style of Pulp Fiction, which influenced later films like, Innaritu’s Amores Perros, and Meirelles’ Babel. Mr Gyang’s film springs from a collision of chaos and order. The stories collide externally and within these stories, characters collide.

An old world newspaper publisher with the rather phallic newspaper name, The Righteous Trumpet, has strong machismo ideals at odds with his son’s flexible notions of morality; an adulterer’s view of theft collides with two layabouts’ who believe things change owners because of the ‘cycle of life’. Humour collides with tragedy; Tarantino collides with Disney. All of these are bound effectively by both Hollywood and Nollywood tropes and influences.

The film starts with Emeka (Ramsey Nouah) losing his phone to Charles and Chichi (OC Ukeje and Gold Ikponmwosa,) the pair of layabouts at the centre of the narrative. The pair decides to blackmail him when they discover he is having an affair with the often poetic Isabella (Tunde Aladese) whose feckless husband Bello (Ali Nuhu) has a bad day plummeting to its nadir when he is jailed after smashing the rear windshield of the aforementioned publisher. There is also a story involving this publisher’s son and his sister’s friend who is raped on a night out; the consequence of that act brings the story full circle.

At first the viewer is perplexed as to the power handed to him by the director’s skilful use of dramatic irony. The suspense is at a higher level from the storied predictability of old Nollywood— it used to be that the alert, or sometimes the somnolent, viewer could foretell plot resolutions, but in Confusion Na Wa the audience is in collusion with the director. This oblique complicity, adds to a visceral thrill, an intellectual gratification.

The film’s dialogue is quickened by chicanery and misdirection. Like in Tarantino, you get the feeling people don’t talk like this for long stretches— it is dialogue if everyone were endowed with wit and (mental) fortitude.

There is a confidence and intellectual swagger implicit in the script that is commendable if shocking, for its self-assuredness, and for the confidence it reposes in the audience’s ability to get a joke without condescension, and without drawing attention through the use of a telling soundtrack. For example, in a scene where Charles, tells a girl whose drink he has spiked, to call him Sadiq; drunk and disoriented, she asks if she is a British knight, seeming to imply she has heard his name as Sir Dick. Brushing it away, Charles kisses and then rapes her, thus literalizing the confusion she has had of his name.

It is arguable which is more impressive: the creation of a two-step pun that employs both wordplay and a visual element, or that a failure to understand this exchange takes away nothing from the enjoyment of the film.

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This enjoyable responsibility given to the audience occurs throughout the film as the audience is always several steps of the characters, knowing that an action here, a line there, offers more than the mostly hapless characters realise. The director and the audience become one, a little prescient, a little wiser than the owner of the lives themselves.

Several themes are embedded under this great cover of collisions; sexuality, retribution, rape, the culpability of complicity simmers beneath, unresolved as the script offers no homilies or any answers; it gives questions, difficult questions couched in humour. Characters change, characters become none the wiser. Although wittier, the characters are like real people: foolish and grope blindly in daylight.

Like the early films of that former video clerk, it leaves compassion to the audience. Empathise with any character, it implores; but whomever the viewer bestows judgement, whomever the viewer grants forgiveness says something of the viewer’s own understanding of life. By foregoing Nollywood’s need to preach, it embraces cinema’s ideal.

Yet Nollywood looms. Some scenes derive humour from slapstick comedic situations: Ramsey Nouah’s character is slapped four times in an unrealistic scene, saved by humour. Also, Mr Nouah’s philandering husband is a variation of his Nollywood stereotype, that of the seducer; although as opposed to his erstwhile roles, his character doesn’t revel as much as broods over his self-inflicted predicament.

(A meta-significance of Mr Nouah’s presence is the near-aloofness of his character in relation to OC Ukeje’s own immersion in the film. If the film has a lead character it is Charles, whose story binds all of the others together. This suggests a transfer from the old to the new. It is uncanny how much of the circle of life alluded to in the film is taking place outside of the film, as Mr Ukeje is now what Mr Nouah represented for more than a decade in Nollywood. The leading man baton has changed hands just as the phone in the film changed owners.)

With this combination, Confusion Na Wa ushers in a new Nollywood, complete with new leading man and director.

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Although the film does mark a watershed in Nollywood, before Mr Gyang, there was Kunle Afolayan whose Figurine and Phone Swap were delightful. Others include, Mahmoud Balogun, Chineze Anyaene, and Obi Emelonye. Desmond Elliot may be added to the list.

This raises the question: why can’t anyone of these directors be said to be the harbingers of a new phase in our national cinema— weren’t their own films events?

Perhaps they were; but only as far as transition can be considered an event of itself.

Also, films from those directors were either standard Nollywood produce with some level of technical mastery, or they were vastly westernised with only a hint of Nigeria.

Mahmoud Balogun’s Tango With Me dazzled with rabid marketing, but the film itself was a series of close-ups and faux-contentious issues capped with a uniquely Nollywood denouement. Anyaene’s Ije was shot mainly overseas—a Nollywood film without much of Nigeria.

Emelonye’s films consistently have the appearance of being made for profit without much thought given to continuity and artistic integrity. Desmond Eliott is the emperor in new clothes—old Nollywood with a new camera, he takes the spirit of Mr Balogun’s airbrushed close-ups of stars to the extreme and clothes his stars with snazzy, garish outfits. Eliott’s films are extended music videos with flimsy clothing and flimsier storylines.

And pertinently, these films come with the announcement of huge budgets.

This is Afolayan’s albatross. He is a technical master, armed with good screenplays, and great cinematography— he uses same director of photography as Mr Gyang, Yinka Edwards, who is one-third of Cinema Kpatakpata, the production outfit completed by Gyang himself and a Brit, Tom Rowlands-Rees.

Mr. Afolayan’s difference to Mr Gyang— beside being such a Goliath that when he announces a film big companies line up— is his prohibitive budget. Nollywood got to audiences mainly through small budgets, from Kenneth Nnebue through Opa Williams to the Ejiro brothers. Mr Afolayan nonetheless deserves praise, as the tremendous budget of Emelonye is yet to produce anything as competent as The Figurine. But Afolayan isn’t playing on the same field as most up-and-coming filmmakers.

Mr. Gyang has announced a smaller budget, somewhere around the region of four million naira, paltry compared to the loud and shiny proclamations of Nollywood. Nowadays, a small budget is the anomaly, the novelty. With Gyang’s conservative budget, it would be a shame if companies interested in cinema paying attention.

At the just concluded Light, Camera, Africa!!! Film Festival, where Confusion Na Wa played publicly for the first time, Mr Gyang spoke of Nollywood and was particularly interested in distribution. This awareness of the problems and history of the industry comes up in Confusion Na Wa when Charles asks of his friend Chichi, “Nollywood? Them dey make film for there?”

(To draw another parallel to Quentin Tarantino, in the aforementioned review of Pulp Fiction, Gene Siskel noted that, “like all great films, it criticises other movies.”)

This sneering tone also functions as self-criticism, because Mr. Gyang has welcomed, and insisted on the Nollywood label for his work. The title, Confusion Na Wa, is an attempt to not run away from its Nigeria-ness; it is a self-imposed homing device. No matter where it is played, the title, derived from Fela’s Confusion, and with titular evocations of ’90s comedy, Lagos Na Wa, the film is instantly identifiable as Nollywood.

It is a one-man rebranding act, one that hopefully would halt the snobbery young cinema goers regard Nollywood, even where the alternative are not exactly great films but middling chick flicks and abject action flicks. Confusion Na Wa is a Nigerian story—or several Nigerian stories—told superbly.

The novelist, Chimamanda Adichie has spoken about not believing people with lives like hers and colour like hers could exist in books because for a long time she read only books by Caucasians. The cinema going public—and, especially, kids—like Adichie once was, are in a similar peril at the moment; a peril that sees Nigerians believing that they live unremarkable lives, and that the country’s local cinema equals mediocrity, while a film of any quality by an English, an Italian, an Indian, a South African director is superior.

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The only way this may be halted is for the country to make it easier for those inclined, to grow into filmmaking so they can erase the budding inferiority complex in our national cinema. Filmmakers of Gyang’s generation would need encouragement of the financial kind to succeed and overcome the status quo that has made films like Confusion Na Wa a novelty and curiosity. For while curiosity may be good for the bottom line now, acceptance is better on the whole: the industry needs to get to a level where films like Confusion Na Wa can be routinely made, and made available to the public without foreign funding as is the case with Confusion Na Wa.

It cannot be said enough. The grant-for-film-production model is not viable in the long run; and Nollywood films of high quality have to be self sustaining.

The obstacle to this viability may be the leap required of the cinema audience who have grown accustomed to films depending on emotional blackmail, and often dipping into bathos. A film that caters to the head over the heart is several steps forward.

This is not to say Confusion Na Wa is a robot’s enterprise. The filmmaker Branwen Okpako called it clever after its inaugural public screening, but she was correct only by half. The film’s emotional core, the character Bello, appears slight at first, but his stature is magnified after repeated viewing. On subsequent showing, the viewer’s piecing together of the story done, Bello’s quandary, and perhaps the illicit desperation of his wife, Isabella come through.

It is a worthy challenge, one needed at this stage of our cinema culture. Cinema would, of course, remain popular entertainment; but, like in France of the late 1950’s, like in the Czech republic of the 1960’s, like in the US of the 70’s, it is time for something more.

In 2013, twenty years after the disputed Nollywood spearhead, Living in Bondage, Confusion Na Wa may prove to be important, radical as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris was to American cinema in the eyes of Pauline Kael who remarked of the 1972 film, “the movie breakthrough has finally come”. Or, to each viewer, what Van Morrison’s 1968 album Astral Weeks meant to rock critic Lester Bangs: “it was proof that there was something left to express artistically.” Or it would expand the cramped frontiers of the film making industry, akin to what Plantashun Boiz’ 2000 album, Body and Soul, did for pop music.

However, the eventual legacies of these touchstones in popular culture must be taken into account. Last Tango in Paris never quite brought the breakthrough in American cinema Ms Kael foresaw, as Richard Brody, writing in the New Yorker, recently, pointed out. Astral Weeks took more than three decades to go gold. And Body and Soul can be said to have propelled enthusiastic youngsters with minor music making talent toward making inferior music—the group itself could never quite replicate the early acclaim on subsequent efforts.

Film critic for Time, Richard Corliss said of Pulp Fiction in 1994: “If good directors accept Tarantino’s implicit challenge, the movie theatre could again be a great place to live in.”

In 2013, in Nollywood, same is true of Confusion Na Wa because while Mr. Gyang has created art, he has not invented an art form. The legacy of Confusion Na Wa is dependent on Nollywood scriptwriters, producers, directors; its legacy is reliant on their acceptance of the challenge the film represents merely by existing. The audience has to see Confusion Na Wa as well: as has been written about the brilliant, but not quite famous novelist James Salter, “there is no greatness without recognition…one must be read widely to qualify.”

The lesson is inherent in the praise: Confusion Na Wa is indeed a turning point, a blessing to the industry even. But in the end, there is only so much one man can do. The film has created a great image for Nollywood; it is the industry’s turn to reflect.

 

 

GOLD DIGGIN’: A REVIEW, OR RUKKY SANDA MUST BE STOPPED

'Rukky's Gold-Diggin

Question: How does Rukky Sanda get financing for her movies?

The actress, fresh from the barely watchable “Keeping My Man,” has helmed Gold Diggin’, a mess of scenes roughly stapled together with awful dialogue and woeful acting.

It is the story of Annabel (Rukky Sanda,) a not-so-young returnee with one ambition: she wants to date/shag/marry/snare a celebrity. Her friend Zara (an inactive Yvonne Nelson) is the voice of clichéd sanity and Chris (Alex Ekubo) is a normal guy— that is, not a celebrity— who keeps, surprise!, running into her as she takes on the Lagos.

Essentially a badly edited reality television episode, Gold Diggin’ is E! with the production values of public school’s play. And public schools should be angry to be so compared. Scenes crash into garish scenes; cinematography, when noticeable, is worse than video coverage of a village wake; music plays over dialogue often; and Ms Sanda colour blocks.

Indulging her most narcissistic impulses, Ms Sanda, who also wrote and produced, films her Annabel as a stunner, but the audience merely watches an overly made-up near-overweight woman flirting with Dammy Krane, Denrele Edun and Sexy Steel. It is an ensemble cast of the worst kind and together the trio should make the industry standard of tragic cameos. But Mr Steel would not be outdone: his (lack of) acting ability manages to one-up his catastrophic colleagues and upstage his own ridiculous name to clinch the medallion for mediocrity.

But what does it matter anyway? All three were cast for their decidedly D-rate wattage. But shouldn’t adults learn to say no? These vaguely known stars carry thin extensions of their insubstantial music video personalities unto the screen, plunging an abysmal film deeper into the void. It is a misstep like the entire film because while a few may listen to their music, does anyone really want to pay to see a film featuring Dammy Krane, or Sexy Steel?

As the film dwindles mercifully to a halt, the viewer hopes, in the signature manner of Nollywood, some message, needless and meaningless as it would be,  may show up to morally inflate Gold Diggin”s paltry, seedy plot. But that never happens. There is no moral lesson, no karmic denouement, no greatly needed deliverance sessions for the incredibly silly Annabel.

What Rukky—sorry, Annabel—wants, Annabel gets. And Gold Diggin’ closes without sense or instruction.

“You have to take my bullshit every time,” Annabel drawls at some point. With ludicrous film after wretched film, this is possibly filmmaker Rukky Sanda’s statement to viewers. She probably believes it too.

If her financiers nod in agreement and sign cheques for her every time, it won’t be long till audiences get a chance to prove her wrong. One can only hope that day comes quickly.

 

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