‘Vacation’ Review: Slightly Amusing With the ‘Conventional’ Foul Language and Inappropriate Antics

Steele Stebbins, Skyler Gisondo, Christina Applegate and Ed Helms in Vacation
Steele Stebbins, Skyler Gisondo, Christina Applegate and Ed Helms in Vacation

Increasingly, the big screens are being filled with less thought-provoking movies these days—as more offensive words and antics lead in the world of mainstream cinema.

And even though ‘Vacation’ was not as foul as TED 2 to my co-reviewer and conservative fiancée, you can pigeonhole it as terribly offensive and less humorous as it had a central child throwing out many swear words throughout the movie.

Perhaps, modern comedy has gotten to the stage where you cannot do without foul language and certain inappropriate antics—and film makers seem to be wrongly interchanging wit for insolent.

Off the back of Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo infamous decision to take their family across the US to “America’s Favourite Family Fun Park” in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ed Helms (who plays Rusty, a domestic flight pilot), now a middle aged son of Chevy decides to give his wife and two children that ‘wonderful’ experience in ‘Vacation’.

Married to hanging-in-there-Debbie ( played by Christina Applegate), Rusty managed to convince Debbie and his two sons James (played by Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (played by Steele Stebbins) to go on a family road trip to Walley World theme park—promising them a wonderful experience just as he had with his parents when he was young.

It’s this long road trip to Walley World theme park that puts the film on it wheels—the family conversations were every so often funny but if you have a problem with a child being unable to construct a full sentence without swearing, then surely you wouldn’t even find the family chats amusing.

James, the younger brother of Kevin kept throwing out words far inappropriate for his age—and he couldn’t stop terrorizing the calm Kevin until latter part of the movie when he was taught a little lesson.

James’ reoccurring foul language which sometimes were met with similar ‘jabs’ from his parents would have maintained their comedy punch lines if they were infrequent, a little more controlled. But the fact that almost each sentence had it was a push beyond the border.

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‘Guy Guy’ Episode Two Preview: ‘Learn From Kalybos How To Get A Celebrity’s Number’

After a blockbuster pilot that I’m sure by now has hooked many people, ‘Guy Guy’ returns with another solid episode as it begins its 13 week mission to steal the heart and soul of Ghanaians… Building a cult following is important for the survival of any television series in this day and age of a … Read more

‘Guy Guy’ Series Premiere Preview: The Eccentric Genius And The Inept Rapper in ‘Best Rapper Alive’

Guy Guy-GC
Guy Guy-GC

It is coming soon, and it is coming big; it is the series premiere of the next big thing to hit the big screen in Ghana- ‘Guy Guy’.

The brainchild of talented artist 2Ras, this is a show guaranteed to blow the minds of a Ghanaian public a little too comfortable with mediocrity. Well acted, well directed, star studded, the show is as ‘guy guy’ as its title holds.

The premiere episode ‘Best Rapper Alive’ is set to air on Saturday, August 8 on GTV. A premiere must always be one of the best episodes of any given show, as it acts as the first crumb thrown into the sea to hook the fish, and so it should be a particularly juicy crumb.

‘Guy Guy’ has a lot working for it before it even airs, the cast of characters which is a highlight reel of a ‘who is who’ in Ghana showbiz, and its head character Kalybos, is probably the hottest commodity in Ghana these days. Still, the pilot meets expectations in many ways.

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Star Studded New TV Series: ‘Guy Guy’ Set To Hit Your Screens And Split Your Sides Soon

Guy Guy-GC
Guy Guy-GC

The debate over the soon to be implemented TV license fee brings into sharp relief one of the biggest problems with broadcasting in Ghana which we often sweep under the carpet– the largely dross programming Ghanaians have to deal with.

The argument largely, which I agree with, is that shoveling the money of Ghanaians into the hands of these people gives us no guarantee of improved programming.

Luckily, there is a programme on the horizon that would, in the short term at least, brightly improve the landscape on GTV, who we can all agree does not have the brightest of landscapes. ‘Guy Guy’ is the new star studded, hilarious, and pseudo real world show on the horizon that is guaranteed to brighten your day.

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Review of Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation | Another Tom Cruise Action Adventure

Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation1
Rebecca Ferguson and Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation

 

Tom Cruise has returned for the fifth time with another Mission: Impossible movie’; ‘Rogue Nation’ as Ethan Hunt —an action thriller majorly set in London.

This time, the Mission: Impossible franchise which has been running for almost 20 years places 53-year old-Tom Cruise in the middle of a thought-of British Intelligence secret organisation turned a terrorist group called ‘The Syndicate.’

Even if Tom Cruise’s admirable six packs and physiques do not make you forget his age, the excellent action stunts he pulls off by himself would blow your mind. From hanging to a taking off plane to riding a motor bike with no helmet at a top speed in Casablanca, Morocco—‘Rogue Nation’ once again reminds us that, Mission: Impossible is perhaps the only franchise which comes a little closer to the James Bond franchise.

Made possible by Alibaba Pictures, ‘Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation’ puts the IMF agency under unexpected threat from ‘The Syndicate’, a near-mythical organization of assassins and rogue operatives run by a creepy villain-Solomon Lane (Sean Harris).

Interestingly, it was exactly when the IMF agency was under threat of extermination that the agency was dissolved, with its members- Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg (who plays Benji Dunn ) pulled into the CIA, Ving Rhames resigning—and Tom Cruise becoming that rogue agent wanted by the CIA.

Not only does ‘Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation’ successfully battle the last James Bond movie with the super cool gadgets, fierce fighting and high speed chases, it also brings in the sexy Rebecca Ferguson (who plays Ilsa Faust), a British Intelligence Service agent whose place of loyalty remains confusing till the end of the movie.  Rebecca Ferguson sits in as some sort of a$$-kicking Bond Girl—and her kicks were swift, brutal and deadly.

The entire Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation movie can be boxed into 3 major events—-the first taking place at the Vienna State Opera where we see punches and gunshots being exchanged by 3 separate hitmen (and woman) as well as Ethan Hunt and his side-kick Benji Dunn, centered around the assassination of the Austrian Chancellor.

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TED 2 Review | It’s The Usual Foul Mouth Ted & His Best Friend-Mark Wahlberg Against ‘Political Correctness’

Ted 2
Ted 2

Seth MacFarlane himself wouldn’t dare say TED 2 is anything close to his first installment when it comes to real comedy—but he surely uses TED 2 to clap back at his critics, making TED 2 seem more like a dry spoof.

Of course there wouldn’t be Ted without his best friend-John Bennett (played by Mark Wahlberg) and the two wouldn’t be such great buddies if they did not share the same insane DNA full of foul language—and enjoy the same illicit interest of smoking their brains out.

TED 2 kicks off with Ted, the talking Teddy bear wedding his girlfriend-Tami-Lynn ( played by Jessica Barth) and a marriage hoped to bring peace later turns into constant fights—and exchange of strong language. You may succeed in throwing some few foul words at TED but never expect to win; his character is a legend in that sector and he does not even spare his neighbours…

On the other hand, TED’s best friend-John Bennett is divorced from Lori Collins for six months and has lost interest in getting back into the game—having found deep solace in a new world of adult movies.  But that was short lived when TED stumbled on his thousands of collections—the two then decided to get rid of those movies, in an unexpected way.

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Terminator Genisys Review: Deeply Confusing With A Lot Variations | Arnold Schwarzenegger is ‘Old But Not Obsolete’

Terminator Genisys
Terminator Genisys

As would expect from most Time Travel movies, Terminator Genisys pushes the mind through thick confusion, long-winded and sometimes non-connecting screenplay—but whatever it is, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back, except that he seems to have a new catch phrase.

Arnold Schwarzenegger remerges as Terminator, “old but not obsolete” 30 years after his first appearance in James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) and surely, being a T-800 Terminator meant that he had to push his machine muscles far harder to be able to fight the new, upgraded, messy, melting and rebuilding terminators to save humanity.

The movie fails to answer the most basic question which would have given viewers a good direction; who actually sent Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to 1973 to protect young Sarah Connor? The absence of an answer to this sets forth the confusion—and also, the suspense as to whether Arnold the Terminator would indeed switch on Sarah as Kyle Reese suspects.

Directed by Alan Taylor, the actual action kicks off in 2029 with John Connor (played by Jason Clarke) as a strong head of the Resistance, with Kyle Reese (played by Jai Courtney) as his right hand man, leading a brutal gun-popping assault against the machines—this was what we were told about in 1984; that Skynet was losing this battle and as such sent back the Terminator to cheat, so the war would never even take place.

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Game Of Thrones Season 5 Ends With Another Game Changing Episode

Jon Snow dead
Jon Snow dead

There is a method to the madness often displayed by Game of Thrones writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss. It is a method fans have grown accustomed to, and it a method that was shattered with the final scene of Game of Thrones Season 5.

Often the final episode of the season is where things are wrapped up, and sufficiently resolved until the next season began. And this worked well, because often the biggest and most shocking events are reserved for the 9th episode of the season. Ned Stark’s death in season one, the Battles of Blackwater and the Wall in seasons two and four; and the mother of all shocking episodes, The Red Wedding in Season 3.

These episodes contained huge, game changing moments- and they needed a great resolution. That happened in the next episode, the season finale where everything is wrapped up in a pretty little bow and then you wait ten months for the next season.

Game of Thrones season 5 has become the exception to that rule. The finale of the show was more episode 9 than most of the episode 9’s we’ve ever had. The season has left us on several cliff-hangers, with characters in a situation that sees them in some sort of danger. This naturally screams for a resolution, but uncharacteristically we now have to wait for the next season in 2016, to have any idea of the potential fates of most of the characters we love.

And the season ended with a big bang, Jon Snow ambushed by his sworn brothers and stabbed over and over again in the gut. This has been Kit Harrington’s best season, as we’ve finally seen Jon come into his own, and mature into that great leader he’s always shown he could one day be.

His problem was being saddled with bigoted, small minded criminals for sworn brothers, who refused to see the forest for the trees. Jon was a reformist, seeing that the real threat is that of the white walkers and not the wildings; his brothers refused to see that, and Jon honestly did not do a very good job of explaining it to them. It all ended with a Julius Cesar situation, so much so that Jon muttering ‘et tu, Olly?’ would not have seemed out of place.

READ ALSO: Game Of Thrones Season 5: Enthralling Yet Plagued Season Drawing To A Climatic Close

Thus ended the season which Snow lying in a pool of his blood in the snow, a scene as heart wrenching as any we’ve seen in this show. There are many theories as to Jon’s fate, but I would not go into them here as some people might not appreciate getting spoiled.

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Spy Review | It’s Just Not Melissa McCarthy’s ‘Comedy Chops’ That Make It A Must Watch…

Spy Review
Spy Review

The movie is f**king funny…

And it cleverly caters for those who love comedy, action or both in a way that you’ve probably not seen in the cinema in a long time.

When it comes to spy movies, agents are pulled back from field operations and given a boring desk/office positions as a form of punishment but for Melissa McCarthy, that was her full-time job—with no dream of ever making it onto the field as an agent.

Stationed at CIA’s Langley headquarters but in a rat infested basement, Melissa McCarthy primarily aided field agent-Bradley Fine, played with some dash James Bond fine style by Jude Law through ear pieces and contact-lens cameras. And when missions were successful, she would get to hear the recycled words; “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Of course she once had an ambition to become a field agent and not some sort of office based agent who was more like a secretary with rats running on top of her computer. And that was not all she wanted, she had a deep crush on Bradley too, but the closest she came to that was to have dinner with him at a posh restaurant—only because Burger King was closed, so Bradley jokingly claimed when she expressed her shock.

But something went wrong when the best spy around-Bradley Fine went on an important mission—which also revealed that all the CIA field agents’ covers were blown. Without any special field agent to rescue the operation, mumsy CIA operative-Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) put herself up for the ‘deadly’ mission.

Review
Spy-Review

Susan Cooper saw this as an opportunity to get into the field but this was well opposed by another brilliant field lunkhead agent-Rick Ford (played by Jason Statham). Rick was just not worried about Susan’s competence—he had been and was extremely patronising and demeaning to her. But the CIA’s head spy, Elaine Crocker (played by Allison Janney) approved the mission—time was therefore set for Susan Cooper to go ‘invisible’ in the field.

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Movie Review: ‘Man Up’ | A Light RomCom Full of So Many Coincidences

Lake Bell and Simon Pegg in Man Up
Lake Bell and Simon Pegg in Man Up

Apart from the brilliant acting and excellent English accent American actress-Lake Bell puts up, everything else though funny seem to have been borne out of coincidence in Ben Palmer’s new romcom-Man Up, which pairs Bell (who plays Nancy) with British actor-Simon Pegg (who plays Jack).

Nancy, a thirty-something year old single woman is clothed in a Bridget Jones-type character—a woman has had no luck with love and has therefore given up to take refuge in drinking, munching junk foods and taking care of her cats. Beyond that, she manages to come out with a theory for every scenario—mostly, why things won’t work.

Set in London, the actual event which sets the film in motion takes place under the big Waterloo station clock where Nancy who was heading home for the 40th anniversary of her parents was mistaken by Jack for his 24 year old blind date.

Unable to quickly pour out words that she is not the person Jack was actually meeting and perhaps due to her own inability to meet a man, Nancy pretends to be Jack’s blind date and kick it off with a struggling conversation.

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Cannes Review: ‘Amnesia’ | Who Deals With the Memories of the Holocaust Better…The Disgusted Runaway or Those Who Stayed to Rebuild Germany?

Jo and Martha in Amnesia
Jo and Martha in Amnesia

The holocaust has been told in many ways by many film makers across the globe but the central theme and conversation have always remained the same; a grave crime was committed against humanity.

It’s the aftermath of the gravest crime against humanity that ‘Amnesia’ explores; perching the conscience of those who were utterly disgusted by the Hitler led crimes against the Jews and felt being a German or staying in Germany after the war was no different that being a Nazi against those who felt that, despite it all, Germany must move forward and stayed to rebuild Germany.

Directed by Barbet Schroeder, ‘Amnesia’ is set in Ibiza, just after the fall of the Berlin wall—where an ageing German- Martha (played by Marthe Keller) who moved out of Germany and had since not spoken the language met a young new neighbour-Jo (played by Max Riemelt).

Though a German too, Jo for sometime had no idea his new island friend-Martha, could speak or understand Deutsche, let alone be a German even when it was so obvious to the viewers. Jo and Martha spent a lot of time together, fishing, cooking and making music—as Jo was a young DJ who had mainly moved to the island to tap into the great night life of the popular holiday destination.

Even with the obvious hovering romance, Barbet Schroeder played it safe with Jo and Martha—and decided to focus the attention of the audience on the film’s central theme without diluting it with a romance which wouldn’t last.

Jo had learnt about the war in school back in Germany and his conversation with Martha on this subject was difficult—as Martha and Jo could not agree on what those who lived after the war should have done to register their disgust for what happened.

Amnesia-Jo and Martha
Amnesia-Jo and Martha

For Martha, it was deeply shameful and she could not even stay in Germany and had not stepped a foot there since she moved out right after the war. And for Jo, Martha’s action may work for her own conscience but in a wider perspective, it does not really make any impact, apart from just holding onto what Germany left behind.

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Cannes Review: ‘Inside Out’…Another Clever Animation by Pete Docter

Riley in 'Inside Out'
Riley in ‘Inside Out’

Pete Docter brought back another great animation to the 68th Cannes Film Festival and before the big screen inside the Grand Theatre Lumiere threw out Pixar’s logo last night—fans outside the theatre kept screaming while Pete Docter pulled funny faces on the red carpet.

In 2009, Pete Docter’s animation-UP opened the Cannes Film Festival despite concerns from many film critics and enthusiasts that it could be a disaster to open the prestigious film festival with an animation. It was certainly a worthy risk as the film received rave reviews and literally got people crying…

For this year, Pete Doctor’s ‘Inside Out’ does not only give more hope to the world of animation films with another great reception at the Cannes, it has actually become the festival’s most talk about movie over night—and the presentation of what goes on ‘inside’ alongside the ‘outside’ of a young girl could not have been brilliantly done beyond what was achieved.

Director- Pete Docter starts ‘Inside Out’ with the birth of a baby girl-Riley but the deeper meaning is; that scene was the beginning of consciousness which sets forth the journey of how this baby was going to develop the needed human personalities.

Before baby Riley could give out her first smile to the outside world, Pete Docter took us ‘Inside’ where a yellow sprite called Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler) popped out, and pressed a single button on a polished stand. With the button pressed, Riley giggled and her eyes opened—to the full excitement of her parents who held her in their hands.

Now that Riley has arrived, the story begun to develop with viewers being constantly shuffled from the ‘Outside’ where Riley, her parents and every other person lived—to the ‘Inside’ where the headquarters of the various emotions that determined Riley’s behaviour ‘Outside’ was stationed.

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Cannes Review: ‘Mia Madre’ (My Mother) By Nanni Moretti | Acting, Reality & What’s In-Between

Mia Madre
Mia Madre

Nanni Moretti, a veteran at the Cannes Film Festival is back this year with what fits the description of a semi-autobiographical drama-Mia Madre (My Mother) —a movie which does not only throw light on the last stages of losing an aged mother to death but challenges the working lifestyle of most people which leads them to miss some of the most important things and truths of their lives.

‘Mia Madre’ is the third collaboration of the Italian film-maker with actress Margherita Buy, who plays his alter ego, a director dealing with an ailing aged mother, child-mother relationship and boyfriend crisis during a movie shoot.

It’s brilliant how Nanni Moretti is able to touch the serious subject of a dying mother in a film which somewhat is perfectly laced with laughter, caused by Barry Huggins (John Turturro) who stands tall as an actor in the movie being shot by Margherita.

‘Mia Madre’ starts with actress Margherita, a director on set shooting a scene of angry protesters demonstrating against a factory lay off. It doesn’t get easy on Margherita’s set when she brings in Barry Huggins who plays an entrepreneur who has taken over the factory in crisis.

On set, Barry Huggins struggled with his lines, a situation first thought to be a challenge due to the film being shot in a different language but later in the movie, it turns out that Barry indeed had a deeper problem with remembering his lines though he has managed this well to be successful in his career.

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Cannes Review: Director-Grímur Hakonarson’s Hrútar (Rams)| It’s Not Just About the Rams But the Brotherly Love They Revive

Hrutar-Rams
Hrutar-Rams

Film-maker, Grímur Hakonarson who is a graduate of Prague Film School and a 2005 Cannes’ Cinéfondation competitor returned stronger to this year’s Cannes Film Festival with a second feature film-Hrútar (Rams).

Considering the film’s pull factor, the brilliantly executed central theme of reviving brotherly love and the production quality, it surely is a low shot for Grímur Hakonarson to throw his second feature into the ‘Un Certain Regard’ but then with great movies like Naomi Kawase’s An playing along, it fits the crop of great films which were selected this year.

Hrútar (Rams) is set in a remote region of Iceland with two brothers who have not spoken to each other for forty years setting off against each when they were compelled by authorities to slaughter ‘all’ their Rams, the love of their lives.

The livestock farmers had no idea of how they were going to go through the coming winter without their Rams, that is how much these animals meant to them. Despite the request to have all their animals slaughtered in response to an incurable animal disease, one of the brothers’ (Gummi) attempt to cheat the system brought the two brothers together as they later united to battle the bad weather and the system to save the few remaining rams.

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Cannes Review: ‘AN’-Another Great Film By Naomi Kawase | It Surely Gets You to Re-evaluate Your Existence

Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase and Kyara Uchida in An
Kirin Kiki, Masatoshi Nagase and Kyara Uchida in An

Japanese film-maker, Naomi Kawase has returned to the Cannes Film Festival for the 7th time with another awe-inspiring and soul touching movie-An.

The movie which opened the ‘Un Certain Regard’ sidebar is a perfect selection—as it clearly showcases the competing Japanese film industry and succeeds in challenging societal stereotype while giving viewers another opportunity to ask the question; what’s my purpose?.

‘An’ revolves around an old woman- Tokue (Kiki Kirin) in her mid 70s whose life dream of wanting to work in a dorayaki (little pancakes filled with an) shop seemed as though it has gone with the wind considering her age. Sentaro (Nagase Masatoshi) operated a dorayaki shop and after attempts by Tokue to get Sentaro to hire her as that part time worker he was looking for, she managed to change his mind when he tasted her delicious homemade an.

Even though the tasteful homemade an by Tokue was enough to get her hired by Sentaro, her dedication, energy and connection with Sentaro as well as her own cooking were the ingredients that placed her in the heart of her boss. But there was a bigger problem—that which the booming business could not even stand…

Naomi Kawase's An at Cannes Film Festival
Naomi Kawase’s An at Cannes Film Festival

No matter how delicious those dorayaki tasted, the hovering stereotype was enough to get people throwing out and soon, Toku, the biggest asset and business changing part time worker became a liability.

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PHOTOS FROM the London Premiere of Lydia Forson’s ‘A Letter From Adam’ + My Take On the Movie…

Lydia Forson
Lydia Forson

Actress/producer-Lydia Forson premiered her movie-A Letter From Adam on Friday at the Greenwich Odeon Cinema in London—and the crowd was pretty impressive. Of course, it could have been far better but considering the fact that this is her first, I wouldn’t want to use attendance to measure the success.

Despite trying so hard to beat the conventional late start by turning up for the premiere at 10pm instead of the 9:30 advertised start time, I still had to wait around till almost 11:15pm before the showing started.

Clearly, the cinema hall was booked for 11pm and as usual, I heard several people complaining about the long wait—I presume these were people who got to the venue at the advertised time.

The Story Line

A Letter From Adam’ may not necessary have over the top stars but the storyline which comes in layers of romance and comedy is definitely worth whatever time one may spend to watch it.

It tells a story of a young woman who falls deeply in love with a far older man—and this time, not for material gains but for ‘genuine affection’. Having had rough-good times in the past with series of strangers, this young woman battles to keep her head up for her new found love as the distractions and ‘habit’ from her past continue to creep in…

Of course everyone has something hunting him or her in life, including the old man (Adam)—but Adam is pretty steadfast despite the needless hunt. With the hovering past distractions in her life, the young woman easily falls for Adam’s hunter’s cunning presentation—perhaps, it’s better calling it a ‘misrepresentation’.

The filmmaker says ‘A Letter from Adam‘ is “a contemporary story about love, loss and hope which draws audiences into a realistic cycle of life seen through the pain of loss, the journey of self discovery and the courage and strength to find hope in the face of adversity.”

To me, it’s a good attempt at looking at one of the many shades love comes in—highlighting the fact that the love story doesn’t always end with smiles, something the film-makers themselves struggled to  accept and therefore had to push the ending for that conventional ‘a happy ending’.

A Romantic Comedy…

A Letter from Adam’ is a romantic comedy but I feel the romance and comedy were unconnected though they stayed within the same film. The comedy was majorly between Lydia Forson and Naa Ashorkor’s character—and occasionally, between Lydia Forson and her many in-bed associates.

There was little or no comedy between Lydia Forson’s character and Adam—where the romance primarily existed. A little bit of comedy could have been pushed into Naa Ashorkor’s character and her husband’s marriage which would have well complemented their not so obvious romance.

The comedy got people laughing and the occasional local language ‘interjection’ even made it more fun…It was a big plus!

Acting…

The strength of the movie lies in the acting; Lydia Forson was amazing and Wale Ojo was splendid. When it comes to delivery, you can’t fault Lydia Forson who placed so well with Nigeria’s Wale Ojo.

Wale Ojo comes up as an aging Denzel Washington, calm and excellent—with that perfect posture and smile for on-screen delivery.

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Weighing In On Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s ‘GREY DAWN’ | When Politics, Family, Genuine & Illicit Affairs Take Center Stage…

Grey Dawn
Watching Grey Dawn

Multiple award-winning film-maker Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s latest movie-Grey Dawn which will start showing in Accra from Friday, 13th February, 2015 takes a big shot at interesting but contrasting human endeavours; politics, family, genuine relationships and illicit affair.

It may seem a little too much to have these strong though conflicting desires come to play in a single movie—however, with her excellent story telling prowess, Shirley Frimpong-Manso succeeds in finding a competing but salient grounds for all these things which have become part and parcel of our human existence.

The movie defines the grounds and boundaries for these human desires but at the end of it all, it becomes obvious which amongst the competing interests takes that single important stage in the lives of the main characters.

Grey Dawn
Grey Dawn

Anyone who has seen many of Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s movies wouldn’t struggle to extract from her films that she is more of an idealists (sociological sense)—and her ‘utopian’ society was once again vivid on screen. By ‘utopian’ society, I mean an African society where a politician is indeed honourable with some sort of conscience in place.

The Storyline…

In ‘Grey Dawn’, a Government Minister (Harold Davis) played by Bimbo Manuel is fixed between using his position to help his father-in-law stay out  of jail for tax evasion or allow the law to take its course with him.

Harold Davis’ decision pulls in his wife’s anger (Jessica Davis played by Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi), worsened by the fact that the stress of the case eventually led to Jessica’s father untimely death.

The anger of Jessica alone would have been bearable for Harold Davis but to watch on helplessly as he begins to loose his wife to the company of a young handsome man—who offers Jessica that perfect wormhole from her darkness into a world of art and music begins to challenge his position as a man, a father and a husband.

Grey Dawn
Grey Dawn

This is where it gets pretty interesting…

As Jessica is taken into a different world of artistry beauty and temporal peace merged with fun; the same wormhole began to pull her returnee daughter into its deep space—this time, made easy by the fact that Jessica’s daughter (Flora Mends played by Sika Osei) had the same obsessions which dwell in the works of this strange man (Jack played by Marlon Mave) whose works and ‘oomph’ had already consumed Jessica.

I wouldn’t want to box this into the concept of utopianism but it’s difficult to find a society where a woman who is married to a prominent Minister of State would run after a somewhat ‘broke’ painter who does not measure on the social ladder…

Grey Dawn (2)
Scene from Grey Dawn

 

Of course the above is capable of happening, especially when the woman has been hurt and care no more about those things we regarded as valuable or socially relevant—in such cases, she yearns for the simplest of things which she would normally pay no attention to. And this is exactly the position we find Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi’s character…

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PHOTOS + My Thoughts on ‘Afua’s Diary’: A Good Attempt at Telling a Relevant Story But…

Afua's Diary London Premiere
Afua’s Diary London Premiere

I sat among a crowd, mostly of African origin at the Odeon Cinema at Greenwich in London last night to watch for the first time “Afua’s Diary” and despite having read the synopsis several times which sort of gives a sharp idea of the storyline—I was particularly interested in how the film-makers were going to tackle the ‘African immigrant’ story.

Most African film-makers with strong Diaspora ties seem to have an entrenched interest in showcasing the struggles, problems and the uncertainties that hover above the heads of African migrants who find themselves in Europe and United States; mostly those without the right to stay—and it was out of this same interest came the film “Anchor Baby”.

Having watched several “African Illegal Immigrant” themed movies, I was looking forward to what Bibi Owusu Shadbolt (the scriptwriter) could make out of the conventional theme—perhaps, well over exploited by Diaspora based African film-makers.

Afua's Diary London Premiere
Afua’s Diary London Premiere

Even though the elements, details and flow of the storyline failed to depart from ‘the on the street conversation’ about this issue, the film-makers perfectly laced the storyline with subtle comedy, championed by Kwaku Sintim Minsa (KSM) all the way from Ghana—serving as the strongest element of the film, depicting a departure from the usual .

Of course anyone who has lived abroad could predict the conversation, the happenings and could break the not so sturdy suspense with ease, but there was no way that person could predict the comedy—or resist its energy to induce laugher.

The Storyline

For some people, every story has been told but to me, it’s not just about the story—it’s the little roses you adorn the story with and for this, ‘Afua’s Diary’ had that layer of comedy to add a fresh touch to a story which has been told many times but with different lenses.

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My Thoughts on Shirley Frimpong Manso’s New Movie-LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT | A Failed Or Successful Attempt at Telling the HIV/AIDS Story?

Love or Something Like That111
Shirley Frimpong Manso’s New Movie-Love or Something Like That

After my usual weekend Kung-fu movie, I had the opportunity to watch the new Shirley Frimpong Manso movie-LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT and I will start by saying; that it’s a significant story of life that is well tackled.

I am not a keen proponent of the assumption that every story has been told—but I certainly believe that, a story is only good when the storyteller is exceptionally passionate about the subject matter and has priceless cause of telling that particular story—which is to make a realistic impact.

I have long predicted and in a way hoped for a change in the improbable manner the African HIV/AIDS story has been told by many African film-makers. Interestingly, Shirley Frimpong Manso has taken up the challenge to tell the story in a way that is pulsing to the heart—and captivating to the mind in her latest movie-LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

I am yet to meet a single person who is not a party to the general consensus that education on HIV/AIDS in Africa, though has improved over the years, continues to be largely ineffective—and apart from blaming certain religious teachings such as “Aids is bad but not as bad as the use of condoms” for the ineffective outreach, the architecture employed for the purpose of mass education on this diabolical disease seems not to be working.

Many movies and documentaries have taken up the subject of creating HIV/AIDS awareness and in doing so; have failed to make impact with their messages simply because of the manner in which the stories are told—without substantially taking into consideration the societal changes and mannerisms that cannot be ignored in order to bring the story to the hearts of the receivers.

The Storyline & the Pace

Though the theme of the script is set on ‘HIV/AIDS’, the film brilliantly tells the story in such a way that, it does not only steal the best part of your emotions—and it doesn’t do so by invoking ‘sorrowfulness’, but by making you consider the fact that there is unimaginable value in being self conscious when it comes to sex.

Just like most well put together HIV/AIDS stories or films which take the bold approach into exploring the issues of life-threatening diseases like Cancer, the film is filled with emotions. In fact, the film which at large is themed on HIV/AIDS faintly deals with Cancer, without necessarily losing sequence and direction.

I’ve seen several African film-makers and even those outside Africa taking up the HIV/AIDS story from different angels and worldview, but this knocks me at home and presents a far better realistic way of how events unfold when the unwanted subject of HIV/AIDS finds its way into an African marriage/relationship.

Without giving much away, I must say the film starts on a very slow note—which I believe was deliberately set to pull viewers into seeing the existing love, affection and sense of belonging that existed between John Dumelo’s character-Mr Walker and his wife-Joselyn Dumas (Kwarley Mettle).

Soon as the foundation of love and bond between the above two are visibly established, the film begins to speed up—but not as much as I would have preferred. Surely, watching the movie immediately after a Kung-fu movie may have caused a heightened adrenaline, probably, the reason why I found it slow.

Music

It is obvious Shirley Frimpong Manso and her team understood the nature and emotions involved in the story being told. Sparrow Productions’ films have always made good use of a collection of African songs but mostly, these songs compliment scenes or add that extra bit of entertainment to the movies while pulling back your attention.

However, the songs used in LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT went beyond the usual, the songs stabilized the emotionally filled story—-bumping up the pace and dropping in the needed energy intermittently.

I’m not the type to hear a track and jump up to dance but even though I was fully submerged in the ‘rough emotional journey’ the film was taking me, when the songs which were from the likes of Raquel, Okyeame Kwame and Efya were dropped, I caught myself immersed in the music—for a minute, and then the story hits back to the emotion.

To me, the interruption of the emotional ‘downs’ by these carefully selected songs make the viewer stay put as a viewer and not become a sympathiser, thereby, taking in the lessons and education/awareness the story is creating. If that is what the film-makers wanted to do, then it was perfectly achieved. If that wasn’t it—-I would proudly say, so was the effect for me.

Acting

When you have A-listers like John Dumelo, Joselyn Dumas and OC Ukeje championing a story and delivering their lines, backed by many years of experience under the directorship of a multiple-award winning director-Shirley Frimpong Manso, you should not expect less—because you won’t even get that if you wished for it.

The acting was outstanding—and I say this because none of the scenes throws a taint at the story, which would make you question any part of the delivery.

When emotions were involved, Joselyn Dumas was great at showing that, and it could just be that she was living her role—as she seems naturally emotional.

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Why I Don’t Like Shirley Frimpong Manso’s New Movie-DEVIL IN THE DETAIL

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Devil in the Detail

I did not sit down to watch Shirley Frimpong Manso’s much talked about movie-Devil in the Detail, hoping that it will be great—because we all agree that there wasn’t  even that minuscule probability that the movie was going to be short of her consistent outstanding delivery.

If anything at all, I knew it was going to be an improvement on the previous production-POTOMANTO since this has become conventional of the multiple-award winning Director. When you think she has hit the glass ceiling, she surprises you and come flying through. Therefore, my total mindset was to find those things that will make me not like the movie and to be frank, the fact that I watched the movie twice is an indication that I failed.

The reason why I sat down hoping to spot those things which will shake my conviction in the Shirley Frimpong Manso and Ken Attoh’s combined excellence is, that as a writer/critic it is easier to point out weakness than strengths—so I was looking for the easiest way out.

But I got served…

Storyline

Thinking about the many over recycled romantic thriller and drama storylines, ‘Devil in the Detail’ points to the fact that, there is no justification whatsoever for the many closely related and refurnished stories African movies dwell on—as a result of writers inability to be creative with ideas.

The writers-Ken Attoh and Shirley Frimpong must have put a lot of thinking into the story, depicting a close but reverse connection between how women and men deal with relationships—especially when these relationships are extra marital.

Instead of sticking to the traditional African movie theme of splashing the marginal error of judgement on mostly the men, the writers successfully cast a stone at the man-Adjetey Anang and the woman-Nse Ikpe Etim to find out their hidden weakness.

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My Thoughts On Shirley Frimpong Manso’s New Movie-POTOMANTO | ‘Women Used To Be Faithful, At Least To The Money’

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Yvonne Okoro in Potomanto

During the Christmas holidays, I had the opportunity to watch the new Shirley Frimpong Manso’s feature film-POTOMANTO in its full HD glory via Sparrow Station—and the experience was beyond my expectation.

Before I proceed with my thoughts on POTOMANTO, let me steal a bit of the space to tell you about my Sparrow Station experience.

I think I am in the best position to rate the Sparrow Station Video on Demand service. After all, I am a regular user of some of the best global VOD services such as Netflix, Lovefilm, NowTV and BlinkBox—I have once held accounts with all these platforms.

After having watched several movies on the above VOD platforms, I have become used to streaming interruptions, especially when the speed of the internet is not great. Even with my recently acquired fibre optic broadband connection, I’ve not been able to completely escape the headache of streaming interruptions.

Therefore, I was prepared to see the streaming of POTOMANTO on Sparrow Station being interrupted, at least two or three times. But shockingly, I watched the entire movie on Sparrow Station without any streaming interruption—and the quality of the movie was GREAT.

The first time I watched POTOMANTO, I did so on my laptop. And when I decided to re-watch it for the purpose of this write up, I hooked my laptop up to my TV—without losing any bit of the HD quality on the large TV.  In fact, it felt like I was watching one of the usual SKY HD channels.

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Watching Potomanto from Sparrow Station

Now back to the movie…POTOMANTO

Storyline

The movie touches on a global developing illegality, where certain underprivileged people in third world countries are lured with fictitious quick money opportunities—fetching them more than they bargain for.Mostly, with genuine intention and keen determination to change their lives for better, these poor young individuals find themselves being over-exploited by the rich.

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