Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Reviewer's Back!!!

Ok, so the Reviewer’s back, huh? Just last month I did the unthinkable. Watching a Naija movie? Tough… Watching a Yoruba movie? Never… Watching TWO Yoruba movies back to back? Unthinkable!!! But I did and here’s the scope on one of them…

Aiye Aramide
Or at least that’s what I think the spelling of the title is. Quick Tip: If you like yourself, kindly apply the Fast Forward button generously to get past the useless ads repeated on each of the 3 CDs (yes, THREE!). Anyway, this movie features the likes of Nollywood heavyweights Bimbo Akintola, Femi Branch and (surprisingly, to me at least) Keppy Ekpeyong in a film that’s mainly lack-luster for most of its parts. I couldn’t determine exactly when this movie was released but from its looks I’m willing to bet it was shot within the past 3 years or so.

The movie revolves around a young lady Aramide, as played by Bimbo Akintola, who in the opening scenes wanders around Lagos looking for a place to sleep at night. Stereotypically, she chooses a place notorious with “Area Boys” and luckily gets “rescued” just in the nick of time by the Agberos’ prima donna who then (predictably still) introduces her to a group of prostitutes led by a “Big Girl” in every sense of the word.

From there the film goes down the time-worn spiral of the “standard” prostitution-movie with a series of dance sequences which are long and mostly unnecessary in which we see the state of Aramide’s progress as her colleagues groom her to blend into her new role as a whore-in-the-making. To signal her “graduation”, she then struts her stuff on a street corner where Keppy’s suave banker-type character picks her up. However, foreplay turns into rough play as Mr. Suave’s true nature surfaces in his sexual metamorphosis.

Keppy’s rendition of a sadistic psycho ironically had me laughing at first then became irritating with his continuous make-believe sexual groans as he caresses himself with Bimbo’s wig while dragging her all around the place by the roots of her short hair. If anything, the Big Man / Big Woman love scene just went to show us that Keppy can lift Bimbo from the ground effortlessly which he does time and time again anyway as if to convince us.

After unconvincingly “dragging” her down the stairs (with her co-operation of course), Aramide falls into a sepia-coloured coma in which we see a flash-back into the circumstances that led to her fleeing the village after being raped by her younger brother’s friends. The use of flash-back employed here instead of putting some delightful twists in the plot actually ties up the whole plot into a hopeless bundle chronologically and does raise some nagging questions. It would have made no difference actually if the scriptwriter had just started the story from the village and then shown how the consequences of rape had led to her migration and her subsequent choice of a wayward life in the city. Chikena!

Also, if the flash-back is supposed to be from Aramide’s point of view, how come we can see what goes on in all the scenes even when Aramide isn’t present like when her brother’s friends boast to him of what they have done? In yet another plot hole, what was the relevance of all the kidnapping drama when the guys use a car to abduct her given that she usually walks past them on foot anyway?

Another very BIG question mark in this movie is the part where her brother realizes that his sister was the rape victim when he sees his cronies with her bra. Why a bra for goodness sake instead of any other much visible article of her clothing, all of which they took off anyway? We guys might like our womenfolk, but I doubt if any guy out there can claim to tell his sister’s bras apart from any other! Was her brother then more familiar with his sister’s bras than was comfortably necessary? Sick!

Aramide later wakes up from her coma after yet another lucky fall - figuratively this time - into the hands of Femi Branch’s character who rehabilitates her more in the line of the biblical Good Samaritan. After moving in with him, she once suffers a relapse and resurrects her abandoned cocaine habit resulting in Femi almost kicking her out though he eventually forgives her and they live happily ever after. Or so we might be forced to conclude because the movie has no resolution of the plot or conclusion whatsoever, the same gimmick usually employed by the Production crews and “marketers” so that we shall eagerly await “Aiye Aramide Part 2”.

Its disappointments aside, this movie still ought to be termed a landmark Nollywood movie. One, it has absolutely no bit of the so-called Nollywood brand of suspense whatsoever (unless you term the rape, sadism and Femi’s discovery of her drug habit as such). Two, the story-telling is totally weak, a fact which the Director must have been striving in vain to distract us from by putting his entire creative abilities into the dance scenes. If you happen to belong to the young male demographic those scenes may appeal to you but for me they were just a waste of time especially when the Big Girl performs her own dances. What was the use?

Finally, the movie wasn’t captioned in any language at all even if mistakenly in its local Yoruba or even Pidgin English. The omission was totally unpardonable especially nowadays when marketers encourage movie circulations to areas where the particular dialect used isn’t the lingua franca. Come to think of it, even the Methuselah of Nollywood, a flick called “Living In Bondage” had subtitles! With this sort of oversight alongside the very puny production values in this film, it won’t be surprising that maybe they had no money to print subtitles during Post-production.

If you decide to rent this movie, don’t be deceived by the big names dropped on the cover. It won’t be worth your while.

And like I always say: Life is too short…
Photo Credit: www.onlinenigeria.com/photos/albums/userpics/10013/bimbo~0.jpg

PS: The second Yoruba movie was Funke Akindele’s word-of-mouth-notoriously-funny comedy Jenifa (Party 1 & 2) [sic]. Famous blogger and TV Presenter Funmi Iyanda’s marvelous review of Jenifa in this post addresses some very relevant Nollywood issues and says all there is to say and more about the movie really…

Big ups, Funmi!

UPDATE: It seems FIY wasn't the only one to do a review of Jenifa. Ran into Laspapi's version here. Both are classic so I'd recommend you read them and choose which appeals to your cinematic eye.

Funke's pix courtesy of Funmi's blog

5 comments:

NaijaBabe said...

OOOO need to go and see funmi's blog about Jenifa...and as for that other moview...me I think the ff button will come in very handy...

Danny Bagucci said...

Nailed it bro.. have never been into Nigerian movies -- but when you share a house with multiple women( mother and two sisters plus a couple of cousins) Africa Magic gets to be the only thing you see -- even when you pay the DSTV bills.......

seye said...

Not that i hate naija movies that much...but i didn't even attempt reading your post sef

Naughty Eyes said...

@ Naija Babe: I LOOOOVEE Funmi's moview (according to you) that's why I linked it. I think I need to go study how to review like that. Ahhh... the FF button, man's best friend indeed!
PS: Welcome to MN. I'll go check your out

@ DB: Nailed and coffined it as well. Pele as per the DSTV scenario. Personally, I think AM (and its Nollywood content) is highly over-rated

@ Seye: Why now? After all the effort I made to post it specially for you guys? *sobbing*

Afrobabe said...

I personally loved the movie jenifa...though hated how it suddenly turned into a big lesson...

peope life isn't always fair and the movie shouldn't have been made to imply that...a comedy it should have remained...

I cant believe I just commented on all ur PLENTY blogs...