ILLUSIONS

 

 

By Ali Baylay

C 2013

A Maxkuchy Entertainment Productions Presents: Paul Sambo (Doctor David), Perry Oyiri (Juliet), Tonto Dikeh (Ada/Kate). Producer, Tessy Nnachi; Director, Ejike Chinedu Obim.

“Illusion” follows its title and definition to the core. Of course Ada/Kate (Tonto Dikeh) character doesn’t really think she exists at all. She can’t recognize her husband and still believes she’s normal like everybody else.

Doctor David (Paul Sambo) thinks he’s never seen  somebody this beautiful, with such succulent lips than Ada/Kate. He’s being bewitched and could no longer see the difference, not even his beautiful wife Juliet,  (Perry Oyiri) he has had a  beautiful life with could matter any more. His friend’s advise against his relationship with Ada/Kate is disregarded.

Juliet (Perry Oyiri) is deluded for the fact that Doctor David doesn’t love her any more, and her ever more express of honest and dear love for him is dismissed as harassment, but she keeps on asking for his love. Her taunting for his love, nagging for his love, and crying for the love of David, at certain point amounts to psychotic. She cries, wails, and pulls her hair, for his dear love.

Are these major characters therefore not in the world of illusion? They are. “Illusion” as the movie starts with a prologue of a woman in a patient tunic, runs from somewhere, ends on a street in front of Doctor David’s car. She’s hit  and he takes her to his clinic. Here, the patient is wrongly diagnosed as anemic and assumes she’ll get better, even as on the other side of town, another clinic is looking for her,  and labels her as a psychopath and dangerous.

Doc David pays too much attention to this particular patient and is making lots of attention even among the nurses. To him, its a matter of medical profession to care for your patient, but to his wife Juliet,  is an obsession with this particular patient.

To get David away from this patient, Juliet tells her father, the owner of the clinic where David is employed through her grace, to give her husband a week’s vacation from the hospital so they can have time for themselves. Granted, but David uses this time to pay more attention to Ada/Kate who has been discharged unknown to him.

Relationship between Juliet and David becomes so estranged and frightful. David hated every word Juliet says and everything she touches, even as she begs him to bring back his attention to her. He goes ahead and engage Ada/Kate and goes to the altar to marry her. But at the altar, a man appears there  claiming the love of Ada/Kate as a lawful husband. David  couldn’t handle that and there’s a brawl between David and the rightful husband, while the intended bride, Ada/Kate runs away from the scene.

If this is where “Illusion “ ends, one will note that all  major players in the film by curtain down become nuts and confused. The  characters are equally placed and played their roles well and that makes this movie a memorable one. Kudos to Nollywood!

 

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FOULTON MANSION

By Ali Baylay

C 2010

An Okiji  Amaka  Ind. (WA) Ltd. Production presents: Stephenie Okerere (Celia); Ini Edo (Serena); Ajibola Ozorkor (Foulton); Screenplay/Director, Okey Zubelu Okoli.

Some years ago I produced a 35mm black and white movie, yet unfinished. The theme of my film and “Foulton Mansion” are the same-showbiz: the rise of a ghetto girl to an overnight stardom. The plot of “Foulton Mansion”, is different from mine though, and I even admire writer, Okey Zubelu’s  lead character Celia (Stephenie Okerere) because, he so made her real. I always admire a well-entrenched character. A character not larger than life but a character with humanness, with weakness, defenselessness, an underdog, she’s able to fight the status quo and rise above the difficulties. I personally rooted for her to win the contest which she did. If you care so much for a character of any kind in a movie then the writer is giving you the bang for your money. I got my bang in this here.

“Foulton Mansion” is a long movie based on talent search. As it turns out, the crude talents hail from different backgrounds. Celia leaves with her aunt from the poor side of town but a talent scout spotted her as a diamond in a rough, and begs her and her aunt to take part in an upcoming contest. For a girl like Celia with such a humble background, she soon becomes the butt of mean jokes of all the nineteen girls bunked up at the Foulton mansion. One competitor, Serena (Ini Edo) is so hateful of Celia that she couldn’t wait to see Celia sent home.

Writer and director, Okey Zubelu same architect, same builder envisioned his story and directed it just the way he sees it. One outstanding feature of Okey’s “Foulton Mansion” is the element of setting. Okey used microcosmic setting as called. That is when a group of people from different backgrounds are brought together and put in a secluded place quite apart from the natural world around them. A bus load of passengers on their way from Lagos to Abuja; nineteen girls from different homes cooped up for a week at the Foulton mansion. With such element, writer and director are creating allegorical and microcosmic subject that enable viewers to see from the characters point of view, their world at large.

The most admirable point in review here is the creation of the two leading opposite characters, Ini Edo and Stephenie, each from the far end of opposing social spectrum, the former, antagonist and evil. Stephanie is the protagonist representing good. They both play their roles so well. Stephanie holds her ground as an outsider looking in, and observing these strange people she found herself sleeping with in the same room. She may not know how to use fork at the dinner table, or join in the asides of showbiz, like alternative sex, drug and alcohol, but she sure knows how to boogie her way with a very big smile on her face to win the competition.

Serena’s character is at a tangent with Celia. She is liberal and free spirited, and lets all hang out and no holes barred type of person. She commands a posse of sixteen girls in the crew and all are characters who’ve been there and done that. They’re street smart, and can experiment with lesbianism, drug and alcohol and they are all ready to drop draws for the slightest opportunity that comes along in showbiz. They all at Serena’s command, hate Celia for her being eccentric and idiosyncratic.

I reviewed “Reckless Love” before this film and one noticeable flaw with “Reckless Love” is the choice of casting the actors. The two male leads in “Reckless love” Jimmie and Lowson stand about seven feet and equally so, except in age. Considering the theme, casting for that movie would have made one actor bigger and the other smaller and helpless so viewers can unconsciously identify with one of them. A story of that nature needs Goliath and David, the giant and the midget. Excellently, “Foulton Mansion” casts the six feet tall Stephanie as the protagonist (good) against the four or so feet Celia the antagonist. If it is universal to say that there’s beauty in tallness, and Celia is tall then logically she represent beauty (good), versus short Serena, the evil and hater.

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ABOUT

Ali/Ophelia

Ali/Ophelia

Africanmoviestar.com is a web magazine set up by Nubia Films to bring news and knowledge of the  African entertainment (film, music and arts) news to the world. The site was established in 2008, in Charlotte, North Carolina by Mr. Ali Salamy Baylay, a printer by profession, but presently a self employed contractor with North Carolina State. From its inception to date, Africanmoviestar has interviewed many African (Nollywood and Ghollywood) stars, through the help of our African departmental head, and African and Nigerian entertainment reporter, David Adjiboye, and our friend and administrator, Jim Stablein, of mediafluent.

We regret that, the site was off air for sometime due to some administrative and staff problems but as usual, we are back with our philosophy of independent, and unbiased review of African movies and news of our movie and entertainment stars in Africa.

We also implore all university students in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria who have camera and can report on their entertinment stars, to send their materials to:

Ali@africanmoviestar.com.

As long as your material is accepted and published, you will get paid. Remember, no news is too small for us. We can publish any news about our stars.

NOTE: All pictures must be jpeg.

Sincerely,

Publisher.

Ali Salamy Baylay

 

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AMERICAN BOY

 

By Ali Baylay

C 2007

A Miracle Film Presents: Mr Bob (Psalm Ajeteio), Abi Adatsi (Monica), Morris Owusu (Charles), Nadia Buari (Akua), Van Vicker (Abusei), Emma Dickson (Mama Jane). Story, Samuel Nyamekye; Screenplay, Fred Asante Kotoko; Director, Samuel Nyamekye.

On a serious note, if there’s a movie that’ll tickle you to death, that movie will be “American Boy.” It’s down right funny. The kind of funny that will not impose itself on you, because the characters are too serious about their roles, but  kind of funny that’ll sneak on you and keeps you laughing all the same and  don’t really know why you cracking up almost to tears. Up on the screen a laughable situation is taking place and you can’t hold back on it. We need such entertaining movies sometimes, just so we temporarily forget our worries. For the producers, you bet they were dancing in the street for some good cash sipping in.

 This movie reminds me of my boyhood days when we  came home on vacations from secondary school boarding homes and we’ll  sat right at the vehicle parking lots at the center of the village, in the evenings waiting on girls who stopped in our village for the holidays. We always watched the direction the girl would take and then we later go about combing that area, making unwanted  visits to the neighborhood just so we  made contacts with the girl or a close relative. One of us always wanted to beat gun ahead of the pack. Just as it was comic, so competitive it got most of the time for the person who’ll  first approach the new girl. I looked back on those days with nostalgia. “American Boy” brings back my secondary school memories.

Mr. Bob (Psalm Ajeteio), wants a second wife and approaches a younger Akua (Nadia Buari) who doesn’t give him a time of day as Sandra Adu would give in to Nana Buckman  (Psalm Ajeteio) in “Dangerous Father 2009.” Being that he’s the owner of the land where Akua and her mother squatted, running  a local restaurant, he ejects them from  the property but they are rescued by Charles (Morris Owusu) a young architect who is in Mr. Bob’s employ as a contractor. Charles who’s his Mama’s boy with boyish demeanor falls in love with Akua and before long he rents for her and her mother an apartment, opens her an uptown restaurant, and takes her shopping. Akua’s life turned 360 degrees for the better. But the neighborhood boys want piece of her too and she couldn’t give them time of her day. One of them, Abusei (Van Vicker) promises his neighborhood boys, she’ll win Akua’s heart if they can finance his mission to get her in bed.

Oh woman, thou fickle piece of earth,

Has thou forgotten yesterday

And seeth the feathery cloud for a firmament?

One of them volunteers to pay the expenses but only to get Akua in bed. Just one time.  Abusei masquerades as an American marine on a special mission in Ghana. Akua falls for the lie and accepts engagement ring from him, while she  abandons Charles. There, dear reader, Akua falls from grace to disgrace. Abusei and his friends fall apart, because he already accomplishes  the mission by laying Akua, but now he seems really in love and   keeps asking them for more money to take Akua out in style. He goes his way eventually, and with more deceptions, brings Akua into the  one bedroom ghetto apartment where he naturally lives. When he’s cornered for the rent for Akua because Charles has  withdrawn his assistance, he escapes his one bedroom running from both the landlord and Akua.

In his absence,  Akua and her mother come looking for him and the Landlord takes them to the construction site where Abusei works. Charles is surprised to learn that one of his laborers, Abusei takes  the love of his life, Akua and impregnates her. When Akua faces the truth, she passes out and the curtain went down.

This is a story about greediness and ungratefulness. Akua is not content with the fact that Charles gives her and her mother a place to lay their heads, and a restaurant to run uptown, when they are being ejected from a shack in a downtown ghetto. Now that she’s out of the cave and seeing the light, she becomes a better fool than smart.

Nadia’s acting in this movie could tell she has thoroughly gotten used to the glare of light in front of camera and most of the time, she hesitatingly responds to her cue as if figuratively, her behavior is telling viewers she’s not sure of the decisions she takes. I wonder if most people see what I see in the first few minutes of this film. A boom microphone shows at the far right corner of the screen. You bet the sound man was in training and he goofed or better yet, he was admiring Nadia. A boom in a film and not part of a prop is a serious mistake in a commercial film where big name actors are used. Carelessness of that sort  in commercial film is an unforgivable sin.

NOTE: Quotation is the Writer’s.

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FIGURINE

By Ali Baylay

A Golden Effect Production Presents: Ramsey Noah (Femi), Kunle Afolayan (Sola),  Omoni Aboli (Mona), Funlola Aofiyebi Raimi (Linda),  Tosin Sido (Lara). Story Concept,  Jovi Babs; Screenplay, Kemi Adsoye; Director of Photography, Yinka Edwards; Editors, Sodiya Koyode Adeleke; Director, Kunle Afolayan.

the figurineTo review Figurine, I asked myself so many times if I was doing the right thing. To me, considering all the respect accorded this movie by the African film world at the 6th edition of AMAA, in Yenegoa, Bayelsa State: Ramsey Noah, best actor, best cinematography, best visual effect, best picture, and best heart of Africa.  Any ravaging review of it will be like going against the grain of the Nollywood  establishment. But what the heck! I must quote Satyajit Ray, on filmmakers:

“…once the making (of film) is over, the sense of power evaporates and helplessness creeps in. He,  (producer/writer/director/actor) realizes that he is not only answerable to critics, which all artists are, but to the faceless millions who form the public pulse….”And to rob it in further, William Wordsworth, on reviewers says, “Our meddling intellect /We murder to dissect.” So here I go!

When I see Ramsey Noah, in a film, I’ll tuck myself comfortably in the couch, looking forward to an evening treat. He is my George Clooney and Jack Nicholson bundled up into one. He could be a Mafiosi don at once in one flick, a prince in another, and a sadist in another, like we see Nicholson, in “one Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or as we find bloody Ramsey in “Figurine”.

In “Figurine”, Femi (Ramsy Nuah),  his buddy Sola (Kunle Afolayan) and his buddy’s wife to be Mona(Omoni Oboli) win a place on the NYSC training camp, and while on training, his friend or both he and his friend, stumble on a buried Demon, which they take home with them after the training. Shortly after, and mysteriously too, they who had been rejected and dejected by friends and society at large, become prosperous overnight: Ramsey gets a job that sends him abroad, comes back home free from asthma, and speaks with a cockney accent, and his manners, with the subtlety of a cat. His father too is cured of disease that had been consuming him. His friend on the other hand, gets married to the woman of his dream, have two children and a waterfront mansion. Both their prosperity lasted seven years and things, I mean their luck start to spiral down, and down and not only to where they were before the riches but went far beyond unto their graves.

“Figurine” is a well written tragic story and finely produced so. Ramsey’s character is a bomb, and his sidekick is a bomber too. Beauty is not hard to create and come up with in front of the camera: immaculate wardrobe, nose and face powered as the camera and makeup artist will see it fit, good lighting, we’re good to go. What matters is the screen presence we seek in the actors or actresses. Ramsey gives the film a believable screen presence and even held the fragile plot together from spinning out of control.

The end of “Figurine” has a one liner post script: ‘Do you believe?’

Now that’s an ethical question this script throws at us, we all, the audience, critics and philosophers. In the first place I personally won’t believe without reason.  Two reasons I don’t believe in this movie:

The plot line flaunts with our intelligence here: We are introduced at the beginning of the film to Ramsey Noah as a bespectacled looney with the features of a maniac in the making and at the camp, by the bonfire, sitting on a mound,  looking straight across sadistically at his friend’s intended wife, you sense something menacing about this character. As a viewer and so engulfed in the story line,  I expected the plot to have solely developed his character on that line, to the point when he shall have wrapped up  a bloodied human head in white satin, and leave it at the door of his friend’s honeymoon pad, and after that, go on the rampage, kills everybody standing between him and his friend’s wife, Mona. He then would  take hemlock or a dagger into his chest just where the heart is,  and life would go out of him  at the foot of his friend’s marital bed while the love for which he goes through all this lie safely asleep. That would have been tragic for viewers  to experience. A Roman tragedy.

Two, there should have been an obligatory scene with a controlling conscience, where Ramsey would have defied the demon and fight him like David fights Goliath. As external conflict in drama, and as experienced from reading Homer’s Iliad, we learnt that humans can fight non humans and win. Ramsey as the only surviving character would have taken the challenge. He should have rallied other gods on his side and the story would have been war between the gods as we experienced during the Trojan War.

Or better yet, read what the producer left for us as synopsis of the story at the back of the scabbard: Three friends were posted to a remote village for their youth service, but curiosity leads Shola to take with him the deity of the land with the idea that it was only a sculptor. Will he heed the advice of Femi and return the long worshiped deity of the land of Aroremide or keep it and face the consequences of the angered goddess of Araromire?

To let the demon play a character by itself, and we are told from the onset what this demon is capable of and we see it happening by changing the lives of Femi and Sola and their families.  We see  how  Femi’s father is miraculously  cured, how mysteriously Femi’s asthma goes away and all this in seven years. His friend Sola goes through same:  beautiful wife, good life, two kids and a house on the beach, all in seven years. Just as  the prophecy could have it, their good fortune hold until the seven years is over and we look forward to seeing if the prophecy of the demon could come to pass. That’s what an excellent script would have done for us so we can believe.

A good story is believable. To achieve that, there should be a logical cause and effect sequence and in the end, present a probable cause and probable resolution.

For Ramsey to lamely confess on camera and to the audience with a bloody hands, that he has been the sadist behind the demonic happenings in the film is so contrived and convoluted. I can accept the fact that he killed his friend because he wants his wife, or backhanded a girlfriend to death  with a fake demon , but these too would have been done, I believe, under the spell of the demon. To me the demon is the star player in this film and would have won at least a libation (accolade) at the shrine of the goddess Araromire.

This beautiful drama shoots itself in the foot, my friend.

 

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Battleman

By Ali Baylay

Starring: Van Vicker, Chika Ike,Queen Nwaokoye; Screenplay: Tchidi Chikere; Make up: Kingsley Godwin; Costume: Chinela Nwagboso; Editor: Nelson Joe; Director: Tchudi Chikere; Producer: Paul Ejike Afube; 124 mins C 2010.

Austin (Van Vicker) gets home from war torn Liberia amidst joy as he’s welcomed home by both his wife Laura (Chika Ike) and little son. He’s been gone two years now. His son has grown and Laura’s libido gone amok. In the bed room the first night after two years, Laura’s disappointed when Austin doesn’t want to have sex with him:

LAURA

(In shock)

It can’t be this bad…Can it? I’m your wife!

AUSTIN

(Begging but firm)

Not now.

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The AMAA 6th Edition Awards

By David Ajiboye

THE 6th edition of African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) held last recently in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria saw Kunle Afolayan’s movie The Figurine emerged the top winner of the night, claiming all of five awards. However, Afolayan, who only yesterday returned from the New York African Film Festival to attend the event, did not get the coveted Best Director Award. Ghana’s Shirley Frimpong-Manso, director of The Perfect Picture clinched the award. Ramsey Nouah, who’s away in the US,  missed the event, but was able to give his acceptance speech (for winning Best Actor in a leading role) after Kunle Afolayan placed a call to his mobile phone and placed the phone on speaker.

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