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Ayefele turns prophet in Bayo Kaakaki’s tepid new work, Rubicon (Review)

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Rubicon is a movie set in the ancient city of Ibadan, produced by Starkingdom Productions and an initiative broadcaster Dr. Adebayo Faleke of Fresh FM Nigeria. The drama with dialogue entirely in Yoruba but well subtitled in English was produced in 2021 but released to the cinemas across Nigeria on the 12th of August 2022.

Adebayo Faleke who doubled as the main cast and the producer is no doubt living up to the billing as a multi-talented communicator. He only a few years ago authored a book: Dilemmas of a Country.

Before then, he had launched National Cake and Banana Republic, audiovisual records that exposed the mismanagement of so-called leaders in Nigeria.

In a press conference before the release of Rubicon, Dr Faleke once again hinged his inspiration for this new work on the need to “…inspire the people to do the needful in order to correct the mistakes of the past which include vote selling, conscience selling, corrupt practices and other political anomalies” as Nigeria’s general election draws close.

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Bayo O or Bayo Kaakaki, as fondly called, is a brilliant Yoruba newscaster and entertainer whose impact in the Ibadan radio industry is undisputed. The director on the set of Rubicon is Ade Idris Jerry, a fast-growing director often adjudged to possess a good sense of interpreting scripts in unique and different ways.

Rubicon assembles A-list actors, entertainers, and broadcasters in what seems more like the marriage of the best of new and traditional media. Among these are Yoruba movie-industry-famed actors like Akin Lewis, Saidi Balogun, Taiwo Ibikunle, Awoyemi Bukola (AKA Arugba); comic acts and skit makers, Debo ‘Mr Macaroni’ Adedayo, Ayo Ayewole ‘Woli Agba’, and superstar music maestro and media investor, Yinka Ayefele, who also is Dr Faleke’s boss. Ace broadcasters like Kola Olootu and Alhaji Abolade Salami also had short but vital roles in this projected.

Summary of the story

Rubicon (Agbedemeji) follows the story of Adesola Adigun (Dr Faleke) a famous OAP with high moral standards and principles that sees him undermine his basic livelihood and personal safety to hang on to his beliefs when caught up between accepting a life-transforming publicity deal from a corrupt politician and facing rejection consequences. Adigun’s wife, played by Awoyemi Bukola had just moved out and separated from him after numerous arguments about his inability to meet with bare necessities despite the numerous opportunities available to him to enrich himself with his fame.

Adigun’s integrity is further tested when Dr Tayo (played by Richardo Agbor) who was just appointed as Senator Ipadeola’s political strategist in the build up to the gubernatorial elections, proposed using him as leverage to win the love of the masses. The management of Kaakaki FM and Adigun were approached with an outrageous offer that would turn everyone involved into millionaires, but Adigun’s outright refusal soon precipitated pressures from his boss, the General Manager of the station, played by Saidi Balogun. After several attempts to put Adigun ‘on the side of reason’, the GM fired him for his indiscretion, and Adigun after some short period of joblessness took his childhood friend and industry colleague, Debo (Mr Macaroni)’s advice, approached a bigger radio station, Fresh FM with the backing of some brands to reinstate his popular radio show.

While Adigun’s alternative to “selling a black market”, in the manner of corrupt Senator Ipadeola seemed to have calmed the storm in his life, he’s soon faced with the threat of his own dirty past coming public and discrediting his new posture of uprightness. Adigun goes on to take a brazen ‘tell all’ stand during his live show and by that irked his now inimical suitor, Senator Ipadeola. Adigun is shortly after arrested for possessing an unregistered rifle and stands with the fate of most poor, ‘unconnected’ masses who ever dared to contend with the powerful few of Nigeria.

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Analyses of plot elements

Nothing about this movie is new to Nollywood storytelling. The themes of love, betrayal, and triumph are typical of any script dating back to the earliest years of filmmaking in the 1950s. The plot, therefore, has no significant impact on the viewership journey of moviegoers, who would easily hint at the next scene.

The introduction of the character was rushed up. Within the first few scenes one can tell what everyone was about, without no significant emotional attachment. This is except for the character Mr Macroni played, which the script smartly deployed the ‘hint and tell later’ technique to unveil. The ultimate theme of morality comes straight at you from the start and you can quickly relate with the style of Dr Faleke’s previous projects.

In a similar manner to the exposition element of the plot, the rising action mounts quite quickly and holds the viewers’ to a long wait for the climax, which only comes at the tail-end of the movie.

The falling action is silent and can even be missed, as the writers went for emphasizing the denouement (closure), which is a normal technique in Yoruba storytelling.

Analyses of creative elements

Music and sound design for this work is very poor. It is as low-standard as the lighting, set design, and cinematography. One would wonder how it ever made it to the cinema. This may make reason for how Nollytrailers was the only person in the hall at Viva Cinema, Ikeja when he went to see the movie.

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Though the casting is great for marketing, with all the big names across three key sectors of the entertainment and media industries, the fitting of the roles is very questionable. Besides the excellent delivery of Akin Lewis, Mr Macaroni and Arugba, most other major actors, inclusive of the main cast himself, were amateurish.

Wole Agba’s acting was terrible, his costume and make-up, even worse. He looks like a child acting like a 42 or 45 year old elder brother. This is no comedy skit, this movie was purposed for the big screen!

Adigun’s character was not fully explored and the emotive part was poorly executed. For instance, the scene where Adigun was caught by the police and was being interrogated; he obviously wailed without a single tear. Another scene that points to the abysmal roleplaying was when he was at the bar with his friend (Mr Macroni) discussing his predicament and was advised to take the offer from Senator Ipadeola; Dr Faleke was to interpret the character of an enraged Adigun rebuking his friend, but acted more like an indulgent parent scolding a four-year old.

Wole Agba and Dr Faleke’s scene on Adigun’s visit to his supposed wife’s elder brother to beg for his wife’s return was a charade! The attempt at interplaying comedy and pain fell flat on the floor.

Though the story is trite and sometimes outrightly unbelievable – like the assertion by the Political Strategist that Adigun and his fan base can earn Senator Ipadeola 70% of the votes (impracticable in reality), some parts are brilliantly interpreted to earn a niche medal. One of that brilliance is seen in how they played Yinka Ayefele as a prophet without the stereotype of singing in a wheelchair. It is noteworthy also that the entertainer did a good job with the script.

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The story’s touch on the menace of upcoming artiste bribing to get their songs played on radio is also a commendable effort to spotlight societal ills. This short cutaway in the movie raises attention to the long-standing debate on copyright infringements between musical artistes and broadcast stations.

Praiseworthy also is the attention on the evil of religious leaders availing themselves as political levers, helping our evil leaders cow the masses. The attempt to ‘enter’ Adigun through his prophet (Yinka Ayefele) by donating to the church project and the bible verses bartering between Adigun and the prophet is a brilliant messaging to the church.

The writers also did well with the twist when Adunni, Adigun’s new housemaid was caught with a bundle of cash while attempting to run away after her boss was caught and detained for having an unregistered rifle. At that moment, you would just roll your eyes, thinking ‘what a bland falling action’, until it turns out that she only stole, she wasn’t the one who planted the gun!

Laudable also was the projection of Adigun’s wife as supportive in the face of tribulation. Despite the fact that they were separated, she fervently prayed for him, held to and propagated the firm belief in her husband’s integrity, and sort out help that eventually got him off the hook.

The final parts of the movie also silently communicated the sad reality of life; that in the constellations of evil, greed, love for bad news and exaggerated rumour mongering in Nigeria, when retribution comes knocking, some evil people will manage to escape. That is the case for Adigun’s colleague at Kakaki FM, who Adigun had found out was taking bribes from musical artistes to play their songs, reported his matter to GM and was allowed to slide because it was a syndicate of bribe-taking the GM himself chaired. The same colleague venomously wrote an exaggerated news report to announce Adigun’s arrest on their station. Well, after Adigun’s triumph over his travesty, reinstatement to Kaakaki FM, and promotion to the position of GM, the very guy was one of those that welcomed him back with a big smile, like nothing ever happened! Smaller bad eggs often survive the tsunami of change.

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In the film, there were several attempts to slide in comic reliefs, but failed brutally (Woli Agba was not just delivering). But there’s one scene that will really get you cracking and it is another occasion when Wole Agba and Bukola (Arugba) quarreled over the travail of her husband and her brother’s trivialization of the matter. She was praying when he walks in and mockingly joined her, then she had to reprimand him. After few back and forth ‘jabbing’, Wole Agba goes, “As you were praying I remembered when God called me and I didn’t write down the date, oh, if only I did…now I am seeing angels in this asbestos ceilings…” Lol.

Verdict

The overall production quality of this movie is far lower than the current industry standard. It falls short in many ways.

Directing, for instance, could have been much better. The director, Ade Jerry, who featured himself was not quite impressive. A lot of the scenes ought to have been reshot. More importantly, the flow of the story is a bit distorted; How do you reconcile that Adigun, who was portrayed as a very homely man, after being told that the wife was behind his release from prison, did not meet and reconcile with her until she suddenly shows up in the last scene, when he was reinstated back and being celebrated at Kakaki FM. This was a typical Yoruba movie way of not leaving anything to the imagination; make sure all doors opened in the course of the story must be closed at the end.

For the few comic reliefs and the important messages in this film, viewers can take a shot at seeing it. Maybe their judgment may be different.

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Adire Review: There are loose ends…

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Tunde is a psychopath, who is unconsciously infatuated with the town preacher’s wife…

Sade is the holier-than-thou mummy GO’s style. Yet the most intelligent of them all…

Did you know that a storey building was burnt down for the sake of a movie about a prostitute?

If you think I’m lying? Then watch the movie here.

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A Tribe Called Judah: And so what?!

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By Victor Ojelabi

“A Tribe Called Judah” is not your typical movie about the teachings of the Christian faith; it’s a wild ride that challenges conventional norms.

Also read: Funke Akindele’s movie “A Tribe Called Judah” breaks Nollywood records

While the storyline might seem contradictory to religious principles, the film’s engaging narrative and stellar production make it a must-watch.

Produced by the talented Funke Akindele, the movie revolves around five brothers faced with the daunting task of raising funds for their ailing mother’s kidney dialysis. Their solution? A daring plan to rob one of their sibling’s wealthy boss.

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Akindele’s dedication to this project is evident, with the film boasting twists, turns, and a level of professionalism that cements her position in Africa’s thriving film industry.

The five brothers, born into a family unapologetic about their unconventional origins, embark on a heist to steal over $2 million from an upscale furniture company.

The plot thickens as their well-planned operation takes an unexpected turn when another group attempts to pull off the same daring theft.

The movie not only delivers an engaging heist story but also tackles pertinent social issues. It defends women’s rights, condemns domestic abuse, empowers single mothers, advocates against alcohol abuse, and ensures that justice is served.

While “A Tribe Called Judah” may not be an adrenaline-pumping action movie, its well-delivered messages, impactful dialogues, and excellent cast choices make it a standout production. She still found a place to tuck in the forgiven Toyo, even if it’s just a waka pass. Forgive na forgive.

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The film serves as a testament to Akindele’s storytelling prowess and her ability to weave together diverse themes seamlessly.

One of the movie’s strengths lies in its relatability, offering several takeaways for the audience. Whether it’s defending marginalized groups or promoting social consciousness, the film strikes a balance between entertainment and meaningful commentary.

However, one may still need to investigate the type of pistols used in the movie as they only seem to run out bullets as the director needed and how a direct shot through the right side of the back goes straight through the heart to kill someone.

Akindele’s latest work, having grossed over N1 billion at the box office, marks a historic achievement in African cinema.

“A Tribe Called Judah” is more than just a heist movie; it’s a captivating exploration of family dynamics and societal challenges, making it a worthy addition to your must-watch list.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Black Book’ on Netflix, A Revenge Thriller from the Streets of Nigeria

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You know Hollywood, you’ve at least heard of Bollywood, but do you know … Nollywood? That’s Nigeria’s film industry, which is booming enough to give its cinema a catchy name with some cultural caché. Netflix is even getting in on the action with The Black Book, now streaming on their platform.

THE BLACK BOOK: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

The Gist: Corruption is running rampant in contemporary Nigeria within the world of The Black Book, so much so that the police can just openly kill a young man on a beach and expect no consequences for it. But they don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into this time because bereaved father Paul Edima (Richard Mofe-Damijo) is far more than just the pacifistic deacon that he appears. Paul has a checkered past in the country’s military that he’s tried to bury even in his own mind, but the soldier in him re-emerges to take justice into his own hands. Enmeshing himself once more in the web of violence and corruption is not something he takes on alone, however. His journey nack into the underworld that he once inhabited requires engaging with some old allies as well as a surprising new one: a crusading journalist intent on using the press to expose the country’s bad actors.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The Nigerian hybrid of Taken and Spotlight you didn’t know you needed.

Performance Worth Watching: The leads fighting for justice in their own way are good, but it’s Shaffy Bello as Big Daddy who proves the real MVP of The Black Book. She (yes, you read that pronoun right) is a force of nature in her capacity as a high-powered enforcer.

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THE BLACK BOOK NETFLIX STREAMING
Photo Netflix

Memorable Dialogue: “The past must die to truly serve the future.” A line so nice they say it twice, once at the beginning without context and again at the end when it means something very different.

Sex and Skin: The Black Book stays focused on the action in the streets, not between the sheets.

Our Take: There’s plenty to admire in co-writer/director Editi Effiong’s dramatic thriller, but there’s little that really inspires a viewer to really lean forward in their seats. It’s always pitched between two very different ways a movie can be without fully committing to either. For example, it’s partially a character study of Paul’s final reckoning with the past, but it’s also somewhat allegorical for the Nigerian nation on the whole. Technically sound filmmaking can only go so far within a work that doesn’t really have a strong sense of what it wants to be. It can’t help but be a bit deflating to watch the big final scenes and know that they could have been a real wallop with a full film’s worth of momentum behind them.

Our Call: SKIP IT. The Black Book is not nearly bloody nor brooding enough. There are interesting components in this Nigerian thriller, but without a stronger sense of cohesion between plot and style, it feels instantly forgettable.

Marshall Shaffer is a New York-based freelance film journalist. In addition to Decider, his work has also appeared on Slashfilm, Slant, The Playlist and many other outlets. Some day soon, everyone will realize how right he is about Spring Breakers.

Source: decider.com

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