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Tears, despair, snare of Nigeria’s unjust justice system – ‘Inside Life’ Movie Review (3.1)

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As at August 2022, about 52,000 out of 74,000 inmates in Nigerian prisoners are waiting many years to be served justice; only 3 out of every 10 people languishing in Nigerian prisons have been convicted. What is more pathetic is the circumstances surrounding how some found themselves behind bars and the agonizing situation of spending years in Nigeria’s shanty prisons. If anything is worse than slave trade, it is the black man’s most populous nation’s snare of despair denominated as justice system.

Lanre Olorunnishola was caught in the trap of Nigeria’s unjust system, wrongfully incarcerated and served the sour taste of a dehumanizing prison experience. Unlike the lot of 90% of such victims, he was fortunate enough to get a chance at life after spending 11 days. He goes on to write a book about his experience (called ‘Prison Notes’) and a friend who’s a veteran TV production guru, Chuks Enete partnered to wax the story for the silver screen as his own debut solo film project.

‘Inside Life’ produced by Siloth Studios and distributed by Silverbird Film Distribution is an adaption of Lanre’s story and laudable spotlight on worthy indignation towards Nigeria’s judiciary. The movie by AIT and Iroko TV-famed filmmaker, Chuks Enete was premiered at the Silverbird Galleria on the 8th of September and released to cinemas across Nigeria on the following day. The film is co-written by the story’s protagonist, Lanre Olorunnishola, and Chuks Enete, directed by Tope Adebayo Salami, edited by Dipo Teniola. The movie casted Wole Ojo, Broda Shaggi, Nnedu of Wazobia FM, Romeo WJ, Tina Mba, Koloman, Belinda Effah, Saka, Ropo Ewenla, and Okey Uzoeshi. Others include MC Benkash, Chukwuka Jude, Jerry Okpan, Jay Hemkay, Zara Udofia Ejoh, Yinka Aiyelokun, Peter Oladeji, Funsho Adeolu, Enechukwu Uche, Ekiti Father and Eric Obinna, while Idowu Adedapo is Director of Photography.

Summary of the Story

A few days before his wedding, Larry (Wole Ojo) is assigned to represent his boss at a court hearing, a prolonged civil dispute with the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSTIF), over Chief’s (Larry’s MD played by Chuks Enete) headstrong refusal to pay his dues to the agency, premised on a rebellion against paying government while he bares the skyrocketing cost of running his business alone. The company’s lawyer (played by Okey Uzoeshi) does not show up and NSTIF’s lawyer (Tina Mba) got the magistrate to wrongfully remand Larry in prison as a lesson to the company for disregarding the court process.

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Larry needs to fight for his release for his wedding to his sweetheart fiancée (Belinda Effah), but then, he must learn to survive the dire condition of the prison and come out alive regardless. Larry moves from being a dove in the raft of ducks to flirting with the pangs for survival. His initial ability to gain rare privileges with the prison officials earned him enmity with hitherto protective cell lords, but his ingenious charity to all cellmates soon got him affable attention much that the toughest of the lot (played by Broda Shagi) sort out his help, sharing with him even more distressing stories of his own wrongful imprisonment and total despair.

Analysis of the Plot Elements

The movie begins with an aloof brutal murder scene, blacks out, and transitions to a gothic scene of two lovers waking up to early morning curdle and reminiscence of their ‘bedmatic’ through the night. Within the first minute of the plot’s exposition, one can tell the dichotomous style of the plot.

The story slowly moves from the everyday life of young hardworking hopefuls and sharply turns to the details of life’s capriciousness. Maybe this makes a good reason for naming it Inside Life.

To us at Nollytrailers, we think the writers, perhaps riding on the power of epic storytelling, smartly unfolded the story’s main characters, hinting by dialogue and actions, their personalities, and quickly erupting emotive followership for the audience.

The rising actions were a steady climb towards the climax. Larry moves from being a fine eligible bachelor, high-profile staff of his company, who had just been gifted a huge sum as his MD’s support towards his forthcoming wedding, to a stunned witness in the box in a case he had no clue about, then to a benevolent but angry suspect who had to pay for his own transportation to prison, then to a star inmate who has privileged unrestricted access to the chief warder’s office, and then to a co-parker in the rigour and torture of life in a crowded prison cell, with perhaps no certainty of regaining his freedom anytime soon, since the judge on his case has suddenly collapsed and is incapacitated to hear his case on the next adjournment.

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The climax came quite full-stack, comically captured by Dele’s (the president of the prison cell) initial wisdom to Larry, “When jungle don mature, okoro go know where him de”. Larry suffers the same fate as other inmates; external visits stopped and privileges vanished as usual contacts either got transferred or put out of reach by other wardens whom he had earlier spoken to arrogantly when he first got there.

The falling actions go on a sublime decent into the closure, but wisely picturing the story’s theme of the importance of faith and the eventual embrace of the miracle-working potency of praying and believing when all other things fail. Larry’s atheist position soon gets transformed once he recognised that only a miracle can get him off the hooks.

From believing to reforming, Larry’s travail captured all the important steps that leads towards the resolution of the story’s critical matter and a restoration to status quo.

There’s a part of the movie that is brilliantly left for the interpretation of the audience, which leaves an intuitive open end – Larry, while in jail, had a dream that his fiancée was celebrating with the company’s lawyer the success of their evil plan to have him reprimanded by trapping him with the lawyer’s absence from court. The dream meant that his most beloved and trusted human was the mastermind of his tribulations.

The writers never gave a material concession to the substance of this dream and as such left it to the imagination of the audience.

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Analysis of Creative Elements
Script/Story

If there is anything that stands out with this movie, it is the powerful story it tells. The writers did an incredible job of interpreting Lanre Oluwanishola’s true life story by setting the entire project mainly on the prison experience. Just that would have likely been a bore to the comedy-loving Nigerian audience, but smartly, the script was spiced up with apt comic relieves.

For instance, there’s a scene where Larry was tearing and condemning religion with the assertion that organized religion was a big scam. He shortly realized painfully a little later that his seemly short imprisonment may become elongated. He turns to Dele to wail, complaining also about the rice that was served the prisoners and asking why not yam instead. The cell’s ‘presido’ hits back at his lack of regard for the power of prayers with sarcasm, “The yam you need to chop now na I am than I am”.

The dialogues are brilliant, funny and well laced with wisdom – able to instruct heavily on the irony of a supposedly blessed nation and the agony of its people. Unlike a lot of works that feature an array of comedy skit makers, this did justice to the effort at sprinkling light-hearted-moments without having unnecessary overtures.

Broda Shagi had a brilliant display of street jokes and ‘agberoism’ that is a prefect reflection of the life in a Nigerian prison. Dele was such a perfect character of a hard but wise cell lord, dropping doses of ghetto wisdom – profound in its depth, but crude and funny in its tone. One noteworthy excerpt is his stump reaction to Larry’s denial of reality, where he encouraged him to eat what was served in prison. In response to Larry’s insistence that he had no appetite, Dele goes “Designer prisoner. You no get appetite ba, no worry jungle go soon mature and you go know say last last Mandela chop Apartheid”.

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Quite a rib-cracking joke but also an en explosive dialogue that connects the realities of the unjust justice system of Apartheid South Africa to that of present day Nigeria. It also delves into the projection of the fate of the character who seem too headstrong to embrace the present and will be well on the way to spending a long time in prison if he does not explore the power for miracles.

Casting and Characterization

Most of the actors were in character, though a few would have done better. Chief (The MD) played by the executive producer himself, Chuks Enete, beyond the apt ‘Ogene’ sounds that accentuated his scenes, was short of perfect in roleplaying. There was an obvious effort to fit into the personality of a crude wealthy Igbo businessman. This easily give up the mystery that ought to come with interpreting the role and therefore is below the current industry standard.

Belinda Effah was also not at her best. Her interpretation of a devastated fiancée visiting her partner in jail was short of believability. She acted and sounded like a starter in a drama rehearsal. Watching her, the character’s pain could not be felt, her confusion was not obvious and expected exasperation towards the company was totally silent.

Wole Ojo delivered Larry’s character to the fullest. Every step of the way, there was no emotion, personality or nuances of the character that was not communicated; Larry’s ego was depicted in and off the mic and the personality transformations were well captured in his acting. Kudos!

Brother Shaggi and Nedu did justice to the characters of leading the ‘Ikoyi vs Agege’ strata of the prison; personalities, checked! Dialogue, checked! Actions and reactions, checked!

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The casting is also quite good. Love the minor roles of the big names like Tina Mba and Funsho Adeolu. The cast, safe for a few snags, by frame and personality fused perfectly into the plot of the story and delivered quite well its themes.

Directing

Directing is but an okay job for this movie. There are obvious issues with the sets, costumes and transitions that ought not to have skipped the calls of Dipo Teniola and Tope Adebayo.

For instance the costume is totally unbelievable! Here are prisoners who have stayed an average of 2 years in jail, all having stylish clean shaves. The dialogue at the chief warden’s office hinted that Larry was going into a 35-man cell, the shots were set in a less than 15-man prison, almost scanty.

Cinematography

Dipo Adedapo may have given his best to this but there are certainly no wow moments from the filming of this movie. It is nothing more than basic shots.

There were efforts to add some creativity through camera techniques but that also fell flat – the filming at a tilted angle combined with shaky panning just didn’t work quite well.

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The lighting at the main set also could have been better. In fact, it presented the cinematographer an opportunity to display creativity, given that over 70% of the movie was shot on that set. Nigerian prisons are often quite dark, poorly ventilated with walls riddled with amateurish graffiti. Dapo could have ridden on this to explore tricks like off-subject shots in silhouette or playing creatively with exposure, extra lighting for focus matter or even sunrays-drop background for early morning dialogues, etc.

Music/Sound Design

Tosin Amire, the young FUTA graduate of Applied Mathematics turned sound designer, did a great job on the sound design for this film. The sound in some scenes helped to enliven the poor performance of some acts, like that of Chief (The ‘igbotic’ MD). Though the sound production quality could have been better, but the large-scale original compositions were good and aptly distributed across the movie’s scenes.

The overall production quality is average. This is owing to the less emphasis placed on Directing and Cinematography. This would have easily been a 4 star movie.
Inside Life is easily a high-recommendation movie chiefly because of its powerful story, theme and overall message to the nation. It is also a good pick for a couple’s date night (would have been great for a family was it not for the few scenes of gunshots). You will be sure to really get cracked up seeing this movie.
Hit the cinemas to see for yourselves, better with company though, you don’t want to deal with laughing and falling on a stranger’s shoulders if you are alone. You might just receive sneer or slap. In the words of Broda Shagi in the film, “Who de microwave liver for you?”

Inside Life Review
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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.

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“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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