“Aiye dey do you”.
This is a popular Nigerian street maxim that implies that you are a victim of circumstance, literally. Though also used to underpin that the source of one’s failures and/or retrogression is most likely because some evil individual or individuals’ is/are after you with voodoo or enchantment and even maybe, curses.
The saying has become a common alibi for most dreamers who give up or give in to spiritual gymnastics, rather than take on life’s brutal resistance against breaking through in a highly competitive world.
“This Lady Called Life” is a brilliant playout of the above-described reality. The name of the movie itself is a poetic play of words. On one hand, it implies a howl against life’s eventualities (like in ‘life happened’) and on the other, it introduces the lead role, Aiye, who’s an exhausted receptor of the harsh exigent bartering of Aiye (life)!
This 2020 romantic drama that stars Abisola Aiyeola as Aiye starts off painting the struggles of a single mother attempting to trade her misfortune for a big dream of becoming one of Nigeria’s most famous Sous-chefs. The biggest platform for showcasing her cookery talent lines before her but the struggles of juggling babysitting and delivering home-made food to her customers was going to stop her from getting in on time, to write a popular entrance exam for amateur chefs. Fully prepared and well-studied, she makes it in just in time for the exam only for her phone to ring and Jemima Osunde (Toke in the movie) gets on the line with the news that their mother (Legendary Tina Mba) has just been rushed to the hospital.
Aiye ditches her exams and rushes off to the hospital to discover it is not an emergency worth throwing away her life’s dream for. She returns to her lowly life saddened, after giving off the first sign of the dysfunctionality in her relationship with her mother.
Aiye’s father, played by Wale Ojo, comes visiting quite early the next day and theatrically gets her to agree to come home after several years of banishment, enforced by her mother, who couldn’t forgive her for getting pregnant while at school. She’s needed to take care of her since her father, an out-of-town university lecturer, and her sister, a pregnant new bride are not available to do so. She takes along her son, who has prior, had no relationship with his grandmother. The corrosive atmosphere of Aiyetide’s formative years soon becomes a new reality, as the movie goes on to show the damages of verbal abuse, compassionless parenting and the misery of a child that is never heard.
Aiye would soon find love in a customer and photographer, who opens the last door to the stage where her life’s dream stares her in the face. She’s become glossophobic because of her life’s experiences, and this hunts her even in her dreams. Again, ‘life happens’ in this her rare shot at a better life and in a flux of love, mistrust and hatred from her own mother, Aiye gives her best towards having a happy ending.
Kayode Kassum, the Yabatech and Wale Adenuga Productions-trained young filmmaker once again brought his expertise to bear in this work, just like he’s done with the highly successful movie Sugar Rush and other brilliant works. The Bisola that we know is extremely playful, one could imagine the amount of work it would have taken to get her into the character of a reserved and very serious Aiye – they must have shot and reshot some scenes to pin her to the script. The was definitely immense hard work to have achieved the excellent delivery that is seen in all major characters.
The plot of “This Lady Called Life” is simple, almost like a stage play, but the execution clearly took meticulous care. Aiye’s one-room apartment and her parents’ house were shot in a way that the entire set could be collapsed into one big stage. There’s nothing fussy or overdone in the film’s look, nothing to distract. Human interaction is the main event here. Some interactions are intense, most others ordinary, but well lined with the striking realities of the society.
The highlight of the movie would be the scene Aiye walks into her mother flogging her son with a hanger, just after getting through the first audition in the ‘Red Dish Amateur Chef’ contest (by the way, Red Dish is a real-life leader in culinary arts training in Nigeria). Aiye comes out of her silence and confronted her mean mother for the very first time:
“You are a wicked mother…Tola raped me, I came to tell you, I begged you but you never listened”.
That scene, that phrase – “you never listened” sort of climaxed the train of lessons on the ill side of stern parenting that this movie sort to underpin. African parents expecting sainthood from their children and trashing them down anything they do not live to their religious/peer-pressure-coloured expectations, end up turning their wards to the cold hands of life and in most cases worst influences. Taking away vital support systems of love, empathy and attention, because a child wouldn’t fit into a parent’s mold is nothing short of callous. This fact was well delivered in this film.
It is very nice to see a film deal with this salient parenting issues with excellent nuances, particularly at a time we are dealing with major cultural differences between parents of varying generations. Also commendable is the film’s showcase of non-traditional and not-so-popular career paths of culinary arts and photography as an image of a worthy life pursuit by the main characters.
Bisola Aiyeola as Aiye
Efa Iwara as Obinna
Jemima Osunde as Toke
Tina Mba as mummy
Wale Ojo as daddy
Lota Chukwu as Omo
Director: Kayode Kasum
Producer: Abisola Yussuf and Kayode Kasum
Screenplay: Toluwani Obayan
The “it” Factor? There is nothing novel about this work.
Be the first to leave a review.
Ijakumo: Dissecting The Underbelly Of A Born-Again Stripper
Film Title: IJAKUMO (BORN AGAIN STRIPPER)
Catching a cruise on the street of Nollywood
BAS is an exposé of an underworld cartel interested in questionable ventures that crumble like a pack of cards due to one man’s greedy past. BAS is a hybrid of religious beliefs and a fusion of phases. A bold attempt at nudity in the face of Nigeria’s moral struggle.
Action/drama/adult. However, BAS has elements of other genres but is foundationed in drama. Let me help you make a graphical sense of it – imagine a Naija version of ‘India RRS’, combine with ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ psychokinesis, sprinkle with ‘Omo Ghetto-The Saga’ twinny trope, garnish with nudity of ‘Shanty Town’, errors of ‘Glamour Girls remake’ and paranormality of ‘Agesinkole’.
Obviously not a common story.
Fictitious but a reflection of our immediate environment that is bellied in religious bigotry, esoterism, social menace and underworld cabals.
BAS is a sociocultural reality of an emerging Nigeria.
The premise, tango, twist and resolution are all predictable.
When you raise ‘what if’ question in your film story, make sure the answer is not an easy nut to crack. This is instructive and important.
If Asabi has the power to repel live bullet,appear and disappear, I don’t think she needs the services of Sharon or Hacker to get the holy thumb drive.
With her two hands tied in the car trunk, Sharon removes her phone and messages Asabi.
Mummy Ireeeeeee, Haba!
E stop se be jare. Kini gbogbo katikati yen in neo-Nollywood?
Sharon’s seemingly compromised discussion of Olajide with Asabi is enough to put her under security surveillance, which should lead the story to her captives.
The self-proclaimed hack goddess that could remotely generate the code of a security door may not need a thumb drive. Though, something is still unclear to me. Is the screenwriter saying all the account details of organ harvesting, transportation, hotel, club and Charis Xtian church businesses are in one USB drive in the house of a common business front\placeholder? Just asking for a doubting friend ni o. Like some of us protested the cartels’ controversial USB drive in ‘Glamour Girl’s remake’, this Almighty token or USB get as e be. A collaboration with a bank’s insider could be explored here.
Mummy Ire, the audience is not meant to be spoon-fed. We have seen Asabi being fortified by her father. We also see the spiritual webbing with the drum. With that, you have built a scary world around her. That badly executed chroma keying of father and daughter in the firmament is needless, ma.
In the shoot-out scene, the stunts and effects remind me of RRS’ unrealistic and phoney depictions. In the same scene, Sharon has the luxury of time and audacity to tell Mary her life story in the face of death.
Ha! Mummy Ire!
E e melo ni mo pe yin ma?
You too dey play.
E ma se bee ma o.
I doubt if women are allowed to share grace in churches. Kindly double-check that piece of information.
Filmmaking is a make-believe business, everything in filming is deliberate and purposive. There is a need to understand the viewers’ attention span. Some scenes are long and talky. Show it, don’t tell it, is the first rule of screenwriting. The screenwriter tries putting different sub-plots into one film, contriving lazily twists- this is common in Nollywood films.
Kuku kill us nah.
Fry us dry, we be your Ileya ram. If not, you won’t in one scene condescendingly sell crypto and wakanow. That’s after you have sold Asiwaju herbal o.
The way those brands are featured abuses our sensibilities.
You didn’t help the brands either, you only etch them in our eyes not in our hearts.
Just to mention a few.
SOUND DESIGN, THEME MUSIC AND FOLEY
That hymnal is bae.
May the guitarist never contract herpetic whitlow.
The worship song nah bomb. Synching yi noni wahala.
Quality sound and sound design.
Relevant songs and theme music.
That Ijakumo panegyric reminds me of Tope Alabi in her Yoruwood reigning days – with theme music, you don’t need to see the rest of the film.
What is the relationship between Awuru (a matted hair born) and Ijakumo (jackal)?
I struggle to pin the directors’ delivery mode to semantic, semiotic, aesthetic or a combination of all.
The directors rely heavily on dialogue. Let me assume the screenplay has more spoken lines than the description/action.
The two church scenes, club and burial, are well-plotted and blocked.
The final fight sequence, the mountain top with pastor Remote, hacker’s set up, hospital, board meeting and sex scenes are far from convincing and reasonable.
I love code-mixing and indigenous language, maybe because I am poor at the king’s English.
BAS gives a good account of language use in Yoruba; I can’t say the same for English. Though, Olumide Owuru’s delivery of the Yoruba line is like drinking an overdose of ‘Asiwaju herbal’ without a readily available Sharon- the struggle with erection could better be imagined. Did I just type that?
Many talks, but no resonance, no engagement, no nexus of connection.
Most lines are not elevating the characters and deliverables.
Olajide’s raw and mature lines will make the street guys hippy.
The truth be said, somebody didn’t give attention to the depth of dialogue in BAS.
CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION
Sharon/Mary (Lolade Okusanya), Olajide (Kunle Remi), Younger Asabi (Debora Shokoya), Kayinsoro (Kola Ajeyemi), and Baba Asabi (Ganiu Nofiu) deserve commendations.
Toyin is not bringing anything new. The ruthless valiant only exists in her head as a producer, not Asabi. She is not robust in her role interpretation.
If anything is wrong with Sharon’s act, blame the directors. She is flexible and spontaneous. Though, her body double is not well plotted- you won’t notice that if you are not a critical audience.
Olajide’s character picks up late in BAS, it is not part of the character DNA from my observation, ore wa o se emotional preparation ni. But he picks up later and finishes the marathon wella.
Creative freedom and cultural relativism are tangoed in BAS.
In a culture that measures omoluabi by character, nudity may encounter some moral wraths.
Religious culture may also be queried, especially by Nigeria-based Personal Assistants to God.
For indigenous culture, few scenes speak to Yoruba tradition. The mythical and mystical tendencies of talking drum. Belief in apparition and promotion of traditional worshippers.
Nice sound output.
There are nice camera anglings, movements and a few creative shots, but they do not elevate the story. No matter how big your screen is, nothing can be compared to a CU. Drone or Jimmy Jib could have given impressive spectacles of the church scenes.
The lighting is not bad, especially in setting moods. The temperature does not match, and some lighting efforts are amateurish.
Pulling focus on two-shot that requires reaction is a sheer waste of lens and frame.
Some shots need compensatory and complementary takes.
BAS looks like an effort salvaged at post-production because of some camera gaps.
I cannot understand the relevance of smoke in some scenes.
Intercutting the worship song with erotic scenes makes lots of cinematic sense.
From past to present. Between modernity and antiquity. Vintage to contemporary. The Arts Department is great.
Costumes do not really say anything.
Long hair is meaningless.
The make-up is not bad.
Is that a wreath or a marriage bouquet?
Why the harvest of candles at the board meeting?
Karma treats fuck ups no matter how long.
Worship God, not your pastor.
Listen to your parents, they still hold the ace.
No perfect film anywhere.
With ₦278,496,384, BAS performed above average considering the genre.
But watching BAS is like buying a condom with multiple holes from Kiekie’s pharmacy. The wasted money and dissipated sensual efforts are less painful than the damages of STDs and unwanted pregnancies.
BAS is Iya Ire’s reflection of personal conjectures and fantasies, not audience-oriented.
It is evidenced by the title- Ijakumo, uncoordinated plots, unrelated long trailing hair, needless tribal marks and flappy Yansh flying around the screen space.
In BAS, there is a tension between self-absorb, fiction, fantasies, creativity, culture and reality- ‘world best’ prefer self-absorbent to other factors in telling her story.
BAS is streaming on Netflix, watch and let’s have your takes. You never can tell; I may be wrong.
4-4-44: Catching Cruise On The Street Of Nollywood
This movie is a directorial effort of the award winning Nigerian film auteur, Izu Ojukwu.
Until the title was recommended to me, I didn’t really feel the publicity of the film.
A true life epic love story of a young couple that wrestles mental health challenge inflicted on the bride on her wedding day.
Okay, generally the film is a masterpiece of visual art, especially on cinematography and production design. If you are a fan of ‘old school’ nostalgia, you will find the art direction irresistible.
The story is linear with an attempt of suspense that refuses to suspend – maybe for me though (talking about why Richard Mofe-Damijo – RMD spent the community’s money).
I like the fact that the wife’s mental illness is attributed to medical defect from poison, and not paranormal phenomenon that is synonymous with Nollywood narratives.
Unless you are a critical or technical audience, not everyone will notice the chroma effects. In plotting that, Izu really did a yeoman’s job in my estimate. And I think to achieve such period ‘back-to-the-past’ film, studio and green walls are key, just like they must key.
The twist of the money coming from Reverend Father, introduction of the white lady and final settlement of outstanding debt is somewhat unconvincing though.
Generally, I would like to know the consumption pattern of the movie in the weeks ahead. It is too early to talk about the number of eyeballs.
I also think Izu’s penchant for oscillating between arthouse and commercial films impends the commercial viability of his films in most cases. That’s not a sin anyway, the choice is his and his sponsors.
The typical “you mock me, I revenge” syndrome that is synonymous with ‘Igbonglish’ films prominently featured in the plot. Though, the execution of the poison is more pedestrian compared to the regular Upper Iweka road directors – too cheap.
I like the palm oil processing depiction. We need to feature our indigenous crafts and trades regularly. It invokes cultural memory and positions our cultural products for world recognition.
The traditional marriage is also good as cultural exhibition of Nigeria’s specs.
The use of relics and vintage cars will make you go green with envy.
Here and there. The wigs on the male casts could make you throw up. Maybe because I was not born in the 40s and 60s anyway.
Character and characterisation?
As usual, Chiwetalu Agu is stereotyped as a regular over-acting character – his trade in stock. But for others, their acting is not bad.
RMD (Hillary) is too rigid and flat. I doubt if the emotional preparation is intensed.
There is a struggle to pin his dialogue to his acting.
Nse Ikpe-Etim (Theresa) gave her best in particularisation and immersion. But the camera angles didn’t do justice to her role interpretation. She deserves pity through empathy, unfortunately, I see Nse, not Theresa, in the film.
The eldest daughter and narrator (Essien) looks real and infectious. Perhaps because she is relatively unknown.
Alli Baba tries not to be a comedian, but it’s a difficult task on the part of the viewer to disconnect his permanently etched funny optics.
Seun Akindele (younger Hillary) could not get out of his Yorubaness to properly fit into the Igboness, a weakness that is explained with dialogue.
For Teni Makanaki and Broda Shaggy, I don’t know their usefulness, music relevance and act in the movie. I think this is a real issue with table casting.
Generally, I think Izu paid more attention to cinematography and production designs than other aspects of the production life cycle.
4-4-44 is a lesson about love, loyalty and perseverance.
The movie is on Prime Video. Take your time to see it and let’s compare notes.
Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba, the King’s Horseman
By Olobe Yoyon
The new Netflix movie, Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba, the King’s Horseman is another adaptation of Wọlé Ṣóyínká timeless 1975 play, Death and the King’s Horseman. The play was inspired by Dúró Ládipọ̀’s 1964 play, Ọba Wàjà (The King is dead).
Both plays are based on a real incident which unsettled the ancient city of Ọ̀yọ́ when a British civil servant prevented the sacrificial suicide of a town chief, Ẹlẹ́ṣin, who was ritually prepared to obey custom and follow his late king to the grave.
In Ọba Wàjà, Dúró Ládipọ̀ tells the story of one Abọ́bakú (one who is required by custom to die with the king) who due to the intervention of a British District Officer, became doubtful of the duty of his office, a most shameful thing to his honour and his family.
Dáwódù, Ẹlẹ́ṣin’s son was disgusted by his father behaviour in breaking faith with tradition. He decided to take upon himself the burden of the office and do the needful. He insulted his father till his last breath, for being cowardly.
Ẹlẹ́ṣin took his life as he was supposed to, however his honour was already gone, and he had also lost his first son. “This is the white man’s doing,’ he cried, ‘the British official, trying to save one life, has caused two deaths.”
Ṣóyínká’s Death and the King’s Horseman is set in the Ọ̀yọ́ Kingdom in south-west Nigeria in the early 1940s. Ọ̀yọ́ tradition demands that Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba, the king’s horseman, must commit suicide before the king is buried in order for his spirit to lead the king’s to the great beyond.
However, Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba failed in his duty. The story ends on a tragic note, his son, Olunde, has to return from studying medicine abroad to commit suicide in place of his father.
The importance and impact of this story cannot be overemphasised. It has been performed in many countries across the world.
The theme of the clash of cultures continues to resonate with people and further enlightens audiences about colonialism, that no culture is superior to another.
In this Netflix film, the richness of Yoruba culture, its language, music, fashion, dance, proverbs etc, are brought to life. Kudos to late Biyi Bandele for the job well done.
The main lessons from the story include:
As a person, you have a sense of duty to your ancestors and your people.
To Europeans represented by Mr Pilkings and his wife, if you do not understand a culture, ignorance is not a crime but conduct arising from ignorance can be. Be humble enough to ask why things are being done the way custodians of tradition do their things even if they sound ridiculous to you.
A great inspiration should be drawn from the character of Olunde, the British educated son of Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba who trained in England as a medical doctor. In spite of his western education, he still understands his culture and his family ties.
Whatever you do, do not abandon your mother tongue. Do not trample on your tradition. Do not throw away your culture. Do not mock our Òrìṣà and Irúnmọlẹ̀.
N.B: Culture is not static, it is in a state of constant flux. Some of our old traditions are no longer relevant in today’s world. We have rightly long abandoned the practice of ritual suicide in Yorubaland.
I watched the film in Yoruba and I love it. Will try the English voice over tomorrow.
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