Is there any such thing as a ‘perfect Nollywood movie’?
I, along with a lot other people don’t expect a lot from Nollywood. I’m used to substandard work, movies with plots that make little sense, acting that means something else entirely, dialogue that sounds like it was inspired by Martians – and a billion other flaws.
But every now and then, a movie comes along and makes me want to jump for joy.
I hardly go to the cinemas to watch a Nollywood film. This one, I stumbled into by accident. I was at the cinema to pretend-watch the latest Ape Planet something. I changed my mind last minute – but then, I still wanted to watch a movie.
Against my judgment, I chose Picture Perfect. And I can tell you, I didn’t feel as fulfilled watching Spiderman: Homecoming.
And that is saying a lot.
It is written and produced by Biodun Stephen and directed by Tope Alake. The premise is simple: a tailor/fashion designer gets stuck in a notorious neighborhood and is about to be assaulted by a couple of touts. She’s saved by another tout who pretends to know her from somewhere – just to save her from the other ‘undesirable elements’. A bunch of funny things happen – along with a major plot twist – or not so much a twist, depending on what side of the camera you’re usually on.
I saw it coming tho.
It’s a simple movie; it isn’t trying to fix humanity or the government for that matter. It isn’t trying to make us see the value (or lack thereof) of marriage; it’s not trying to sell us the glam and flimflam of how the other half lives. It’s just trying to be a fun movie; sweet and entertaining.
And that; it manages quite well.
Picture Perfect works best because the cast completely inhabits their characters. Bisola Aiyeola smoked as Kiksy, the lead female’s best friend. She’s completely natural – though she does come across as overacting in a couple of scenes. But she is the voice of reason (as the lead’s best friend usually is) and she’s sweet and kind and fun and real and will marry me by force or…
I’m just kidding.
The women in the movie represent a class of oft-ignored Nigerian woman – strong, independent, capable, and caring, don’t exactly need men but want them nonetheless. The women in this movie are not weak, neither do they have an agenda or feel a need to shove the gender argument in your face. They are just women who love life and are living it on their own terms. I gotta get behind that.
Bolanle Ninalowo also rocked as Jobe aka Jobsy Jor-Jor, the tout who rescues Kumbi (Mary Njoku) from his less-than-gentlemanly associates. I would like to meet this young man, because his accent is spot on, and he cannot seem to stop saying ‘philanderer’ in all its forms. He’s the quintessential tout; rough, strong, respected, honorable, kind, thoughtful, considerate…Jobsy is a character to love and root for.
Mary Njoku, the female lead is also a pot of discovery. The way she switches between fluent English and Yoruba is noteworthy. She, just like Bisola is also completely natural, inhabits the character with grace and feeling. She is believable in all of her scenes, from the dissenting friend to the spurned lover to the consensual lover to the protective mother. The cast had a lot of fun creating this movie – and I’m sure the viewers will too.
The movie is not without its flaws tho, as a couple of scenes/incidents defy explanation, and in some cases, reason. Nothing major, however, the couple plot holes do not dim the fun to be had even slightly.
Is there any such thing as a ‘perfect Nollywood movie’?
Maybe not yet; and I stand corrected, but Picture Perfect comes close.
Now showing in a cinema near you.
Every chance I have, I try to spend with my little gremlin, who colors my life better than any combination of colors. So whenever she’s around, I take her to the movies, and of course we have conversations afterwards.
Here are a few of her thoughts on some of the movies this year:
Spiderman: Homecoming – ‘I really enjoyed the film. It’s nice…I understand the boy! I don’t get all your complaints…mommy was right! You’re old!’
Me: ‘Your mother thinks I’m old?’
Her: ‘Well, she said ‘your father is the cutest old man I know’.
Me: ‘Well. Banana fall on her!’
Of course, I didn’t say that out loud.
Read My Crash Review of Homecoming Here.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2: ‘If I was that one (Drax) I wouldn’t go around calling people ugly. Look at his mouth!’
Me: ‘Didn’t I say not to insult people?’
Her: ‘He started it!’
Me: ‘But he wasn’t talking to you…’
Her: ‘Didn’t you also say to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves?’
Read My Review of GoTG 2 Here.
Wonder Woman: ‘I like it. It was nice…but I like Hidden Figures better.’
Her: ‘Not all of us can jump around and fight like that, but all of us can think and change the world.’
Me: ‘That is the idea…to make people understand that you have choices. Some of us fight for others, some of us improve the world – as long as we’ll all doing something or the other.’
Her: ‘That’s true. (pause) We all have choices, abi? My choice is Hidden Figures sha.’
Review Coming Soon.
Logan: ‘Why are you crying, Daddy?’
Me: ‘Well…I wasn’t – (she frowns) well…it makes me miss you.’
After the movie
Her: ‘Daddy, if I leave mommy and come and live with you, will that make you stop crying?’
Me: *cries some more*
Read My Thoughts On Logan Here.
Of course, none of that happened. I don’t really have a daughter.
Hehehehehe! Have a great week!
A good re-introduction to teenage Parker. A high-school melodrama, a coming-of-age movie of sorts. It’s bright, high-energy, fun and engaging all at once.
Fun fact: The initials of Spider-Man: Homecoming is ‘SMH’. Isn’t that interesting?
It is a good movie – but not a great one. I won’t be seeing it a second time.
EXCEPT…(Deoye, I’m looking at you)
Tom Holland is a good Peter Parker, an interesting Spiderman. He makes mistakes, is careless, reckless, excitable and overeager. However, while he’s a nerdy Parker, he’s not a bumbling, socially awkward one. He tries – but it’s glaring he’s trying. Did you see Andrew Garfield in the first Amazing Spiderman?
It would be hard to top that performance.
If you read the piece I posted here, I mentioned, among a number of other things, the casting of a black ‘Mary Jane’. I am happen to inform you, I was wrong. The character isn’t Mary Jane but –
Go watch jare!
By the way, is May – as in Aunt May unmarried? Where’s Ben? There isn’t a SINGLE mention of the reason Peter Parker became Spiderman.
Good or bad? You decide.
It was nice seeing Downey again. His arc as Tony Stark has come full circle. In a subtle way, becoming a mentor of sorts for Peter seems to have given him purpose and taken away some of the guilt that has been burdening him. He looks better than ever.
My favorite part came at the end. It’s not a dis – it actually comes at the end, and it has to do with a missing part of Stark’s on-screen life. A beautiful, stunning, loving, warm –
I screamed in the cinema. Trust me. It is IMPOSSIBLE to make me do that under normal circumstances.
Now, speaking of Marvel movies generally, they have a formula that has been working, so they keep doing it, and have Hollywood following that pattern these days.
It’s the ‘a-joke-every-two-lines’ ridiculousness.
A friend graciously shared an article with me, in which someone was praising Wonder Woman by taking shots at Marvel films – the part of Marvel movies I mentioned above. I didn’t agree with him because he did not sound objective – but I’m afraid he was right.
Marvel movies for the most part no longer have intense, emotional moments. It is ruined with a quip from Stark or a one-liner from Hawkeye. And what they’ve done, which Homecoming helped me realized is; they desensitized the audience.
‘Intense’ is now in the same space as ‘funny’.
Case In Point: there is a scene in Homecoming in which the bad guy traps Peter underneath some rubble (in the comics it is a now-epic fight in Doctor Octopus’ lab where he went to retrieve a serum for Aunt May). Peter frantically screams for help; he can’t lift tons of concrete. He gives up – and then, he remembers Stark doubting him, his own fears – and he lifts the rubble. And this is my point; at the point he was panicked and screaming for help, the cinema audience erupted in laughter.
Even though there isn’t a joke to be found in that scene, they were expecting one because that’s Marvel’s troupe these days – and so they laughed. And by so doing, missed a pivotal point in Spiderman’s journey.
So. By all means, see this one. However, grumpy old men won’t enjoy it.
PS: Guys, it has TWO post-credit scenes, so WAIT TILL THE END…unless dem off light for cinema!
I was going to say hi.
It was the perfect setup. Me; walking into a fast food spot to pickup some light snacks for when I write later tonight. You; sitting at a table, spooning ice cream between creamy lips and looking damn good doing it. You probably wouldn’t have noticed me; I wouldn’t have seen you – but the door swung open, caught your attention, and something about me held onto it.
And because of that, because you were staring, I saw you.
I would have said hi, for the brilliant smile you gave a complete stranger if nothing else. The kind of smile that makes a guy like me look over his shoulder, wondering who the lucky recipient of that kind smile is. And then, envy turns to disbelief, because he realizes the sun decided to come out and shine – just for him. The kind of smile that makes purposeful strides falter, because – this is not a Rihanna music video where everything is scripted to perfection; you are not the singer from Barbados looking for ‘love’, and I am not the doe-eyed six-packed sexy Don Juan who just walked in the club and caught your eye.
Hell, only last night Dami Ajayi was making fun of my belly.
I should have said hi. But I looked at you, and something about you reminded me of another time, another place, another someone whose smile was just as bright as yours; someone who only wanted to make friends. And I remembered how good intentions have a way of being shot to hell,
How it starts with love, and then EVERYTHING that can go wrong goes wrong.
So I turned away, hurried to the counter and did my purchase and damn near ran out of the joint –
Because I saw someone who reminded me of things best forgotten.
I was on a bus sometime ago, to watch Gal Gadot do her ‘Wonder Babe’ thing.
It was good day; rain fell earlier but it had stopped, leaving everywhere cool and mostly abandoned. I was sitting in front of the bus ferrying me to Yaba, listening to…I honestly don’t remember who I was listening to.
It was sha music, feel-good music.
I almost didn’t notice anything till the door beside me opened. That was when I realized we were at one bus stop like that. Before I could tell which; a pretty something shaped like a lady climbed into the bus and sat beside me.
I don’t talk to women I don’t know – usually. It’s a silent, unspoken rule I have – usually. So I was just going to admire her, do the usual ‘hmm and ha’ and mind my business –
UNTIL I SAW SHE WAS CARRYING A RIBENA BOTTLE.
Ladies and Gentleboys and Wobe Folk, have you heard the one about ‘good intentions’?
All thoughts of Gal Gadot and that leather skirt flew out of the driver’s window, along with the music – pretty much the bus sef. The only thing that still existed was me, her and that Ribena bottle.
Without thinking too much, I pulled my earphones off.
‘Excuse me. I just wanted to say that right up till you entered this bus, I always thought I was the only person above twenty who drank Ribena.”
She turned towards me, smiled blindingly and said, “Oh, don’t worry. You probably still are. You see, I just turned eighteen.”
Gentle people, I turned back to the windscreen and put my earphones back in. And allow me add; I did not look left or right till the bus arrived Sabo.
Yeah yeah. I know they say ‘age is nothing but a number, but it decides on what side of the numeric table you’re on. And frankly, who ‘minor’ epp na?
They called it a ‘huggy’ jacket.
They said if you wore it, you would never feel alone. You would get hugs on demand, as many as you wanted. So you bought it.
And afterwards, you felt like most people do after new purchases; ‘Why didn’t I buy the other-color? What made me choose this one?’
You looked at it in your closet, feeling weird and childish. You wondered why anyone would need a jacket not to feel all alone and unwanted. You wondered how it is you fell for such an obvious scam.
After a while, you stopped wondering and just left the jacket hanging there.
And then, one afternoon, you were feeling down. No more than usual; but you had a bad case of the blues. There was power and all, but you didn’t want to watch anything. You weren’t in the mood for music either. You tried to read your books; at least maybe some line from Ekwensi or Achebe or Soyinka or Iyayi would make you laugh and lift the cloud that seemed to have taken home in your chest. So you started to read, and it was working.
You felt better.
In fact, you were just recovering from a bout of laughter thanks to Pa Achebe, when your glance happened on your ‘hug-me’ jacket. It made you laugh even harder – and then, it occurred to you to wear it. Let’s see if it works sef, you thought.
So you pull it on, enjoying the still-fresh new clothes smell. It fit you properly, just like it did at the store, but somehow much more. It wrapped itself around you like the arms of a baby, and you snuggled into it. It did feel like hugs all over. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all; you thought.
So you started to make your way back to your back and the Achebe novel you were halfway through when you felt something move across your back. You stopped and reached – but didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary. You continued on – and then, the jacket you were wearing seemed to come alive. Before you could do more than gasp in shock, fluffy arms tightened themselves around your throat.
Your arms dart up – but in the next moment, the ones around your chest, torso, and trunk all started to tighten. You called out – but your voice died in your throat, much like the spit that suddenly started to flood your mouth. You thought it was a joke – a cruel prank someone was playing on you. You kept thinking any moment now and the pressure would ease off your throat…
Till you heard a loud, wet crack. And insane pain flooded your insides. And although it had never happened to you before then, you had read enough books and seen enough movies to know what happened.
A rib just cracked.
You are going to die; you suddenly realized with intense clarity. You stagger towards the door, intending to get to the kitchen for a knife and hacking –
NEPA choose that moment to take power. You slammed into the bed and to your knees. And then you knew; it wasn’t NEPA at all.
Your sight…everything was turning black.
Pain started at the tips of your fingers; you had torn them open clawing at the polyester arms around your throat. Your last conscious thought is that you had to be dreaming; this couldn’t be how you would end your life…your journey here…
Everything went black.
If you had read the instructions on the inside of the jacket, you would seen a small warning in red on the back of the label;
NOTICE: Be careful. Might become too friendly if neglected for a long time.
Book II is finally out and ready to hit your hands…well, technically, your devices which you hold in your hands!
So…I’m not crazy.
If you’ve been here with me before, thank you. You can buy Lẹ́bẹ́ Book II: Second Strike here: Second Strike.
If this is your first time, WELCOME. Check out Lẹ́bẹ́: The Series here: The Series.
And here’s a small taster from Book II: Second Strike:
“I am Sensei Uloma, the master of this dojo. I hold black belts in four martial arts including Taekwondo, Wing Chun, Aikido, and Kick-Boxing. I am honored to meet you,” she said and bowed. Straightening, she smiled. “I have heard a lot of you from him,” she threw a thumb over her shoulder. “However, I would like to see what you can do.”
She stepped onto the mat. Lanre made to follow – but she held up her left hand, palm facing Lanre. He stopped and she pointed at his feet. Only then did Lanre notice she was barefoot.
The Converse he was wearing put up no protest as he untied the laces, and soon he was standing on the mat in stripped socks. Uloma walked up till they were arms’ length apart and stopped.
“This is a light sparring match, therefore no heavy hits. I’ll be mostly trying to touch your chest, shoulders, and head; you’ll be trying to do the same. No kicks, just hands. I want to see how fast and skilled you are.” She paused. “Understand?”
Lanre frowned and turned to his left. “Oga Kelvin, is this the pessin I come and meet?”
Kelvin nodded. “She just introduced herself – she just told who she is. She is the trainer I’ve been telling you about – “ he stopped because Lanre was shaking his head.
Kelvin frowned. “What is the problem?”
“I not fight girl,” was the muttered answer.
“WHAT?” Kelvin said, rather loudly. “What do you – what are you talking about now?”
Lanre had stepped off the mat and was bending over his shoes. “You say I need training, no wahala. You wan’ me to fight beta, no yawa. But to fight girl?” he shook his head this way and that, speaking in time with the shaking. “No, no, no.”
A hearty chuckle stopped Lanre. Uloma walked forward and stood beside him, silently making him straighten. “I understand how you feel,” she said softly, “I also understand this is important. So this is what we’ll do; we’ll do some light sparring for one minute. If you can hit me five times in that minute, I won’t train you. In fact, it’ll mean you deserve more than I can give you. But if you don’t, then you’ll stay and do whatever I ask of you.”
“This is absurd – “ Kelvin began to say.
“Please,” she implored, facing Kelvin. He nodded and she turned back towards Lanre who was looking at her, arms folded across his chest. “What do you say?”
“Five times in one minute, you say?” At Uloma’s nod, he grinned. “That wan no suppose too hard na.”
“So you accept?” Uloma asked.
Lanre nodded, kicked off the one sneaker he had started to put on and assumed the classic boxer stance; knees slightly bent, one hand defensive, the other offensive. He watched the girl closely and regarded her loose stance with puzzlement. She didn’t look like she was about to fight. In fact –
In fact, she looked just like Tattoo Man did before he kicked his ass*.
I hope you enjoyed that!