Tales from the screening room: a look at ‘2 Bad’, ‘Blackmail’ and ‘6 Hours to Christmas’
After attending the press screening of some movies in the past few days, I am pleasantly observing an improvement in the storylines for Ghanaian movies. This improvement is not just in the storylines but the way the stories are told; I find that directors are exploiting more creative ways to use their cameras in telling these stories. I however feel that the concept of narration is being overstretched. Almost every movie nowadays begins with a voice of a character or a non-character, providing some sort of narrative either on past, present or future events. And what about those annoying special effects that make your feel like you are watching or playing a game of Mortal Kombat? Sadly I don’t see these fads going away anytime soon!
Out of the several screenings, I would like to do some sort of a review on three movies that caught my eyes for very different reasons. First is ‘2 Bad’, a moving story about Kwabena Asante an orphan that lost his entire family to a series of tragic events. In spite of these adversities, he is determined to make something positive out of his life. But when the pressures of life become unbearable he flips to the other side and becomes a terrorizing pain to his community. Crime becomes his way of life and he becomes a danger to himself and the people around him.
I really liked the way the story started and the series of conflicts that unfolded before Kwabena became a criminal. The intensity of drama and suspense was pretty rich and I wanted to know what would happen at each stage of story. But after he turned into a criminal I lost that intensity as is typical of most Ghanaian movies, I started observing more elements of ‘comedy’. At this point, I wished the story could stick to drama due to the seriousness of the subject matter in the movie.
I also liked the director, Kobi Rana’s approach to cinematography. The visuals look very real and intense although some of the scenes dragged on longer than they should have. Kobi also played the lead role of Kwabena Asante and I felt his emotions could have been better. I especially hated it whenever he had to cry. But all in all, it was a good movie and the story would make you want to keep watching. ‘2 Bad’ premiere on October 23 at Le Rendezvous in Tema Community 11
Next is the movie, ‘Blackmail’ which tells the tale of obsession as in ‘Fatal Attraction’ or even more recently, ‘Obsessed’. In fact it even has a similar ending to one of these movies. When Henry Koranteng gets an unexpected promotion in his office, his life and marriage crumbles like a pack up cards. His boss, Lovida gets everything she wants and has her eyes set on Henry. But when unfulfilled or unreturned love coupled with obsession sets in, a twisted game of life and death ensues.
I felt that the movie had a good storyline or adaptation but my biggest problem was with the acting. Apart from Jackie Appiah, John Dumelo and Kofi Adjorlolo I didn’t like the performance of most of the other actors, especially the lead antagonist, played by newcomer Biola Egi. Her diction, mannerisms, attitude, and emotions were simply not up to scratch for such a pivotal role. She clearly has to crawl for a long time with minor roles before assuming the role of a femme fatale.
I also liked the court room scenes because it looked real particularly in terms of the legal dialogues. I think Jackie Appiah was well challenged with her role as a lawyer and she conducted herself pretty well. I didn’t like the judge, played by Kalsum Sinare, who had a double role in the movie; she was too stiff as a judge (as if she had an invisible cast around her neck). Although I loved the courtroom drama, I didn’t like the ‘Mortal Kombat’ audiovisual effect that introduces the two opposing lawyers in court, and I felt that some of the scenes were overstretched. We didn’t have to see each lawyer develop his/her case from scratch as if we were actually in court. For instance, there was no need for introducing every witness that came on to the witness stand since those characters were well known in the movie already. This is where good editing makes all the difference!
I also think that the director/writer could have done a better job telling viewers how the first defense lawyer was knocked down by a car. I didn’t know how Lovida got to know that the lawyer had new evidence. How did Lovida get to replace the lawyer’s disc with the same brand of disc, and was the replacement even necessary or could she have simply destroyed the disc on the accident scene? As I said in my introduction, the movie ends on a similar note as one of the movies I mentioned and you can find out for yourself on October 22, when ‘Blackmail’ premieres at the Silverbird Cinemas, Accra.
And then there was Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s latest baby (not literally), ‘6 Hours to Christmas’. Yes, perhaps I saved the best for last because Shirley aced another brilliant movie and this time not particularly for its production quality but as always a good storyline and this time, an even more creative way to tell her story.
‘6 hours to Christmas’ is a dark and witty tale about so many things that could go wrong in a few hours to Christmas. Reggie (Chris Attoh) promises his lovely girlfriend fireworks and a dinner on Christmas Eve but in pursuit of his Xmas gift from a female colleague, Pebbles (Damilola Adegbite) he is hit with a series of misfortunes that threatens his love for his girlfriend and even his dear life all within six hours before the stroke of midnight.
What I liked most about the movie is the fact that Shirley was able to create a captivating story around activities within a day using at most 5 different locations. Although the movie is pretty ‘situational’ it has a storyline that would keep the viewer in suspense and guessing. Often I guessed right what would happen next but hey that’s me, my gift! Laugh out loud!
The movie gets intense and dark as events unfold and I was a little disappointed with the fantasy resolution to the conflicts that had build up towards the end. I wanted it to remain dark rather than the ‘open-ended’ ending. I guess I felt cheated for going through such exciting emotions only to be hit by another sting in the tale in the end. Shirley could have gone for a dark comedy and become Ghana’s Quentin Tarantino but chose to play it safe, and remain Ghana’s Shirley Frimpong-Manso.
I don’t know if Shirley’s approach to photography or cinematography was deliberate or not; the cameras kept shaking and moving up and down. I felt like I was watching the ‘Blair Witch Project’ only that this time the cameraman was obviously not part of the story. Also, since majority of the shooting was done at night, the lighting could have been better. These are the few reasons why I am not sure about the quality of production for ‘6 Hours to Christmas’ as I stated in my intro. As always I have I feeling that you would agree with me after seeing the premiere at the National Theatre on October 29.