Author: Osamudiamen Joe

First Features is a Nigerian initiative dedicated to empowering a new generation of film directors who will bring their many talents and unique voices to the industry. The plan is to mentor and assist 12 first-time directors in making feature debuts. The first project in the lineup is Cake, directed by Prosper Edesiri. Love and Life is the second, with director Reuben Reng at the helm. Official poster for Love and Life. I didn’t know what to expect going into this film, especially given the title. Still, I hoped I was in for a good surprise. In the end, I…

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If a film is tagged “one of the greatest of all time,” chances are it’s done either of these very well: defined a particular genre or defied genre* altogether. A genre-defining film is so excellent that it sets the standard for others in that category. An example here is Casablanca, the classic romantic drama released in 1942. A genre-defining film is also one that is a perfect example of how to execute a story within that genre. Again, as far as romantic dramas go, it’s hard to top Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood For Love. Films that transcend genre are…

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Barely thirty minutes into Ègún, I texted my editor: “I wonder who wrote it.” And I meant that in a good way. I had gone into the film completely blind, without any idea of the premise, tone, or actors involved. However, by the first act break, my interest was piqued. The characters, arranged like pieces on a chessboard, seemed ready to make intriguing moves. A few minutes later, while a bloody death played out on screen, two people in my audience sprang up and headed for the exit. Like me, they had probably missed the film’s promos and had not…

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I had one line of thought when I came out of Small Talk: what is the Nigerian comedy film? What is its nature? What has it evolved from, and where is it going? The reason these questions were bouncing around in my head was simple: I had just sat through almost 2 hours of a comedy feature film, and unfortunately, an overwhelming part of it had not been funny. Naturally, I began to wonder why. Was I not the target demographic? Were my standards too high? Or was the film simply comically inert? It turns out there are rarely easy…

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Heist movies come in all shapes and sizes. For some reason, there’s something about seeing a team of highly skilled people steal large sums of money, priceless artifacts, or some other MacGuffin that gets us excited. Sometimes, the heist happens offscreen, and we are only privy to the events surrounding it, like in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. Sometimes, the heist is motivated by a desire for revenge and features a long line of A-listers and famous character actors looking cool and having a good time; if you immediately thought of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001), then you know your movies. Sometimes,…

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Nollywood is a cultural phenomenon and no doubt one of the most enduring ones of the 21st century. Like other industries, through the decades, it has had to adapt to various societal shifts and technological advancements, continuously changing to survive, to push the needle of creativity forward, as well as turn a handsome profit– it still is a business after all. On that front, things have never been better. Now the second largest film industry in the world by output, churning out over 2,500 films annually, Nigeria’s film industry contributed 2.3% (about N239 billion, or $660 million) to its Gross…

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Editi Effiong’s The Black Book has a lot of bright ideas. On one level, it’s an action flick about a former member of a private undercover elite squad. Even people with power and influence tremble at his name. At the 47-minute mark, one character, completely freaking out, says, “You people went to kill Paul Edima’s son? The most feared man in the country.” Then he begins to reel off the man’s accomplishments, in a way that reminded me of vendors of herbal concoctions advertising their wares in markets: “23 assassinations, 113 domestic operations, plotted and participated in 8 coups d’état…

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At no point during The Modern Woman was I the least bit moved by anything happening on screen. At no point were things kicked into high gear, causing me to inch forward in my seat, enthralled by the events unfolding. At no point was all the tension in the atmosphere defused by an expertly-timed moment of comic relief. When it ended, I did not clap (which I did at the end of Juju Stories, and The Trade), did not leave with a smile on my face (Ile Owo), and did not feel like I’d just had a good time at…

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It was always going to be an extraordinary feat to bring the titular toy owned by Mattel Inc. to the silver screen. Partly because, with time, Barbie has gained a lot of significance in pop culture, far beyond being just another doll produced by a multinational company with multiple merch and movie tie-ins. First released in 1959, the Barbie character has been the subject of a great degree of controversy, causing several recalls by the company, as well as protests on several occasions by detractors of the brand, who, among other reasons, view the toy as damaging to feminism and…

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I never thought I’d say this: Almajiri is a better exposé on some of the heinous things that go bump in the country’s dark underbelly of violence and crime than Gangs of Lagos or Shanty Town. Both films feature a ton of senseless violence and death, a tragic and unmistakable part of Nigerian life. One thing they fail to do, however, is construct a compelling protagonist to lead the audience through it all. In Gangs of Lagos, it’s hard to be pulled into the orbit of Obalola’s desire for revenge and bloodshed because the loss of his dreams doesn’t seem…

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