I recently had the opportunity to attend the press screening of three very different upcoming Ghanaian movies. While the storylines in these movies obviously varied, they equally had varying strengths and weakness, which made me enjoy some more than the others. Clearly with Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s fast growing pedigree in film making, there is very little that could go wrong for her in comparing her work with a newcomer such as Kobi Rana or a production from Ruffy Samuel Quansah.
My journeys into the screening rooms began with ‘Honey Choochi Choochi Love’, an almost outlandish love triangle between two rich and sexy sisters (Jackie Appiah and Tonto Dike) and a noble fatso (Ruffy Samuel Quansah). The relationships develop and grow with tragic consequences that threaten to destroy the sisters and their family. With a disapproving father (Kofi Adjorlolo) who would do anything to keep his family together and protect his family name, events that unfold should excite viewers when the movie premieres at the Silverbird Cinemas on March 26. But what did I think of it?
Maybe it’s just me but I find the title a bit too fickle for the subject and theme of the movie. ‘Honey Choochi Choochi’, at best sounds like an appropriate title for Ghana’s version of the Muppet Show or Teletubbies. Of course, the producer and lead actor, Ruffy wanted to cash in on the famous character that he played in a hit Tigo TV commercial. In the commercial, he referred to his lover as ‘My Honey Coochi Choochi’ before climbing unto a tree and subsequently falling down all in a bid to have a clear connection with his woman on the phone. As if that was not obvious enough, Ruffy gave a whole new meaning to product placement when in the movie; he made reference to the Tigo as a better telephone network in one scene in the movie. In another scene, there was a Tigo commercial on a TV screen with clear emphasis and zooming on the TV commercial. Well, there might be nothing wrong with product placement but I think it was done in a bad taste.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with Ruffy’s acting either. Perhaps his forte is comedy and if he tries harder he could become Ghana’s version of Faizon Love. He has proven to us with his accent that he grew up in the Bronx, and if he is going to prove that he is a good actor, he would have to learn to speak like a Ghanaian in his next role. If he does that then I would know he can really live through the characters he plays, isn’t that what acting is all about? I had some problems with believability and I think a lot could have been done to make the story flow more naturally. I thought the scene with a video message from California was unnecessary particularly since the background looked nothing like the USA. How about the other scene from a kitchen in California with Ghanaian bottled Vitamilk? I think these were all avoidable.
The next movie I saw was the much talked about ‘Kiss Me if U Can’, which clearly wanted to cash in on the precedence set by the likes of ‘Heart of Men’ and ‘Love and Sex’. I feel people would want to see this one simply because of the trailer they put online, but really all the sex in the actual movie was contained in the trailer. Even before the above-the- title credits finished rolling, one explicit sex scene was over and in my mind I thought here were go again! However as the story unfolded, I realized that there was a nice story behind the movie.
Ray (Prince David Osei) and Sharon (Martha Ankomah) are both victims of broken-heart who have vowed never to fall in love again. Ray falls in love with Sharon and goes through fire and water in a fruitless attempt to win her heart. Even though the sex scenes were very avoidable, they were somewhat integral to the story, apart from one scene which turned out to be a wet dream.
‘Kiss Me if U Can’ has an interesting plot but the suspense and conflicts were a bit too much especially towards the end of the movie. The suspense element wasn’t always on point because some of the events were predictable. I wasn’t too impressed with the acting, particularly with the over the top bitchy attitude of Martha Ankomah. The dialogue for me were just unreal and it would have been better if they used simple everyday English instead of over-flowery language. There were some flaws in the technical production as well; doubtful camera angles and plenty room for editing. Some of the scene were simply over stretched and needed some cutting.
Apart from the sex scenes that were highlighted in the trailer, the movie will shock people more with its bold take on the subject of homosexuality. There is a gay hairdresser in the film and also a strange love affair between two guys as the story unfolds. Find out more at the grand premiere at the National Theatre on Easter Saturday, April 3.
It seems I saved the best for last, right? Well, even though ‘Checkmate’ isn’t my favourite movie from Shirley Frimpong-Manso, comparing it to the other two movies, it is miles ahead in terms of production. Better sound, better lighting and a much fresher storyline. It revolves around a young man, Kwame who has everything going for him; a good job, a beautiful devoted wife, an adorable child, an impending promotion, as well as a political ambition. But what seems like a typical guys’ hangout on a weekend away from home in the company of his new friend and mentor turns out to be a bad move with dire consequences. He succumbs to a seductress and is faced with the threat of losing everything he cherishes.
As the movie unfolds, there are several conflicts that must be revolved by Kwame, which provides interesting viewing. I felt a bit of a ‘disconnect’ from the previous productions from Shirley perhaps because this time, the comedy elements which have characterized most of her movies were missing. I think it is safe to say that drama presents a challenge for Shirley as was evident even in ‘Scorned’. She did put in some random humour such as a street hawker’s jubilation when given a free phone in addition to a character (Fiifi) who was meant to be the clown in the movie but I don’t think it worked too well. KSM managed to do that well but he wasn’t in too many of the scenes.
Shirley took a big risk with having newcomer, Gideon Senanu Gbedawo play the lead role but she was vindicated because Senanu did a pretty good job. I cannot say the same for Khareema Aguiar because her acting was a bit too mechanical, she was too aware of the cameras and her bitchiness wasn’t on point (good for her). Nadia Buari did a good job with her emotions but I didn’t like the role played by Naa Ashorkor because she doesn’t look good at being stupid. Something was just not right with the way she played the oblivious unintelligent wife. Maybe that’s just because I am used to her acting smart and so sure of herself in her roles.
I also think the flashbacks in the movie were not well executed. The first one happened too early and made some of the following sequences very predictable. You don’t want to put ideas into the minds of your viewers, especially when the resulting scenes do not through them off from those ideas. The final flashback was just too long and I didn’t like the denouement, how the criminals were busted. I don’t want to give too much away but I have a feeling that you will agree with me when you come back from one the following showings:
Date: Thursday, April 1
Time: 6:00 pm & 9:00pm
Venue: National Theatre, Accra.
Ticket: GH¢ 20.00 available at Koala, Airport Shell
From Friday April 2
Date: Friday 2nd April
Venue: Banquet Hall, Hotel Georgia
Time: 7:00 Pm & 9:00 Pm
Date: Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th April
Time: 6:00 pm & 8:00 pm on both Days
LEGON CAMPUS SHOWING
Date: Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th April, 2010.