Offline furtune

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« on: August 14, 2008, 06:02:46 PM »

Written by: Saidi Balogun
Produced by: Saidi Balogun

Directed by: Daniel Ademinokan

Rating: B

Saidi Balogun is not by any standards unknown in film circles and that?s not just talking about Yoruba films. He has carved a niche for himself in the Yoruba film genre after years of experimenting with not too impressive films. Now, it seems that the man?s latest craze is his crave for Guinness Book of Records mentality.

The mentality seems to be driving him to produce the types of films that had not been done in Nigeria (and, according to the jacket, African circles) A few years ago, he produced Gbogbo Ere, the first and, to date, the only three-person cast film in Africa. With Modupe Temi, he further tightens the noose around himself by building the story around just two actors ? himself and Dorris Simeon, making the cast just two.

In a manner reminiscent of Ola Rotimi?s Man talk, Woman Talk, where a representative of each sex comes out to state his grouse against the other, Mo Dupe Temi begins with a man called Donald (Saidi Balogun) and his wife, Omolara (Doris Simeon). In the house in which they live together, both narrate to the viewer, how much they are in love. Their life revolves pretty around each other as a couple. Indeed, they are a model couple. Suddenly and without prior warning, like most love stories in story books and films, things change and both just can?t stand the other?s sight.

They spend about an hour of the film fighting each other and each try to outdo the other in pettiness, vindictiveness and malevolence. To the viewer, the scenes are comical. Their fights are funny enough to make one laugh out. Bit to Donald and Omalara, it is simply not funny when you find yourself in a situation when you and your spouse are constantly looking for traps to set for each other. On a subliminal level, the film manages to reflect on social reality and expose truths which couples will find hard hitting. Yet, Balogun manages to achieve this without being didactic.

If there is any third character in the film, it is the camera, whose restless eyes have to constantly pursue the husband and wife who, especially in the middle of the film, profess marital indifference and exaggerated adultery. If the camera had stood off at a distance and had been recording the events like an independent observer, then the whole two cast concept would have failed more than woefully. Two things drive a film, like any good work of art. These are the theme and the technique. The beauty of Modupe Temi is that it uses both very well.

It doesn?t just tell a story that any other film that is churned out of Nollywood could not have told in two parts and with a cast of hundred but rather, it tells a simple story even simply, beautifully and compactly. The scenes do not drag and there are no loose ends left for the viewer to search for and tie on behalf of the film producer.

Because there are just two people who have lives and livelihood outside the big house they live in, they make use of the mobile phone a lot to reach friends and family.

Therefore, also for the same reason, there is a heavy reliance on dialogue. The language, is of course, Yoruba but a very intense version of it with the use of proverbs, aphorisms and also, slang expression. The language use helps the Modupe Temi experiment. If the language use had been pedestrian in nature, the only difference it would have had from a lullaby is that it would be lacking in rhythm or melody, especially since there are no other actors or actresses whose efforts would have redeemed the deficiencies of others. This, however, raises a nagging curiosity: why the choice of the name Donald for a man who instructs his daughter not to speak English but Yoruba?

Feminists might take exception to the fact that the higher portion of pettiness could be ascribed to the woman especially since the script was written by a man. Is Saidi trying to reflect a social reality or is he merely reinforcing stereotype? Or is he unknowingly being chauvinistic? It might be that he simply wants the viewer to see that a woman dictates the pulse of the home with her character and attitude. Whichever one, it is simply not possible not to gush over a film that has set a standard for even Saidi Balogun himself in terms of creativity.

Their crisis might have been so easily resolved at the denouement stage but if it is considered that the couple had spent a good time fighting, then, it is understandable why they both had to talk sense into themselves and put an end to their fights. Here, the film also tries to show the essence of communication in the home. It shows that a couple must not keep malice against each other. It is important that grievances are discussed.

But, at the end of the film, one now wonders where Modupe Temi (I am grateful for my lot) comes in. Even when it was given the courtesy of reference, it sounded like trying to panel beat the title to fit the story. Why Saidi Balogun could not have dug deeper for a more fitting title is not clear but that is a very simple issue that is easily overlooked and pardoned especially since one has spent about an hour laughing. And, if one may ask, whatever is Saidi Balogun coming up with next? A one ? cast film?


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« on: August 14, 2008, 06:02:46 PM »

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