The Creative Struggle

A killer intro; a mandatory aspect of any great literary piece.

That’s what I aim for, but sometimes I can go through loads of intros before I settle on “the one”.
Other times I just give up and move on to other distractions…ever hoping for a bulb to light up amid the chaos.

Deciding on what to write isn’t the problem, but creating that perfect intro cripples my creative spunk. It is the “easiest” to put together but the hardest to craft and master.

I am not a perfectionist…but I do try my best.

It is indeed gut-wrenching to find readers skip past the intro that kept you up many a sleepless night. This is my umpteenth attempt at this intro, but who is counting, right?

I break my squishy brain for the “perfect intro” and no one reads it.

SIGH!

My creative foibles aside, this little predicament raises a concern that haunts creatives the world over: the infamous “Creative Block”.

If you find yourself in the creative sphere – writers, musicians, performers, artists –  then you know how far-reaching this “block” really is.

It is a deep pit of despair from which only the determined can escape…and mind you, the act (of escaping) may last for days, weeks, months or even years.

When you lose your muse, you better put on the best show of your life to win her back, or in the very least, break down every door known to man until she’s nestled safely in your arms once again.

Being creative isn’t the cakewalk some claim. Sure, it might come easy to some but the truth hits hard when you realize even the best of the best plunge headfirst into the “block”.

It comes with the territory and quite normal to wander its labyrinthine maze on occasion.
Heck! It took me quite a while to put this post together, so yeah…it is a global epidemic.

For some though, getting out of the “block” can be as easy as staring at a blank page for 3 straight days…or as daunting as seeking inspiration from someone else’s works.
Inspiration does works: I do it often, although my case requires I stare at random images till the lazy brain hamsters start showing their worth – they are quite the lazy lot.

But where does “getting inspiration” end and “stealing’ begin?

A creative mind is oft lauded and appreciated, even when most don’t know the hardships (and headaches) such a mind endures. We love the creative people who have made an enviable living out of selling the crazy and innovative ideas scurrying around in their heads…and some of us hope to someday walk beside them, or better yet, ahead of them.

But how can we push boundaries and break down restrictive molds if we forgo our ability to think and glaringly steal ideas?

People are fierce at stealing ideas, but for today’s lesson we will focus on Ghana and her many green-eyed citizens. I know you’d all love to see me point just one finger at Kofas (a Ghanaian movie director) and watch him run into hiding again, but that won’t be fair to him.

The sad truth? This sin of intellectual thievery goes beyond Kofas’ blunder; it is a canker in Ghana’s creative sphere that just won’t die (T1000).
Ghana’s creative industry is actually not as competitive as those in western countries, but the breakneck speeds at which content – videos, music and pictures – is pushed to the public opens up a very big avenue to steal intellectual properties with us none-the-wiser.

Local production houses steal entire movies – foreign and local – and then repackage them as new.
In an industry where a single production house can shoot 4 full movies in a week with barely any script, we should not be surprised if new movies recycle plot from old movies.
Heck! Even Hollywood is doing that…so why not Ghana.

That much content in such short a span negates the need for brainwork for some creative individuals in Ghana. A few put up a valiant effort, but like moths to a flame, they embrace the system: recycle and steal…because no one cares.

Kratos in the North and Mortal Kombat in bushes.

Just so you know, Kratos speaking Dagbani is as weird as it sounds…

Image result for kofas

From the Shadows

When Kofas and his merry band of actors announced John & John, a movie that bears an uncanny resemblance to Skeem, I doubt they were ready for the backlash that was to follow.

All things considered though, Kofas’ “remake” of Skeem could have gone unnoticed if both movies had been obscure:
BUT NOPE! They were as high-profile as they come, with Skeem benefiting from the publicity and media coverage that comes from being critically acclaimed.

John & John, a blatant and unrepentant copy of Skeem could have been a remarkable hit in Ghana, if Kofas’ folly had not reared its head.

He has since gone into hiding, but this blight on his record invariably calls his prior endeavors into question…and that is a shadow I fear he might never pull away from.

I would like to think this issue would educate the creative public in Ghana about intellectual thievery…but I fear I might be asking for too much, considering the first presidential speech from President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted passages from the speeches of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

What can I say? It’s in our blood.

 

NB: Go here for a surprise.

‘INTERCEPTION’ MOVIE REVIEW (ALMOST SPOILER-FREE)

A tentative step into the right direction

A tentative step in the right direction.

2015 was a great year for blockbuster movies…and boy what a year it was. From the ridiculous stunts in Furious 7 (RIP Paul) to the untamed force in Star Wars, 2015 didn’t disappoint us.
Some failures did pop up once in a while (Hitman and Pan) to remind us Hollywood can still churn out garbage when it wants.

“Pleasing both ends of the spectrum.”

All-in-all, the international movie scene treated us very well but I can’t say the same for Ghanaian movies…and it also doesn’t help that, anytime I hear “Ghana Movie” Kwadwo Nkansah comes to mind.
That guy is everywhere but I can’t fault him; he doesn’t want to end up like Egya Koo (took me a while to remember his name)…but someone has to tell him to slow down.

Ghana is doing its best to release international-standard movies and Interception is…well…it is something new…A new experience for me.

I don’t like Ghanaian movies and that is absolutely no surprise. My reason is very simple; they are plain boring.
So, after my big brother watched it at the Takoradi premiere, he was somewhat impressed and that blew my mind…hence, I also decided to give it a try.
My brother did tell me to watch it with a pinch of salt though, but I think I went in there with a barrel.

So after 100 minutes of interception, here comes my review.

PLEASE NOTE: my review will be in two flavors.
One review is what I think of the movie as a Ghanaian and the other as a critic.

This should be fun.

GHANAIAN FLAVOR

I like the movie, the action was nicer than what I’ve seen thus far in Ghana, the story was simple enough for the masses and the overall direction was quite good.
I’ll recommend this movie to almost every Ghanaian out there desperately looking for something new and a chance to break away from the “LilWin” monotony.
It really is a breath of fresh air.

★★★★☆ (4/5)

 

CRITIC (TRUE) REVIEW

Interception is an inconsistent mess from start to finish and the reason is very simple; it tried to do too much and it failed more than it succeeded. I won’t fault the guys behind the movie for trying though, but if you want to take a crack at something new, you’ve got to at least make sure you have a handle on it first.

Don’t go performing multiple magic tricks when you can’t even pull a rabbit out of a hat.

The problems with this movie starts from the opening scene and ends with the credits. From acting to story, this movie is rife with inconsistencies.

Let’s start from the top, shall we?
Like most mainstream action movies, the opening sequence aims to draw in the audience. It is a chance to wow and give the viewing audience a taste of what’s to come.
Sometimes it’s great and other times it is just bad.
Interception started off great but three things held it back;
bad acting, bad acting and bad acting.
The sad thing is, these “three” elements, along with other issues, run through the entirety of the movie.

To watch a movie of this caliber and see such terrible acting is a shame…but that is the case with A-list movies in Ghana.
That’s not to say Interception is only filled with bad actors. There are great actors in there who go all out (as far as their acting chops can carry them) but the rest on the other hand are the deliver-my-lines-like-a-toddler kind of actors…and it is oh so bad.

It is the kind of acting you’d expect from an X-Rated movie and not from a movie of this “class”.
The kidnapper in the opening scene is one of many bad actors in the movie and OH MY GOODNESS…there are many.

It just makes you wonder what they look out for in an actor during auditions (if they even have auditions).
It is either they hand over the role to a family/friend or look out for just anyone who can read, avoid the camera and not ask for a lot of money. It has to be one of these reasons.

Every attempt on my part to get lost in the world of interception was destroyed by these Z-Class actors.
There are terrific actors and actresses all around…but the people behind interception were too lazy to look.

Moving on!
The main story barely holds the movie together and it is actually quite surprising to realize that, in a movie categorized as an action-thriller, it was the romance between John Dumelo and Jasmine Baroudi’s characters that really stood out. It was the only part of the movie that genuinely grabbed my attention (somewhat).
The conversation was almost natural and the on-screen chemistry between the two was present…the only sad part was how abruptly it all ended. It makes me think Nina Lalwani, the writer of the story, didn’t have the time to properly resolve their story or she didn’t know how to.
It is a problem that features prominently in her story; she left so many things up in the air and expected us not to care because, as everyday-movie-goers it is our job to immediately forget about all the plot holes.

Picture this: Ama Abrebese’s character, the girlfriend of the main villain, revealed to the police she was aware of the villain’s dealings and even provided a private jet so they could travel around the world conducting their nefarious businesses. After this revelation/confession she avoids persecution and goes back home because her father is a powerful person (in another country).
She wasn’t extradited to face trial in her home country or anything…she walked away a free person.
As I think about it, I think they should have categorized Interception as “Action-Thriller-Fairytale”.

Nina Lalwani’s story is a very basic one and anyone looking for something a little more intelligent would be sorely disappointed. There are so many elements she could have thrown in there to spice up her story but I believe she didn’t want to expend too much of her brain power.

I’d have to commend the team behind the fight scenes and the gunplay. It was a delight to finally see some Hollywood-style fight sequences in Ghanaian movies…although it went on for too long.
When you start checking your watch during a fight scene in a movie then there is something very wrong somewhere.
The fight scenes weren’t bad…but JEEZ! How many hits to the head does it take for a bad guy to go down?

“No life insurance for bad guys I guess!”

Steady aim? I think not.

Steady aim? I think not.

The gunplay was great…but there is something very unnatural about shooting a gun without any bullet casings falling out or being ejected. If as a final decision, the team behind the movie went with “after effects” to simulate gunfire, why then couldn’t they have used the same process to add the ejected bullet casings?

“If you aim for realism, go for it.
Don’t make us question it.”

In conclusion, Interception is a fluff movie on every level. Pay even a sliver of attention and the huge cracks start to show…but if you truly want to enjoy this movie, I suggest shutting off your brain for about 100 minutes, because zoning out is the only way to enjoy it.

There are too many things that take you out of the experience and that is not a good thing for a movie with this many problems.
You forgive one mistake and before you recover from the previous blunder, something else pops up…and that is a trend in Interception.

In the end, interception tried to blend too many genres with marginal success.

★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

 

NB: All things considered, interception was a nice effort…I just don’t believe it took 2 years to make though.
3 – 6 months? Maybe.
2 years? No way.

PS: Oh yeah…Jeffery Forson, as an actor I believe you need more facial expressions.
The scowl and the smile gets old pretty fast.

‘The Martian’ in Global Cinemas.

Global-Cinemas_Logo_Final-01

So I recently watched “The Martian” in 3D in Global Cinemas (Weija) and it was spectacularly awesome. I will give my very short review in a bit, but first let me pat Global Cinemas on the back.

They are doing a very good job and this boy is impressed.

They’ve taken the best ingredients of the killer cinema experience, mixed it up and well…brewed up the “killer cinema experience”.
They’ve got the location, the price (that hits the sweet spot right on the jaw), the great service, the sound, the 3D…and did I mention the sound?

Gosh I love the sounds in the cinema.

So, Global Cinemas. Chances are you haven’t heard much about them and if you have, good on you because, aside their severely unimaginative billboards I heard practically nothing about them. That basically means one of two things; either I am a reclusive hermit or Global Cinemas didn’t pump enough money into advertising. For the sake of argument, let’s just say the latter is the reason for my lack of knowledge.

Unless there’s a law in Ghana that limits advertising for movie houses, I don’t see why Global Cinemas is flicking around glass marbles when a powerhouse like Silverbird is dropping metal balls.

“Global Cinemas, never underestimate the power of advertising…in whatever shape or form.”

Let’s leave it at that. Hopefully, they will come for my services. I work for an advertising agency y’know! *Subtle Suggestion* **wink**

Anywho, Global Cinemas has now taken root in Functions (Weija), the same building that once housed Silverbird. They (Silverbird) left Functions because of West Hills and almost a year down the line, I’m glad they did.

With Global Cinemas now in charge of the outfit, the interior and exterior have seen some slight changes. On the exterior, there’s now a “Global Cinemas” nameplate and a new entrance. Nothing too shabby.
Step inside though and you will soon realize Global Cinemas wants to cozy you up.
To put it subtly, there’s a lounge in the lobby now, and whiles that might not seem like a big deal, you should know the previous occupants offered no sitting area (save for the videogame area) for waiting customers.

This invariably drove out the very patient customers into the clutches of neighboring fast-food restaurants…and these restaurants will gladly let you sit and wait only after you’ve placed an order.

“Hmmm! In hindsight, I guess it was a fruitful “partnership”.

Talking about fast-food restaurants around Global Cinemas…well, let’s just say they are not in short supply; from Starbites to Wichburger, there’s a place for almost everyone.

So all things considered, I think the lounge is a welcome addition even though I doubt I’ll ever need it, since I am an on-the-dot kinda guy.

The service isn’t bad either although I fear employee-complacency might ruin that part of the experience. This happens way too often in Ghana.

“A new place opens and all the attendants can’t stop smiling at you or fussing all over you…like a bunch of guys fawning over a fresh girl in a new school.
A few months down the road though and no one cares about you or what you want; they will serve you when they serve you…so chill out!”

I am not calling doom on Global Cinemas but no surprises here when that happens.
We are in Ghana after all.

INTO THE CINEMA
The structure of the cinema itself hasn’t changed and I don’t know if that is good or bad, so mum’s the word.

One area has changed though, and that is the sound.

It might be new speakers, different equalizer presets or a mere volume increase. All I’ll say is ‘Global Cinemas, thank you for whatever you did’.

When Silverbird once occupied the place, I’d always complain about the sound…heck! I still do (West Hills and Accra Mall).
It was too tame, too subtle and way too flat. It almost felt as though they didn’t want us to enjoy the movie. Their sounds never reached cinema-level awesomeness.
Global Cinemas on the other hand is trying to blow out and destroy your eardrums…and I love it. That is how it is supposed to be.

Bad movie or not, I want to exit a cinema knowing I got my monies worth and that is what Global Cinemas accomplishes with the sounds.

With that said, the overall cinematic experience of Global Cinemas is but a few fist pumps away from perfection and since perfection is an elusive unicorn, we better let it go and jump into the negatives plaguing Global Cinemas.

“Time for the negatives! I love me some negatives.”

 

As good as Global Cinemas is at the moment, they have some issues desperately begging for attention and the biggest offender is their lackluster movie lineup.

There’s only so much good pricing and exceptional sound can do, and the sad thing is, Global Cinemas isn’t doing much to impress us (as far as movies are concerned).
Yeah you will find a blockbuster movie in there once in a while…but take out that movie and the lineup gets severely anemic.

“I speak for a lot of people when I say we need more blockbuster movies.”

If it’s a battle of movie rights, beat Silverbird; it’s that simple.

Variety is the spice of life but in this case, variety gives Global Cinemas more customers and more money.

Next on my list of negatives is the uneven shades in the projection screen (in the 3D screening room). It is a minor niggle at best but it’s something that can’t be unseen…and once you are aware, it detracts from the entire experience.
More so for a 3D movie where the entire movie experience is predicated on the viewer thinking they are a part of it. The illusion is thus broken when the viewer is always conscious of the uneven nature of the screen. It is very jarring. It needs to be fixed pronto.

All these issues are easily fixable (by my reasoning), so if after a week or two I find them still present, disappointment will sink in.

So that’s that for Global Cinemas; Great place, great ambiance, great pricing…just beef up your movie lineup, fix your uneven projection screen and presto, all will be well.

Now, let’s do my review of The Martian…but you know what, go watch it and we will discuss it. Hehe :).

Let me know when you are done.

PS: The Global Cinemas’ website and mobile app feel broken. Empty pages, really old movie posters and broken links are the ones I care about…and yeah, a portion of the website leads to Silverbird’s promotions page (click on any of the three squares).
Jeez Global Cinemas, you can do better.