Category Archives: Film/TV

Dragonstone: “Tell them Winter Has Come”

Arya Stark

Photo credit: http://www.smh.com.au

The opening scene. The brutality of it. The humour of it. The march after the killing. The victorious music. The quotes.  “Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe.” Arya Stark’s revenge on House Frey was legendary – the best thing that happened in Game of Thrones season 7 episode 1.

Channeling what should have been her mother’s responsibility (had Benioff and Weiss revived her from the dead) as Lady Stoneheart, Arya transforms into a Faceless Man, gathers the Frey men for a feast a la The Red Wedding and poisons them all.

“When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them Winter came for House Frey.” Arya Stark has never been this quotable in all the six seasons on Game of Thrones. Atta girl.

Then she marches away, fiercely, eyebrows on fleek (as always).

In Winterfell, the woes of the King in the North begin. While holding a council on how to best fight the White Walkers, the first sign of tension between Jon Snow and Sansa Stark rears its ugly head. Then we catch a glimpse of Littlefinger, eyes gleaming with satisfaction as he watches the fire he ignited start to burn. Piss off you old prick.

It’s a good thing Sansa puts him in his place later. “No need to seize the last word Lord Baelish, I’ll assume it was something clever.” Damn, the Stark girls are on fire with the one-liners in this episode.

OMG Lyanna Mormont. The Lady of the Bear Islands is in her fiercest behavior as usual defending Jon’s honour. “I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me.” Lyanna Mormont, never change please.

In King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, err  I mean Three Kingdoms (reality check from Jaime Lannister) is preparing an offensive against Daenerys Targaryen. Cersei being Cersei, has enemies everywhere and not enough allies to take on a girl with three dragons.

Enter Euron Greyjoy, the newly crowned Lord of the Iron Islands with his fleet of a thousand ships. Aye, exactly what Cersei needs. Oh and he brings with him a marriage proposal, taking a swing at Jaime’s one handedness while at it. Just rude, very rude. You don’t point out a man’s physical inadequacy in front of his lady err sister.

Watching Euron in action, we have no doubt that he will be a worse villain that Ramsay Bolton and Joffrey Baratheon combined. The beard helps. I’m not sure about his costume though but it’s Euron so anything is possible. Also someone needs to explain his uncanny resemblance to Theon Greyjoy’s Alfie Allen. Anyone?

Samwell Tarly. Nope, not gonna talk about it. The bed pan. The food. Moving on.

Hey look, it’s Ed Sheeran debuting a new single as a member of the Lannister army. I have to say he looks out of place but it’s Ed so he is allowed to look out of place, especially with that kind of voice. Also, Imma need that single on iTunes ASAP.

Welcome home Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen. Westeros has missed you. Dragonstone has missed you. And so it begins or as Dany says, “Shall we begin.”

 

Could Beasts of No Nation give Idris Elba his first Oscar nom?

beastsofnonation1

Idris Elba cannot play the role of 007, they said. He is too street to play the ever classy – martini drinking James Bond, they said. Pfft…too street to play Bond? Have they seen this Londoner rock a bespoke suit? Meanwhile, I’ll just leave this one here as Exhibit A. Doesn’t he look like a Bond?

Idris-Bond

To all naysayers, if you still have doubts that Idris can pull off a Bond role, I present Exhibit B: Beasts of No Nation.

In this Netflix production, Idris stamps his reputation as a world-class actor when he plays Commandant, a brutal warlord commandeering an army of predominantly child soldiers in a West African country plagued by civil war.

The movie starts out on a really comical tone but builds up to a depressing and gruesome story where little boys are trained to torture, kill and rape.

As Commandant, Idris is so despicable that some of his fans would find it difficult reconcile the man they swoon over from the rebel leader who enjoys molesting the boys in his army just as much as he likes protecting them.

I put my friend up to watching this movie (because why wouldn’t you?), and she came back to me the next morning with her review, “You have ruined Idris Elba for me. I liked the movie but did he really have to be so brutal?”

She is currently scouring the internet looking for anything that might redeem Idris from the monster he was in Beasts. Poor thing. Your suggestions for mending her broken heart are welcome.

Beasts of No Nation works because of a number of reasons but mostly because of Idris. You see, there is something about this actor. It’s not even about his tall, dark and handsome self (not that we mind), it’s about his whole presence, the power he commands when he strolls into a scene. I can’t really describe it without sounding like a stalker. But you all get my point, those who don’t I send you back to exhibit A above.

A powerful presence, isn’t this what is expected of all our James Bonds? Well, other than their obsession to woo women with awkwardly suggestive names (Pussy Galore and Octopussy still kill me to date…SMH).

You all didn’t think I was going to finish this post without mentioning newcomer Abraham Attah as Agu, the little boy through whose eyes Beasts unfold. Agu delivers a poignant performance from his age of innocence to the point he is corrupted by his maniacal commandant.

To act alongside Idris is intimidating because chances you will get swallowed by his magnitude. But not Agu, tiny as he may be, this is a boy who demands attention, whether he is just selling an Imagination TV or going for his first kill with a machete.

As you take in every word, every pause in his present-continuous narration, you realize that this is Agu’s world. The Commandant may be in charge but it is still Agu’s world, if only fate would let him take control of it.

This is a movie that people will remember for years, whether it’s because it dehumanizes little children or because Idris delivers a disturbingly compelling performance. Either way, and taking the Oscar buzz into account, Idris Elba’s powerful presence in Beasts is something the Academy Award cannot ignore. Or would they?

The rape culture in Game of Thrones is an insult to women and fans

courtesy of http://metro.co.uk

courtesy of http://metro.co.uk

I am not a feminist, at least not in the classical sense of the word but I owe it to mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers all over to speak out. It’s a sad day to be a GoT fan, it’s even sadder if you are a woman. We know Benioff and Weiss to be too bold and controversially rebellious with their adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire.

And we have been patient, digesting everything they’ve thrown at us (some unpalatable) from the unnecessary sexposition to incestual affairs to the Joffrey-Ros torture scene which is one of the most disturbing scenes to date.

But the two creators have now reached a certain level of grotesque vanity, sadistically represented by the gratuitous rape scenes in GoT. As much as we’d want to forget, we all remember Drogo raping Daenerys Targaryen in S1, Ser Jaime Lannister raping Cersei in S4 but the one that has enraged fans all over is last episode’s rape of Sansa Stark.

In the sixth episode of Season 5 titled Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, Sansa is bent, bowed and broken in the most despicable way when she’s raped by her new husband Ramsay Bolton on their wedding night.

While GoT’s obsession with victimizing Sansa Stark is something we have forced ourselves to accept, this recent dehumanization was unnecessary and brutal, even by GoT’s standards.

Did GoT really need to rape Sansa Stark? We already know that Ramsay Bolton is a sociopath, far worse than the demented boy king Joffrey (may his soul NOT rest in peace). This alone is enough to summarize in succinct the hell that is Sansa’s new marriage.

Therefore, to add rape to her misfortunes is the most heinous mistake that the two creators could have made. Out of some sadistic misogynistic mentality, GoT has turned such a serious act as rape into a mere plot device where Benioff and Weiss can play around with on a whim.

And perhaps the most disturbing thing about these scenes is that they have nothing to do with A Song of Ice and Fire, and knowing Benioff and Weiss experimentation with extremities, we can only fear what is to come next.

WHY SANTALAL’S PILOT WAS A FAILURE

For everyone who had to sit through the entire premiere episode of Citizen TV’s highly publicized Santalal, allow me to share your pain. As a member of the audience, I’m allowed to have expectations. Scratch that, let me go the revolution way of airing complaints: IT IS MY RIGHT TO HAVE EXPECTATIONS whenever a new show comes up. And on the part of the show creators, writers, actors, DOPs, these expectations have to be fulfilled. I don’t ask for much, only that you dazzle me with your oozing creativity, and maybe just a little vanity.

But Santalal was wrong in so many levels, my expectations were squashed in the first five minutes into the show. I’ve been known to have the patience of a ticking time bomb, five minutes is even longer for me but I decided to play ball. I waited and waited for my hook, something that could grab my attention, even remotely, make me care about this show to want to watch it again. But nothing. Thirty minutes is a long time not to deliver. As a protagonist, Santalal didn’t even leave a mark on my mind. She didn’t evoke anything, not even sympathy after being dropped off in an ASAL region.

Yes, I get it that they were establishing the story, introducing their characters one by one. I believe that there is a way this can be done without boring us to death. I even get it that there are some shows which start off with really bad pilots and evolve into masterpieces. If Santalal can pull this off, I will personally call Gerald Langiri, swallow my pride and ask for an autograph. Be a patriot now, follow this link http://amvcaawards.dstv.com/ and vote for him. He’s been nominated for Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award, Best Actor in a Comedy Category (it is time to dethrone Nigeria).

Back to the matter at hand, the pilot is the most important episode of a show because it will determine so many things. First, it determines the longevity of the show, sadly not in our case because some bad shows have been on air since the 2000s and there is nothing we can do about it. The pilot also determines the number of audience the show will sustain thereafter. Audience is king, but in a country like Kenya the audience is often taken for a ride. That is why our broadcasters push mediocre shows down our throats.

If I could master enough courage, I’d be waving some placards in the street corner and demand to be taken seriously as a member of the audience. The Constitution might call this incitement but don’t mind me, it’s the consequences of too much caffeine coalescing with repressed rebelliousness. It wears off in the morning.

All I’m saying is when introducing a new show tread carefully fellas. You don’t want skeptical people like me writing bad reviews about your ‘creative breakthroughs’ in the middle of the night. The pilot is a selling tool, to broadcasters, to the audience which ultimately relates to the money machine – the advertisers.

A good pilot opens the door to brighter things to come. A fairly good one allows us an opportunity to at least peek through the window. An average one leaves us at the gate to walk the rest of the way and get to the door. But this one never even got us closer to any doors or windows. No white picket fence to peep over. Like Santalal, we were dropped off in a dusty, deserted bus stop. But unlike her, we were not picked up by a ‘not so good uncle,’ instead we were left waiting, and time just passed by until we saw the fading credits. I felt cheated, a rip-off of my precious time.

I can’t believe I held off going to the bathroom for this show, a priviledge only accorded shows like The Good Wife, How to Get Away with Murder, Friends, OITNB, Orphan Black, Mad Men, Homeland, Arrow If the writers don’t tighten the plot, even Nollywood ace Desmond Elliot won’t be able to save this one.

How Kenyan filmmakers can learn from Guardians of the Galaxy

 

photo courtesy of http://nukethefridge.com

photo courtesy of http://nukethefridge.com

“I am Groot.” Now say that in Sofia Vergara’s accent or maybe in a British accent because that’s what has stuck in my head since the release of Marvel’s superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy.

In its last weekend opening, Guardians of the Galaxy grossed $ 94.3 million domestically, $ 160. 4 million worldwide, smashing the Box Office and surpassing the $ 69.3 million August record set by the Bourne Ultimatum seven years ago.

With the exception of Tosh Gitonga’s highly acclaimed film Nairobi Half Life that grossed $ 82,000 (Ksh. 7 million) worldwide, Kenyan films perform dismally in theatres. As a matter of fact, they are rarely screened in theatres due to poor ticket sales, which is quite unfortunate because this is where the money really is.

In this age of mass bootleg, any filmmaker out there who still thinks he/she can make good money from movie sales is living in a comical fantasy. As it seems, this is the fantasy world that Kenyan filmmakers enjoy. Otherwise they would be scrambling to their feet to get Kenyans to theatres and turn the industry into the money minting machine it is supposed to be.

In a Kenyan theatre with 229 seats, only 10-15 people attend a local film screening. Therefore, it would seem that local theatres have given up on screening local films. Century Cinemax general manager explains, “As much as we want to promote local movies, if people are not buying tickets, then we cannot do so.”

The question every filmmaker in Kenya should be asking is: How do you lure Kenyans to theatres? Well, just how did Marvel do it?

August has never been a good month for the Box Office, since this is the time Americans just want to lie down in the beach, soak in the sand and rub lotion on each other’s back. But Marvel managed to disrupt summer and lured Americans to theatres with a genius marketing campaign. Successful opening of a film is all about marketing, quality will come later.

With a $ 170 million budget, Marvel took quite a gamble with this one. Guardians of the Galaxy is not a household name, it centers on Marvel’s most unlikely superheroes. When you first hear about it, it doesn’t stir the same excitement or even anticipation as other superhero stereotypes like Avengers, Thor, Iron Man or Man of Steel. However unconventional Guardians of the Galaxy superheroes are, Marvel’s strategic marketing got the film the attention it needed.

All Kenyan filmmakers are reading from the same script – the Kenyan film industry is an upcoming industry, one with a bright future ahead. A point I do not wish to dispute although, the Kenyan Box Office has repeatedly failed to earn decent money in the last couple of years. Going by Nairobi Half Life’s modest success, this is an industry that could reap billions since its dismal performance is not so much about quality than it is about marketing.

There are three probable reasons: Kenyan filmmakers have a poor marketing strategy, they don’t market enough or they don’t market at all.

I watched the recent Kalasha Awards with quizzical interest, mainly because I had never heard of most of those films that bagged the awards in their categories. What good is a film that can bag multiple awards if the audience it is made for doesn’t know it exists?

Two years on, there are Kenyans (some even in Nairobi) who still don’t know that a Kenyan film (a 2012 Oscar contender) called Nairobi Half Life ever existed. Just imagine how many ticket sales would have been tapped into theatres countrywide had marketing been done right.

If the rumours that Gitonga is working on a sequel are true, then this is a chance for One Fine Day Films to come up with a marketing campaign that will popularize the movie to the audience who were initially ignored.

Although Kenyan filmmakers do not have the kind of Marvel Studio’s budget to blow on a robust marketing campaign, they can surely try.

Once, along Ngong Road, I caught a glimpse of a poster of Captain America: The Winter Soldier – a very irresistible picture of Chris Evans- with the tagline Coming Soon at the Century Cinemax, the Junction Mall. I have never seen a single poster or banner in the streets or major highways of Nairobi for a Kenyan film. For an industry that is supposedly growing, they sure are selfish with information.

Has any Kenyan ever seen a trailer for a local film during commercial breaks in our local TV stations? I know I haven’t, but I have watched many Hollywood trailers on KTN, heard some on the radio – Capital FM to be precise. Do filmmakers know how many Kenyans they could reach if they market the trailers on local TV or radio stations?

As most Kenyan films do, releasing a trailer on Youtube takes more than just making a promotional video and uploading it. It requires creativity in packaging and a strong social media engagement on Twitter and Facebook that can make the video go viral.

According to The Wrap, Guardians of the Galaxy trailer went viral, attracted 88,000 mentions across Twitter Facebook and various blogs in a 12 hour period.

When it comes to social media presence, Kenya has the numbers to drive numerous mentions for an upcoming film and boost viral marketing.

Another marketing strategy that filmmakers can utilize is screening of trailers in film award shows like the Kalasha Awards. Certainly, a one minute trailer will not waste anybody’s time.

Marvel, relying on Disney Consumer Products also partnered with well known brands like Lego, iHome, Mad Engine and Sideshow Collectibles, partnerships saw Guardians of the Galaxy characters turned into toys and plastered into T-shirts, back-to-school backpack, headphones and other merchandise. Using the popularity of other brands like Safaricom or Jamii Telecom to promote Kenyan films is a strategy that could create the buzz these films need. Imagine the popular Faiba guy watching a Kenyan movie trailer on his laptop.

Guardians of the Galaxy was also promoted during major events like NBA and the San Diego Comic-con. Events such as Safaricom Live or rugby Sevens (Masaku 7s, Dala 7s, Kabeberi 7s and Safaricom 7s) sure have the crowds that Kenyan films could tap into. The actors/actresses could even show up for meet and greet during such events.

At the end of the day, marketing is all about strategy and creativity, something marketing departments in Kenya can adequately achieve.

The top 5 failures of Kenyan television shows

Back in college, I wrote a paper on Kenyan TV and the audience with the aim of analyzing audience’s perception of local content. The results were depressing – Kenyans don’t watch Kenyan programmes, not as much as they should anyway.

Over and over, blame has been hurled at local TV stations for their lack of ‘patriotism’ when it comes to airing local content. However, going by what show creators have been churning into the Kenyan market, they are partly to blame for this local content throttle.

You don’t need to be a genius; you certainly don’t need to be a TV critic to know that some of the local programmes aired on our local TV stations are crap. And audiences just hate crap.

Poor writing

It is the man with the pen who crafts a story. Now, depending on his creative edge, the script can either be a hit or miss.

Take an example of Tahidi High, one of the longest running shows in Kenya, a program that had so much potential in its maiden days but has since been reduced to mediocre plots of high school silly crushes and juvenile delinquency.

Another good example is Mother in Law where there is neither creativity nor freshness in plot execution. It is becoming blander and blander with every episode.

There are two reasons why a show is poorly written; one, the writer is an amateur, two, he or she is in a rush for plot continuity.

There is a reason why TV shows go for breaks, which seldom happens in Kenya. This is so that TV stations can analyze and evaluate audience response. Did they like the program, did they find it boring and why?

After analysis of ratings, the show creators are put to task (if their shows still have potential) to tighten and tweak their plots leaving no loopholes for cancellations. If they fail, they are axed. It is that brutal, that’s why we have good television.

Kenyan shows do not have the burden of cancellation on their backs, and perhaps such a criterion would make the writers bring their A game.

Dialogue

Make no mistake, dialogue can make or destroy a TV program. Sadly, this is a factor that some Kenyan TV writers don’t quite get. There is a reason why shows like Gilmore Girls have become a pop culture and are usually referenced when discussing best TV dialogues.

Any character who can pull off memorable quotes whether annoying, witty, wise, sarcastic is a show stealer even when he is not the protagonist in the story.

Your dialogue needs to have legs and walk, those lines we just want to memorize for later use. You know the kind we can quote to appear smarter or funnier than we actually are.

Some Kenyan shows have dialogue that sounds too rehearsed, artificial like it is being forced.

Character development

There has been a lot of debate as to whether it is the character development or the plot that is the most important element on television. No matter which side you take, these two are interdependent, without character development there is no plot and vice versa.

A 3 dimensional character is the most interesting character in any work of fiction because he brings more depth to the story. He is flawed, he is morally ambiguous and he always has the element of surprise even when you think you know him well.

Once again, this is where local content fail terribly. We are used to the 1 and 2 dimensional characters where what we see is what we get. It is character development that made the Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Lost and Dexter the successes they are today.

Mediocre acting

Have you ever watched Tatiana Maslany, James Spader or Kerry Washington in action? I am not trying to rain on anyone’s parade but surely some of our Kenyan actors/actresses need acting school training. Don’t you get pissed when you are watching a show and the actor makes it obvious that he is acting?

Some Kenyan actors just recite lines and wait for their turns to speak. If this were the case then by God, we’d all be actors.

I know extras have a minor role but some of those extras should be thoroughly coached on how to enter a scene and how to react. People watching do not need to know you are extras, just be part of a genuine crowd.

This is the point where I wish I were taking a swing at Nollywood, their extras are the worst in television history. But that is a story for another day.

I am sorry to say this but beauty isn’t acting, putting a pretty face on the screen in the hope that audiences will be pleased worked for me when I was a teenager. That said, those eye candy men and women are not just going to cut it unless they can actually act.

You know, the likes of Scandal’s Kerry Washington were gifted with beauty but she holds her end of the bargain by bringing her acting skills to the set.

Poor editing

Much of the dramatic effect is achieved in the acting stage under the vision of a good director. This effect however can be reinforced in the post-production stage. Editing is an invisible art and when done with creative precision, it can the dramatic effect sought after by every TV programme out there.

I am talking about soundtrack mixing to convey mood, shots like POVs that can build up drama, intercutting, the use of split screen, fast motion, montage e.tc. You don’t see much of these in our local shows.

The transitions are monotonous, sometimes our cutaways are irrelevant, and it makes you wonder why they even bothered. There is absolutely zilch attempt to build up dramatic effect in the editing stage.

THE CONCEIT OF ORPHAN BLACK FINALE THAT LEFT AUDIENCES UNSATED

orphan black

The sophomore season finale of the Canadian sci-fi hit Orphan Black which aired on Saturday introduced a new twist to the plot that no one saw coming. Okay, show creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett hinted about doing something crazy, and yes they did deliver “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried.” The 10 episode series ended with the introduction of male clones (as if the female ones weren’t a handful enough) and the revelation of the military involvement in the clone conspiracy.

So now there is Project LEDA (female clones) and Project CASTOR (male clones). Mark played by Ari Miller is a clone, how refreshing –for a moment there, with all the teasing of a man’s back I was afraid it was going to be Felix! Graeme’s edge as a writer just grows bigger and bigger, this man doesn’t know when to put a full stop. I love that he doesn’t wrap everything neatly in a nice bow. For a show that has offered us not one but seven Tatiana Maslanys, that would be too mainstream.

I think it is safe to attribute Orphan Black’s success to Maslany’s many sides. The Canadian is the only actress capable of pulling multiple characters in one scene, and still manage to achieve uniqueness in all of them. Not many actors can pull this off and be so good. That is an Emmy performance right there.

Certainly, it is not easy to play five clones and isolate every character as though they were different people. There is Sarah – the ex-con, street smart English punk (don’t let all that leather fool you, she has a soft heart), Cosima – the evo-devo American lesbian nerd, Alison – the uptight soccer mom, Helena – the psychopathic Ukrainian assassin and Rachel – the corporate villain.

Well, for the sake of argument Tyler Perry has played multiple characters in his Madea franchise. But seeing him in those layers of costume, grandma clothes and shoes and lipstick is just plain creepy!

With no doubt, Maslany is Canada’s new it girl, a break out star who is clearly a favourite among critics as she has won Critics Choice Award for best actress in a drama series two years in a row.

Watching her transform from one character to the next is like watching Netherlands thrash defending champions Spain in the World Cup – it feels so good, so right, you have to pinch yourself several times to confirm if it is true (belated apologies for those who were offended by my world cup reference).

Furthermore, the dance scene in the finale was nothing short of breathtaking when all the four clones (even the stray and wild Helena) reunited for a dance party at Felix’s place. It’s hard to imagine that it is Maslany dancing beside herself because every clone has got her own groove going on.

The introduction of male clones to an already complex clone conspiracy hints plausibly to what a wrecking ball season 3 will be. And I hate to say this, but the fact that another male character in the show can play multiple characters like Maslany kind of rains on her parade. I mean, come on, most people were attracted to Orphan Black because Tatiana could just comfortably crawl from being a con artist to a scientific braniac and then transform to a psychopathic killer back to a paranoid soccer mom.

The feminist card is pretty much Hollywood’s thing these days, and Orphan Black doesn’t shy away from driving the point home with Maslany holding the torch of feminism in the many roles she embodies. But it would be interesting to watch Ari Miller juggle between his different roles as a clone.

And so as Orphan Black faded out with all its vanity, fans were left with a million questions and very few answers;

  • Why the male clones? What is their relationship with the female clones?
  • Can we expect an alliance or conflict? Just so we are clear, it would be fun to see a female-male clone club conflict.
  • What is Mrs. S’s game plan? After she betrayed Helena and aided her capture to Project Castor, couldn’t this woman get any sketchier?
  • Is Rachel going to live? After all, Graeme and Fawcett did revive Helena after she ‘died’ in the season 1 finale. Besides, after that eyeball puncture from Sarah, I’d love to see Rachel with a pirate patch.

Well, in a word, the finale was brilliant, and it would be fun to see how all the twists play out in season 3 (just don’t cancel it yet). I would especially love to see just how further the show creators can pedal their creative edge.

Lupita Nyongo, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams jiggle, wiggle and shake with Pharrell Williams at Oscars 2014

lupita nyongo

I think it is safe to admit that we all want to be Lupita right now. Even since she appeared as Patsey in McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, her star has been shining in Hollywood. It shone ever brighter when she stepped on the podium, gracefully holding her Prada gown to receive an Academy Award for the Best Supporting Role.

Let me just expound on the magnitude of this award. First Lupita Nyongo is the first Black Africa (South Africa’s Charlize Theron was the first) actress to win an Oscar. Second, A –list actors like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Demi Moore and Tom Cruise have never won an Oscar. So listen peeps, this is huge! Third, did anyone catch her acceptance speech?

Her golden statue aside, this chica got moves too. Pharrell Williams, singing to his hit song Happy from Despicable Me soundtrack swaggered off the stage to engage the Oscar ladies in a tango or two. Lupita jumped off her seat like the brave damsel she is and engaged Pharrell in some dance moves.

86th-academy-awards-show

Bu the one who really proved to be quite a dancer was Meryl Streep. Even at 64, this actress proved that she can still jiggle like a pro. Since, Mama Mia, we’ve always known she is quite a dancer.

Oscar nominee Amy Adams was not one to be left behind. She did a full body shake, all together with her arms and hips in check. Talk about a star-studded performance!

Fassbender, Pitt and a Kenyan Oscar nominee

Lupita as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave

Lupita as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave

Kenya has been in the spotlight for a lot of reasons – our budding athletes, our weird MPs, the ICC cases of our president and his deputy and now, drum rolls…Lupita Nyong’o brings Kenya to the limelight once again.

She makes her debut in Hollywood, starring in Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated film, 12 Years a Slave, alongside A list actors like Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender. Lupita plays a slave called Patsey in a performance that has earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. During the premier of the movie at the Toronto Film Festival, Lupita was also voted among the top 10 Best Dressed by Vogue.

This movie takes things to a whole new level for the Kenyan actress who previously starred in the Kenyan miniseries Shuga. Kenya’s biggest movie of 2012, Nairobi Half Life was an Oscar contender, which never got the prestigious nomination that Lupita has achieved. Although, she has been pitted against Academy Award winner Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey, Nyong’o’s role has been praised by critics as a notable performance from a new comer.

How Hollywood destroyed the classical fairytale

“Once upRed Riding Hood (Official Movie Poster)on a time in a land far away…” so began classical  fairy tales that awed little children as they giggled and frowned at the imitation of the ogre’s voice  from a proud father. Always too tired from a long day at work but still had the time to tuck in his little girl and read her the Little Red Riding Hood. These were the golden moments that Hollywood is slowly snatching away from parents and children in the name of adaptations and remakes.

I would like to single out four movies that have been   adapted from classical fairy tales in the recent years.

1. Red Riding Hood

We practically grew up listening and reading Little Red Riding Hood, and our eyes widened with horror when the big bad wolf ate up Grandma. Then came Hardwicke’s horrible attempt to recreate this classical fairy tale by putting a Twilight spin on it, without the pale vampires of course. She turned it into a psycho thriller that featured a murderous werewolf out for revenge. Everyone sucked in this movie, from Amanda Seyfried to Gary Oldman.

2. Snow White and the Huntsman

When Hollywood paired Charlize Theron with Kristen Stewart and gave the latter a sword, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was officially reinvented. Picture that. A sword wielding Snow White. Maybe she never needed a Prince to save her after all. She had an eye candy Huntsman by her side.

3. Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

We all witnessed the horror this movie did to Grimm Brother’s Hansel and Gretel. They made the two siblings into witch hunters! They gave Gretel a power gun and Gretel a bow. I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh when a boy at a tavern asked the duo for an autograph. In the 16th century!!!!! And were those insulin shots for Hansel’s diabetes? This movie lacked depth and failed to evoke any emotions on my part. The witches’ make up was on point though. For a horrible Halloween costume party.

4. Jack the Giant Slayer

For everything that this Jack and the Bean Stalk remake lacks in story telling, it makes up for in intense CGI and 3D. The fact that it was rated PG-13  just shows how Hollywood has snatched children stories and turned them into money making machines. Corporate villainy, perhaps?

Maleficent is yet another Hollywood proteger, a remake of Sleeping Beauty to be released in 2014 starring Angelina Jolie. With and Academy Award and three Golden Globes to her names, I hope Maleficent will not be another waste of time and tickets in theaters.

In the words of CNN’s Tom Charity ” Hollywood’s current craze for fairy tales isn’t going to have a happy ending” Children need to dream, and classical fairy tales give them just that. Someone needs to do something fast before Hollywood corrupts it all. What will Hollywood do next, perhaps transform Cinderella into a blood sucking vampire?

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