The Exasperating Streets of Calabar

December 31st, 2012 was a terrible day for me. No, no one actually died except a little bit of me, inside. It was the first time in a few years that my entire family was at home at the same time. Two days before my nightmare, I had just returned from Eket where I was plagued with incessant Malaria. Every two weeks, for some bizarre reason I was struck down by Malaria and was losing weight . . . FAST! I was back home to relax, to get away from the responsibilities, worries and the dastardly Malaria which seemed to follow me ‘bumper-to-bumper’ at every turn in that lovely city. I never knew my stay would be marred by the crap I was going to experience.

Now I know I’ve got your attention, I have to tell you it was a movie; a terrible movie to round up a relatively excellent year. My younger sister had been clamoring for a trip to the cinema for a while to no avail. For whatever reason, I and my formerly obstinate brothers decided to indulge her, a decision we unanimously berate ourselves for to this day. We jumped into the ride and I drove our excited party to Genesis Cinemas. For some rationale I am still yet to decipher, we never checked their online schedule before leaving. We got there only to discover that we had already seen all the movies they were screening at the time. With alacrity, we jumped back into the Lamborghini and sped off . . . (Ah! Ah! See bad belle o!! Ok Ok, it wasn’t a Lamborghini but it was still a cool ride). We were off to Silverbird and then our hitherto, Solomon-esque wisdom returned and my junior bro decided to check their online schedule. With speed that would make a computer pull its eyes out in envy (yea, computers have eyes), we iterated the possible traffic and estimated with Swatch precision our ETA; 1600 Hours my brother announced, just in time for some movies. We quickly shortlisted two movies which would slot perfectly into our schedule – The Life of Pi and another one like that.

If James Bond was driving, we’d have got there by 1600. However, I was driving so we got there by 1545 Hours (I’m badt like that!). I’ve always been a firm believer in blindly following one’s instincts but needless to say, ever since that trip, I now always allow my second and third thoughts have their say. I saw two potential ‘cinema commenters’ (those ones who exclaim infernally during movies with annoying Ooos, Aaahs and Ehyaaas) heading for the Life of Pi hall and my ever cogent self dictated that the other movie; Streets of Calabar would be the best choice. My sister ignored us and went ahead to see Life of Pi; an experience she thoroughly enjoyed. The same cannot be said for the irksome rubbish I and my brothers were subjected to for the next hour and half.

The movie was supposed to tell the story of a young man who returned to Calabar from some European nation, met an old friend who convinced him to become a criminal, got caught by the authorities and eventually helped the local Police bring down a huge gangster so petrifying he was named ‘Mr the Don’ (yes; not ‘the Don’ or ‘Mr Don’ but “Mr the Don” What the hell?!!). Sounds like a nice story right? It was not.

The movie had way too many faults. The language was unnatural and forced. The Pidgin English on offer was embarrassingly out of touch with that used by everyday Nigerians. The majority of actors seemed to have no idea what convincing acting looked like and acted more robotically than a drone sent to Mars. The only bright light was the background speech of the protagonist. Mike, his friend, was quite amusing with his histrionics but shattered all his good work with his abysmal use of everyday English. The astonishingly off portrayal of the locals, the weird music, the poor plot execution and worst of all – the unnecessary and infuriating use of Chapter numbers and titles as the movie progressed led to an appalling spectacle.

Anybody including ones with walnut-sized brains could see that ‘Mr the Don’ was Rita Dominic from the beginning. Nevertheless and to compound my misfortune, the aforementioned annoying ‘cinema commenters’ who I desperately tried to avoid (they seem to be a standard component of any cinema hall in Nigeria) and who seem to actually have brains smaller than a walnut were still in awe when this tiresome revelation was eventually made. Mr the Don’s sidekick, a weird muscular white lady whose acting was similarly terrible turned out bizarrely to also be Mr the Don’s lesbian partner!! The cowboy getup, horrible props and unreasonable soundtrack which, by the way, was blatantly taken from a James Bond flick was totally out of place in the movie. Just picture a knocked out individual lying in an open boot of a Jeep being shot from very close range with a humongous automatic rifle . . .when the shooter had a much smaller gun with him. . . and that’s one of the better scenes in this dreadful movie.

As if the actual movie wasn’t bad enough already, the director went on to degrade the movie even further by turning it into a glorified though horrendous advertisement for the various tourist centres and activities available in the city of Calabar. I’m sure he must have been aiming for some form of ‘financial appreciation’ from the state government. Without mincing words, this movie had ZERO creativity.

I’ve honestly grown weary of criticizing this movie. Charles Aniagolu, the movie director ought to hang his head in shame. I fear that if this is still the level of most Nigerian movies, then we are light years behind some of our foreign contemporaries. Please, I urge you to see this movie as soon as you can and please stay away from nooses and rooftops of tall buildings afterward. I no wan hear say na my suggestion cause make person commit suicide.

PS: Funnily enough, during the course of the movie, someone in the technical room must have plugged his phone into the computer probably to charge it. A dialog box popped up exactly in the middle of the screen blocking most of the action. This was the best part of the experience for me.

By I.V Okata . . . I really love my Country

Follow him on Twitter @izutadgaffer

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13 thoughts on “The Exasperating Streets of Calabar

  1. thank you for the post 😀

  2. Hahaha..an astute potrayal of what has become the norm of nollywood movies. Witty, amusing piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. this was so funny nd a made very good laugh on a sunday morning..I think ur narrative is very good but I think ur diction should entail less grammer so the common man can fully appreciate this write up. Also, you should try not to personalize articles i.e it should be as open as possible baring very little of your personal bias so your readers will read and their own meanings to your piece.in all though I say job well done.

  4. this was so funny nd a made very good laugh on a sunday morning..I think ur narrative is very good but I think ur diction should entail less grammer so the common man can fully appreciate this write up. Also, you should try not to personalize articles i.e it should be as open as possible baring very little of your personal bias so your readers will read their own meanings to your piece.in all though I say job well done.

  5. Gosh!!!that was harsh but its a 9ce öne.your a gud critic.

  6. Waooooooo,,,,,,a perfect write up wit a gud narrative ability bt a simple grammer wil surely help common readers ok indeed u r a team player nd can realy b useful 4rm oppositn point of view. Wel done!!!

  7. Thank you all for your feedback and all your wonderful suggestions have been noted and will be worked on in the next work.

  8. actually, it was beautiful. you are good for fiction and i suggest you do so. you can hone your skills by download wattpad. I dont know if its in PC but i saw it in Blacberry app world. It is a writers community. I met great writers and read some beautiful write up. That will be a great avenue for you too. Am just thru with my own book, but will begin my fiction next year. i will send it to you to criticize too.

  9. Let me begin by disdaining the position of those who inelegantly refer to lofty vocabulary as “big grammar”. Not that they don’t have a point. They do. The key is for a writer to recognise the make-up of his audience and write accordingly. I, for one, was appreciative of the diction. In most cases, the make up of one’s audience is disparate. Under those circumstances, moderation of diction is most appropriate. And I think you were pretty moderate. Secondly, a confession. I am perhaps not very disposed to very incisive criticism right now. The nature of my current primary professional engagement requires more technical than creative writing proficiency. So, am not brimming with ideas. I’d however pick up on an assessment Eromo made of your writing a few years ago, except I err gravely. If this piece paints the whole picture, IMAGERY is improving in your narrative. And there is some element of humour in it which is very conducive for thrilling creative writing. BRAVO!! I’d love to say more but right now, I’d have to return to macroeconomics in order to earn my paycheck…

  10. Thoroughly impressed…… What a sleight of the ink….. Witty, natural and fun

  11. Thanks a lot, guys. It’s really wonderful to hear the positive feedback and the criticisms too. I’m definitely taking it on board and will keep working on my writing till I get to my best. thanks!

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