Thursday, June 9, 2011
Imagine the conti-nent of Africa quickly devolving from the cradle of civilization into the asshole of the world, and you'll get a rough idea of the level of film-making on display in VIVA RIVA!, the say-it-isn't-so winner of six African Movie Academy awards. (This fact should further give you an idea of the current state of African cinema: They're mimicking movies, not life.) Yes, the film moves fast (but not fast enough). Yes it's very sexy (the scene with our "heroine" being serviced by our "hero" with a set iron bars between them is indeed something). Yes, the filmmaker Djo Munga (shown below) appears to have a nodding acquaintance with film noir. Yet this is hands-down an irredeemably stupid concoction.
The Hollywood Reporter called this one "throbbingly realistic"? (One wonders if it was something belonging to the reviewer that was doing the throbbing.)
I am afraid that Mr. Munga is of the school of film that believes whatever you need to have happen at any point in time can simply happen by fiat of the writer/director. While this makes plotting your movie quite easy, it does tend to leave some loose ends. No problem: Munga takes care of all those by fiat, too.
Hoji Fortuna, above, right) explains to his men, "We have to be more ruthless." Gotcha. The little lady he's threatening (above, left, and played by Marlene Longange, appears at first to be the hard-nosed head of the army. Wait: she's really a cream puff. But, boy, can she shoot! Whoops: she can shoot, but she can't aim. Christ: just forget it.
Patsha Bay (above, in his first film role), and his lady love by Manie Malone (below), a looker par excellence. Both radiate sex appeal and do a credible acting job. But the movie itself is such a crass mixture of what has worked better elsewhere put to use by people who haven't a clue that it ends up the kind of foolish hack-job that should give even that popular pastime of big-time bloodshed a bad name.
Music Box Films, opens in New York (at the Angelika), in Los Angeles (at the NuArt and in Portland (Oregon) at Cinema 21. Throughout the remainder of June and July, it will open in another dozen locations. Click here for cities, dates and theaters.