Saturday, June 6, 2009

South African movie Jerusalema - The review

I have already written two blog posts about Jerusalema, about the issues and the quotes. Why would I spend so much time on this movie? It's not from Ghana. I don't know any of the actors personally. It's from South Africa but it doesn't even have Terry Pheto or Leleti Khumalo. Especially Terry. But hey, I loved Jerusalema. It's lekker. And I feel like writing. So there. Why did I love it? Chao (many) reasons. What didn't I like about it? Some as well. Here are a few thoughts and observations.

Let's start with the soundtrack. Music is a very important part of movies, nota bell to African movie producers. The movie featured Brenda Fassie's Nomakanjani, Vul'indlela, and Black president. These are all massive songs especially Vul'indlela which is highly recognisable all over Africa. The songs had nothing to do with the scenes when they were played but this is the "Madonna of the Townships" singing, her music is synonymous with Soweto and Johanessburg. Black President is one of my favorite songs, I get excited when it is played. How couldn't you?

I am not sure what the Jerusalema song was about. I had never heard about Alan Lazar and Sipho Nxumalo. You think singing at the subway station is interesting, try singing in the train! They sang Jerusalema all over the place. Is there a nation in this world that is more in love with music than South Africa is? I mean, even the prisoners in the movie were singing in jail. And it's not two-by-four singing. I like how they played the Parlotones' Nowhere to hide', when the movie moved to the white neighbourhoods. The club scene with Lucky Kunene and Leah featured some house music which I suppose is a constant feature of Mzansi clubs. And who can forget the Kwaito? Mandoza is the truth.

The action/violence scenes in the movie were brutal and sometimes hard to watch. The scenes of the 'Nigerians' being thrown off buildings were particularly disturbing. Did anyone notice the soundtrack for the 'last show' where Lucky was tracking down Tony Ngu? African action music is 'drumming'. Lekker. One of my favorite scenes was the car screeching part. In high school (Presec), we called it 'atwetwe'. I loved that scene and you could see how the audience was thoroughly entertained. It's a dangerous activity but these people lived in Soweto, danger is part of the life somewhat.

I thought the acting was great, especially on the part of Lucky Kunene and Nazareth. I admire Kenneth Nkosi and I think he can progress to take on Hollywood. I didn't see any flawed scenes or talking points. I see countless hitches in Ghanaian and Nigerian movies so bear with me. I can't think of any scenes that didn't make sense. Remind me if you did.

I thought the storyline was super too. I loved the way the story was told and I think more movies should follow that. Many African movies use flashbacks, but Jerusalema used it really well. The transition between scenes was great too and the scenes were shot in many places. I feel a lot of African movies don't go into much depth, end up featuring a couple of main roles and very few settings. It does cost more money to make a quality movie with many settings and actors, but quality sells at the end of the day and gets you blog posts that open more doors in the future.

Why do Africans always react funnily when there are love scenes in an African movie? It's not unnatural you know. There were some nude scenes shown at the club too which would also turn some heads. But were those nude scenes necessary? The female characters in the movie didn't have major roles and were not represented too well. The one character who maybe was good was the white lady, Lea. There were no 'angels' in the movie though, even Lucky Kunene was a slumlord.

Jerusalema was well-done and everyone associated with the movie should be proud of it. The challenge is build upon the success. I'll love to see some South African movies that don't deal with the subjects of violence, AIDS, crime, etc. White Wedding is a start and I know with the growth of the industry, we'll have more movies like that. Kudos!
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