Sunday, September 04, 2016

Auteur Watch - Obi Emelonye

Before the fleas eat the other half of my ankles, let's dive into my latest only hope, Obi (Wan?) Emelonye.  He seems to be well on his way to walking the full Auteur path in life, jumping right into feature films and all.  Some people are just born ready to go straight to the top, there's just no getting around it.
But you can spot a certain progression in Obi's subject matter.  His first is 2004's Echoes of War about Fatima and Abdul... I'm assuming they were lovers, if only in an R-rated sense.  This is decent, family-friendly cinema, after all.  They manage to escape war-torn Sierra Leone, and they meet up again in London ten years later.  I guess it's the kind of thing that Nora Ephron might have concocted were she born in or around Nigeria.  Also, The Dead Zone (1983) comes to mind, where Christopher Walken and Brooke Adams slightly rekindle things after Walken comes out of his coma.
After tackling the subject of war, Obi moved on to 2011's The Mirror Boy.  A title even David Letterman would love, but Dave was too busy counting all that green, green "Survivor" money at the time.  Obi wrote and directed this tale of a child who gets moved from London to Africa to reconnect with his roots, so it's probably based on Obi's own life somehow.  And even though none of the newspapers managed to get a review of it, it was kind of a big deal!  I mean, look at these awards and stuff!
As someone once said, the next film has to be the opposite... Bob Zemeckis always quotes that guy.  In Obi's case, it was time to do an actioner, so his ode to... let's say Die Hard 2 would be next, called Last Flight to Abuja.  And so!  With more America-friendly subject matter like that, surely now he would crack that new market share?  Welp, can't argue with results!  Look at that!  One review!... damn.  A semi-review and an interview.  Well, don't worry, folks.  There'll be no interviews here, that I can tell you... (sobbing)
I guess the word "Abuja" scared off American audiences or something.  Where's your sense of adventure, people?  Anyway, amid claims of abandoning his native land and people, Obi returned to the Nigerian silver screen with something called Onye Ozi... happy now, you jerks?  Boy!  Same thing happened to the Beatles when they stopped playing The Cavern.  Arguably, Onye Ozi sounds like Echoes of War but without the war, sure, but hey!  Woody Allen makes the same movie every year.  Is he the only one allowed to do that?  Well, IS he?!!!
Anyway, after that didn't play so well, Obi went back to the drawing board, so to speak.  I guess directors go back to one of those as well, even if it's just a wall with index cards of the various scenes... you know, the storyboard wall.  Obi wanted to go global again, and the only way to do that is to appeal to either the American audience or... its European equivalent, probably Britain.  The Bible's a big book in both those places.  You know, it's like "The Art of the Deal," only not as current.  And so, 2015's There Will Be Blood... I mean, Thy Will Be Done was bourne.  Now, you'd think that with a title like that, even Billy Graham's douchebag son would be on board!  Apparently, not the case.  The Kendricks, for one, guard their turf voraciously.  No overseas impostors allowed.  Better go back to the magic that was Last Flight to Abuja, I suppose.
But 2015 was a busy year for Obi Emelonye.  He also had the TV movie "Love Struck," a variation on Blood Simple, except that Abby and Ray raid Julian's safe instead of the private eye.  There was also Oxford Gardens, Obi's take on Resurrecting the Champ, which in turn is Rod Lurie's take on The Caveman's Valentine.
Now, the IMDb apparently doesn't have it yet, but according to Wikipedia, Obi's also working on something called The Calabash.  No, it's not this one.  It's about the Nigerian banking industry, and it apparently has the blessing of Obi's various corporate backers.  Whoever wrote Obi's Wikipedia page has their English almost perfect... it's 'actressES', damn it!  Anyway, I better end this the only way I know how... good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are... dayamn!  Jimmy Durante invented Fred Rogers!

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