Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cindy's Notes

Title : Cindy's Notes

Starring: Bhaira Mcwizu (ambo 3 winner),  Nonso Diobi, Clems Ohameze, kasimu Yero, Jennifer Ayomo

Story: Amaka Ezeala

Screenplay: Felix Odion

Producer: Amstel Malta Box Office (AMBO)

Director:  Izu Ojukwu

Year: 2008

Country: Nigeria

Genre: Inspirational drama

Language: English

As anybody who reads this blog knows, I am a big fan of Izu Ojukwu - Amstel Malta collaboration. I have previously reviewed the first two movies in the partnership, namely Sitanda and White Waters.  For those unfamiliar with the Amstel Malta movie franchise, here is a quick overview - The amstel malta company sponsors a reality show every year to find new talent for the Nigerian movie industry. The winner gets to star in a movie directed by the tremendous Izu Ojukwu. Azizat Sadiq won the first edition and starred in the aforementioned  Sitanda, while O.C Ukeje won the second edition and was the star of white Waters. The third edition was won by  Bhaira Mcwizu and she is consequently the leading lady in Cindy's Notes. By Nigerian standards, Cindy's Notes is a tremendous movie!

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I started off by hating on Sitanda, the first movie in the series and now, I am head over heels in love. The movies just keep getting better and better.  I cannot wait for the next movie, which I hear is already in theaters in Nigeria. I will be hyping that next.

So what is Cindy's notes about?  From the website:
Cindy's Notes is a movie about self discovery and the treasures that lie within the reach when one is pushed to unfamiliar territory.

Cindy, a young lady from an upper class home who is posted to a remote rural area in the mid north for her National Youth Service year. As hard as her influential mother tries to ensure that she doesn't get sent there, the system is strong and Cindy must report to camp after which she may be redeployed.

After the three week long orientation camp, Cindy is posted to a dilapidated secondary school for her primary assignment and this is where Cindy's story of self discovery begins.

Amidst trials, discomfort,unfamiliar territory and forces of people who have influence, Cindy must look past her background and her usual expectations and take pride in serving her country and contribute her own quota to the development of this community.



Where do I begin? First of all, a huge round of applause for Izu, AMBO and the crew once again. They made a tremendous movie - one that is inspirational, timely, relevant, entertaining all at the same time. No overt sexuality, very few star actors and yet fantastic!! I loved it.

The acting: The lead actors Bhaira and Nonso were perfect for their roles. Prior to watching this movie, Nonso had never impressed me as an actor. But as a fellow corper and Bhaira's love interest, I had to give it to him in this movie. Very impressive. Bhaira was just lovely as the ajebutter Lagos babe who could not bear to be in the village school. You believed every single word out of her mouth - whether she was bellowing at students, fighting with her fellow teachers, or making eyes at Nonso's character. She is a natural - I hope Nollywood makes good use of her.
The kid actors - particularly the girl who played Wande. Very convincing, very touching. Loved it. And the principal played by Kasimu Yaro was very good. Excellent actually. You could believe that he was always in that dingy office drinking his kunu and doing his best for the school.

I loved the rural environment - Izu has a way of making rural areas in Nigeria look attractive. It was lovely, though very realistic. The movie did not gloss over the realities of rural life - electricity and water scarcity, bad roads, myopic thinking were all very much on display. Very nicely done!

I know that I keep speaking in superlatives, but I really love the movie, what can I say?

Is there anything that I did not like?
Clem Ohaneze played the village teacher with the chip on his shoulders guarding his territory from the invasive youth corpers. Clem is a good actor no doubt, but I did not really dig him in this role. They tried to cast him as an english teacher who speaks bad english. Problem was, he was not consistent. He would speak good english for a while and then throw in a few grammatical errors. That did not really work well for me. Aside from that small glitch though, I thought the casting was perfect.

I also did not like the AMBO and Izu practice of not using African names. Who is Cindy Haastrup? Is she British? Ah! Its an African movie, please be authentic. I will keep beating that drum until somebody listens to me. Izu and Ambo, we have nice names na. Use them!!

Anyone who has watched a "teacher makes a difference story" like "Lean on me" or "To Sir with love", or "facing the giants" (all of which made me cry by the way!) knows how this story would be resolved. It is obvious that there is great triumph at the end of a long hard journey. But as Miley Cyrus sang, what makes the journey interesting is not the destination, its The Climb. That is what makes this movie so fantastic. The climb was hard, hazardous, frustrating, but ultimately successful.

Themes and Worldviews:
Everybody can make a difference. You can bloom where you are planted even on rocky ground. You just have to become tough enough - like a cactus. Nothing good comes easy. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the common good. In addition, in this time when there is a mass exodus out of Africa in search of a better life in the West, it pays to remind us that even on a micro level, we can do amazing things within our circle of influence just like Cindy did during her service year. Are the economic refugees listening?

Rating: 9.5/10.

More reviews here .

As for availability, I am going to say the same thing I said about their first movie Sitanda. The more things change, the more they stay the same unfortunately!!

Availability: Unfortunately, I get the impression that AMBO does not really care about making money from their movies, because they don’t seem to do any hard work with marketing and distribution. They seem to use the movies just for brand recognition, which is pretty sad because they make great movies. I have no idea where to find this one o. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

wow, very nice review. I would try and find this movie to watch, sas that Mercy Johnson isn't in it.

Nessa said...

I frustratingly searched in the terms "Nigerian movie Cindy's Notes" on Google and saw a 42 minutes preview copy uploaded on YouTube and was so excited, I could jump through the roof. The downside is that it isn't the complete movie. I too wish AMBO and Izu Ojukwu would make a deal with someone, a company, whatever to make their movies readily available to the masses.

The comment on Clem Ohameze's acting as a good speaking English teacher trying to be bad is 100% realistic. I had such wannabe teachers in my Secondary School who were seen as fine English speakers but poor English teachers who taught rubbish, threw grammatical bombs around to our amusement of course and brought to mind Fela's song "Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense". So I think he captured his role well if that's what they were going for. You know how people like to form good speakers na.

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