Monday, 1 June 2015

Media Monday: Bande des filles, Mayonde

Didn't I tell you I would see you on the other side?

First thing's first, Happy Madaraka Day! A week kicking off with a public holiday is always welcome. It's a public holiday and Media Monday, I think I spoil you guys way too much.

Since it's a new month, I am looking to change things up a bit. There is going to be a review on a movie but all the other good stuff will still be there. The movies on this end of the stick are not your usual; a lot of foreign films, documentary movies, not the usual silver screen regulars. Occasionally a box office common one may pop up, so we are not ruling those out completely. With that out of the way you can navigate your way around this week's round of Media Monday without feeling as though you are in uncharted territory.

Straight to the good stuff. The first movie on Media Monday is Girlhood (Bande des filles). I heard the movie title and I thought it was going to be a slight variation of Boyhood (2014). A black girl's account of growing up filmed over a period of years. Yeah, well it wasn't. More than that it was in French. It was late at night and I just had to watch a movie, there was no way I was going to fall over myself looking for something else  on account of a language barrier.

The movie started off at a rather fair pace. Not too fast, not too slow just the perfect in between. The first scene was pretty captivating, breaking a lot of gender barriers; girls in full American football gear, I'm talking the whole shebang helmet, jerseys, shoulder pads all of it, playing the game just as well as the pros. Now, I have no idea what that one scene had to do with the entire movie but then again it is an indie movie, that is to be expected and that's one sure way of capturing my attention.

It's not the text book French I am used to. This is the full on street French slang. Of course there was the occasional phrase or word that I couldn't help but smile foolishly when I understood. But aside from that my summary of what this movie is about is purely from putting two and two together and could be up for debate.

There's a girl, Marieme. The second born out of four in a single parent family.They pretty much take care of themselves except for the youngest member who is clearly the apple of everybody's eye. She has an abusive brother who basically could be the one responsible for sending her over the edge. Marieme joins a gang of girls after dropping out of school due to matters tuition. The gang ends up being her comfort, the family she never had. Things take a turn for the worst and she's forced into a world of drugs as a means of escaping her family woes, consequently leaving all that she loves and cares for behind as she assumes a new identity.

There are a number of reasons why I liked this movie. For one the casting was superb. Every day people , especially in the all girl gang department. They came complete with weaves, piled on eyeliner, piercing in the nasal area and the cherry on top, the I-just-don't-like-you aura. They even managed to fill all the roles in those girl groups your mother warned you about ; the queen bee, the excessively loud energetic one, the not so obvious fit and the good girl trying to go bad but still has her conscience following her. I raise my hat to wardrobe, make-up, casting director and of course the cast whose delivery was exemplary.

I also liked how easy the story was to follow, maybe its because this story is far too common but that shouldn't be confused to mean there is no element of uniqueness.

The spotlight surely needs to be shone on the main character. She did such a spectacular job. Her character was not easy to play with Marieme being all over the place; school drop out, mom to her two younger sisters, punching bag to her older brother, gang member, good girl gone bad, drug trafficker, teenage girl. She's been nominated for a bunch of awards and it's about time she bagged an award.

What I did not like, most of it should probably be attributed to the elephant in the room, the language barrier so I can't really complain considering I am not sure what exactly I would be complaining about . But what I can complain about, the transitions. Just. Too. Long. They had me thinking the movie had come to an abrupt end or my laptop was having another one of its impromptu shut downs.

Bande des filles completely did it for me. It left the door wide open to the world of non-subtitled foreign movies.Give it a go and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Music time. I have basically been singing praise to music from all corners of the world except mine. It's about time I brought it back home and told you about one of  my favorite Kenyan artistes, Mayonde. My sister is the one who got me hooked but a high school concert was responsible for introducing me to her back when she was Dee, a member of gospel group, Chit Chat. Fast forward a few years later and she is on her solo career.

Each and every one of her songs are good even though good just doesn't do it description wise. It's like a box of Swiss chocolates with her music. She's not restrained to one genre but an assortment. Every song is unique yet they still all share the same quality of being unforgettably good. There's everything in between soft, smooth and slow Rise, upbeat and feel-good Isikuti love and most recently emotive and reminiscent Angels.

No matter your voice (of frogs or of angels) you cannot help but sing along. If you still can't get enough, she's the voice behind Just A Band's Have you seen her?, you can also check out her early stuff like Too Good, catch her on Coke Studio backing up some of Africa's biggest musical acts and acting on Kenya's first musical series, Groove Theory. As I catch my breath let me leave you to be the judge of her sound being like a box of Swiss chocolates or naah?

Have a good one!

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