I found this article in a newspaper this morning in Ghana, News one. I was planning to go and see this movie at silverbird but the write up from a very respected and objective Ghanaian writer Kwame Gyan stopped me. I may still go, but the article has energized to finish writing my own article on the glossy movies that are being presented to us these days as "movies" I call them movies and I call the few good ones, Films. This was written about our very own local Tyler Perry, Shirley Frimpong Manso. Like Tyler, she churns out movies of no substance but that rake in a lot of money. (by Ghana standards) I say by Ghana standards because why taint the movie with all the sponsorship drama? If you have made six blockbusters, of course you should have enough money by now to finance yourself. After the MTN 6 hours to Christmas, here we are slammed with another MTN movie. MTN, please stop bullying Shirley. Give her room to operate. or am I assuming too much?
Here is the article. A quick search also gave me the facebook page and with 78 comments all saying the same thing...
Seated in the makeshift cinema at Kumasi’s Miklin Hotel, I could still not fathom the concept behind Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s Adams Apple even after I had heard about it days before. Tonnes of questions kept flooding through my mind___why does Shirley choose to tell the story of the Adams in ten chapters; is she sure Ghanaians, including those of us who appreciate the arts will accept and like it; how different is Adams Apples Chapters One through to Ten from the myriads of African and Ghanaian movies which have Parts One through to whenever the feel they have told their stories; why did Shirley not choose to complete one story per chapter instead of carrying each storyline through to subsequent chapters (that is what she claims but I honestly did not see that). Of course some of the answers to my thoughts are based on a writer/director’s choices on how she wants her production to look, and Shirley reserves the right to produce her works in her own artistic style, etc same as folks like me have the right to write about it. Or? Before I proceed, let me state here and now that I am writing this exercising the greatest amount of caution. I will be cautious because I still do not quite understand “the first ever Ghana’s ten chapter cinema movie series” concept. It is obviously a new thing in Ghana. Sadly though, Shirley and her team have not done quite enough to make us understand what it is and how it will pan out over the ten chapters or episodes or parts. Kwaw Ansah though has a similar concept for his ‘Good Old Days’ production. With those, I know each story ends in each episode, whereas with Adams Apple, I can tell from the Chapter One I saw that it is one story spanning 10 chapters.
Typical Fanfare Surrounding Shirley’s Works
Shirley’s productions have always been hyped___sometimes overhyped___ and Adams Apple was no different. However, gauging from the reaction of patrons at the Miklin Hotel, I got the impression the build-up and the hype did not quite meet expectations, mine inclusive. The disappointment with me did not lie with the cast or their performance or the set design or quality of photography or costume, etc. With me, it lay in the fact that I have to catch ten chapters to make complete sense of the movie. I think the ‘messages’ Shirley said was embedded in each episode is not quite accurate. May be we should ‘take it like that’; after all she said it is a serial movie and we must catch it every month until February 2012. In the midst of all the fanfare, Sparrow Productions forgot to explain to its numerous admirers the new concept they were experimenting. According to Wikipedia, “Serials, more specifically known as Movie serials or Film serials, were short subjects originally shown in theaters in conjunction with a feature film. They were related to pulp magazine serialized fiction. Also known as "chapter plays", they were extended motion pictures broken into a number of segments called "chapters" or "episodes". Each chapter would be screened at the same theater for one week. The serial would end with a cliffhanger in which the hero and heroine would find themselves in a perilous situation from which there apparently could be no escape. Viewers would have to return in subsequent weeks to see the cliffhangers resolved and to follow the continuing story”. I was disappointed not to have known this before.
Chapter Vs Part
One of the problems with most African movies is their inability to tell their stories in a single episode but to do it in several ‘sequels’ or parts. We hear on a daily basis ‘New Movie Part One and Two’, and then there is ‘Three and Four’ and on and on we go and as in ‘Kyeiwaa’ we get to Part Eleven and Twelve. In each of these ‘parts’, we just see a continuation of the same story. So then the reason we see so many parts is because the entire story was not told in a single part. Now, I think we just may have to wait until February 2012 to know how different our ‘chapter movie’ is from our regular ones. Luckily for us, we have been ‘forewarned’ that there is a long movie ahead of us.
Let me just copy and paste the synopsis as offered by the producers: Meet the Adams women for the first time in what will be an exciting and unforgettable journey as we turn the chapters in the lives of these dynamic 21st century Ghanaian women. Jennifer, Baaba and Kukua have a surprise in store for their mother on her birthday but the surprise is almost ruined as Mrs. Adams arrives home with a surprise of her own. Meanwhile Baaba struggles to forgive her estranged husband for his indiscretions whiles her own tear her apart. Kukua is faced with a ghost from her past that threatens to destroy her career and expose a secret she’s sacrificed a lot to keep buried. The fiercely independent and strong willed Jennifer drives her assistant to a diabolical plan that could spell her demise and Mrs. Adams gets an education on the rules of dating in modern Ghana, whiles the mystery of a land court case, and an unlikely stalker drives a young teacher to seek help for legal action. Tears, laughter, love and a strong need to succeed drive these women and the men in their lives to seek more from life and each other in this explosive maiden chapter of ‘Adams Apples’. It stars Yvonne Okoro, Jocelyn Dumas, Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku, Anima Misa Amoah, Adjetey Anang, John Dumelo, KSM, KOD, Benny Fiifi Ashun, Fiifi Coleman, etc.
Similar Themes in Too Many Movies
Quite a number of Shirley’s productions seem to bear similar themes and I think it is getting tiring watching them. A friend on Facebook says “I really never knew what the hype about that woman's movies are... Heck half the time it’s a complete rip-off of the classical Sex and the City, Girlfriends and other all feminine mumbo jumbo's. Same themes, about group of friends pursuing sex lives and flashes of glamour most Ghanaians can’t even relate to! No versatility whatsoever and please don’t mention 'sting in a tale' to me....the only difference between she and the Kyeiwaa's are the upper class English and exotic locations. The women empowerment theme is getting a bit old!” I tend to agree with him a bit. Some diversity may come in handy. Shirley’s screenwriters can certainly do a bit more. Adams Apple gives us a whole ten months to see another tell-tale of women and their love lives and the cheating and nagging and bickering they come with. We saw similar themes in Perfect Picture, Life and Living It (though it involved males), A Sting in a Tale. We need some innovation with our screenwriting in Ghana.
Costume, Set Design, Photography & Acting
Clearly Shirley always targets the English speaking upper class of society and that was evident in Adams Apple. Costume was apt with GTP’s nustyle apparently one of the many sponsors. There was no costume I did not like, honestly. The setting at some point seemed almost too perfect, kind of surreal and I was left thinking ‘this can only happen in movies’. I got the feeling not too many people could relate to some of it. It does however give folks like me some ideas about interior décor though. It was obvious some cast were very comfortable in their costumes and the sets but others seemed less comfortable. It was very cool seeing Jennifer (played by Joselyn Dumas) use an ipad.
The quality of the pictures was top-notch in my view. I was thrilled by that quality when I first saw the adverts of the movie. Sparrow Production has invested a lot in that and it is obviously paying off. Again, the consistency involved in using almost the same crew throughout works seems to have aided in the quality of their work.
The cast, made up of experienced players and new ones did a pretty good job too. Certain scenes though seemed improperly done. There was this scene where KSM was saying good bye to Mrs. Adams, was playing as KSM’s sister (of course they are siblings in real life too). That scene seemed to drag. I honestly thought KSM had a lot more to say, and if he did not, I expected him to just leave. I have a feeling there is more dragging ahead of us. Why not, if one story is being told in ten parts…sorry, chapters. Shirley does well in introducing new faces now and again. It helps in reducing the pain of having to see John Dumelo, Jackie Appiah, Nadia Buari, Yvonne Okoro, Yvonne Nelson, Majid Michel, Eddie Nartey again and again and again. Interestingly, the storylines with these guys always evolve around one rich woman snatching a poor woman’s man and the other trying hard not to lose when.
Shirley Frimpong-Manso has a way of notching sponsorship packages for her productions. It sure does take some of the financial burden off her shoulders whiles they also get some attractive product placements. It’s only fair to commend her for business acumen. She goes on to time her releases to coincide with dates that will give her maximum exposure. However I think Shirley attempts redefining product placement in her own way, and she ends up making it way too obvious. I mean it is ok to find MTN stuff here and there and GTP's materials he and there, etc, but to inculcate it into scripts so obviously sounds like someone was too aggressive in convincing her bankollers thereby taking away a bit of the artistic creativity there. I saw Richard Branson appear in a James Bond sequel. Virgin Airlines was a sponsor. It was enough just seeing a Virgin plane and their CEO been frisked at an Airport Security checkpoint. That was it. But clearly in our part our bankrollers demand a wee-bit more.
What’s My Take on Adams Apple?
I think we all have to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach on this one, not until Chapter Ten premiers in February 2012 that is. I am disappointed though that Sparrow Productions could not complete a story per chapter but chose to tell one story in ten parts…my bad, chapters. Of course naturally there are messages in various scenes and justifying the chapter concept with the message per chapter excuse is lame. The idea for a serial movie is premised on the fact that each episode will end with some suspense to drag movie goers to see the next one. Personally, I did not feel that suspense. I will see Chapter Two, but I am most likely not going to risk a drive from Sunyani to Kumasi in the deep of the night to see it. I think the hype did not match the work.
Kwame:u have done wat napoleon couldnt do,the untouchable has now been touched believe u me,but the time the ten chapters is over and done with,it will be rated as one of the worse soap opera eeh sorry movies of the year,honestly there is nothing in the first episode dat will entice u to watch the rest,shirley shd back up otherwise.........she will fade out sooner than later,we will say it as it is,no pampering what so ever.
When Sparrow Productions make a claim to 'the first ever Ghana's ten chapter cinema movie series' what exactly do they mean? Cos quite frankly, other than the use of chapter instead of parts, immaculate costume, impeccable english and exotic locations, what is different between Kyeiwaa Parts 1 - 10 and Adam Apple's Chapter 1 - 10? And Kwame, you're so right with the issue of the recurring female empowerment running through all her movies. Kudos, that's a great critique - spot on.
April 25 at 1:47am · Like · 3 people
Kwame Gyan Akosua, you are so right. Kwaw Ansah's Good Old Days even precedes this. And with that, each episode is a complete story.
April 25 at 2:06am · Like
this movie was too overhyped. time for shirley to change her style, gud costume, great locations, but i cld hardly relate to the theme's explored in this movie. time for shirley too switch focus to stories most of us can relate to
April 25 at 2:12am · Like
is there a way i can tag this piece to a couple of my colleagues? or even suggest.
April 25 at 2:14am · Like · 1 person
Osei my review:
adams apples is over hyped. costume, location and the all-english scripts she does, makes the movie artificial and unrelatable to an average Ghanaian like myself.
enough of the groupie movies Shirley.. give us something we would have to pinch ourselves to remember its make-believe!!
Gyan: see, it seems to me Shirley wants to focus mainly on the cosmopolitan lives of our upper class. Ane even there, she does not quite tell the kinda true stories that group face. I have seen Tsotsi and its brilliant. The story was so true of SA and it was beautifully and properly told. Sometimes I feel our motion picture 'industry' is retrogressing esp if you think of the masterpieces this country has produced in the past...Heritage Africa, I told you so, Road to Kukurantumi, etc..
Yes she is pushing new frontiers in marketing and packaging. But I think in doing so she is losing on the creative and artistic part which could make her join the greats. As of now, she is nowhere near the heights Kwaw Ansah and co reached. We have some way to go.
April 26 at 2:48am · Like
Yanga looking forward to seeing this, dem costumes were gorgeous from the trailer I watched. Btw I really liked sting in a tale oh even though i wont watch it again. Shirley is not a story teller, she writes all her scripts and her stories are just bleh...she a good director tho knowing; wat she wants visually from set to cinematography. She however needs to givel her stories to a fantastic scriptwriter and that scriptwriter will then turn it into something more dynamic or just have a call out for stories from the crowd, there are amazing people with story ideas out there. she just really sucks at telling stories. loved sting in a tale sha
Just from reading the comments, I am excited to say that I think something new is happening in our industry!! Ini Edo has also declared she is no longer doing the Asaba movies. hallelujah!! I want to believe that within the next couple of years, our industry will only chase after films, not movies.