The Return of RMD



Today everywhere you turn, you are bound to bump into Richard Mofe-Damijo, RMD. Or so it seems. Either on billboards promoting telecoms company Glo as its ambassador. Or any of his new projects. He is on Television as Bem Tsenugo HRH (his royal hotness) and head of House Of Tsenugo (HOT). All this is happening on Africa Magic’s Hush (dstv channel 151, 8 pm, weekdays). Of course, you can’t escape him at the cinemas. This week alone, he is in The Wedding Party, The Three Wise Men, Dinner. And I’m sure a cinema somewhere is still running Oloibiri, The Grudge… Not to mention the many other projects ‘Coming Soon’. It’s officially raining/reigning RMD and must be the RMD Season!

Richard Mofe-Damijo is a Theatre Arts graduate from the University of Benin. He also has a Law degree from the University of Lagos. He’s been a journalist, actor, publisher, PR consultant and in recent past a political appointee/politician.
But as far as his entry into the national limelight is concerned, he came into national consciousness sometime in late 80s (through to the early 90s) in his role in the Amaka Igwe directed TV series Checkmate as Segun Kadiri.

He would go on to ‘blow’ as the slang goes with the birth of Nollywood in films like Violated (1996), Out Of Bounds, Hostages (1997) and Diamond Ring (1998) and others too many to list here. All that culminated in an Africa Movie Academy Awards, AMAA, Best Actor Award in 2005. Then politics came calling. Talk of leaving the stage with a bang. First as a special adviser to the then Delta State Governor Uduaghan and later commissioner for Culture and Tourism.

All this is interesting. One, that RMD unlike many an entertainer turned politician chose to return to acting after many years. Never mind that he always said he didn’t quit acting. Still, the seeming seamlessness of it all especially when you consider that the man/the brand is arguably bigger than ever, is noteworthy.

How did this happen? I don’t have a sure answer. But do not dismiss this as something to be taken for granted. In these parts, we like to make such random declarations like: “What do you expect? He is a Theatre Arts graduate. A graduate!” Or any version to this effect. Not many would be willing to dig deeper, to see what that person may have done right. We like accidental or ‘un-explain-able’ reasons. Anything but.

I’m sure we know a few graduates, well-trained and all, who can’t get it right? In fact, that very fact may be the reason-the fact that they are graduates, have degrees, experience-they’re stranded. Who knows, they may even be veterans. Perhaps consider themselves too good. In Nigeria, it isn’t that difficult to think yourself better than whatever is available.

So, there must be something Mr. Richard Mofe-Damijo is doing right. It might be as mundane as good old humility judging by his willingness to take direction from much younger directors while some people are still stuck in ‘the good old days’. Not that his talent is in question. But without a platform to show it to the rest of the world, it’s useless.
Well, now we can say for sure: RMD is back!

Keeping Up with the Joneses
Director: Greg Mottola

Starrring: Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot.
The Joneses Tim (Jon Hamm), a travel writer and his ultra glamorous wife Natalie, a social media consultant, cooking blog writer plus the improbable tale of being a champion for Sri Lankan orphans have just moved into an otherwise quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs. They blend into the neighbourhood as a lit lamp in a dark room.

Naturally, next door neighbours Jeff Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis) and his wife Karen (Isla Fisher) are curious. Soon enough Karen discovers that the Joneses aren’t who they claim to be. And she has enough free time, what with their kids away to camp, to prove her worst fears right. And you can guess that the Gaffneys’ supposedly boring life gets an injection of excitement. Except that Isla Fisher as Karen Gaffney is no dowdy suburban housewife. Switch costumes and she won’t have such a hard time keeping up with Mrs Jones.

Keeping Up With The Joneses is a lightweight action film (at best) which just happens to have one funny man (Zach Galifianakis) in it. But even a funny man needs a ‘funny’ script to act out to come out funny. And some. For a film to qualify to be described as comedy as Keeping Up With Joneses is, you need a generally funny storyline. Plugging in a comedian doesn’t light up a film with rib cracking laughter.

Keeping Up With The Joneses may be a lot of things. But funny isn’t one of those things. Except for diehard fans of Galifianakis who may want to Keep Up With His Weight Loss (thus far), Keeping Up With The Joneses is more like Keep Off The Joneses!

76 Director: Izu Ojukwu

Starring: Ramsey Nouah, Rita Dominic, Chidi Mokeme, Adonijah Owiriwa, Daniel K Daniel, Ibinabo Fiberesima.

Captain Joseph Dewa (Ramsey Nouah) is an otherwise patriotic solider wrongfully roped into a failed coup d’etat in 1976. Historically, there was a famously failed but bloody coup d’etat in Nigeria in 1976. However even though much of this is fictitious, Captain Dewa’s tribulations as an accused coup plotter was no fiction.

Being in the wrong place could end up with an unlucky officer facing the firing squad. Now, in this age with the noise about human rights, many people may find it difficult to understand how just being in the company of a fellow officer implicated in a coup attempt could
automatically make that person culpable with almost no chance to prove innocence.

76 isn’t just a military movie. It deals with the intricate play involved in the expression of human emotions like love and betrayal. And the attendant impact. Most of this plays out through Capt. Dewa’s relationship with his wife Suzie (Rita Dominic) who is pregnant for most of the film. We also see that her family is not in support of their marriage.

To understand Suzie’s family’s position, the viewer would need to go back to the historical basis of 76. 1976, marked six years after the end of the Nigerian civil war. Loosely summarised, the war began because the Igbos, in the newly redefined South Eastern part of Nigeria, wanted out of Nigeria to live their own country Biafra. That demand came as a result of the killings of Igbos in the Northern part of Nigeria. And during the war, soldiers fighting for Nigeria especially those from the then Middle Belt region reportedly killed or presided over the killing of a good number of Igbos. Mind you, I’m not writing or re-writing any history. This is just to give you a background to the animosity that Suzie’s family exhibited towards Capt. Dewa. He is from the Middle Belt and Suzie is Igbo.

Anyhow, Suzie insists on standing by her man. But something would happen to make her doubt his love for her: Is her Joe really a man that can be trusted? More importantly, is she the only woman in his life? Then who is Angie? Just how far would a woman who feels scorned go?
To answer these questions, you’ll obviously need to see the film-76. I know there’s already been a lot of noise about 76. So, it’s unlikely you would have missed news about it. But for those who think 76 is a historical rehash of the 1976 coup attempt, this is an opportunity to clarify that it isn’t.

What 76 is, is a story of love, of envy, of betrayal. I may have already said that. The film grows on you because of its believability. Some of this comes from its environment and the fact that it was shot on location in an actual barracks, etc. But largely, it’s the actors in 76 who carry the film. Ramsey Nouah and Rita Dominic successfully interpret their roles. Somewhere in there is an almost unrecognisable Daniel K. Daniel who fits into his role as a lower ranked soldier.

And even the actors I come off disliking, I recognise later that it may just be because they portray their characters so believably.