YVONNE ORJI – MOMMA, I MADE IT
We’d already had the chat about how Yvonne Orji’s Comedy Special is a damn vibe. And following its premiere screening on 1Magic last month, the feature remains available for streaming on Showmax.
Many weren’t aware that the actress, whose most prominently recognized for her portrayal of Molly on hit series Insecure, is a badass comedian. On Momma, I Made It, she distills her upbringing her native Nigeria, as well as her life in America as an African immigrant navigating the space with a dream to make it big.
Orji displays her comic chops as she celebrates and pokes fun at her conservative Nigerian-American upbringing for a straight hour.
FAMALAM S1 & S2
Nigeria’s Gbemisola Ikumelo was recently nominated for a 2020 BAFTA for Best Female Performance in a Comedy for Famalam, a “quickfire, playful comedy rooted in the black British experience,” to quote The Guardian.
Skits like a black Jesus appearing to a white parishioner, or a black superhero expecting to be congratulated by police, or a Slave Lives Matter protest interrupted by someone questioning whether they should rather say ‘all lives matter’ will have you laughing hysterically – not least because the alternative is to cry.
There are also regular installments of Midsomer Motherf*ckin’ Murders, about a black cop in a white man’s world; of aunties who go to war over everything from leftovers to whose grandson is more impressive; and of trailers for Nollywood remakes, from Game of Thrones to Love Island.
Directed by Tom Marshall (Chewing Gum), the BBC series was hailed as “a sublime achievement of satire” by The Independent and “something special” by Refinery29, with writer and producer Akemnji Ndifornyen taking home a 2019 Breakthrough Talent BAFTA and Samson Kayo earning Best Comedy Performance nominations at both the BAFTAs and Royal Television Society Awards.
Fresh from outperforming Game of Thrones – and everything else on M-Net last year – Trackers was released internationally by HBO and Cinemax in June.
In America, Meaww raved, “Packed with thrills and chills, Trackers whisks viewers towards a violent conspiracy involving organized crime, state security, and an international terrorist plot… James Gracie and Thapelo Mokoena take centre stage with their amazing performances,” while The New York Times called it “a more polished product than Blood & Water… more easily entertaining…. James Gracie… can do a lot with silent looks of doubt and reproach.”
In Israel, Haaretz called it “the guilty pleasure” of the week, adding, “it comes to life when it places Cape Town front and center.” And in New Zealand, Stuff called it “a high-octane thriller… a good rollicking story.”
Based on Deon Meyer’s bestselling novel, Trackers was a co-production between M-Net, HBO’s sister channel Cinemax and Germany’s ZDF.
“Two years ago, I lost my sister to breast cancer,” says Still Breathing creator and star Tiffany Barbuzano, a two-time Best Actress winner at the SAFTAs, for Sober Companion and 4Play:Sex Tips for Girls. “Writing this show was me getting through that grief in my life.”
“Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives,” but Kena (Samantha Mugatsia, who won Best Actress at Carthage 2018 and FESPACO 2019 for the role) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) long for something more. When love blossoms between them, the two girls are forced to choose between happiness and safety.
Rafiki has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety calling it “impossible not to celebrate”; RogerEbert.com “a lyrical ode to finding a kindred spirit amidst an uncaring majority”; AV Club “bursting with life”; and Washington Post “a small revelation, not least because it marks the breakthrough of a filmmaker of such exhilarating, cheerfully courageous vision.”
Rafiki was nominated for the Un Certain Regard and Queer Palm Awards at Cannes 2018, as well as a 2020 GLAAD Media Award nomination for Best Limited Release Film. The movie catapulted director Wanuri Kahiu onto Time Magazine’s 100 Next list in 2019 and launched her career internationally. She’s now adapting Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed for Amazon Prime and Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish for Universal, among other projects.
STILL BREATHING S1
The result is an intensely personal M-Net show about life, death and the mess in between, directed by her husband, six-time SAFTA winner Johnny Barbuzano (The River, The Republic), and starring their children, Jamie and Jesse.
Other cast include Brandon Auret (District 9), Kate Liquorish (Queen Sono); Ty Keogh and Jane de Wet from The Girl From St Agnes; Siv Ngesi (Knuckle City); and Lorcia Cooper (Lockdown), among other big names.
Bestselling author Deon Meyer says, “Masterfully crafted, beautifully shot and brilliantly acted, this is must-watch TV,” while The Girl From St Agnes director Cindy Lee said on Facebook, “Incredible… Still Breathing literally takes your breath away. I had to remind myself to breathe… World-class television.”
KANDASAMYS THE WEDDING
Having survived their meddling parents’ attempts to break them up in the 2017 hit movie, Keeping Up with the Kandasamys, Jodi (Mishqah Parthiepal) and Prishen (Madushan Singh) are headed down the aisle at last. It’s going to be the wedding of the year – if they can survive their respective mothers.
Shanthi Naidoo (Maeshni Naicker) has everything planned, down to the smallest detail but, as always, Jennifer Kandasamy (Jailoshini Naidoo) is ready to out-do her. After all, “the Kandasamys don’t do small”…
The most popular South African movie in cinemas last year, and the 17th biggest film overall, this romantic comedy drama is once again directed by Jayan Moodley and was an even bigger hit than its predecessor.
BACK OF THE MOON
Sophiatown 1958: On the eve of the forced removals, gang leader Badman (SAFTA nominee Richard Lukunku from Happiness Is a Four-Letter Word) meets the gorgeous Eve Msomi (Moneoa Moshesh from Rhythm City), a torch-singer on the brink of an international career, and finds that fighting to the death becomes a whole lot harder when you have something to live for.
Named Best South African Feature film at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival, Back of the Moon is directed and co-written by Oscar nominee Angus Gibson (Mandela, 28UP South Africa), produced by The Bomb Shelter (Yizo Yizo), and exec produced by William Kentridge and Anant Singh. The film won a 2020 SAFTA for Costume Design and was nominated for a further three, for Editing, Score, and Production Design.
SAFTA winners S’dumo Mtshali (Is’thunzi, IsiBaya, iNumber Number), Thomas Gumede (Single Guys, Bay of Plenty), and Siyabonga Thwala (Isibaya, The Republic, Intersexions) co-star.
ALLES MALAN S1
Frik (Ivan Zimmermann from Egoli), the liberal eldest son of the Malan family, returns to South Africa from the UK to take over the family transport business from his more conservative father (Fleur du Cap winner Albert Maritz from Dwaalster). His wife, Tessa (ATKV-mediaveertjie Best Actress in a Soap winner Nadia Valvekens from Binnelanders), and two teenage children (Greteli Fincham from Blood & Water and Mateo Olivier from Fiela Se Kind) return with him, but each has a struggle of their own.
Set in Paarl, Alles Malan was co-created by dynamic husband-and-wife duo Corné and René van Rooyen, who’ve directed six films between them, including the Silwerskerm Best Film winner Vaselinetjie, which they co-wrote and Corné directed. They’ve assembled an impressive cast on Alles Malan, which includes Nicole Fortuin (Flatland, Rage), Sean Marco Vorster (Die Windpomp), and South African Film and Television Award Lifetime Achievement Award winner Marius Weyers, as well as cameos from The Girl From St Agnes’ villain Tristan de Beer and The Harvesters’ breakout star Brent Vermeulen.
At this year’s SAFTAs, in the Drama category, the kykNET series was nominated for Best Original Score, Sound Design and Make-up and Hairstyling.
When life, the law, and the woman he once loved separate him from his child, an estranged young father takes matters into his own hands and finds himself in a high-stakes hostage situation.
Losing Lerato, the debut film from SAFTA-nominated actor and producer Kagiso Modupe, was the second-biggest South African movie at the local box office last year.
Kagiso (best known for his long-running role in Scandal!) stars as the desperate dad, Thami, while his real-life daughter, nine-year-old Tshimollo Modupe, plays Lerato.
The cast includes SAFTA winners Connie Chiume (Black Panther, Gomora, Zone 14), Don Mlangeni (Isidingo), and Patrick Mofokeng (Heartlines), as well as SAFTA nominees Samela Tyelbooi (It’s Complicated) and Zandile Msutwana (White Wedding).
At this year’s Idyllwild International Festival in California, Losing Lerato won Best of Festival, Best Actor for Kagiso, Best Actress for Samela, Best Performance by a Child for Tshimillo, Best Score and the Golden Era Humanitarian Award.
You can’t keep secrets from your housekeeper, which was bad news for the Zwide family in Season 1 of this hit Mzansi Magic series. When nurse June was framed for killing her patient, her daughter Linda (SAFTA nominee Thando Thabethe) left her law career to exonerate her mother – by posing as the Zwide’s housekeeper.
Season 2 sees Linda join a new family with links to her mother’s death, the Ngubanes, and adds more twists, and even more stars, including SAFTA winner Lorcia Khumalo (Lockdown, Still Breathing), SAFTA nominees Xolile Tshabalala (Muvhango, 4Play: Sex Tips For Girls) and Lindani Nkosi (Generations), as well as Sthembiso Khoza, best known as Shaka on The Queen, and Kwezi Ndlovu, aka Vivian in Isithembiso
TYDELIK TERMINAAL S1
It’s the best cancer to get,” Dr Pillay tells the bewildered 22-year-old honours student Kittie Claassen (Carla Smith from Binnelanders, in a 2020 ATKV-Mediaveertjies winning performance) as he hands her a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease. But Kittie has plans, she has things to do, not the least of which is cracking her journalistic aspirations and enjoying her first burst of young adult freedom with her best friends Mandy (Eve Nthabiseng Rasimeni from Z’bondiwe and Suidooster) and Fanie (Suidoosterfees and Silwerskermfees winning actor/writer Hendrik Nieuwoudt from Fynskrif).
Tydelik Terminaal (Temporarily Terminal) is a heart-warming and hope-filled kykNet miniseries based on creator Elanie Rupping’s own battle with cancer. It’s produced by six-time SAFTA-nominees Nouvanaand Films, who’ve given us comedy gold like Hotel, while Silwerskerm winner Etienne Fourie (Die Windpomp) directs the pilot.
The all-star cast also includes SAFTA winner Anna-Mart van der Merwe (Poppie Nongena) in a 2020 ATKV-Mediaveertjies winning performance; Blood & Water star Arno Greeff; SAFTA winner Tiffany Barbuzano (Still Breathing); SAFTA nominees Zane Meas (Isidingo) and Anel Alexander (Sink); and Frank Opperman (Dominee Tienie).
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Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed
We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.
When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.
A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.
The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.
This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.
Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.
Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.
After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.
Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.
In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.
After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.
Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.
Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.
Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.
In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?
Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.
We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.
What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.
We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.
Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.
First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’
Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.
First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe, the world ready to let old baggage go.
The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.
Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it
‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.
The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.
While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.
When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.
With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.
It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.
We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.