Notorious Without a Doubt

by Adora Ikwuemesi

Now it’s becoming crazy, as though I am some kind of movie addict. I go through ‘movie going’ phases and this is just one of them. I can assure you I like the movies but I am in no way a movie buff. Now I know that does not explain how come I have managed to watch 4 movies at the cinema in the space of one week. I stress again that I am going through a phase and I will explain today’s case at least. Today was unusual. It’s Kelechi’s wife’s (Ndidi) birthday and he calls to ask if I would be interested in seeing a movie, I jump at the idea because I had not planned anything else. As it goes, he asks if I could go with his wife to the movies so that he can run his errands and meet up with us later.

When Ndidi and I get to the movies, we agree to see the movie titled ‘Doubt’. I am really excited to see it because the preview appeared to be the all familiar plot of a catholic priest that likes small boys and the nun who is out to expose him. Also, with Meryl Streep playing the role of the nun, I was certain it would be a brilliant performance. The summary of the plot is as the title implies- one where all suspicions are saddled with doubt. As it is, I do not have anything to say about this movie aside that I have not seen a movie with a more disappointing ending in a long long while.

Still highly disappointed at the ending of the movie ‘Doubt’, Ndidi and I decide what movie to see next as we wait for Kelechi. Between us, we have seen most of the movies, so we are down to 2 last contenders; ‘Notorious’ and ‘Underworld’. Although the preview for ‘Underworld’ says thriller, the image in the leaflet looks like horror and I will never intentionally watch a horror movie as my imagination is too creative. Till this day, I have not recovered from the days of ‘The Exorcist’ and I am not about to give my imagination anything more to play with to my detriment. My choice of what movie to see is clear to me but Ndidi feels that ‘Underworld’ would be more exciting. So we agree to wait till Kelechi arrives to break the tie. As soon as he arrives we present our choices and Kelechi’s view is simple; ‘let’s go and see the movie with black people. You know I am all for black people.’ Without any hesitation we go ahead and buy tickets to see ‘Notorious’.

Now I had already asked my sister what the movie ‘Notorious’ was like and she said it was better than expected, so I had fair expectations. It was a movie on the life and death of the ‘Notorious BIG’, in my opinion, he was definitely one of the best rappers that ever graced the earth, to some he still is the best rapper ever. The movie was funny in some bits but it was somewhat a sad movie as we all know ‘Notorious BIG’ aka ‘Biggie’ is shot dead at the end. Arrrrrrrrgh! My sis told me that Lil’ Kim did not attend the movie premier because she did not like the way she was portrayed in the movie. I don’t blame her at all. Within the first 5 minutes of her appearance in the movie, let’s just say that I wouldn’t have gone for the premier if I were her. Faith Evans on the other hand is portrayed as ‘Faithful Faye’, the sweet and supportive wife. Angela Bassett stars as Biggie’s mum and as usual is typecast to act the hard, black woman who has suffered in her life time, single parent trying to raise a kid by herself. I need to see Angela in a softer role. These hard, black woman roles can only leave one so bitter.

The best part of the movie are all the songs, it really takes you down memory lane, it reminded me a lot of my University days and how we rocked to Biggie and 2pac simultaneously amidst their east coast, west coast war. Trust Lagosians at the movies, we were singing the lyrics to all the songs. It was nice to test those lyrical skills again. Biggie did have a way with words.

It was interesting to see the inspiration for the different songs and inspiring to see how dreams can become reality. It was a rags to riches, dreams to reality tale but a very short one. Biggie made a lifetime of achievement in a mere 5 year career. It brought back memories of the feud between 2pac and Biggie and how it just seemed like a big joke till people started dying and we thought ‘this is serious o’. I heard some songs I didn’t think I would hear again the Lil’ Kim rap in the ‘Get money’ track by Junior Mafia. Did you ever think you’d hear that name again, ‘Junior Mafia’? It was fun listening to songs like ‘Juicy’, ‘Sky is the limit’, ‘Who shot ya’, ‘One more chance’ but I don’t remember hearing ‘Mo money, Mo problems’. Puffy’s portrayal was amusing. It made me remember how Puffy always used to butt-in on the mic spoiling Biggie’s rhymes. We figured that since he was the producer Biggie just couldn’t tell him to back off. Even after the movie ended we stood watching the credits, listening and dancing to some more Biggie.

It was a good movie to see for any Biggie fan. The memories of the songs were a distraction from the poor acting skills and sometimes embarrassing one liners. It was a better movie than the previous one without a doubt (no pun intended) but it was also a sad movie to watch. To see a dream become reality and to watch it disappear in such a short time was painful. Biggie was 24 when he died, what a waste of a young life it seemed. But I choose to look at the bright side. What he did in his last 5 years a lot of people have not and will never achieve in their lifetime. I miss Biggie, he can’t be replaced, and he really was in a league of his own. So that is the story of how I watched 2 movies back to back in one day. There’s always a first time.

Now moving on to other things, there are weird things that happen at the cinema in Lagos and I am convinced it must be cultural. We talk at the movies. I don’t mean in hushed tones, I mean that people actually talk in normal tones and other movie watchers do not seem to mind and if they mind I have not seen it being expressed. The talk is not just talk about the movie being watched; it is talk unrelated to the movie.

I went to the movies once and a couple behind me talked the entire time they were there. They seemed to be settling an issue. Of all the places they could choose in this world to discuss, they chose the movie theatre. I cannot forget that particular day because it was my first and last time at the Citymall cinema in Onikan. I had wanted to watch ‘Batman –The Dark Knight’ and it was sold out at Silverbird cinemas so a friend had told me it was also showing at the Citymall. When I got there, I couldn’t believe how much cheaper it was to see a movie there. I soon found out why. There were only four of us in the theatre and two of them were the couple who came to discuss their problems which I assumed they settled because halfway through the movie they marched out. The place was freezing cold, so dark I couldn’t find my way to the seats because the lighting on the floor was not working, seats were very uncomfortable and as if that wasn’t bad enough there was a power failure right in the middle of the movie. So we waited for at least 5 minutes till the generator came on. Yes, only in Nigeria.

People pick up their phones at the movies and I mean they pick it up and have their conversations comfortably in normal tones. I wouldn’t’ pick up my phone at the movies, I would send a text, but in Lagos people it is not unusual to hear people on the phone at the movies. On one occasion, my phone being on silent mode had the light flashing because someone was calling me. Now, because I was at the movies, I didn’t pick up; my plan was to wait for the phone to stop flashing then send a text or just

return the call after the movie. There was a lady sitting next to me who had been on the phone having a conversation about a guy that had just pissed her off, her call ends and I guess she was bored and she sees from the flashing light that someone is trying to reach me, she nudges me and says to me ‘your phone is ringing, pick it up’ Now remember we are at the movies. I looked at her and I was weak with embarrassment; I just said thanks to her and ignored the call.

The other thing we do well at the movies is give commentary. It’s like the kind of commentary you hear on DVDs when you play it with the commentary. Lagosians somehow think they are the movie producers. They exclaim loudly, they give applauses, they talk to the actors on the screen, advice them on what to do and decisions to make. We are just an unusual bunch. I don’t mind commentary because I know I am guilty of that too but at least I am concentrating on the movie. A lot of times, I cannot lie that it isn’t fun because it makes the movie going experience more entertaining, but the talking loudly or answering your phone at the movies, that is so wrong.

I have to give this one to Biggie, for giving me fond memories and lyrical bliss’s. If the movie is anything to go by in terms of his last days on earth, I am convinced that he is in a better place. Any life that can be celebrated after death is truly a life that touched the souls of many.

May your BIG soul rest in Peace

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