Tag Archives: Netflix

Highlighting Subtleties In – Marriage Story

This post contains spoilers.

I enjoy lifestyle stories as much as I enjoy trending and unfolding news and so when I came across the Marriage Story on the Atlantic Blog, I quit scrolling.

The Marriage Story

Just as simply as the title suggests, this story is about a marriage whose beautiful story has been captured by moving cinematography. The lead characters are seeking out a divorce which in itself is not ugly, but whose involved players, the lawyers, make it unfeeling and uncomfortable to watch maybe because it becomes a stark reminder of the mortality of all our adult relationships and marriages and how they could potentially be reduced by many factors including the law.

The Inhumane Side of the Law

Charlie’s, ( the husband ) first choice of a lawyer is quick to remind Charlie that he charges $950 per hour and then also adds as a reminder that the firm’s assistant attorney charges $450 by the hour and would probably be the best person to direct less significant questions to, which means quite obviously that this lawyer is not quite about the client’s needs but the monetary potential of the client. The lawyer is aggressive and combative in his suggestions and recommendations to Charlie and on many occasions forgets or uses an entirely different name in place of the real name of the would be ex wife. Clearly the entire atmosphere in this lawyer’s office is more business like over compassionate or empathetic. He even calls Charlie’s would be ex a bitch which Charlie quickly addresses and corrects. To accentuate the scene, the camera catches a brief image of a pouf in one of the lawyer’s accent chairs which reads Eat, Drink and Remarry. He zones in on the use of exaggerated details to try to incriminate Charlie’s would be ex wife with the view of winning the case. He says to Charlie that they aren’t going to win if Nicole, the wife of Charlie is portrayed as the perfect mother. Quite ironically, Nicole’s lawyer, a female, also on her part encourages Nicole to tone down and eliminate her flaws entirely because society will definitely support the stereotype of the flawless mother and the neglectful father.

The Evaluator

The evaluator is another character whose physical and symbolic presence reminds me of the irony of allowing an external entity to judge and make conclusions on a life a person has lived a lifetime under the lens of whatever internal biases, botched perspectives and wavering objectivity. The evaluator represents the law which without a true knowledge of a person can alter their life in a minute.

Concluding Thoughts

Took me two days to work through the film

Charlie and Nicole’s marriage is generally rooted in love as seen in their civility, hesitation to hurt each other ( they openly discuss their frustrations and desires on how to make the divorce process painless ) and little acts of kindness including her tying his shoe laces and her cutting his hair in one of the scenes. Their divorce is happening because of a change in direction of professional interests and with it, changed preferences of a home address. The therapist in this article is right in his assertion that they still do love each other. The film starts out on several running scenes of the couple’s life together with Nicole’s voice over narrating the strengths of the couple and how they help each other through other areas that are out of their core strengths. The film’s ending scenes show a moving scene in which their son discovers and asks Charlie to help him read the very journal Nicole’s voice over narrated from in the opening scenes about the couple’s life together. At this point, the divorce is already concluded yet Charlie’s discovery of his wife’s journal moves him to tears. The last line he reads before the scene closes is ‘ and I’ll never stop loving him‘.

The Burial of Kojo Movie as a Window into some of Ghana’s Pertinent Issues

The Burial of Kojo debuted on Netflix in April and combines magical realism and realistic depictions of Ghanaian society to tell the story of a girl that journeys between two spaces to save her father from giving up the ghost.

The narrative voice in the movie which narrates from opening to end of the movie belongs to the protagonist; – (Ama Abebrese) who is reading the story of her childhood which she has set in a book to an audience. While this story is moving, surreal and well told, it succeeds in triggering our emotions mainly because it resides on filial rivalry, struggle and finally revenge that ends fatally. However, the film maker, Blitz Bazawule, accomplishes the telling of this unique story with stark juxtapositions that show Ghana today –

Ghana ( Africa ) is in Bed with China

In Uganda, elementary school kids of Ugandan origin are learning Chinese. For better or for worse, the Chinese are now a strong part of their community and learning Chinese in the words of one of the students will open many doors. In Nigeria Chinese firms own exclusive rights to mine gold in Zamfara, ironically, Nigeria’s poorest state. In Ghana, the situation is no different. The New York Times reported in 2013 that a Chinese illegal miner was shot by Ghanaian police which led to heightened tensions. Chinese use/used locals as fronts to engage in mining that they are/were otherwise not allowed to do. Ghanaian miners that work with Chinese companies reported many problems including a deep disregard for labor laws and the environment as well as the use of violence. Today, in 2019, the same situation remains and nothing has changed. The movie beautifully delivers this societal plague which interestingly acts as the bridge between the dramatic plot and the realistic matter of Ghana’s economy and its murky part linked to the Chinese. The fact that the co protagonist dies in a trench dug up on a mine site speaks volumes. This death re illuminates the danger that miners face / have faced over time and in different spaces. The trench is undoubtedly a symbol of exploitation, danger, injustices and above all, inequalities in Ghana today when it comes to foreign presence, investment and local gain. For this reason, The Burial of Kojo also fits well into art that calls for change in society.

Behind the Scenes of the Trench Scene

Though the movie touches on other issues such as the great exit from small towns to the capital mostly for better opportunities and better amenities, the scenic shots from Nzulezo, Ghana’s south western village that sits on stilts (and mirrors a similar settlement in neighboring Benin . ) are wonderful additions that probably add onto the surrealism of the plot. While living in the water village, the girl ( Esi ) has many recurring dreams that show a black crow that she later comes to fully understand and tackle. Speaking of the Black crow, the pink hues that appear in those scenes that otherwise should look morbid and dark, make the scarier scenes easier to watch.

The movie however feeds into the cliché of certain stock colors representing good and bad. Why does the White dove not represent evil and why can the Black crow for once not represent good? Regardless, a particularly unconventional aspect of the film is that it is totally in two major Ghanaian languages; Fante and Twi, and subtitled in English.

Kojo in the Water Village (Nzulezo)

Symbols

The use of dream sequences ( Kojo’s recurring dream and Esi’s dream ) as a technique not only facilitates story telling but also speaks of the Ghanaian socio consciousnesses that attaches so much importance to dreams. Esi finally discovers through a dream, the cause of her father’s near fatal situation in the trench and goes into another dream to try to rescue her father. The dreams in addition to the moments where the characters undergo deep streams of consciousness feature special types of lights that signal to viewers the difference between regular scenes and scenes that are supposed to be mental projections of the characters.

The Scene with Esi’s mom’s stream of Consciousness