Livin’ Lavida Like Riva

7 Oct

I guarantee you there is little you can go spend BWP40.00 on this weekend that will give you something genuinely new to talk about long after the weekend. Take in the Congolese film Viva Riva and you will jabber on like an excited kid at Riverwalk on a Saturday afternoon to all your friends and tweeps. Will you be talking about the sex…? Yes! Will you be talking about the abundant ass kicking…? That too! What about the gangster shizzle…? Wa tseba mos! There is also a killer story about owning your life’s choices…? Damn right you will!

Viva Riva is like this film that should exist but you didn’t know where to find it… right now we can honestly say it has found us. Comparisons of director Djo Tunda wa Munga to Tarantino were not snide remarks about a copy cat director, more an affirmation that the graphic side of life can work brilliantly if handled correctly. Innez, the German Counsellor’s partner in crime, may have felt that the violence was a bit much, and quite rightly so particularly when a woman was being beaten to the sound of a giggling Botswana audience. However the point is that the laughter, at seemingly the wrong times, may have just been an audience reacting to something they have seen before from Hollywood… it’s just that it was never with African actors speaking a raft of languages that included Lingala, Portuguese and French.

The 2011 MTV Movie Awards loved the film enough to give Viva Riva the inaugural Best African Film, which says the hip and with it young viewers could dig it. Yes Viva Riva is new in that it is a rebirth of Democratic Republic of Congo films, where film making was repressed initially by Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga then wars and so on for a quarter of a century. However Viva Riva’s  story and film style are tried and tested modern film making standards. Forget Nollywood’s chop-chop film making style where the key thing is abject simplicity, Viva Riva is where film making is right now, globally. A kick ass story, hot characters, an “exotic” location and a vigorous breaking of all the ten commandments in one sitting. Nice! The film’s anti-hero Riva (Patsha Bay Mukuna) is one dope kat who becomes a message about living life to the fullest, and accepting the responsibilities that come with that choice. The film takes place over a weekend, but Gabs city weekend thuggin’ is action packed and leaves us breathless and contentedly unfit for work on Monday, so we can relate.

It sucks a lot that Nora (Manie Malone) is like the one seriously hot woman it the whole film, especially when Monsieur Polk knows just how devastating Congolese beauties can be. Our boy Riva makes up for that oversight by going down on Nora… through the burglar bars of her boyfriend’s crib… No, seriously… that was just stone cold gangster, not to mention Riva having to jump the stop-nonsonso… twice, before and after. I said Gangster! Because the film is fast paced you don’t get to dwell on things too long; say like how a simmering racism between Africans can taint the conduct of public officials; and then how swiftly cash money can clean up their act; or how a concierge from a ramshackle hotel is able to pull miracles on par with his 5 star counterparts in better equipped cities; and the absolute grace of an Angolan gangster who pimp steps into another thug’s lair. It is all one exhilarating ride to an ending you least expect, but is very satisfying in its powerful gentleness.

I suspect the dialogue was filled with witticisms that the subtitling fought valiantly to bring forth with varying levels of success. Thankfully with actors like the Angolan gangster, Cesar (Hoji Fortuna) the job was easier; for instance in the church when the gangster asks each of his hostages who was useful to him…  the useless ones got a bullet, it was a very Tarantino moment… err Eish, after saying Tarantino twice in one long gush about the film Tsotsi could have been (Oscar or no Oscar) its time to reign in Monsieur Polk’s love for foreign films, especially ones Made in Africa. Viva Riva is at New Capitol Cinemas Game City from today, Friday 7th October.

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