Monday 26 October 2015

The Listing Fest

So I totally managed to forget today was The Listing Hop blogfest. Guess that's what happens when you try to juggle work, school and some form of a social media presence. The blogfest is being hosted by Bish Denham and Alex J. Cavanaugh, in commemoration of her eighth year of blogging, and participants are expected to come up with a list of, well, anything really.

Needless to say, I haven't given my list much thought before now, and as such, I am forced to keep my list short and at the same time try to come up with something that isn't too random/convoluted. So on that very note, I present to you my list of:

Top 5 Nigerian Actors making waves in Hollywood

5. Nonso Anozie

Born in the UK in 1979, Nonso Anozie is perhaps best known for his supporting roles. One of his first major movie appearances was in the 2007 British war drama, Atonement. He subsequently starred in the 2011 films, Conan the Barbarian and The Grey. His recent appearances include Pan, Cinderella, and the popular TV show, Game of Thrones.

4. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Another Game of Thrones alum, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the oldest, at 48, of the 5 Nigerian actors I am highlighting on this list. He has been in movies as varied as The Bourne Identity, The Mummy Returns, and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. His recent appearances include Pompeii, Thor: The Dark World, and the upcoming DC Comics adaptation, Suicide Squad.

3. David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo is yet another Nigerian actor that has been quite ubiquitous in recent years. And he's got the acting chops to warrant it too; in what was perhaps one of the biggest snobs of the 2015 Academy Awards, he was not given a Best Actor nod for his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jnr. in the biopic, Selma. His other recent appearances include Interstellar, The Butler, Lincoln, and 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

2. Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor is no stranger to the silver screen. One of his earliest performances was in the Steven Spielberg movie, Amistad. He was also part of the ensemble cast that starred in the 2003 romantic comedy, Love Actually. He also starred in one of my favorite science fiction movies, Children of Men. His recent appearances include The Martian, Salt, and the Academy Award Best Picture recipient, 12 Years a Slave.

1. John Boyega

Of all the actors on my list, John Boyega is the one with the least number of acting roles under his belt. He also happens to be the youngest at 23. So why have I placed him at number one on my list? Two words: Star Wars. After all, not many actors today can boast of a leading role in one of the biggest film franchises of all time.

He scored his breakout role in the 2011 British science-fiction film, Attack the Block. He also appeared alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Half of a Yellow Sun, even though his character was criminally underutilized. But the current pinnacle of his fledgling acting career is undoubtedly the latest chapter in the Stars Wars saga, The Force Awakens.

If you haven't already seen the trailer, then I suggest you drop everything you're doing and head over to YouTube right away. And in case you still don't understand why you need to see it, here's a clip of John Boyega himself as he tries to absorb the pure awesomeness.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

The Martian (Movie Review)

Every now and then, a movie comes out of left field and completely blows you away. I had heard about the impending arrival of The Martian, but I didn't really look into it until the reviews started pouring in. I quickly found out it was based on a bestselling novel which was originally self-published on Amazon. And just like that, I was immediately compelled to go see it at the cinema.

The movie tells the story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded on Mars after he is struck and impaled during a severe sandstorm. He is thought dead by his crew mates, and a funeral is even held in his honor down on Earth. He awakens after the storm and is forced to grasp with just how dire his situation is; he is not only wounded, but without means of contacting his crew or NASA. And with limited food and supplies, it is only a matter of time before he either starves, suffocates or freezes to death.

But rather than curl into a ball and wait for death to find him, Mark decides to take matters into his own hands. This he does by devising a string of clever solutions to the various problems the red planet throws at him, all of which he documents in a series of video logs he hopes would be recovered someday. His activities are eventually picked up by satellite images, and soon the whole of NASA is committed to bringing him back home alive, with the whole world watching and rooting for him from the sidelines.

Before going to watch the movie, I had read and quickly devoured the book, which was awesome by the way, if you don't mind all the extraneous information about the various sciences that it explores. A lot of that information had to be dumbed down or abstracted away for the movie of course, but thankfully, they kept the source material's lightheartedness, for therein lies the movie's overall appeal.

The movie features an ensemble cast, with each one having his or her own role to play in Mark's rescue. And while they were no stand-out performances to speak of per say, I especially loved Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino, who played Rich Purnell, the scientist that comes up with the daring maneuver behind the rescue attempt.

It's nice to see a resurgence in realistic, space-based science fiction movies. This was started by Gravity in 2013, and followed by the success of Interstellar in 2014. And now we can add The Martian to that list. But of the three movies, this is the one I would recommend the most, if only because it is the only one to carry a particularly strong message of hope in the face of adversity.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

IWSG: Anthology Contest

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit for more information.

Well, the cat's been out of the bag for about a month now, but just in case you missed it, the IWSG is celebrating the success of its crowd-sourced Guide to Publishing and Beyond by putting together a short story anthology contest. The competition is open to all active members, and submissions end on the 1st of November, so be sure to send in your entries, if you haven't done so already.

I was finally able to put in my submission earlier this week, after sitting on it for the better part of the past month, though truth be told, I'd been working on the story for something more in the tune of the past two and a half years. It is an idea I'd been playing around with, and it draws inspiration from sources as varied as the graphic novel Watchmen, the video game series Fallout, and the Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle.

Needless to say, it is a work of speculative fiction and alternative history, much like the stories I have highlighted above, which by the way also happens to be the theme of the anthology contest. There's no saying whether or not it would make the cut, but it's been nice getting some actual writing done for a change. I'd almost forgotten how exhilarating it feels, watching my words come together on a computer screen to form a story.