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Hollywood in glorious Ghanavision

Semi-naked women are essential, preferably holding a knife dripping with blood. As some kind of ninja, evil zombie and a decapitated head are preferable. A humanoid tortoise vomiting money is optional, although certainly desierable. With Ghanaian movie posters, gore, blood, nudity, violence and general nastiness are the currency of commerce. In the 1980s, travelling cinema was the way that most Ghanaian’s consumed movies – and still is in some areas. Touring rural Ghana with a TV, VHS tape and player, the moving cinema would roll up in town, set up a tent and litter the area with movie posters – fabulous, fantastical movie posters to advertise the show. Whether it was the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Hong Kong action flick or the latest from an African filmmaker, the artist would hand paint a poster on flour sacks, with an enticing image, often without having seen the film at all. It was the portrayals of monsters, superheroes, half naked women that attracted German gallery and art book publishers, Bongoût, to release two books, Ghana Movie Posters, and this year, Ghanavision, a second volume which collates dozens of unique hand-painted movie posters from their private collection. Cristina Ayala of Bongoût told Time Out , ‘The art works are particularly charming. They can be quite naive but they possess such a bewitching quality. ‘We learned it is not unusual that the self-taught artists often only saw a few photo stills. These wild translations of film to canvas, with s

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Film

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

So here it is, the triumphant finale to ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise, and time for plucky heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) to march proudly into the Capitol, aim her trusty arrow and loose it straight into the heart of that dastardly villain President Snow (Donald Sutherland). A rousing cheer, and we all go home satisfied. Except that ‘Mockingjay – Part 2’ isn’t that movie. This might be the most downbeat blockbuster in memory, a film that starts out pitiless and goes downhill from there, save for a fleeting glimmer of hope in the final moments. It’s a bold statement about the unforgiving nature of war, unashamedly political in its motives and quietly devastating in its emotional effect. The action picks up right after the end of ‘Part 1’, with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) suffering hallucinations brought on by Snow’s torturers and Katniss kicking against the restrictions placed on her by rebel leader Coin (Julianne Moore). The first half runs along fairly predictable tramlines, as Katniss slips her captors and joins the fray, bent on taking Snow down. There’s a truly nightmarish tussle in a sewer tunnel – the series’ most effective action sequence, hands down – and then it's on to Snow’s mansion for the climactic showdown. But just as the end is in sight, everything shifts. We won’t spoil things, except to say that the choices made are truly striking, simultaneously reaffirming the series' commitment to timely political point-making while providing an off-key but oddl

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

Spectre

Well, this certainly feels like a full stop. Daniel Craig has been slippery and circumspect when asked if ‘Spectre’ will be his final outing as James Bond. From both the tone and content of ‘Spectre’, we’d guess this could be his swansong: this is a film that gathers all the great – and some of the not-so-great – things about the three previous films in the Craig-as-Bond cycle into one rousing, spectacular, scattershot and somewhat overextended victory lap. It works – until it doesn’t. We find Bond in Mexico City – it’s the Day of the Dead, the perfect excuse for rampaging masked crowds, unexpected explosions and a swooping, supercharged helicopter sequence that’ll have you choking on your popcorn. Then it's back to London for some very bad news: MI6’s Double-0 program is under threat thanks to the machinations of creepy surveillance agent C (Andrew Scott), leaving old warhorses like M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Bond himself facing the scrapheap. Which, of course, doesn’t stop our James from speeding off to Rome, Austria and north Africa on the trail of the titular band of assassins, terrorists and all-round global troublemakers run by the literally shadowy Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). So far, so sleek and spellbinding: director Sam Mendes exercises complete control over his material, Craig’s bruised bulldog charm is in full effect and the visuals by crack cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema are rich and ravishing. But somewhere between the introduction of Léa

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Good Dinosaur

Even with this summer’s staggering ‘Inside Out’ still visible in the rearview mirror, the vistas of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ take your breath away. Sun-dappled streams, swaying trees and an almost palpable sense of changeable weather shock you with their photorealism – and strain against the movie’s slightly tired story of an anthropomorphised boy dinosaur who, separated from his prehistoric family, must go on a journey of self-discovery. His companion is a grunting human child and together they wander into scenes that play, charmingly, like grungy moments from a Sam Peckinpah western, complete with savage hillbilly velociraptors, chatty campfires and herds of cattle. Elsewhere, the film falls into weird lulls and sentimentality. It all feels like a lot of heavy lifting to get to the same old lessons about kinship and finding your clan.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

Self/less

This frustrating bit of pulp is a waste of a clever idea. Ben Kingsley does his best Donald Trump impression as Damian, a greedy property mogul whose empire metastasises across New York’s skyline as aggressively as the cancer chewing its way through his body. Damian doesn’t seem quite as surprised as most of us would be when a dashing young stranger named Albright (Matthew Goode) introduces him to the idea of ‘shedding’, an experimental procedure in which a patient’s consciousness is magnetically transferred into a younger model. And so, just minutes after the film begins, Kingsley is swapped out for a confused (and horny) Ryan Reynolds. This is a resurrection parable with all the integrity of a grave robber, its fragile premise hinging on Reynolds’s ability to connect Damian 2.0 to the person he used to be. But his snarky and suddenly compassionate version of the character doesn’t make him feel like a man reborn so much as a man rewritten. It’s a fatal flaw that unmoors any intrigue in Damian’s quest to uncover the insidious truth about Albright and learn the real cost of shedding (hint: the poor have to suffer for the rich to survive). An expertly staged shoot-out in the second act only serves to articulate the film’s unrealised potential. Tedious and predictable, ‘Self/less’ is also far too long – and that might be the most damning problem for viewers who only have one life to live.

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Where to see films in Accra

Things to do

Goethe-Institut

The Goethe-Institut is the German cultural centre and celebrates 50 years of being in Ghana. It has an impressive array of events and art exhibitions. Links between German art and that of Ghana are given precedence, whether through sound installations, mixed media pieces, performance art, photography or painting. It also occasionally lends its venue to the National Film and Television Institute next door. Be sure to check the website or pick up a programme of events when you are in town.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do

Alliance Française d’Accra

The Accra-based arm of the French cultural centre offers a large range of artistic activities every week. It particularly excels in live music events, but there are also regular art displays and talks from international artists. The obvious focus is on French and Ghanaian artists (often working together), which forms an artistic bridge between both cultures in terms of language, education and artistic programming. Recent shows have included the film screening and photography exhibition from Sublime World Productions’ project Sounds from Ghana, and artistic exhibition Les Jardins de la Francophonie featuring five francophone West African artists: Samuel Tete-kathan, Kassy, Edem Gota, Yao Sewonou and Salifou Oura. There is always something interesting on; be sure to look at the website before any visit to Accra.

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British Council

This British cultural centre is not as proactive as the Goethe-Institut or Alliance Française d’Accra in exhibiting arts, but it has some cultural events. Check the website for details. There is also an office in Kumasi (Bank Road, 051 37197).

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Film

National Film and Television Institute

The National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI) was set up in 1978 by the government as a Higher Education Institute and runs courses in film and television production. It also has workshops for the general public on composition, writing, art direction, cinematography and sound for the general public. Screenings mostly take place with seasonal festivals and visiting filmmakers. NAFTI hosts its own biennial film and television festival called ANIWA in which documentary features and animation films are shown.

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