There are just two words to describe Ralph Ziman’s biofilm which is also
South Afrika’s official entry in the category of Foreign Language Film had the more-bark-less-bite uMkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association hot under the collar for having a character named Nazareth, who should be a former freedom fighter who, post-’94 chose crime as his meal ticket. Actually,
MKVA, which wasn’t prominent until ANC president Jacob Zuma revived them as his official militia pre-Polokwane did not make it a point to watch the flick because, unless the sound wasn’t quality enough where I was watching it, I didn’t hear any mention of MK or ANC. Now, let’s Recylebin the MKVA attempt to be relevant post-Cuito Cuanavale.
Jerusalema is by far the best
What makes this film a must-see is the socio-political-economic exploration of Zakes and Lucky’s background. From selling wares in trains, to car washing, to small time taxi owning to big. Tupac Shakur had a line in his song Teardrops and Closed Caskets, ‘from misdemeanour to felony small time to selling keys/ I can’t believe the shit they’re telling me’.
Their relationship through thick and thin and the often apathetic approach at reproach of Lucky’s overly-religious mother is fully explored to the bone. Interesting is the involvement of almost everyone in the success of Lucky to become a ‘Robin Hood’ of Hillbrow by taking over dilapidated buildings, renovating them, cleaning the area of hoods, pimps, drug pushers and whores. Some ghetto version of socialism.
Quite interesting, the pushers and pimps are foreigners with deep central Afrikan accents. Ngu, the protagonist comes across as your typical
Lucky, portrayed by Rapulana Seiphemo is an average ghetto-boy made yuppie who ends up reasoning when his waistline grows bigger that he’s got a right to live wherever he wants and to screw whoever, that’s when he was bonking a Jewish nutritionist chick and living in the ‘burbs. His undoing is his sudden softness and his adoration for the bourgeoursie life that comes across as freedom. He quotes Italian mafia kingpin Al Capone and communist author Karl Marx under the same breath which comes across as less intelligent but justification of his failure to study at Wits. What does Marx’s ‘every property is theft’ and Capone’s ‘when you steal, steal big and hope you don’t get caught’ got to do with a dodgy charity?
The attraction is the excellent unannounced blurring of seniority lines, you don’t get to see when did Lucky become senior to
The film is well-made, shrewdly shot, excellently edited and the use of shadows and silhouettes portraying the changing of people’ fortunes and moods in this belly of the beast is spectacular. There’s no doubt that quality research went into this film, brilliant acting characterises the treatment of the script.
Hillbrow is the main character as at the end one realises that people come and go, but the dilapidated flats and unscrupulous landlords remain the same.
This is a brilliant film that I have no doubt in my mind that it will bring the Oscar home – second to Tsotsi. 8/10