Viva Riva

Still from Ajami; Kino International

Throughout the month of April, Film School Rejects will be dedicating the bulk of our Sunday programming to a series we call “Movie Geek Self Improvement.” We’ve tasked our writers with finding ways to improve your life — from losing weight to restoring old VHS tape jackets — we want to help you get the most out of your pop culture obsessed existence. Want to sit around watching movies will simultaneously learning about cultures other than your own? Sorted by region – here’s a list of engaging films that you may not have seen. You can watch to gain a bit of insight about places from all over the world, while your butt gets sore from sitting on your couch at home.

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A decade after a bloody conflict that saw at least 50,000 dead, Sierra Leone is joining Africa and the world stage in promoting its burgeoning film community. Its storytelling is becoming more and more available, especially through the Sierra Leone International Film Festival which boasts a year-round program which leads to an annual six-day celebration of movies. To delve deeper into the potential of this young world of filmmakers, fest director Layna Fisher joins us to discuss how we’ll be able to experience Sierra Leonean movies and what this festival means for a community emerging from violence. It might not be the only fest in the world with screenings on pristine beaches, but it might be the only one where attendees can row tree canoes to a slave port before dissecting film in a remote African village. Download This Interview

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This Week in DVD

Welcome to the day late edition of This Week In DVD! It’s late! I’d apologize, but I’m currently enjoying the wonders of Austin’s Fantastic Fest and have been deprived of sleep and nutritious foods for far too long. But still, better late than never. This week’s titles include Criterion’s release of Carlos, the African action pic Viva Riva, the laughably bad The Ledge, the hilarious Cartoon Network series Adventure Time, and more! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky Ricky is a young man with incredible martial arts skills. He’s fast and agile, but more importantly he can rip your innards from your body with deadly precision. This decades old Hong Kong flick is over the top ridiculous in the violence and gore on display and not coincidentally is awesome. There’s more bloodletting and gore than you’ll find in the average horror film. Disemboweling, eyeball violence, cuts, head smashing, and more fill the screen with a crimson colored glee. Sure it rarely looks exactly real, but goddamn is it entertaining. The film’s been around for some time, but if you don’t own a copy this latest reissue is the perfect time to fix that.

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It’s been widely noted that Djo Tunda Wa Munga’s Viva Riva! is the first film to come out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in more than two decades. Yet that fact, however noteworthy, makes the picture sound like more of an esoteric curiosity than a complete, polished cinematic effort. It belies the tight scripting, expert pacing and consistently sharp production values that characterize the film from the European-educated, Congolese Munga. Part African noir and part concise summation of busy, heady life in modern-day Kinshasa, it is at once a timeless gangster/man on the run story and a specific portrait of a chaotic milieu grappling with an age of profound instability. With the ease of a man convinced of his own invincibility, hustler Riva (Patsha Bay) struts through the DRC’s capital after stealing barrels of valuable gasoline from Angolan crime lord Cesar (Hoji Fortuna). Fuel is in short supply and Riva knows it, so he pushes on even as the ruthless Cesar arrives in Kinshasa to reclaim the property and wreak vengeful havoc for the theft.

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The Reject Report

Imagine Brad Pitt standing on a desolate road holding a gun on director J.J. Abrams. Sitting in front of Abrams is the mystery box, that figurative enclosure in which Abrams stores the secrets of his latest project. Brad Pitt screams a phrase we haven’t heard him scream since 1995, and as Abrams reaches into the box to reveal what’s inside (hint: it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow’s head), a shot rings out. Abrams drops dead, but it isn’t Pitt’s gun that fired. It’s Judy Moody who is standing behind Pitt and who, as of now, is NOT having a bummer summer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a lame story with a stupid ending. You try writing these intros out every week. Let’s get to the number, okay?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with Viva Riva! writer/director Djo Tunda Wa Munga and veteran actor Vincent D’Onofrio. Plus, our very own Landon Palmer takes on Gordon and the Whale‘s Kate Erbland in the movie news quiz, and we end up talking about Human Centipede 2: Electric Sand Paper Mastubation-aloo. If you own the copyright on the phrase “sandpaper penis,” we may owe you some money. Please don’t let that scare you away. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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When the city is out of gasoline, it’d be a good idea to be the man with a truckload of the stuff. It would be, but if you had to steal it from a man who doesn’t mind coming after his merchandise with thugs and guns, it’s not as bright after all. It also might not be a great idea to try to steal away the most powerful man in the city’s girlfriend. Unless you just love murdering men of power coming after you all the time. Viva Riva! is the first narrative feature film to come out of the Democratic Republic of Congo in almost three decades, and it’s got all the sex, drugs and violence you could want piled high on a truckload of gasoline. The new trailer stands right next to that truck smoking a cigar. Check it out for yourself:

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