Tuesday, January 4

Horton Hears A Hutu

I watched Hotel Rwanda over the weekend, and for those who don't know the story, here's a synopsis (as best as I could follow it):

Rwanda is a country in Africa.  Africa is someplace that must be very hard for Americans to get to.  Apparently, back in the early 1990's, there were some rebels who may have been followers of Tootsie, the rollerskating girl from Facts of Life.  They were very angry at another group of rebels, who were followers of Dr. Suess, I'm guessing.  They were called the Who-To's (I assume a shortened nickname of Suess's Horton Hears A Who-To).  Whatever their problem was, it caused a lot of people to be killed.  The thing at the end of the movie said about a million were killed (good thing this is just a movie!)
Anyways, there's this guy, played by Don Cheadle (the British guy from Ocean's 11, but here he doesn't use his regular British voice but rather puts on some sort of accent, presumably African), who is the hotel manager at the hotel in Rwanda.  He decides to use the hotel as sort of a getaway for the poor people of the country, so he invites all the poor people to come and be guests.  I don't know if he offers reduced rates or not, but alot of people come to stay.  In the end a bunch of them take a bus to somewhere else.  Maybe America?  Oh, and the guy from that Eddie Murphy movie (the one where he sings Roxanne in the prison) was in it too.  I didn't no he was Canadian!
Anyways, the movie was pretty good.  Not really alot of shooting and stuff, but still it was okay (don't you hate it when movies show alot of people with guns but not alot of them shoot them?  I mean, what's the point?)
(Look for more movie reviews from American Grade 12 High School student Rob MacD in future postings)

But seriously folks...
I did watch Hotel Rwanda.  It's being hailed as this year's Saving Private Ryan (a comparison I don't quite understand, apart from 'both are serious movies about mass death) and/or Schindler's List (one whose 'save them from genocide' plot I can understand).  I don't think it lives up to those comparisons, and perhaps my viewing of it was diminshed because those comparisons were in my mind.  I was expecting more scenes of uber-realistic fighting (Saving Private Ryan), and it didn't deliver.  I don't blame the movie for that.  I blame my own expectations based on the comparisons the movie has been given.  I also expected it to have the emotional impact of Schindler's List, but again was disappointed when it failed to live up to that comparison.
Good performances and all (Cheadle was very good) but I found the movie lacking enough gravitas.  I wanted it to slap me in the face more with its depiction of the horrors and atrocities of the slaughter, and really it only gave me snapshots. I never really felt connected to the characters and always felt like I was merely a spectator (Ryan and Schindler's List somehow pulled me right into the action and heart of their films, making me feel like a participant). 
Perhaps it's that it lacked a specific villain to root against, someone to personify the hatred and horrors, or that it lacked a specific task to accomplish.  Whatever it was that kept me from "entering" the film (and it could have been my own mood at the time or my ever-growing descensitization to violence), that failing kept this movie from being a great film. 
It's a good film, one I'd easily recommend, but I don't (as others do) see it as a great film.

I kind of feel cheated, and a bit guilty because I wasn't as moved by it as so many others claim to have been.
This movie would have been a fantastic HBO movie.  Isn't it strange how expectations can alter one's impression?


frankie said...

I think it was 'Tootie', not 'Tootsie'.

MAD AS HELL! said...

I thought this article was bullshit. For someone to say that film's interpretation of the events that happened in Rwanda didn't meet their expectations is ludacris. Honestly i think the filmwriters and directors knew not to dwell on every horrific detail in the film because it only shows how little we as Americans care about shit that takes place elsewhere. It's obvious that you are one of those Americans. What did you expect to see anyway? Were there not enough people killed for you? Oh i get it. They didn't show enough of the killings to excite you. You're sick!!

Rob said...

I am not American. Your presumption that I am is telling.
What did I expect to see anyway? A better movie, I guess, based on all the glowing reviews of it.

graham said...

Hey 'Mad as Hell', do you have a personal investment in this movie or something? Did you work on it, and think we don't appreciate the man-hours one would put in on any flick?
Simply because a film adresses a serious issue, doesn't make it good. Movie makers have gotten very good over the years at presenting ideas. If a film doesn't present an idea well, that has no bearing on the significance of the idea. In the same way that a movie goer can dislike the movie, but still care about the actual subject. None of Rob's critisisms were directed towards the actual events. It's not a good movie. You shouldn't be so easily swayed by stuff you see/read.

Rob said...

Actually, I think it is a good movie. Just not a great movie. Certainly not in the league of Schindler's List, as it's being compared to. My only real complaint is that it lacked (or I failed to grasp) as much of an emotional impact as I was hoping/expecting from it.
But I do appreciate you backing me up, Graham. And I think what you said is spot on.

graham said...

Lots of people think it's a good movie. Please take into account that I believe Police Acadamy 1 thru 3 are in the top 10 movies.

pissed said...

I completely agree with mad as hell. All any this article showed was how right the Belgin general was when he said "you should spit on me" Americans are arrogant and we seem to think hemovie was brilliantly acted and the directing was outstanding. I am not sure i understand why there has to be lots of gruesome deaths for a movie to hold any significance for you.

Jason White said...

I think if Pissed and Mad As Hell understood the english language you might get some of the sarcasm in the posting. Now I can see how you might consider someone an American just because they speak a certain language, or say a comment without a direct, concise, spelled out with all doubt of confusion removed. Neither Rob or myself are Americans, and you can understand that such a hostile response from your post might make me conceive that you are an ethnic cleanser, terrorist or some other negative minority/group/movement/ism (as Ferris Buler once said, ism's are not good in my opinion). In all honesty, you probably aren't any of those, just someone with an opinion, but if you have an opinion why don't you try discussing something or adding a thought provoking comment instead of pointing and declaring what you think reality is.
Just my 2 cents, oh wait cents denote county.
My 2 methods of currency.

graham said...

Wow, hadn't seen this thread in a while. There are just a bunch of people out there who lack respect for other people's opinions. The movie moved you: Great. It shed light on a vital situation ignored by most western media (relatively speaking): Great. Some people weren't as moved by you. Perhaps these people had been 'enlightened' to the horrors through actual coverage and footage. Maybe the film seemed 'nice' in comparison to reality. My point is, who knows why someone likes or doesn't like something. It's their business. It's just a movie. actally I'm gonna drive that point home IT"S JUST A MOVIE!
I recommend ( as Jason did) that Mad as Hell and Pissed re-read this thread and imagine it was written by someone with a good sense of humour who may have a clear concise perspective on all this. I am not that person. I am confused.

Rob said...

Once again, pissed, I thought it was a good movie. But not as impactful, nor as moving, as I was expecting it would be. I thought it pulled some punches when I was expecting punches not to be pulled.
And please, stop calling me "American". There's no need to insult.