Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Movies Recently

Hotel Rwanda -- Tif and I took my mom out to a movie yesterday. Last time we did that, the two of them muscled me into a Showcase to see Sweet Home Alabama -- a supposedly sweet, but in actuality morally repugnant, "comedy" that made me feel dirty. I was pleasantly surprised when both were interested in seeing Hotel Rwanda.

I went in peripherally aware of Oscar-ish buzz clinging to the film like a dung beetle to a pile of ... well, dung. But, I like Don Cheadle. I think he's been unfairly panned for his turns in the Ocean's movies and he's done good work in Traffic and Out of Sight. Initially, I wasn't blown away by his portayal of Paul Rusesabagina, there's something about Cheadle and accents that always takes me a minute to get used to, before long though I was totally roped in; he did a great job crafting a believably heroic character without lapsing into pie-eyed humility and faux nobility.

This sort of movie fails if it all does is hero worship and make the baddies so cartoonishly bad that you end up feeling manipulated. Hotel Rwanda is, for a movie set amidst genocide, remarkably understated. The horror is conveyed, but in such a way that you (or, I, at least) never feel like the filmmakers are hammering away at you with the easy, gut-level manipulative stuff to foster an artifically high level of sympathy with the hero. My response to this movie was more thoughtful than emotional, although I doubt many people could sit through it without their hearts in their throats, and I think that sort of complex response (highly emotional, yet even more contemplative) is a credit to how the moral questions of the movie were posed.

Other movies I've seen recently:
The Manchurian Candidate (2004) -- Definitely worth a rental. It was better than I expected. I've never seen the original so I had no remake bias going in.
Sideways -- Slow starting, but it builds up to a pretty decent comedy. Not deserving of the fawning praise I've read, but there's enough there to make it worth checking out.
Around the World in 80 Days (2004) -- Jackie's ageing is getting progressively more difficult to watch. Some intriguing cameos, I was especially happy to see Sammo again, but Schwarzenegger as a Turkish Sultan was just ... words fail. Not as bad as the nadir of Jackie's career (The Tuxedo), but still, pretty freaking bad.
Whale Rider -- Glad I netflixed this one.
Men With Guns -- Not sure yet how I feel about this one. It certainly did not displace Lone Star atop my Sayles list.
Sherlock: Case of Evil -- Uneven and unnecesarily gross, in a decidedly 'made for cable' kind of way. Still, I liked enough of it to wish a better director would be brought in for a sequel. I'm a sucker for the Sherlock stuff though, so I wouldn't recommend this to any but Holmes completists.
Garden State -- Some funny. My unconcious short term memory manager is overwriting those files pretty quickly, so I can't say it made much of an impression.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Rudy 49

World's oldest captive gorilla 'celebrates' 49th birthday. (Thanks to Fut for the heads up.)
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