Friday, September 29, 2006

Not any hotel I want to stay in

The movies keep on coming, and the latest one to have passed before my eyes is the Oscar-nominated true story Hotel Rwanda. Call me old-fashioned, but when I see the word Rwanda in the title of almost anything, I'm pretty sure not to expect a laugh-fest. And you know what, I was right in this case, just as I often seem to be. Funny that.


To my shame, I'm not particularly well informed of current events. Until only a few short years ago, I never used to watch the news, and I never buy a newspaper and never have. So back in the days of the Hutu uprising in Rwanda, I really had no idea what was going on. Yes, I'd heard the key words -- Rwanda, Hutu, Tutsi, genocide, massacre, etc -- but I didn't really know what was actually happening, who these people were, and why it was all kicking off over there.

Without a doubt, many of the people who find themselves reading this will know more about it than I do, but suffice to say it was another war of stupidity. (Aren't they all?) And it ended with a million Tutsi corpses. This in a country with a current population of some 9 million. Can you believe that? More than ten per cent of a nation massacred, usually with a machete, men, women, children alike, especially children, in order to wipe out the next generation, over some supposed difference in race, tribe, ethnicity, whatever the fuck you want to call it.

Seemingly, though, according to the film, this "difference" between the Hutus and Tutsis was decided upon by the Belgians when they ruled the region. The taller, more elegant, lighter-skinned people with slimmer noses became the Tutsis; those shorter, blacker, wider-nosed folk are the Hutus. What kind of crazy shit is that?

What's it all about, Alfie?: Hotel Rwanda is a kind of an African Schindler's List. Hutu hotel manager Don Cheadle risks his own life to save as many Tutsis as he can, starting with his wife, her family, and his Tutsi neighbours. But the enormity of his task soon becomes clear.

Any good?: Cheadle, as ever, is great. He almost never disappoints. (I'll not mention that terrible Dick van Dyke accent in Ocean's 11, okay?) And Brit Sophie Okonedo puts in a good performance, too, as his Tutsi wife. Strange casting, though, since Cheadle's slight build makes him a far more delicate-framed person than she, in contract to one of the "Belgian rules" set out a couple of paragraphs above. Supporting roles go to Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte, no doubt to help bring a few Americans into the cinemas.

The film gives a good grounding in the basic history of the situation, I suspect, but it could perhaps have been more graphic in its depiction of the violence. Just one scene, maybe, to really hit home with the brutal horror of a situation that the rest of the world just didn't think was important enough to intervene. I guess that's what happens when there's no oil to protect. Just a bunch of crazy niggers with machetes, huh?

Numbers, please: Hotel Rwanda is a good little film, although I fear it mostly trades on being "worthy". But it is worthy -- in the best possible way. I rate this movie 65 out of 100.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enlightened me on this one. I am similar to you in that I do not bother with the news too terribly much and my information surrounding the events Rwanda were very limited.
Don Cheadle is the best! Perhaps I will check this little flick out this weekend myself.

29 September, 2006 17:52  
Blogger Red said...

I thought it was a good film, but not a great film. Sophie Okonedo had very little to do and Nick Nolte looked and overacted like he was drunk.

And you're right about it being not as hard-hitting as it should have been. I'm not an advocate of gratuitous violence in films, but this stuff happened and I think the world should be shamed into watching what it is that they turned their back on. Indeed, what it is that they're turning their back on now, with Darfur. It's unfortunate when all you export is tea, not oil. Nobody gives a damn...

We should watch Shooting Dogs now, see how that compares.

29 September, 2006 18:31  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i really enjoyed this film, if only for the shame it caused me to know how little i actually pay attention.

29 September, 2006 20:15  
Blogger Gardenia said...

yeh, I really liked this movie, if "like" was the right word - bawled through parts of it, though. But everyone should see it. Have you seen Rabbit Proof Fence? That's the next place to go if ya wanna stay stunned with man's cruelty to man.

30 September, 2006 01:35  
Blogger Shep said...

This is probably bad form amongst such a serious film...but I spent most of the movie thinking..."that Sophie Okonedo is HOT!".

Shallowmuch?

30 September, 2006 10:51  
Blogger The Anti Crapitalist said...

The way Africa has been treated by the world is nothing short of disgusting. As you say Rwanda has little to offer the world in terms of resources or commodities so "fuck them" is the basic western reply.

Its happening again in Darfur. There is not one western power that really gives a shit because its just more dead ni**ers. That's how they view it.

If it had happened in Nigeria where western oil companies have big capital projects that might be another matter. But Rwanda, the Sudan, f**k them is what they think.

Its interesting how in the last 2 years western influence in Africa has diminished. China is poring money into any area that can supply oil, minerals etc without the strings attached by western governments & corporations. China could just be the one reason why Africa digs itself out of poverty and neglect over the next 25 years.

30 September, 2006 16:05  
Blogger Suze said...

I have to be in the right mood to view films like this one but it is going on my list.

30 September, 2006 17:56  
Blogger The_'Real'_Batman said...

Shooting dogs is another good one about the conflict.

Harrowing films all of them.

30 September, 2006 22:23  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Angel: No problem. Be interested to hear what you think if you watch it.

Red: Yeah, it wasn't great, but so few films are these days. Nolte's a plonker. Shooting Dogs is on the list, pet...

Martha: It's good to see that sometimes, I think.

Diana: I know what you mean about "liking" a film such as this... I saw Rabbit Proof Fence about a year or so agao, I guess. Really liked that too. Chris Doyle is a great cinematographer and photographer. Saw an exhibition of his photos sometime last year, too.

01 October, 2006 15:45  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Down Shep. Oh how I've waited for this moment... Me not so much on the Okonedo, gotta say.

AC: Yeah, good innit? We either want to help thirld-world countries or we don't, but we need to make a fucking decision and stop sending conflicting messages.

Suze: Yeah, but it's kind of Rwanda Lite, in respect of it being a bit Hollywood, so while it's obviously not nice, it could have been more harrowing.

Shamash: It's on my list, that, so hopefully should see it soon. Tried farls, by the way.

01 October, 2006 16:05  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I am sorry to say, I haven't seen this yet. I am teribly behind on movies of the last couple of years, it's ridicuous.

I did however read an incredible book called A Season Of Blood by Fregus Keane, a journalist who arrived in Rwanda at the very end of the genocide. It was one of the most depressing books, but informative and compassionate and so so sad.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/forum/august96/season_of_blood.html

I will make the effort to rent this and thank you for the reminder.

Meanwhile, Darfur and The DRC are raping and beating women as we type every day...and Bush had the nerve to say twow eeks ago he is angry with the UN because they aren't doing anything. Um, hello, did he forget he is the Pres of US and he has it in his power to send a militia over there?

02 October, 2006 17:33  
Anonymous Dating said...

m sorry to say, I haven't seen this yet. I am teribly behind on movies of the last couple of years, it's ridicuous.

14 April, 2010 21:20  

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