Sunday, July 24, 2005

Yeah, I think we can take a break from the jokes for a bit: "Hotel Rwanda"

I'm not a good griever. My wife gives me sh*t about this all the time, from me not crying after 9/11 -- when we lived in New York, no less -- to not ever getting broken up about anything in general. Not that I'm cracking jokes at funerals or anything. It's just that I tend to get more quiet and minimize things when they go bad.

Which makes me a great candidate to watch "Hotel Rwanda." What's that? A gut-wrenching look at genocide that the rest of the world essentially ignored? Hell, sign me up!

Falling squarely into the "Schindler's List"/this-is-painful-to-watch-but-necessary category, "Hotel Rwanda" is based on the true story of a Hutu hotel employee who houses more than 1,000 Tutsi people -- saving them from slaughter -- during Rwanda's ethnic/tribal civil war in the mid-1990s. So if you found "Anchorman" a little heavy, you might want to sit this one out.

Don Cheadle plays the hotel guy, and he's awesome as usual. Friends, this guy really is an actor. I'll fully admit to never being able to completely forget his turn as Buck in "Boogie Nights," but his chops are so solid that it doesn't matter. Here he paints such a complex portrait as a guy torn in several directions while his world is falling apart around him ... well, it's easy to see why he got an Oscar nomination. (And if not for Jamie Foxx channeling Ray Charles, he just might have won.)

Bottom line: This movie is powerful storytelling, with the added bonus of making you feel incredibly guilty for being an American AND pissed off at the cruelty human beings can show to one another. Seriously ... people suck. I mean, you watch this, and you get pissed -- at the Hutus, the UN, the Western world and essentially yourself. Hey, I remember Rwanda, and I remember thinking, "Um, sounds like some bad stuff going on over there. Bummer." Then I think I flipped to the Bulls game.

Watching "Hotel Rwanda" as a more responsible adult -- at least in theory -- I didn't grieve as much as get mad, thinking it wouldn't be such a bad idea to hop a plane to Darfur and stop the same sh*t from happening again. Of course, one man can't make a difference. Oh, wait a minute ... based on "Hotel Rwanda," one man can.


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