Art, Music, & Film: June 2005 Archives

Hotel Rwanda

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Perhaps not one of the greatest films ever made, nevertheless a film everyone should see. Intense, but not overwhelming, the story recounts the efforts of one Hutu Hotel manager to save more than 1200 who flee to his Kigali hotel.

The scenes of the real horror in Rwanda are muted, but the tension is constant throughout the film. What I found myself asking again and again as I watched is "Why are we so incapable of recognizing one another as children of God? As children of our mothers, mothers we all love?" In the great slaughter of Rwanda, why could so few stop feeding the flames of fear and ask the questions--what real danger does a three-year-old pose?

Hate is powerful, devastating. Hotel Rwanda shows us that and shows us courage in a time of great despair. We need to keep foremost in our minds that people are people regardless of their skin color. I think about that and recognize that in the Rwandan scheme, my own precious child would have been seen as enemy. And they would not have stopped because of his age. Their goal was to completely eliminate a "tribe" that was an invention of the European rule. These people were not even really separate groups--merely the formerly have and have-nots.

Highly recommended for Adults and children over 14 or so (depending on the child.) One of those films to view and discuss.

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Sharkboy and Lava Girl


Okay, given the title you didn't expect much. Unfortunately for adults, you don't get much. What plot there is is utterly incoherent. Even the 3-D is not all that great.

But, as with all the Robert Rodriguez films aimed at children (see Spy Kids) the underlying message is the importance of the family and of staying together and overcoming obstacles in your way to success. Now, whether it was worth wading through the tedium of this film. . .

. . . Oh, but wait. Samuel loved it. He wanted to see it again and again. He loved the action and the effects. He loved the story. So apparently this film wasn't meant for me anyway, and my delight comes from Samuel's delight. I rejoice in his joy and so, were he staying around, we'd probably see it again. As he's on his way with his mother to Grandma's they'll probably go and see something else. (Willy Wonka I expect.) But then, so shall I.

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National Treasure

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Loved it.

This is exactly the kind of film I like--a treasure hunt, based in history for a treasure hidden by the Masons. Clue left all over lead the protagonist finally to. . . well, now, that would be telling wouldn't it.

It is this premise that made The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons entertaining and interesting. No, I wasn't interested in the characters. No, the theology was rotten to the core. But it was the challenge of unravelling one after another a series of hidden clues that would reveal when all followed to their conclusion some amazing end result. (Now the end result in The DaVinci Code was idiotic and ill-conceived. As we all know, Mary Magdalene is not the Son of God, and the whole notion of her "divinity" in the book is a silly rip-off of earlier, ill-conceived speculations on divinity.)

But National Treasure (except for its fondness for Masons) has nothing of like alienating potential. The story is literally and figuratively a treasure hunt in which the founding fathers have left a trail of clues as to the location of a fabulous treasure rescued during the first Crusade by those who would become the Knights Templar. Most intruguing is the idea that the first clues to this treasure are encoded on the back of the original Declaration of Independence. (The only problem being that the original was a printed copy, not the manuscirpt copy in the hand of Thomas Jefferson with all of the strikeouts etc. And the "original" was one of multiple printings at the same time. But I suppose we needn't trouble ourselves over that because the Fathers, after they had determined which one would be preserved as the original could easily have done all that is suggested.

Anyway--a fun, fast-paced, exciting film. Recommended.

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Cinderella Man

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A while back there was a travelling meme that asked one to name five things that everyone around one was wild about but to which one was rather cool. I never participated because it strained my brain to think of five things. But here's two:

Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.

Ron Howard hasn't produced a thing since EdTV that even remotely interested me. And he goes on to produce progressively less interesting things with each new film. A Simple Mind (as I call it) had me turned off about six minutes into the film. Meeting the protagonist was such an agony of unpleasantness, that I decided I could do without the rest of the film (much to my wife's dismay). So too, I've already decided to forego the elusive pleasures of Cinderella Man. However, I can tell you that two women whose opinion I trust on these matters (while I may not necessarily agree) have both enthusiastically recommended it.

So if watching two people bash each other bloody is your cup of tea, it would seem the Cinderella Man is your tea-party in heaven.

On another front--Russell Crowe--an actor whom I can enjoy at times--is in a very long lull for me. The last two films I really enjoyed were Virtuosity and L. A. Confidential, both horrendously violent. Of recent date we have The Insider (ho hum), Gladiator (repulsive from the very first scene--so ahistorical as to cause an immediate gut-level reaction resulting in the set being turned off), A Simple Mind aka A Beautiful Mind yawn-fest extraordinaire dealing with an unpleasant man's unpleasant life, Master and Commander, which I typified by a dark and soggy Ivory/Merchant wannabe--I found both main characters unattractive and it is only on Talmida's enthusiastic recommendation that I retain any scrap of desire to actually read the books (and Talmida's recommendation is not to be underestimated as she liked both Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds and Mary Doria Russell's magnificent Children of God and (I assume) The Sparrow), and now Cinderella Man. Now, my opinion of these is not to reflect at all upon their worth as films. A great many have enjoyed them tremendously, and I derive from that that they are good, well-made films into which I simply haven't been invited. That's all right--I don't need to be as there is a great deal out in the world of cinema to see. But I do find it something of a trial that I cannot enjoy the opus of an actor whose work I really do like. (Personally, I find the man not in the least admirable. Things like this just add to my opinion of him. But he has legions of devoted fans who turn themselves into pretzels (my wife among them) explaining how the news didn't REALLY report what REALLY REALLY happened and he isn't REALLY all that bad at all, and besides he's misunderstood. I've learned to tune this stream of things out--consistent reportage reveals that the man has serious issues that need to be dealt with long-term. Let us hope that his family does not suffer with them as well.)

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What can I say? I was amused despite myself. I wanted not to like it. I wanted to be able to pooh-pooh it. But I wasn't able to. It was so darkly amusing and so odd that it was endearing. Meryl Streep's character was particularly amusing, and the children, particularly the youngest were quite endearing.

Not great cinema, but very amusing. Samuel saw it and loved it. His one reaction was, "Count Olaf is worse than Vicki/." (Vicki is the babysitter on The Fairly Oddparents who is constantly plotting to take over the world and make Timmy's life miserable.) As a result, we've promised to change our babysitter from Vicki to the Count Olaf Child-Care Service. Meeting all your needs for unpleasantness since 2004.

Anyway, an amusing little film. I can't get enthusiastically behind a recommendation, because I suspect that enjoyment of such a film is an acquired taste. But for those who have acquired the taste: highly recommended--good light-brained fun.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Art, Music, & Film category from June 2005.

Art, Music, & Film: May 2005 is the previous archive.

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