Wanted to just post about a couple movies we watched on DVD recently. And yes, they've all been out for quite some time. Our Netflix queue is rather dated, what can I say?
This was an excellent film based on a true story about the efforts of a Hutu hotel manager, Paul Rusesabagina (played by the outstanding Don Cheadle), who turns his resort into a refugee camp for thousands of Tutsis trying to flee the genocide. The Rwandan slaughter took place less than ten years ago yet the world simply stood by. Other than getting their own citizens to safety, Western countries did nothing to stop the massacres. While a million people were helplessly being slaughtered by militants with machetes, people in Washington D.C. and the United Nations were busy arguing over whether the term "genoncide" was really the right word to describe the situation. You can hear actual audio of Condoleeza Rice debating the terminology of the situation in the movie -- the refugees are listening to her on radio -- and the moment is a powerful reminder of how pathetic we can be at times. As an American, that was a very embarrasing thing to see. This is a Schindler's List for the modern age, yet here, unlike in WWII, we chose to ignore the atrocities completely. Perhaps its because the people who were suffering were very, very poor. Or maybe because they were black. Nevertheless, the story of how this one man helped save so many and the risks he took to do so is pretty remarkable.
This was one of those movies that it's plain to see that the movie is not very good, yet you watch it anyway. It's about a young teenager, about 14 in age, who attends Catholic High School, but is always in trouble. He goes through some very awkward coming-of-age moments that we've all seen before in far funnier films. Yet, the difference is that his mother is dying and he overhears someone say that it will take a "miracle" for her to come out of her coma. So he decides that since the Church believes in miracles -- a requirement for sainthood -- that he will do all the things a Saint would have to do (prayer, purity, etc.,) so that maybe he too can perform a miracle and save his mother. The miracle he chose to perform is to win the Boston Marathon. So while the first half of the movie centers around him getting into various embarrasing situations with his penis, the latter half turns into a Chariots of Fire imitation. With a heaping dose of Catholic doctrine piled on top. The movie is not very good, and the boy starring in it is very annoying, yet I watched it to the end anyway. I would recommend it to my mother, but nobody else. She's got a thing for Saints.
Tuesdays With Morrie
You've seen the book for sale in Starbucks. You've heard Oprah talk about it. And, you may even know who Mitch Albom is from watching the Sports Reporters early Sunday mornings on ESPN (or you read him in Detroit). Yet, like us, you never bothered to read the book or watch the movie. We finally did. And it's good. For starters, it's another non-fiction piece that feels more like a memoir from Mitch than a good story. The movie shows Mitch completely married to his job of a sports reporter; always on the road, constantly under deadline, and forever with his cell phone mashed against the side of his face. Until, that is, he hears that his favorite college professor is dying from Lou Gehrig's Disease. The ol' prof, Morrie, is one of those wise old men who are constantly dispensing with stories that, if you listen closely, just might teach you how to live a better life. Morrie is extremely likable and does indeed have more than his share of pearls to share with Mitch. And as Mitch continues to fly from Detroit to Boston every week to spend time with Morrie, you can see him slowly becoming a better, more attentive man. Which is good, because his girlfriend in the movie (the incredibly beautiful Wendy Moniz) is about to leave him if he doesn't. It's a sad movie and in a way reminds me of the wretchedly depressing My Life starring Michael Keaton, but it's definitely worth watching and does have a few genuinely funny moments as well.