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PCR # 252  (Vol. 6, No. 3)  This edition is for the week of January 17--23, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Hotel Rwanda"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okenedo, Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix
Directed by: Terry George
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 1 min

The past year at the movies has seen a large assortment of "bio pics"...films based on true events. Movies like "The Aviator," "Ray," "Beyond the Sea" and others do their best to draw you into the story with "what might have been." And while they are all fine films, they don't compare to the emotional wallop packed by "Hotel Rwanda."

Based on the story of a heroic and caring hotel manager, "Hotel Rwanda" tells the story of Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle), who is the house manager of one of the most upscale hotels in the country. He is kind and polite to all he meets, be it a quick to learn employee or the general in charge of the local militia. A brief history lesson: when the Dutch established rule in Rwanda, they put the minority Hutu's in a position of superiority over the Tutsis. If you think of apartheid in South Africa you get the picture. Now there has begun a struggle for leadership, with both sides plotting to eliminate the others. Paul is a hutu married to a tutsi woman. Even as his neighbors are questioned, beaten or dragged away, he remains quiet, hoping his silence now can help he and his family later. As more and more people are being taken away or shot in the street, Paul begins to invite the locals to find refuge in his hotel. However, the consequences of his actions may produce more trouble then even he can imagine.

It would be easy to compare this film with "Schindler's List." Like Otto Schindler, Paul does what he does not for riches or glory. He does it because it's the right thing to do. Cheadle gives one of the greatest performances by an actor on screen this year. I would hate to be on the nominatng committee this year. Like Paul Giamatti in "Sideways," this will be the film that takes Cheadle from the ranks of character actor to one of the most respected performers of his generation. As a man who is always one step ahead of the dangers around him, Paul talks, charms and bribes his way out of certain death at every turn.

Even with the many great performances this year, I predict that Cheadle will FINALLY get a well deserved Oscar nomination next week. Ditto his co-star, Sophie Okenedo, who plays Cheadle's wife. Nolte is in top form as an officer representing the United Nations, but even his position is challanged by the rebel forces. Phoenix is a photographer whose images will continue to haunt him. And much credit to Fana Mokoena, who plays the local general whose favors can be bought.

"I didn't do enough" Otto Schindler lamented. In "Hotel Rwanda," Paul feels the same. It is not until things begin to escalate that he realizes he has done all he can and more. By the time the tensions were over, Paul had saved over 1,000 people by giving them a place to stay in his hotel.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Hotel Rwanda"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Hotel Rwanda" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.