Hotel Rwanda (****)

Who needs aliens when humans can exterminate each other. It is almost beyond comprehension that we as intelligent beings can still live in a world where such atrocities are happening. We let people die of hunger every single day; we turn our backs to people being killed. Ethnic cleansing is not a new thing; it is a lesson that the human race has not learned. Genocide is a word that we all now know… what’s worse is that it is not a word that is only used in textbooks but something that is happening even right now.

Hotel Rwanda is a film that I had wanted to see since it was in the theaters, and to my surprise it was even hard to find in the video store. Now that I have watched it I feel sad because of what I know has happened in the world I live in, but it also fills me with hope that there are still people out there trying to make this a better place to live.

Don Cheadle has always been one of my favorite actors. He always delivers a great performance; this one however was a difficult task for him. He was not portraying a fictional character, he was playing a man that had to survive the killing of thousands around him but managed to save 1200 lives. Cheadle was able to really make us feel the man’s anguish and pain as he had to make decisions that would not only put his life but his families at risk. It also painted the picture of how a man sometimes has to think of his family first before he can think of other people, I am not sure what I would be able to do in that situation if I had to chose between saving my family or saving my neighbor.

What makes me even sadder about this picture is that I did not know any details about the situation and it is a shame that I had to wait for Hollywood to let me know. I wonder how much can I really prevent something like that from ever happening again… I guess a good place to start is here

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Catwoman (*)

Actors have to eat too, that is what I kept on telling myself while I watched this cat box that needed a litter change really bad. The only thing that I thought was somewhat salvageable was the work done by the stunt doubles. Maybe not, there is a possibility that it was all CGI.

I am not sure if the animators were actually proud of their work or not. If I was Halle Berry I would have been insulted by having so much of what I did be CGI work. I mean even a scene where she is just walking down a ledge was clearly CGI work. It was so bad that I spent more time trying to see if a scene was real or not.

Where to begin, it is hard to just start dealing with my anger at this movie, it must be done or I will not be at peace with the ‘movie fairy’. I am quite convinced that this movie was clearly green lighted by a movie troll.

Comic book movies have started flooding the silver screen. I have been very happy with most of the recent renditions from both Marvel and DC. This movie, however, shows us why sometimes a screenplay can be totally butchered and make nonsense out of an otherwise likable character. I am sure someone will come and tell me that this Catwoman was based on something other than the super villain from DC comics. Please don’t waste server space, and do not try to make it more shameful for the actors that had to deal with this piece of work.

I would have to write another review to fit in my thougths on the director and how much he really stinks like cat feces. I will however mention that the camera work was horrendous and his frantic use of angles that did not show any distinguishable action made it difficult to follow the movie. At the same time this could have been just the lead animator’s decision who should probably shared direction credit since more than half of the movie looked like it was CGI.

Lambert Wilson who by the way was born in France, and can be also see in the last two Matrix movies as the Merovingian did a dismal job trying to have a British accent. I am not sure if anyone from Great Britain will be annoyed by something like this, but I do get annoyed when I see actors portraying Colombians in a movie who are obviously of other nationalities. Their use of words never used in the Colombian flavor of Spanish makes me a little irritable because I am sure there are plenty of Colombians that could have played the part as I am sure that there was plenty of British actors that could have played the character in this movie.

Halle Berry is an excellent actress. Even thought at times I have questioned her sanity for some of the roles she has played, she does manage to always make the character the best it can be. This time I am sorry to say that she could not do much to fix the one bipolar nonsense that was Catwoman’s and Patience’s personality. I never even got a clear picture of whether one personality had any sense of the other… the whole plot did not help the story at all, it was just confusing.

Sharon Stone could have almost saved the day, but her lines were so badly written to be predictable that a Max Headroom version of her could have done the job just as well. Benjamin Bratt has never made my best list actors, but I’ve never had much expectation. He did however play an ok cop, but come on after years being a TV cop it would be difficult for him to mess up. He also stinks of cat poo since I blame him for letting them put a LIP PRINT as the evidence for linking Catwoman to Patience.

I do have to make an honorable mention here. This is what makes this movie a one star instead of a zero. Midnight, the at times CGI but sometimes real Egyptian Mau was the best actor in the whole movie.

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Wedding Crashers (****)

I have not laughed this hard in a movie in quite some time. I love smart comedy and this was a comedy that did an excellent job at blending it with slaphappy humor and tons of physical comedy. I cannot even count how many times I just busted out laughing. Today, most comedies have one or two hilarious scenes, but this movie really did not let up through.

To me it seemed like a very original story, even though a lot of the laughs might have been in other wedding movies, like My Big Fat Greek Wedding or the Wedding singer, this movie made them all seem fresh. Owen Wilson was hilarious, and played the vulnerable guy at times even seemed dragged by Vince Vaughn into the whole wedding crashing. However he was excellent at being the guy that everyone liked, almost to the point that they would put up with Vaughn’s character because Owen was such a nice guy.

There are also a lot of lines that will become classic after watching this movie, and Chaz appearing towards the end of the movie was definitely icing on the cake. I recommend you go see this movie today, do not wait for it on video you will for sure be missing out.

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Anime Hate it or Love it

I have been watching anime since I was a little kid. I was lucky enough to not have to differentiate between Western and Eastern animation when I grew up. One of the first cartoons I remember watching was La Abejita Maya (Maja the Honey Bee – Mitsubachi Maja no Boken) when I was probably 4 or 5. The series is very well written and always had a good message at the end of the day.

Back then I had no idea I was watching Japanese animation because to me everything was considered cartoons. Some kids experienced the same thing here with a couple of series like Astro Boy and Speed Racer, but overall Japanese animation was not really popular in the US until about 5 years ago when the market started getting saturated with some very bad anime.

Anime is a hate it or love it kind of thing for a lot of people. I don’t really see the point on totally disliking it but there are a lot of people out there that just despise it. I totally respect their point of view. Anime has been linked to the negative geek label now, but I would only put fanboys on that category. The internet makes it even worse, trying to find information about anime can leave you with a headache because most websites that follow it are poorly written and have the most obnoxious colors available in the RGB world.

There is a lot of good adult anime, that rivals in story depth with some of the best hollywood has to offer. I think Spirited Away showed anime in a different light that some people might not have expected. If you have never really experienced anime I think this is a good starting point. I would steer you away from the recommendation most anime fans give you as a start which is Akira. While the movie is excellent it is quite complicated and not in a good way.

Anime is far reaching when it comes to subjects. You can find anything from animal series that are for kids to adult geared hentai that tends to be a little too bizarre for my personal taste. Just remember that there is a lot in between. My favorite genre of anime is the post apocaliptic future Tokyo type of theme. A lot of times this series involves humanoid robots that develop a soul, in what I believe a heavy Asimov influence ala Ghost in the Shell. Or robots trying to fit into our society like the movie Armitage III of the series by the same name.

Also from growing up I hold a series dear to me, Captain Tsubasa or Supercampeones as it is knows in Spanish. This soccer fueled series falls prey of the repetitive animation and impossible physics that sometimes turns people off, but I just love it. It is a great series and there are a lot of people that still follow it today. I have most of the original series dubbed in Spanish, and have always wished that they release it here in the US. I was hoping that with the popularity of soccer in the US, they might bring the latest iteration (Road to 2002) but I was not that lucky.

The last series that I want to mention is Rurouni Kenshin, which I own the whole series on DVD. This anime has a lot of history about Japan and how the country changed when Samurai became a thing of the past. Very similar in some aspects to the recent Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai. While it might not be actual history, it does open a window of at least interest to a time when Japan was changing from being complete feudal to become the industrialized nation it is today.

Anime has a lot of flavors and while some might be quite bitter, there are also some sweet flavors that are worth trying. I think it can be a good experience as trying ethnic food, but of course with a little guidance. I say when looking for anime try to find something that might mix something you are already interested in. My bet is that one or more of your hobbies have an anime already linked to it. Just don’t let a bad experience keep you from trying something else in the menu.

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Spanglish (****)

It was very refreshing to see that Adam Sandler was playing a different character than his usual goofball type. He was sporting goofy hair but besides that I think the character was original and down to earth in a very caring kind of way. This movie was done beautifully and it truly succeeded in showing the struggle of two cultures trying to come together. Spanglish explored many aspects of the inner workings of the social melting that a growing Latino population in the US is going through. While the culture focused as its title suggest the fusing of Spanish and English, it does a lot more. Most importantly and where the movie really shined was in showing that while two cultures can be worlds a part, the basic core values of love and respect are beyond language barriers.

The movie was written by James L. Brooks who did an spectacular job at entertaining while opening a little window to the character’s life and idiosyncrasies. He is a well known producer of both TV and movies, from the Simpsons, which btw are going to step into the big screen on 2008, to movies like As Good as It Gets and Jerry Maguire. I say the guy has a good sense of comedy.

The cast did an excellent job all around. I cannot think of any of the characters that lacked in any way, if anything they all did a job that helped each other’s performances. Paz Vega played the struggling immigrant and overprotective Hispanic mother convincible. Tea Leoni and her neurotic flare was hilarious, she made you almost want to yell at the screen “would you shut up already.” Shelbie Bruce who played Christina, not dominated both languages but in a very difficult scene where she had to be the interpreter of no only words but emotions in a serious exchange between Sandler and Vega. It was awesome to see such a young child do a very difficult scene seem not just credible but natural… what is more important the scene cracked me up.

This movie is for everyone, and it is a very good family movie with messages in tolerance, love and unity. Go rent it and laugh in both Spanish and English.

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