At the outset, I have to ask, if your host indicates to you that you are setting on top some kind of door or grate that leads to the Rancor pit, why would you keep sitting there?
Beats me, 3.5 readers.
This show is getting bad reviews. Personally, I find it a bit over middling. Like I’d give it a B but then eh, why not? I’m in a good mood. Give it a B Plus.
A lot of streaming stuff isn’t completely up to movie quality and Disney Plus shows are no exception. Even so, I’m enjoying it. It is a nostalgia dump, to be sure and I gotta think it’s probably more for us old timers who remember going to see Jabba the Hutt on the big screen as kids back in the day than it is for today’s kids, because do today’s kids really want a symposium on the intricacies of intergalactic organized crime?
The wookie is cool. The tentacle lady who gave the rousing speech to the wookie is cool. The wookie doing what he did…well, this wookie ain’t Chewie, so let’s leave it at that.
Sorry, 3.5 readers. I have no witty starting lines because this movie is too sad, so let’s move on to the review.
As the manager of the luxurious Hotel des Mille Collines, Paul Rusesabagina has spent his life tending to the needs of the international rich, powerful and politically connected. Diplomats, military men, politicians – all have rested their heads under his roof and over the years. As tensions begin to rise over warring Hutu and Tutsi, Paul wonders if he has done enough favors for the hoi polloi that he might be able to call in some chits of his own should he find a need to get his family out of Dodge.
The social credits Paul has banked come in handy when a tenuous, negotiated peace is broken, and all out carnage begins. Tutsi rebels shoot the Hutu president’s plane out of the sky. Interhamwe, a Hutu militia, responds by passing out machetes like party favors and going on a hack and slash spree on Tutsis, who they openly refer to as “cockroaches.”
Paul (Don Cheadle in perhaps one of his best performances) is a Hutu married to a Tutsi, Tatianna (Sophie Okonedo), and has many Tutsi friends and neighbors. Not every Hutu and Tutsi embraces the rhetoric both sides lob at each other. Many just want to make a living, raise their families and be left alone.
When the machete attacks begin, Paul opens his doors to hundreds, filling the swanky joint to overflowing with Tutsis marked for death, as well as Hutus that Interhamwe believes are not sufficiently supportive of their cause.
It all escalates into a horror show, where Paul comes to believe that the mass genocide of his guests is inevitable, and it’s not a game of saving them permanently but just prolonging the inevitable. A tenuous business friendship with Georges Rutaganda, a product supplier who has long made a hefty profit selling goods to the hotel with Paul as purchaser buys some time. In addition to his day job, Georges is the leader of Interhamwe and the radio voice that whips his followers into a frenzy, pushing them to bloodshed. Georges calls the shots and as long as the hotel keeps operating as a hotel and acting as a cash cow for Georges, he’ll delay the slaughter of the guests while Interhamwe forces hack and slash elsewhere.
Thus, Paul has to keep up appearances. He’s not charging the refugees but has to create phony bills to make it appear as though he is. He has to doctor records to remove names from the system to hide people the militia is looking for by name. He has to negotiate with staff who are ready to walk off the job and flee. A friendship with a Canadian UN General (Nick Nolte) means he might be able to get his guests to safety. A friendship with a Rwandan general might get him some backup that he desperately needs.
It’s all about buying time and using bribes, connections, cajoling, begging, even smooth talking to navigate his way through chaos in the hopes of saving as many people as he can. Add to the mess that he’s trying to locate his lost nieces whose parents have likely perished and its quite a film, a fitting tribute to the real life Paul.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Sad, both in the film and the real life. One wonders if the UN could have done more. A million people were killed in three months. That’s a frightening number and how sad to know that such hatred can lead to such a massive kill count.
Sidenote – A young Joaquin Phoenix as a cameraman giving us insight to the fact that well, while the West cares, they probably don’t care enough to actually do anything. (It is hard to know what the West could have done here. On the one hand, perhaps a massive coalition of UN forces could have stood between the Hutu and Tutsi and saved lives. On the other hand, we’ve seen in the past 20 years Americans wanted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over in 5 minutes, so I’m not sure we had the collective stomach to engage in an African conflict that might have resulted in years of warfare. I’ll leave it up to the experts to decide.)
Double Sidenote – The movie explains what the difference between Hutu and Tutsi is, something I never knew. Apparently, in the old Belgium colony days, the Belgians selected what they felt were “better looking, more attractive” Rwandans to become a ruling aristocracy, giving them lands, titles, power so long as they kicked money up to the Belgians. The Hutu resented this, seeing the Tutsi as collaborators and sell-outs long after the Belgians left. Sad irony is, as the movie points out, looks are subjective, what is attractive to one might not be attractive to someone else and ultimately, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi. The differences are that arbitrary.
I have an announcement. Today, I finished the first draft of Shop Buddy, a mystery/comedy that took me, eh I’d say about a year to write, though I took long breaks here and there.
The plot? Steve is a recent philosophy major and graduate of a notoriously bad college. Unemployed and unemployable, he takes a job with Shop Buddy, a website/app where people shop for goods and deliver them straight to the customer’s door. When he screws up an order big time (the customer wanted a birthday cake but the app told him to bring her a box set of Oingo Boingo’s greatest hits) he is demoted, and forced to work with his ex-girlfriend Kendra, another recent college grad who is finding it difficult to find a real job, which isn’t fair, because she did all the right things you’re supposed to do.
Amidst this backdrop, Steve gets a bizarre order from a strange old man. Knives. Chainsaws. Rubber gloves. Ropes. Chains. What is the old timer up to? Could he be The Fairmont Falls Lady Snatcher, a vile abducter of women that the media won’t stop talking about? Kendra says yes. Steve says no. Will these two unravel the mystery? Will they rekindle their lost love and most important…will they ever find real jobs?
It’s very satisfying to finish a first draft. And while it has my naughty brand of humor, I kept all eff bombs out of it so I’d say, it’s rated PG 13 at best. I think this will be my first full length self published novel (I have published short stories but never a novel) so stay tuned.
Still a lot of work ahead but nice to have the first draft in the bag.
Sidenote – I was inspired to write this at the height of the pandemic, when I relied on grocery delivery and I would be shocked at how I could put down something like apple and get back all manner of ridiculous things where you’d have to stand on your head side ways and wonder how they thought that had anything to do with apples.
Mmm boy there’s a lot of fan service in this one, 3.5 readers.
Two hutts to replace Mighty Jabba. A defeated wookie who I’m going to guess will return. Speaking of returns, a new rancor is back.
Meanwhile, the speeder bike gang going to work for Boba is something new.
I’m enjoying this series. I do think Disney/Star Wars has lost its way a bit in charting a course and perhaps the overall lesson is that stories that veer too far away from the Empire timeline don’t work.
What’s the deal with all these posts about Seinfeld, 3.5 readers?
Ah, Jerry Seinfeld. He was that comedian who taught us all that you don’t necessarily need a punchline so long as you can offer a humorous observation. In 9 seasons, he brought us a show about nothing that surprisingly, meant something to many of us, not to mention how it added a lot of sayings and expressions to the cultural zeitgest.
Channeling Jerry. “What’s the deal with bloggers using the word zeitgest like they know what it means?”
The finale was greatly panned back in the day and there are still fans who despise it. Why am I even talking about it 23 years later? 23 years. Wow. It’s been off the air that long.
In the last episode, Jerry gets the call he has long been waiting for – that NBC has decided to resurrect his long defunct Jerry TV show. An earlier season saw Jerry and George trying to get the NBC to pick it up only to fail in a variety of humorous ways, from skirmishes with the actors to misunderstandings with the network prez.
Jerry, now a network big shot, is granted free use of the company plane, and decides to celebrate by taking pals Elaine, George and Kramer to Paris. Alas, a Kramerian goof up causes to the plane to have to make an emergency landing in rural Massachusetts. There, the quartet runs afoul of a new Good Samaritan law which requires bystanders to help those in need. The fab four sees a portly fellow getting robbed and rather than help, they laugh, make jokes – heck, Kramer even records it on a camcorder.
This leads to a trial that basically turns the whole thing into a glorified clip show. The DA argues that the 4 are by far the most selfish, self-absorbed people in the world, with a long track record of hurting people with their cavalier debauchery filled lives. He even brings in all the people who have suffered due to their shenanigans over the years, from the old lady that Jerry stole a marble rye from (in his defense, George really needed it) to Cidra aka Terri Hatcher who is convinced Elaine’s accidental stumble in a gym sauna was designed to determine if her breasts were real or fake so she could report the info to Jerry. (In Jerry’s defense, Elaine’s stumble was an obvious real accident because given the option, men have no problem finding out on their own, and frankly, would prefer doing their own detective work.)
It’s funny how time flies. I remember being very young when this came on. I remember everyone being disappointed. Yet, I also remember thinking basically the same thing I think today. How else could they have possibly ended it?
Larry David’s rule for the show was “no learning, no growing.” Seinfeld is a comedian’s comedian who truly believes his job is to make an audience laugh. It isn’t to educate or lecture or scold or give you a special message or anything like that. He makes with the ha ha and if you want a show where characters learn or grow, you’d better change the channel.
Ultimately, they worked that into the series. The characters literally never learn or grow. They start the show as a quartet of young schmucks and they end the show as middle aged schmucks. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer all have their problems. They’ll be the first to tell you that, ad nauseum and in way too much detail if you let them. Yet, for some strange reason, they demand perfection, be it from their lives, their careers, or most frustratingly, from their mates.
George is bald but has qualms about dating a bald woman. George isn’t very handsome but has a problem dating a woman with a big schnozola. Jerry is a skinny health nut germaphobe and on the show, is a comedian who earns a middle class living on his craft. He’s a better catch than George but he’s far from perfect and rejects women for having man hands, catching gonorrhea on a tractor, having a belly button that he imagines has a funny voice and on and on.
Elaine’s boyfriends are more of a parody of what women have to go through – the schmuck who takes “it” out on a first date, the guy with a bad back who buys her an orthopedic mattress and she can’t tell if it’s because he is trying to give her a thoughtful gift or if he’s hoping to sleep with her and so on.
Kramer is the wild of the bunch. Is he so stupid he has no idea that his life is a mess or is he so smart that he has realized the secret that life is a mess no matter which way you play it so you might as well goof off all the way through it?
At any rate, though I admit the finale is rather lackluster, I’m not sure they could have done better. Could they have had Jerry and Elaine get married? Could they have had George finally settle down? Ultimately, as the jail doors close on the crew, the final joke is that these four are stuck in an eternal purgatory- they will never change their ways, they will never settle for less yet they will never get better enough to accomplish more (Which Larry David has always said is the source of his psychosis as well as his comedy.)
To the show’s credit, there is a moment where Elaine almost tells Jerry she loves him when the plane is going down, Jerry and George do finally get their big break (albeit as George says God would never allow him to be successful and thus why something bad happens to intervene) and it does feature the greatest Newman “I’ll get you, Seinfeld” speeches followed by maniacal laughter of all time.
Bonus points because it tackled the whole “why do people stand around, making fun of someone and recording them in peril rather than help them” long before cell phones with video cameras were ever invented. Overall, the Good Samaritan law seems rather unlikely because while it sounds like a good idea to demand people help those in need in theory, in reality, could an untrained bystander really disarm a mugger without getting mugged or killed him or herself?
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Credit to Jerry for going out on top rather than try to squeeze another five years, let the show get crappy while he cashed in. It’s not the best episode but I’m just not sure anyone could have come up with a better ending. The idea behind the show is that these people never get a happy ending or even any kind of an ending or closure. They will never change their ways and thus, they are forever trapped in a purgatory of their own design, a Waiting for Godot style life that they carry with them wherever they go.
Boba is back and there are so many hutts to blast and so little time, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review.
I have mixed feelings on this show. On one hand, the Boba Fett of the original films was a surprise breakout star. George Lucas was a baby boomer who like those of his generation, grew up on a steady diet of Western films, so when he had his chance to put space on film, he imagined much of it as wild, lawless territory – places where might makes right and those who can kick ass live to fight another day.
Boba Fett always reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s silent but deadly (seriously, no pun intended, I just don’t know how else to describe him) old West character. He never said much but he could punk a man out with a cold stare. Thus, when it came to Boba, less was always more. He said very little but his armor, helmet and gadgets were quite menacing indeed.
Ergo, I’m not sure we needed a story about who the person is under that mask. He was way cooler with it on.
On the other hand, Disney paid boku bucks for the Star Wars IP and if you count it all as one great big expensive experiment, they’ve learned so far that all the money at the House of Mouse’s disposal can’t put together a writing team that can make a decent Star Wars flick set outside of the time of Luke vs. Darth Vader (or directly thereafter).
Long story short, Boba is one of the last few characters from that era who is still alive and kicking, so we must make do.
My next complaint is Boba is the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter, isn’t he? Don’t we want to see him, oh, I don’t know, hunting bounties?
But I admit, the after credits scene following the last episode of The Mandalorian where Boba blasts Bib Fortuna and takes a load off on the late Jabba’s throne was pretty kick ass and enough to get me invested in a Boba series. The past two episodes have piqued my interest, so all in and all, I’ll give it a try.
To Disney’s credit, if you preferred the Boba who rarely spoke, The Mandalorian introduced us to the Manadalorian religion, where the most devout from that respective planet travel the galaxy, earning a living as bounty hunters and never taking their helmets off, believing the only way to not incur an enemy’s wrath is to keep their identities hidden. Ultimately, we’re given a whole race of silent but deadly (sorry) Boba types and we further learn the actual Boba was never a Mandalorian religion practitioner but rather was just a dude who liked the armor.
In this episode, we are given a double hutt douse, a brother and sister team who have returned to Tatooine to fight Boba for Jabba’s throne. They have a kickass wookie, so that’s cool. I gotta be honest, a lot of this feels like fan service but I’ll take it.
Meanwhile, we’ve yet to learn why Boba sleeps in a bacta tank, but whenever he does, he has flashbacks to a Dances with Wolves type of arc where he was captured by the sand people only to win them over and become their BFF.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Disney Plus does seem to be a better home for Star Wars, at least until they figure out how to make a decent film.