Hotel Rwanda

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"Hotel Rwanda" is precisely the kind of film one would expect it to be: sort of an African version of "Schindler's List." The film revolves around Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), who managed the Belgium-owned Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali. If you remember much about the slaughter in Rwanda in the 1990s -- and Americans may remember some passing mention of it during the occasional breaks in the non-stop media coverage of President Clinton's pee-pee -- you'll remember that it basically had to do with one ethnic group hating another ethnic group. In this instance, the Hutu hated the Tutsi, and went about slaughtering them.

Paul begins the film thinking himself a part of the white establishment. He has a good job and is a well-respected man in Kigali. But when the Hutu take over, Paul is trapped. He's a Hutu married to Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo), a Tutsi. The hotel is something of an oasis, but when refugees start pouring in from the surrounding areas, Paul eventually decides to protect them and uses his influence to keep the Hutu militia away from the hotel. In the end, he's able to save 1,200 people.

If you like movies about genocide, you're in for a treat. There's always somebody shaking a gun or a machete in somebody's face. There's a lot of crying. There's a lot of screaming. There are a lot of people running around looking for loved ones who we know probably got hacked to death. There are those scenes where Paul thinks his family is dead and he runs around only to spot them at the last second just before we figure we're going to have to watch him break down and cry. Ultimately, a million people were butchered by the Hutu militia and nobody ever stepped in to stop it.

It's nice that director Terry George wanted to tell this story, but it's not clear why anyone is going to pay attention now if they didn't pay attention when the slaughter was actually happening. I don't know why the world community has such an intractable indifference to African genocide (quick: name the current African genocidal crisis), but I do know that the next time the Africans want our help, their best strategy might be to move to the coast and hope to hell that a tsunami hits them.

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