Drool on the Frog

Friday, July 27, 2007

Willa's Flic Pic: Hotel Rwanda * * ½

Hotel Rwanda
Hotel Rwanda

- Terry George
- Drama, 2004
- PG-13
- Trailer
* * ½

Paul Rusesabagina: All day long I work to please this officer, that diplomat, some tourist to store up favors so if there is a time when we need help I have powerful people I can call upon.

I've been fascinated with the intricate history of Africa for a while. Of particular interest is the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. How and why did this happen? This story can be told from many view points and the one of Paul Rusesabagina is one that must be included.

In taking on this project, the film makers were faced with the difficult job of telling a single story at a climatic moment in time of an intensely complex history. The real story here is how the dedicated diplomat and professional Rusesabagina, manager of the four-star Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali and Hutu man married to a Tutsi, is affected by the chaos that ensues in the 90 some-odd days of the genocide. Rusesabagina has interaction with practically every faction involved in this conflict but the viewer gets confused. Who are they and what are their intentions. It's understandable. There's the Hutu army, Interahmwe, UN, French Army, United States, Hutu businessmen, RPF, Red Cross, Sabena... you get the picture.

More than half-way through the film I was beginning to wonder if there was going to be a climax to the story or if it was simply a telling of a sequence of events, more like a documentary. Eventually there was a climax and I felt like I was in a story again. This pace made the film feel a little choppy.

A generalized conclusion is made about the reason no one (pick from the list of factions) intervened. And when I say "the reason" I mean they gave one reason. I don't know if this is from Hollywood or consultants on the project but this situation is no less complex than the genocide itself and it's irresponsible to have treated it otherwise.

Like I said, it's a difficult story to tell - in more ways than one.

Don Cheadle is brilliant. I'm impressed with him in everything I've seen (Out of Sight, Ocean's Eleven, ER). He's just a joy to watch. More Cheadle, please.

I've only gotten started reading about this horrible event but if you're interested, I recommend the following:

The Bone Woman by forensic anthropologist Cleo Koff

Machete Season by French reporter Jean Hartzfeld

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwanda Holocaust by survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DroolontheFrog Logo: Part II

Drool logoLast month My Geek and I worked on his new web site. I didn't do much, actually. He coded the whole thing but I finished the frog logo for the site and exported it to a web site gif. I also suggested some color schemes based on his preferences. I think it's a great looking site. It'll grow as his business grows but I think it has a great core design. Check it out.

Labels: ,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Willa's Flic Pic: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix * * * ½

- David Yates
- Fantasy, 2007
- PG-13
- Trailer

* * * ½

Bellatrix Lestrange: Neville Longbottom is it?... How's Mum and Dad?
Neville Longbottom: Better now they're about to be avenged!

Thus far, this is my least favorite of the all the HP books. Fifteen-year old Harry isn't someone I want to be in the room with. He is whiny, argumentative, short-tempered and irritable. And the whole thing with the Ministry taking over Hogwarts, students being tortured, ... It all made me wonder why the wizarding world is so smug regarding muggles.

But in the end, I had a better appreciation for Rowling's character development. Most fifteen-year old, adolescent boys are intolerable without having had to fight for their life on at least two occasions, being orphaned, isolated from friends, cruely treated by adoptive parents and generally hated or loved for a reputation that was thrust upon him. All in all, he would tend to be a testy character by this time. I appreciate her being true to Harry's development.

The Ministry business was still hogwash.

The film in turn did a good job handling the building anxiety and seriousness of the return of Voldemort and the maturing of Harry. Things are getting darker and more dangerous. This means more demands on the crews' acting abilities. More emotional, more physical and I think they are doing a good job. I like seeing the darker and more intense scooby gang.

I was pleased to see that some of the settings were more complex and realistic. The main characters are not isolated in scenes when it makes sense to have hubub around. This was most notable in the house common room. There was a great feel to that scene.

The battles are getting more intense and dramatic now that the adults are involved. This was much more appealing to My Geek. And the special effects continue to rise to the occasion. I am never disappointed.

This film series is doing a great job and continues to put out quality work. We're not talking LotRings, but fantasy fans can't be disappointed.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Banana-Strawberry Fruit Smoothie

fruitI won't be posting very many recipes. It's not that I don't cook. I just don't have time to do much from scratch anymore. The reason I thought I'd post this was to put a little nod toward the of art of Taste. This is a popular second-breakfast (take on our way out the door) for us.

1/2 banana
1/2 c. strawberries, capped and cored
1/4 c. plain yogart
1/2 c. orange juice
2 TBL honey
2-4 ice cubes

Optional ingredients: any other fruit of your choice. We add 1/4 c. of pineapple.

Blend all ingredients until very smooth. Serve immediately.

Hints & Tricks
  • I like my smoothies thick and icy. To help with this, freeze all your fruit ahead of time.

  • In a zip-lock bag, freeze all the ingredients (except for the ice) for one smoothie. When you're ready to go, dump the whole bag in the blender, add ice and blend.

  • Leave the peal on bananas. Before you put them in the freezer, cut off the ends, cut the banana in half and then cut one or two slits down the peal. This will make it easier to peal after being frozen and they'll keep longer.

  • Buy some disposible cups, lids and straws at your big box warehouse stores or restaurant supply stores. You can carry these easily anywhere, they fit in you vehicles cup holder and there's no clean-up.

  • These will keep in the freezer or even the frig for as much as an hour. My Geek will mix mine right after breakfast (yes, I'm spoiled) and stick it in the frig. Then I shower and get dressed for work. I grab it on the way out and it is still great after I get to work.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Willa's Flic Pic: Pan's Labyrinth * * * * *

Pan's LabyrinthPan's Labyrinth

- Guillermo del Toro
- Drama/Fantasy, 2006
- Spanish
- R
- Trailer

* * * * *

Ofelia: Hello. I am Princess Moanna, and I am not afraid of you.

When we popped the DVD in for this film, we selected to see the director's introduction. With an ironic laugh, del Toro said that he hoped we enjoyed the movie that almost killed him in the making. We knew were about the see an intense film made by an intense, dedicated guy.

Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del fauno) is a Spanish film that was in limited release in the US. It's the story of how a young girl, Ofelia, deals with being thrust into the final violent frays of the Spanish civil war in 1944. She is an avid reader and her fairy-tale world is more familiar to her than the setting she's been forced into by the adults in her life. Her father is dead and her mother, Carmen, is pregnant by a vicious captain of the Spanish army. Very late in her term and at great risk to her life, the captain has Carmen moved to his location in the mountains where he is battling rebels. Everyone there is in service to the captain and, with her mother bed ridden, Ofelia learns very quickly she is completely alone.

For a film that is seen as a "fairy tale", it is very violent and many wonder why. In an interview conducted by Brian Tallerico with UnderGroundOnline, de Toro said of the violence:
What I would say to these people is, “If the movie works for you and you get into it, you should go back to being a kid and experience the fear and the wonder as intensely as you do when you’re a kid.” Violence and fantasy have to be dialed up to cause that in an adult. Now, the violence makes you appreciate the beauty and the beauty makes you vulnerable to the violence. It’s not a particularly genteel mix. It’s a very aggressive movie.
I struggled with giving this film my highest rating but I didn't know why. So I ask my qualifying question: What's wrong with the film? Acting, directing, filming, screenplay, costume, music, editing, f/x - anything? I came up with nothing. The only thing that was giving me pause was the fact that it is a tough movie to watch, in all aspects. Innocence faces injustice, life value is determined by net gain, the weak have to face evil alone because those who should be there are either blind or cowardly.

Pan's Labyrinth is brilliant in its story and visuals. If you're a writer, I encourage you to watch it as a story teller. If you're an artist, I encourage to critique it as a canvas. It has its own beauty and I think you'll see it.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix * * * ½

I'll write a full review of the new HP movie next week. Until then, I can highly recommend a trip to the theatre to see it (which I don't do lightly). The special effects are worth it and so are the battle scenes. Everything is ramped up a notch. This all helps and director David Yates makes my least favorite HP book so far very enjoyable.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: I have my tickets!

Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixWe'll see how David Yates does directing the latest Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Midnight showings begin July 10. I would love to do a midnight show but, I have a job. So MyGeek bought us tickets for the 7:00 p.m. show on Wednesday.

Yates is also slotted to direct Half-Blood Prince. I think it's great that they change directors so frequently. I don't know if it's on purpose but it sure is keeping the franchise fresh.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceI have things very well timed. After seeing Phoenix this week, I'll re-read Half-Blood Prince before I receive my birthday copy of Deathly Hallows on the 21st, the 7th and final Harry Potter book. Everyone will probably finish their books before I do so don't tell me what happens!


Friday, July 06, 2007

3•1•6 Journal party!

316 Jouranl 01I've gotten loads of inquiries about where I've been for the past three weeks. You're all very sweet to ask. And, without any new reviews, I know that I've left some of you in movie rental limbo. (Actually, no one has inquired but claiming so makes me feel better.)

We've been busy over at SoulperSuit with all the excitement over the first issue of the 3•1•6 Journal. I'd encourage you to visit there over the next three weeks because we're going to be giving away some goodies in celebration. This week it's a couple of books. All you have to do is post a comment on Sandi's post to be eligible.

Labels: ,