snowywolfowl: (Owl face)
Just in case I toss in a spoiler... )
snowywolfowl: (Owl face)
To sum in up in two words or less? How about "Holy Shit!"... and that was before the automated abdominal surgery scene.*

Now don't get me wrong now. I do love the "Alien" franchise and I truly do enjoy weird, out there sci-fi that makes you think. However I really, really, really can't stand stories where the dramatic action hinges on ridiculously smart people doing ridiculously stupid and idiotic things.  So with that in mind If you've ever wondered what a first contact handled by the "Jackass" crew would look like, here's your flick.  Otherwise its definitely not going on my "Watch this sci-fi film now, thank me later" list.

*A perfect example of bad decision making distracting from a rather awesome (if understandably gruesome) concept. If you're going to have a fully automated, robotic surgical unit to provide life-saving surgery on a deep space vessel with a co-ed crew then why in God's name would you only have it programmed for male patients?  That makes no sense!
snowywolfowl: (Default)
 The second movie review of the night takes us from the blood soaked fields of Belgium in WWI to the blood soaked fields of Rwanda in 1993. In “Shake Hands with the Devil” Quebecois actor Roy Dupuis plays General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the ill-fated UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days Dallaire and his men bare witness not only to the horrors of organized genocide but also the indifference such events were met with by the world at large. Throughout the massacre Dallaire pleads time and time again for reinforcements to stop the atrocities unfolding around him, only to be met with refusals and troop withdrawals.

The acting here is very good. Dupuis is very convincing as Dallaire, showing the man's transformation from optimism that the ceasefire between Tutsis and Hutus can hold, to frustration with the indifference of the world to the massacres, to finally emotional collapse into PTSD, despair, and a failed suicide attempt. The supporting actors are also quite good and well utilized by the screen writer and director, especially in the scenes where Dallaire is speaking to the therapist treating him after his diagnosis with PTSD. Their presence in the room, while at first a little confusing, becomes a very effective Greek chorus to reflect and explain the events unfolding before us, and oh, what events they are.

As “Shake Hands with the Devil” sits squarely within the genocide film genre it is full of disturbing imagery. Civilians slip on blood before being taken away to be killed, children's bodies lie in the path of UN vehicles and so must be pulled to the side for the convoy's to pass, and perhaps most horribly the sound of machetes hacking into people is never too far away. Through all of this the impotence of the UN to do anything is showcased again and again, with Dallaire's telling one high ranking Hutu officer that “the world will not approve” being met with complete contempt and disdain. In another scene an injured Tutsi woman, her family dead, when being told that the UN cannot use its guns to stop the killings demands of him “well what good are you then?”. While it would be easy for the writer to have slipped an answer in the decision to have no answer at all most accurately shows the value of the mission to the victims of the genocide.

It's this last point that is probably the most painful about this movie, and the one that should provoke some soul searching among those of us watching dramatizations of such events from the safety of our own living rooms. If this movie raises any questions its not “is UN peacekeeping a bad idea?” but rather “why do we spend resources (money and lives) for peacekeeping in countries we don't care about?” As is pointed out in the movie Rwanda, for all its death toll, is a forgotten and ignored operation. Instead it is Bosnia that commands the lion's share of the military, political, and humanitarian resources. When one considers that several peacekeepers lost their lives in Rwanda to accomplish practically nothing it would seem that answering that question is the least we, as citizenry, can do.

As for the victims of this and future genocides, we already have the answer.


 


 


snowywolfowl: (Default)
 The second movie review of the night takes us from the blood soaked fields of Belgium in WWI to the blood soaked fields of Rwanda in 1993. In “Shake Hands with the Devil” Quebecois actor Roy Dupuis plays General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the ill-fated UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days Dallaire and his men bare witness not only to the horrors of organized genocide but also the indifference such events were met with by the world at large. Throughout the massacre Dallaire pleads time and time again for reinforcements to stop the atrocities unfolding around him, only to be met with refusals and troop withdrawals.

The acting here is very good. Dupuis is very convincing as Dallaire, showing the man's transformation from optimism that the ceasefire between Tutsis and Hutus can hold, to frustration with the indifference of the world to the massacres, to finally emotional collapse into PTSD, despair, and a failed suicide attempt. The supporting actors are also quite good and well utilized by the screen writer and director, especially in the scenes where Dallaire is speaking to the therapist treating him after his diagnosis with PTSD. Their presence in the room, while at first a little confusing, becomes a very effective Greek chorus to reflect and explain the events unfolding before us, and oh, what events they are.

As “Shake Hands with the Devil” sits squarely within the genocide film genre it is full of disturbing imagery. Civilians slip on blood before being taken away to be killed, children's bodies lie in the path of UN vehicles and so must be pulled to the side for the convoy's to pass, and perhaps most horribly the sound of machetes hacking into people is never too far away. Through all of this the impotence of the UN to do anything is showcased again and again, with Dallaire's telling one high ranking Hutu officer that “the world will not approve” being met with complete contempt and disdain. In another scene an injured Tutsi woman, her family dead, when being told that the UN cannot use its guns to stop the killings demands of him “well what good are you then?”. While it would be easy for the writer to have slipped an answer in the decision to have no answer at all most accurately shows the value of the mission to the victims of the genocide.

It's this last point that is probably the most painful about this movie, and the one that should provoke some soul searching among those of us watching dramatizations of such events from the safety of our own living rooms. If this movie raises any questions its not “is UN peacekeeping a bad idea?” but rather “why do we spend resources (money and lives) for peacekeeping in countries we don't care about?” As is pointed out in the movie Rwanda, for all its death toll, is a forgotten and ignored operation. Instead it is Bosnia that commands the lion's share of the military, political, and humanitarian resources. When one considers that several peacekeepers lost their lives in Rwanda to accomplish practically nothing it would seem that answering that question is the least we, as citizenry, can do.

As for the victims of this and future genocides, we already have the answer.


 


 


snowywolfowl: (Default)
 The second movie review of the night takes us from the blood soaked fields of Belgium in WWI to the blood soaked fields of Rwanda in 1993. In “Shake Hands with the Devil” Quebecois actor Roy Dupuis plays General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the ill-fated UN peacekeeping mission to Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days Dallaire and his men bare witness not only to the horrors of organized genocide but also the indifference such events were met with by the world at large. Throughout the massacre Dallaire pleads time and time again for reinforcements to stop the atrocities unfolding around him, only to be met with refusals and troop withdrawals.

The acting here is very good. Dupuis is very convincing as Dallaire, showing the man's transformation from optimism that the ceasefire between Tutsis and Hutus can hold, to frustration with the indifference of the world to the massacres, to finally emotional collapse into PTSD, despair, and a failed suicide attempt. The supporting actors are also quite good and well utilized by the screen writer and director, especially in the scenes where Dallaire is speaking to the therapist treating him after his diagnosis with PTSD. Their presence in the room, while at first a little confusing, becomes a very effective Greek chorus to reflect and explain the events unfolding before us, and oh, what events they are.

As “Shake Hands with the Devil” sits squarely within the genocide film genre it is full of disturbing imagery. Civilians slip on blood before being taken away to be killed, children's bodies lie in the path of UN vehicles and so must be pulled to the side for the convoy's to pass, and perhaps most horribly the sound of machetes hacking into people is never too far away. Through all of this the impotence of the UN to do anything is showcased again and again, with Dallaire's telling one high ranking Hutu officer that “the world will not approve” being met with complete contempt and disdain. In another scene an injured Tutsi woman, her family dead, when being told that the UN cannot use its guns to stop the killings demands of him “well what good are you then?”. While it would be easy for the writer to have slipped an answer in the decision to have no answer at all most accurately shows the value of the mission to the victims of the genocide.

It's this last point that is probably the most painful about this movie, and the one that should provoke some soul searching among those of us watching dramatizations of such events from the safety of our own living rooms. If this movie raises any questions its not “is UN peacekeeping a bad idea?” but rather “why do we spend resources (money and lives) for peacekeeping in countries we don't care about?” As is pointed out in the movie Rwanda, for all its death toll, is a forgotten and ignored operation. Instead it is Bosnia that commands the lion's share of the military, political, and humanitarian resources. When one considers that several peacekeepers lost their lives in Rwanda to accomplish practically nothing it would seem that answering that question is the least we, as citizenry, can do.

As for the victims of this and future genocides, we already have the answer.


 


 


snowywolfowl: (Default)

 So, over the past week I decided to spend some spare time with some Canadian cinema. I like to do that if for no other reason than that we are a nation full of great stories that deserve to be told. With that in mind here are a couple of reviews of two well told tragic tales.

The first is “Passchendaele”, which was written, directed, produced and acted in by Paul Gross, the actor best known for playing Constable Benton Fraser in “Due South”. While it was based on a few anecdotes Mr. Gross's grandfather shared with him about that battle it isn't a straight biopic. It's a drama, with the requisite love angles, massive set piece battle scenes and themes of heroic self sacrifice. So if it has all this what makes it worth watching, especially when movies and series like “Saving Private Ryan”, “Band of Brothers”, and “The Pacific” would appear to have already cornered the market?

Well, three things come to mind in answering that question. The first is simple novelty, and the second the historical importance of the events in question. World War I movies are not nearly as common as movies on other conflicts, and movies showcasing Canadian involvement are perhaps rarer still. Since World War I was one of the defining moments in the creation of Canadian nationhood its a time period that deserves to be seen and understood by all generations of Canadians as well as those who wish to understand a bit of the Canadian mindset. While no movie can ever hope to explain everything about an event it can inspire viewers to learn more.

The third part is the strength of the movie is showing the Canadian home front of WWI and its accompanying issues. We're not only shown the issues of PTSD that returning soldiers faced but also the incredible pressure society put on young men to prove their manhood by signing up to fight the “godless Hun”.* Individuals who didn't were often shunned and shamed by their own neighbours, behaviour that nowadays, despite the permanent warfare that Western nations are likely to experience for the next several decades, would be foreign to most viewers.

With regards to the battle scenes themselves they are as intense and often as horrific as one might expect. As a hint of foreshadowing the myth of Germans crucifying Canadian soldiers against barn doors is explored and explained as being the result of artillery fire and psychological trauma. The Canadian troops are shown as living, fighting and dying up to their shoulders in mud, blood, and other assorted gore. While terrible to watch it does serve to illustrate the horrific casualties the battle involved.

Ultimately if you are a fan of history and/or war movies “Passchendaele” is a very worthy flick to check out. I give it four out of five stars.

*Direct quote from a recruiting poster in the movie. My apologies to any and all Attila the Hun fans.


snowywolfowl: (Default)

 So, over the past week I decided to spend some spare time with some Canadian cinema. I like to do that if for no other reason than that we are a nation full of great stories that deserve to be told. With that in mind here are a couple of reviews of two well told tragic tales.

The first is “Passchendaele”, which was written, directed, produced and acted in by Paul Gross, the actor best known for playing Constable Benton Fraser in “Due South”. While it was based on a few anecdotes Mr. Gross's grandfather shared with him about that battle it isn't a straight biopic. It's a drama, with the requisite love angles, massive set piece battle scenes and themes of heroic self sacrifice. So if it has all this what makes it worth watching, especially when movies and series like “Saving Private Ryan”, “Band of Brothers”, and “The Pacific” would appear to have already cornered the market?

Well, three things come to mind in answering that question. The first is simple novelty, and the second the historical importance of the events in question. World War I movies are not nearly as common as movies on other conflicts, and movies showcasing Canadian involvement are perhaps rarer still. Since World War I was one of the defining moments in the creation of Canadian nationhood its a time period that deserves to be seen and understood by all generations of Canadians as well as those who wish to understand a bit of the Canadian mindset. While no movie can ever hope to explain everything about an event it can inspire viewers to learn more.

The third part is the strength of the movie is showing the Canadian home front of WWI and its accompanying issues. We're not only shown the issues of PTSD that returning soldiers faced but also the incredible pressure society put on young men to prove their manhood by signing up to fight the “godless Hun”.* Individuals who didn't were often shunned and shamed by their own neighbours, behaviour that nowadays, despite the permanent warfare that Western nations are likely to experience for the next several decades, would be foreign to most viewers.

With regards to the battle scenes themselves they are as intense and often as horrific as one might expect. As a hint of foreshadowing the myth of Germans crucifying Canadian soldiers against barn doors is explored and explained as being the result of artillery fire and psychological trauma. The Canadian troops are shown as living, fighting and dying up to their shoulders in mud, blood, and other assorted gore. While terrible to watch it does serve to illustrate the horrific casualties the battle involved.

Ultimately if you are a fan of history and/or war movies “Passchendaele” is a very worthy flick to check out. I give it four out of five stars.

*Direct quote from a recruiting poster in the movie. My apologies to any and all Attila the Hun fans.


snowywolfowl: (Default)

 So, over the past week I decided to spend some spare time with some Canadian cinema. I like to do that if for no other reason than that we are a nation full of great stories that deserve to be told. With that in mind here are a couple of reviews of two well told tragic tales.

The first is “Passchendaele”, which was written, directed, produced and acted in by Paul Gross, the actor best known for playing Constable Benton Fraser in “Due South”. While it was based on a few anecdotes Mr. Gross's grandfather shared with him about that battle it isn't a straight biopic. It's a drama, with the requisite love angles, massive set piece battle scenes and themes of heroic self sacrifice. So if it has all this what makes it worth watching, especially when movies and series like “Saving Private Ryan”, “Band of Brothers”, and “The Pacific” would appear to have already cornered the market?

Well, three things come to mind in answering that question. The first is simple novelty, and the second the historical importance of the events in question. World War I movies are not nearly as common as movies on other conflicts, and movies showcasing Canadian involvement are perhaps rarer still. Since World War I was one of the defining moments in the creation of Canadian nationhood its a time period that deserves to be seen and understood by all generations of Canadians as well as those who wish to understand a bit of the Canadian mindset. While no movie can ever hope to explain everything about an event it can inspire viewers to learn more.

The third part is the strength of the movie is showing the Canadian home front of WWI and its accompanying issues. We're not only shown the issues of PTSD that returning soldiers faced but also the incredible pressure society put on young men to prove their manhood by signing up to fight the “godless Hun”.* Individuals who didn't were often shunned and shamed by their own neighbours, behaviour that nowadays, despite the permanent warfare that Western nations are likely to experience for the next several decades, would be foreign to most viewers.

With regards to the battle scenes themselves they are as intense and often as horrific as one might expect. As a hint of foreshadowing the myth of Germans crucifying Canadian soldiers against barn doors is explored and explained as being the result of artillery fire and psychological trauma. The Canadian troops are shown as living, fighting and dying up to their shoulders in mud, blood, and other assorted gore. While terrible to watch it does serve to illustrate the horrific casualties the battle involved.

Ultimately if you are a fan of history and/or war movies “Passchendaele” is a very worthy flick to check out. I give it four out of five stars.

*Direct quote from a recruiting poster in the movie. My apologies to any and all Attila the Hun fans.


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