Fifteen years ago, their Washington Heights neighborhood was dubbed the crack-cocaine capital of the world, but today it is transforming into one of the most vibrant, Spanish-speaking ...
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Fifteen years ago, their Washington Heights neighborhood was dubbed the crack-cocaine capital of the world, but today it is transforming into one of the most vibrant, Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. While the drug dealers continue to disappear, their violent legacy still casts a shadow over the neighborhood and its residents. Junior, an ex-convict struggling to get his life back on track, is a product of this legacy. His younger brother Manny, the salutatorian of his high school class, embodies the hope of the future. On the night of his graduation party, Manny finds himself faced with an ill-fated decision that could change his life forever. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
2002 is only three months old, but "Manito" is the best film so far.
"Manito" is a tale of two brothers--Junior, an ex-convict trying to get his life together and Manny, a promising high school graduate. On the periphery of the drama is their father, Oscar, a former drug dealer who is estranged from the family.
On the night of his graduation party--Manny becomes involved in a crime that threatens his future. His brother Junior--knowing full well the horrors of prison--sets out to help his little brother avoid this fate through any means he can.
"Manito" is a straightforward, linear film. All of the action unfolds (i think) over one long weekend--the centerpiece of which is Manny's incredible graduation party. The story starts out very wide and includes several characters from the neighborhood. And by the end of the story, a show down occurs befitting Greek Tragedy.
The quality of the acting is so high that many people will mistake these amazing performances as documentary filmmaking. Even more amazing is the fact that the cast is made up of non-professional actors. The Latino director (Puerto Rico) Eric Eason deserves an Oscar for his intelligent and measured guidance. And the lead actor Frankie G. (Junior) is a superstar in the making. (His debut performance is extraordinary and recalls early Marlon Brando). The rest of the cast--especially the actor Hector Gonazalez (Abuelo) are wonderful.
Many viewers will no doubt find the filmmaking style of "Manito" off-putting. Admittedly, the film's aggressive camera and editing techniques take some getting used to. However, two minutes into the story, the style seems like a revelation. Never has a subject matter so perfectly matched it's style. I want to say that "Manito" (and the filmmakers behind it) introduce us to a new kind of visual language, a new way of seeing a story. The intimacy afforded by this innovation is perhaps the film's single greatest achievement.
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