In South Dakota, in an Indian reservation, an old storyteller Indian asks his grandson Shane, who is in trouble owing money to some bad guys, to take his old pony and him to Albuquerque to ... See full summary »
"Turquoise Rose" is a coming of age story about a Navajo girl from Arizona. Raised in the suburbs of Phoenix, "T" attends college and is interning as a photojournalist at the local paper. ... See full summary »
Travis Holt Hamilton
Donavon G. Barney,
Frankie is dying. Irene hasn't forgiven him. And they are racing against time to find their way home. Frankie needs help and Irene is the one he turns to. He must go home one last time. And... See full summary »
A Native American Veteran suffering from a series of psychological issues develops a deeply powerful friendship with his progressive French psychoanalyst as they discover and attempt to understand the source of his illness.
Benicio Del Toro,
Unconsciously searching for human connection, four disparate characters intertwine while navigating along the razor edge of life. As their paths cross, they must decide between embracing their reality or simply putting their lives away.
Nick Thomas, a Pomo Indian and a successful Los Angeles radio host, is forced back to the reservation to help his brother Chi, and tribal leader Rich Knight lead the Tule Lake Rancheria out of danger from a seedy casino investor.
Timothy Andrew Ramos
Mark Boone Junior,
Timothy Andrew Ramos
Seymour Polatkin is a successful, gay Indian poet from Spokane who confronts his past when he returns to his childhood home on the reservation to attend the funeral of a dear friend. Written by
I saw this at the Portland International Film Festival on Feb. 10, 2002. Writer-director Alexie said they were still tinkering with it and might add in some scenes we did not see.
The "plot" is fairly sketchy. Seymour Polatkin, a young and successful gay poet who left the Spokane Reservation to go to college and settle in Seattle, returns to the res for the funeral of a close friend, a violinist named "Mouse" who committed suicide. Also present are their childhood buddy Aristotle Joseph (the rather stereotypical "fierce Indian") and Agnes, a half-Indian, half-Jewish woman with whom Seymour had a passionate college affair before accepting his homosexuality, who has returned to the res to teach.
Alexie regulars Cynthia Geary and Elaine Miles, familiar from "Northern Exposure" and Alexie's last film project, "Smoke Signals," are on hand in cameos.
The movie is a sort of collage, with many flashbacks, scenes of various characters dancing in colorful costumes on a black stage, and cheap video footage the characters ostensibly shot of each other. The acting is mostly okay, though rarely inspired; the writing much the same. Camerawork is rather dull, though Alexie chooses lovely landscapes, moods, and colors for his shots.
A narrative trick of questionable utility is "The Interviewer": a young black female journalist pinions several of the characters (particularly Seymour and Aristotle) with tough, condescending, and sometimes obvious questions in that same no-space of black stage. The writing for these scenes is decent, but I wasn't convinced of the need for them.
Alexie readily admits to doing much improvisation and gutwork -- the film was shot in 14 days with 6 additional days of fill-in shooting -- and he likes to leave plenty of questions unanswered, from the Russian origins of his protagonist's name to the meaning of the dancing sequences, the reasons for Mouse's suicide, or a rather brutal scene where Ari beats up a stranded white motorist and insists Mouse join him. This is fine, and I had no problem with most of it; in fact, it was the more obvious imagery, such as Seymour slowly and dispiritedly doffing his dance outfit toward the end of the story when he leaves the res again, presumably forever, that I found irritating.
Alexie said he was extremely annoyed by such films as "Finding Forrester," where a writer's talents (both the veteran's and the rookie's) are ballyhooed but never actually shown, so Seymour reads a number of his poems on the soundtrack over the visual action.
In sum, this is a fair, promising independent feature that is hardly outstanding but takes some laudable risks and provides further welcome exposure to Native American culture, actors, and ideas.
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